Hoosier Heroes Highlights (05/13-05/19)

In the spirit of the Month of May, and the iconic winner’s drink of milk, we asked for you to help us to honor and support those most impacted by COVID-19. We’re truly grateful for all that #HoosierHeroes continue to do during this time of uncertainty. We have heard incredibly moving stories from you about your community heroes, and want to take this opportunity to highlight a few of them!

Share your Hoosier Heroes story with us through May 25, 2020. Donations are also being accepted to support dairy being provided to food banks around the state in honor of these heroes.  Now more than ever its important to remember that #WinnersDrinkMilk!

You can nominate your Hoosier Hero or donate on their behalf here.

Medical Personnel

Alicia S. American Senior Communities

American Senior Communities is the largest LTC provider in Indiana with 78 Nursing Homes (Skilled Care Facilities) and additional Assisted Living Communities. COVID 19 has been an enormous undertaking for our industry. Alicia has lead our team of clinicians through this entire journey. She has provided the clinical guidance to our entire company while collaborating with our team of physicians, nurses and pharmacist all the while keeping in touch with our legal/compliance team to make sure we are following every single guideline set forth by the CDC. She has worked countless hours without any concern about herself. Her goal has been to keep our staff/residents safe and to make sure our residents are provided unmatched care. She is selfless and dedicated. You cannot ask for more from a nurse or an employee

Cynthia H. – Nurse

My wife is an amazing nurse who has dedicated 11 years to serving those around her. She shows tremendous strength and courage in all of her journey’s. She works crazy hours, is studying for her Master’s degree in Public Health, and in the meantime always makes sure that her family and children are well taken care of. I am so blessed to be her husband!

Jennifer L. – Director of Nursing, Canterbury

Jennifer is the Director of Nursing at Canterbury with her dedication and leadership the building will not run the way it has throughout this hard time she is here day in and night out. Thanks Jennifer for your leadership!

KellI Y. – Pharmacist

Kelli Yaros is a strong and caring pharmacist working on Indy’s far west side. She has continued working her normal schedule of nights, weekends, and holidays during COVID-19 and I have not heard her complain once. Instead, she has become a greater advocate for those who are in need of medicine and care. I have seen Kelli work tirelessly as a pharmacist and now is no different. Not only does she worry about individuals in her community, but Kelli and her husband (a public school teacher) also take care of their two young sons. Kelli is a Hoosier Hero for putting others before herself and never stepping down from her post as a caretaker and expert in her field.

Leslie A. Executive Director, Danville Regional Rehabilitation

Leslie is the Executive Director of Danville Regional Rehabilitation. Due to her leadership, we have remained a Covid-19 free facility. She was quick to implement restrictions on entry to the facility by all non-essential personnel. She was quick to educate and motivate the staff within the facility. She encouraged them to maintain a lifestyle that would protect our residents. She praised them and motivated them to show up daily with the compassion and determination it takes to properly care for the people who live here. This has successfully prevented the staff shortages we have seen in other facilities. She was able to lead increased communication with families, not only from staff for information but also with residents to avoid distress from not seeing their loved ones. In some cases this communication increased the involvement from families. She leads by example, daily serving meals, cleaning floors, making beds, etc. She has spent her own time and money to provide meals for our front line staff.  This leadership is not unique to our current situation. She is persistent with her encouragement, compassion, and servant leadership. This has been amplified by this crisis and successful in preventing the devastating results this virus could have on our population. She is a true Hoosier Hero that has gone above and beyond in this crisis.

Marnie D. – Executive Director, Long Term Care Facility

Marnie’s compassion is overflowing for the elderly population. Her job title is an executive director at a long term care facility but she is so much more. I have been a nurse in long term care for over 11 years and I have never seen anyone with the dedication and love she has shown not only staff but also the residents we care for. Although she has a family of her own, she comes early every day and stays late every evening to ensure the best possible outcomes are achieved. Her leadership goes far above and beyond what is asked of her. With the crisis that we currently face she shows up everyday with her brave face on and motivates her team to keep fighting! She is an example of what every leader in healthcare should be! Marnie is our superhero!

Robert S. – ICU Nurse, VA Hospital

I’d like to nominate a real life American Hero. Robert works as a ICU nurse at the VA hospital here in Indianapolis. Saving lives on a daily basis is his norm. He helps countless veterans through cancer, alcoholism, along with covid19 patients just to name a few. Putting his health at risk doesn’t affect his care and attitude. Always caring for the patient is his goal. Robert is a true American Hero.

Susan T. – Physical Therapist

My daughter works in Physical therapy and loves her job and her patients! She always tries to do what’s best for them and even now is trying to keep them safe. She hasn’t been getting as much work lately but is doing as much as she can for her daughter and her patients. She would love this!

Sylvia H. – Director of Nursing, Rosegate Healthcare

*Sylvia has been nominated four times. Here is one of her nomination stories.

The love, care, and leadership Sylvia has displayed at Rosegate bolsters the resolve of those around her in a time of darkness, reassuring us that we are on the right side of history, and that the well being of both our residents and staff are in gently caring hands. Sylvia and her team of nurses has shown a dedication and resolve that I thought only experienced in movies and TV shows. Sylvia has exhibited traits that highlight the best of humanity, what we all have within us and what we can be when we let love for others dictate our actions. She has worked tirelessly for months; it is a running joke around Rosegate that she is living at the facility. She even came into work on Sunday–Mother’s Day–not out of necessity, but out of a sense of duty to her residents and staff, a drive to care for and serve. On a day that she should have relaxed and been celebrated, she exhibited the best traits of a mother, and she selflessly sacrificed to better the lives of her Rosegate family. Sylvia has enduring relationships with her residents and takes their welfare personally. She is hands on and can be seen daily engaging with her residents, not isolated to her office. When the Rosegate team visited a sister facility that had recently experienced the effects of COVID 19 to share signs and words of encouragement from the outside perimeter of the facility grounds, Sylvia recognized staff and residents inside the building that she had worked with in her past. She remembered intimate details about their life, and she had intimate conversations privately with them, away from the rest of the group, catching up with old friends. Sylvia sees each person for who they are: somebody’s somebody. She sees a person who has lived an entire life of experiences; somebody that has loved, had a family, been through hardship, laughed, cried, and experienced a life that we are now blessed to be a part of. She takes this commission seriously and invests herself entirely to do her utmost. She truly embodies the essence of a hero. She would never herself seek to be honored, but I am honored to nominate her as one of the Hoosier Heroes. Thank you for taking the time to read this; thank you for honoring those that truly deserve it, and by using the moment to honor those deserving to also help those within our community that need the most help. This award epitomizes the best in humanity, just like its nominees.

Taylor H.

Taylor is a caregiver, all she has wanted while growing up is to help people, she’s doing what she loves but she doesn’t get the recognition that she deserves. She works Monday through Friday working with the elderly, making sure they have what they need, just keeping them company, making them laugh and smile. She just wants to bring happiness to anyone she is around. All of her people enjoy her present and want her back! Their families love Taylor and want her back also! Taylor is just doing what she loves and wants nothing back in return!

Agriculture Leaders

Brian R. Dairy Farmer

Dairy Farmers of America is pleased to nominate and highly recommend Brian of Owensville, IN for the Hoosier Hero Campaign.  Their facility contains an indoor observation room where visitors can get a birdseye view of the milking process. They welcome school children, community groups, day camps and families for a visit.  In September 2019 the family hosted a Farm to Family Harvest Dinner for the community and the proceeds from the event paid off school lunch debt for students within the local school district.  Recently Brian was featured in an USA Today article, “Cows don’t shut off, why this farmer had to dump 30,000 gallons of milk”. In which he was quoted as saying, “Nothing makes us prouder as a farmer than producing high-quality milk”.  To summarize, Brian is a very dedicated, steadfast and respected dairy farmer. He also takes responsibility by serving on the DFA Corporate Board and as First Vice Chairman on the Southeast DFA Council. He has also been active with the DFA’s Young Cooperators and Emerging Leaders programs. Brian is also the Vice President of the Evansville Young Dairymen and in 2010 received the Indiana Dairy Producer of the Year Award.  Thank you in advance for your consideration of Brain for the Hoosier Hero campaign.

Dillon & Jeff K. – Kirkdorffer Milk Transport

Dillon and his father in law Jeff are the owners of Kirkdorffer Milk Transport. They are located in Northern Indiana and have been hauling milk in that area for a long time. They work with Dairy Farmers of America to ensure the farmers milk gets picked up and delivered every day. Even with the struggles around COVID19, they continue to work through any challenges they may face to assist our Dairy farmers. They are definitely essential employees!

Ben & Leslie M. – McMurray Transport

Ben is the owner of McMurray Transport. He is located in Southern Indiana and has been hauling milk in that area for a long time. They work with Dairy Farmers of America to ensure the farmers milk gets picked up and delivered every day. Even with the struggles around COVID19, they continue to work through any challenges they may face to assist our Dairy Farmers. They are definitely essential employees!

Tim B. – Milk Hauler

Tim is a 2nd generation milk hauler in the Northeast Indiana area, hauling milk for many DFA members. Tim and his nephew Dane has been steadfast in their dedication to the industry during this trying time. I wholeheartedly nominate Tim for this honor as I can honestly say that knowing he and Dane are on the road it makes our members lives easier. They consistently get the job done for their farms and they appreciate their efforts.

Food Service Team Members

Allison L. – MLK Community Center

Allison and her team at MLK Community Center are going out into the community to ensure students that don’t have means to pick up a meal from IPS receive healthy meals. Working with several other local organizations, they are strategically sending drivers out with wholesome meals to kiddos within areas of Indianapolis that are in high poverty.

Ashlee S. – Director of Food Service, DeKalb County Central United School District

Director of Food Service for DeKalb County Central United School District –  Ashlee has stepped up to help serve meals to kids in our community since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the rest of the school district employees. She and the team have overcome obstacles and have created a system that has allowed them to serve close to 100,000 meals to kids and families throughout the community. Not only are they helping feed the community, they also are able to continue to impact the lives of all the students they use to see daily. As much as they are hoping this pandemic will be over soon, they are continuing to make plans for the future. They are preparing themselves to provide this caring service for as long as there is a need. They are including many dairy rich products to ensure the nutritional needs for the children are met. The team’s hard work and dedication towards Feeding Indiana’s Hungry is not going unnoticed. That is why I’m nominating them as Hoosier Heroes. Thank You.

Christine C. 

“It has been a very steep learning curve, but that’s because the need is so strong in this community,” Christine explained. “It feels like we’ve been doing this forever now, but this is only the beginning of week three.”  The district’s director of food service, Clarahan has been adapting to the ever-changing situation in order to feed the kids of her low-income community.  She went from a cafeteria staff of nearly 160 to just 39. They can use only six of the district’s 19 schools as feeding sites, but they’ve been serving breakfasts and lunches three times a week to as many as 2,400 kids in a day.  They’ve fed kids in need more than 60,000 meals since schools closed.

Dee O. – Food Service Director, New Castle

As the Food Service Director for New Castle, Dee is making sure all students are fed during this time. With innovative ideas to deliver the meals throughout the community, Dee and her team are putting the students first by delivering meals to their front door.

Dulcie H. – Director of Dining Services, Beech Grove City Schools

When Beech Grove City Schools learned they were going to have to close in an effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, the superintendent, head of dining services, and staffers moved quickly to ensure their community still had access to food. With curbside pick-up-sites at schools across the city, mobile feeding sites, and deliveries available on three bus routes, the child nutrition staff are ensuring that even kids in the most rural parts of town have access to breakfast and lunch. In fact, Beech Grove City Schools staff served over 24,000 meals in their first three weeks of service! Dulcie is the Director of Dining Services.

Joni M. – Food Service Director, West Washington Schools

Joni is the Food Service Director for West Washington Schools. Her team is providing meals for students throughout the community. She is creating more avenues to help families as their county has a large food desert.

Lisa M. Food Service Director, River Forest Community School Corporation

Lisa is the Food Service Director for River Forest Community School Corporation. Her team is doing a great job ensuring students are fed. The area that the county resides in is high poverty and has few English language learners. They are doing the best job possible to reach all students.

Missi O. – Cafeteria Manager, Sullivan High School

Missi is the cafeteria manager at the southwest school corporation for Sullivan High School. Missi was instrumental in feeding the Sullivan community for the last 11 weeks as school was shut down due to COVID-19. She and her staff have packed over 500 meals on the days we serve the community and come in on Sundays to be ready to serve on Mondays. She is a true hero, leader, and a shining example of how communities come together in trying times. Missi was instrumental in setting up deliveries of some meals for students who did not have the means to come to the drive-through meal distribution. Missi is a hard worker and leads by example – she is a true asset to Sullivan High School.  This picture was taken of Missi and her staff in October.  I know this is probably not the normal submission, However, I think this shows what kind of leader she is.  Missi made these shirts for her and her staff for Halloween this year.  Missi is the red “M” on the right-hand side.

Sharlyn J. – Crawford County School Corporation

At Crawford County School Corporation, Sharlyn and her team are feeding students. Sharlyn, the Food Service Director, took it upon herself to obtain support from within the community. With living in a small rural town, Sharlyn has been successful in bringing the community together to feed her students. They are providing curbside pickup among other avenues to put a healthy meal in the students’ hands.

Tanera W. Director of Dining Services, South Bend Community Schools

Tanera is the Director of Dining Services for South Bend Community Schools. Her team is doing great things to ensure the students of South Bend have full bellies. From March 17th, over a half million students have been fed. They are being very creative to serve delicious, healthy meals. They were also a recipient of a NKH Emergency Feeding Site grant.

Teal K. – Food Service Director, Marion Community Schools

Teal, Food Service Director for Marion Community Schools, has been innovative in the variety of options and various ways students can receive meals. 

Vickie C. director of nutrition services and healthy schools

With school buildings closed for the year across Indiana and unemployment skyrocketing due to the pandemic, we know many families may be struggling to make sure their kids are fed. Vickie Coffey, director of nutrition services and healthy schools, tells us that the need is growing for meals in their more rural community. If parents are working during the day or the people at home don’t have their own transportation it can be difficult to make it to their weekly meal pickups. That’s why the district is bringing the food to some of their neighborhoods most in need right now, using their healthy food truck. We’re so grateful to all of the amazing people who are hard at work finding new and innovative ways to feed hungry kids while schools are closed. Thank you for everything you do! #ThankAHungerHero. 

Community/Food Bank Heroes

Amberley H. – CPA, Columbus Hospital

My daughter works as a cpa at the Columbus hospital. She has six girls she is raising through this thing. She has also become their teacher. I’m amazed that mothers that have to work during all this can get through the day with a happy heart even though she sometimes is so tired. Amber has a great attitude and commitment to her gals, and her community. She has a heart of gold.


I am proud to nominate BAMWX, a Greenwood weather forecasting company that services farmers, school districts, and various organizations throughout the state, for the Hoosiers Helping Hoosiers initiative. They started donating $500 multiple nights each week to local restaurants, to pay for carryout food orders, and published widely on social media to drum up business. People could order free food until the restaurant reached the donation dollar amount. Their efforts created a catalyst for other local companies, organizations and individuals to donate as well. As a result of the initial BAMWX and other donations, last Friday, Bargersville Bar and Grill was donated over $2,500 dollars for free food and was able to serve and sell the entire amount in one night. BAMWX has done this with 5 other small restaurants from Camby to Trafalgar. BAMWX is embracing the Hoosier hometown spirit.

Cathy B. 

Cathy is one of the most giving people I know. Cathy and her husband have been adopted aunt and uncle to my daughter Madison. Cathy was my supervisor for many years and we developed a friendship. She has been an encouragement to Madison and assisted financially when times were rough for us. She has taken her shop to the hospital and then immediately picked Madison up from school. She drove my daughter and my mom to the hospital several days in a row and was present for my surgery at the drop of a hat. She then picked Madison up from school every day while working for most of the time I was on FMLA . Cathy helps everyone. She buys things for children whose parents can not afford school clothes. She helps others with food and bills. She gives random acts of kindness and wears her heart on her sleeve. Our lives are so much better because of Cathy. She truly makes the world a better place.

Cheryl H. – Development Coordinator, Dayspring Center

Cheryl is the Development Coordinator for Dayspring Center, a local family homeless shelter. Dayspring provides shelter, meals and support for families of all kinds – no matter how that family is made. Cheryl handles a multitude of roles including bringing together the communications team, donor relationships, corporate sponsorships, educating the community and more. Most of all though, she is always thinking of Dayspring and their families first and how best to serve them, in the midst of a pandemic.

Cindy C. – Director, Pantry 279

Cindy is the director of Pantry 279, a food and necessities (toilet paper, diapers, toothpaste, ect) pantry which operates out of the Trinity Lutheran Church in Ellettsville Indiana.  Cindy began the pantry several years ago for the Girl Scout troop she was then leading. Currently, the pantry feeds hundreds of people in need every week. They serve people in Monroe, Owen and surrounding counties.  Cindy spends virtually all her free time serving those in need, in these counties.  To call her a Hoosier Hero is an understatement. She literally keeps hundreds of people from starving. Every week.  Find her good works on the Pantry 279 page on Facebook.

David D. – A.R.N. Funeral & Cremation Services

I would like to nominate David for the Hoosier Hero award. He works tirelessly in our community, serving families in their greatest hour of need. David works at A.R.N. Funeral & Cremation Services and daily works with families who have lost loved ones. During these difficult times, David has gone above and beyond to give families closure and comfort. His kindness and dedication means he often works overtime, takes calls overnight, and comes to work on holidays – putting aside his own family when someone is in need. COVID-19 has impacted everyone, but the funeral business sees only the tragic side of the pandemic. His heart is broken for local families everyday and even after caring for double the number of families he would normally serve, his resolve to continue to help has not been shaken. David is a shining example of a selfless final responder. He walks into COVID-19 patient areas and otherwise locked down facilities everyday. Although funeral workers are not always seen as being on the front lines, they are very important in this pandemic and David exemplifies what it means to be a Hoosier Hero.

Duane R. – Store director, Meijer Keystone Avenue

Duane is the store director for Meijer Keystone Avenue. He has been in the trenches since day 1 of the pandemic crisis, working diligently with his team members and customers to keep them motivated and safe. On a normal day, there is nothing that he wouldn’t do to be a teamplayer and role model for the rest of his store, but he has tirelessly gone above and beyond to make sure everyone has the safest environment to work and shop in. He has been a constant cheerleader and pillar of strength for all those involved.

John B. – Tipton Food Pantry

My husband John is an amazing advocate for all of our local food pantries in Tipton and surrounding communities. Although he advocates all year round by putting produce from our garden out front for people to take. Starting in early November John puts on his Santa Suit and starts collecting funds and food. He only asks for donations of food for the pantries. He will go and bring joy to any family whether they can provide the donation or not. The money and food he raises benefit the food pantries all year long. He also has a Kettle Corn stand that is set up to serve for a donation. He has participated in many Habitat for Humanity builds as well and goes to several nursing homes to visit and bring joy to the residents. His heart is huge for his community and for those less fortunate but his love lies with supporting the local food pantries. He is my husband and my Hoosier Hero!

Kelly Y. – Friends for Good

Kelly is an extraordinary person who assist in her community any way she knows how. She created a group of young people within the New Palestine area to volunteer their time to different organizations and people in need. This young group is called Friends for Good. Kelly has taught these young kids the importance of giving back. This group was established several years ago and they do wonderful things from putting hats and gloves and coats on trees downtown for the needy to putting together fun activities for children at the Julian Center.  Kelly also devotes her time to writing articles about small businesses and nonprofits to help get the word out about the wonderful things these organizations are doing. This is a wonderful thing she is doing especially during these unprecedented times, and she this on her own time and she does not get paid for doing this. Kelly is a remarkable person and I think she deserves some recognition.

Theresa M. –  Community Wellness Coordinator,
Lake County

Theresa is Lake County’s Community Wellness Coordinator for Purdue Extension Nutrition Education Program. She is working around the clock to help schools, food banks, and families obtain the resources needed to stay safe and healthy.

Tom H. – Nine13sports®

Tom founded Nine13sports®, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization promoting health, wellness, and exercise for 50,000+ youth each year. Tom’s commitment to his staff during the spring of 2020 was to protect the organization and also to serve the community. His entrepreneurial mindset shifted into high gear, offering the use of Nine13sports’ fleet of vehicles, its huge Depot, and its dedicated crew to store and distribute food. In his Facebook post of March 18, he said, “We must work together. We must navigate these scary moments. We must strive to be something bigger than just our organization.” Tom’s words were not rhetoric. He partnered with Gleaners, Second Helpings, Midwest Food Bank, and the American Red Cross to turn his organization on a dime, from “Kids Riding Bikes” to “Kids Being Fed.” His leadership and passion for serving others are exemplified in the fact that Nine13sports is now delivering between 150,000-200,000 pounds of food to over 10,000 individuals per week. Tom is a true Hoosier Hero!

Troy H.

In early April (after being on lock down for 5 weeks) a friend made me aware of a DJ in Massachusetts doing a “rolling concert” thru neighborhoods playing music in their neighborhoods on a nice day/Saturday. It was the one nice day in Indiana so I was cleaning windows and dusting floors to this music for like 2 hours. And smiling – I live alone so hadn’t seen many people or been out. That night I thought about it – and I have a friend here who is a DJ. He connected with the DJ in Mass via Facebook to find out how it worked, I got the truck ready, we found a friend who had a generator for power and voila’ ROLLING HOPE V2 was on track for the next Saturday in Pittsboro. We worked together, mapped it out and ran with it. And he’s done 3 more of the same since AND got other DJS to do it in Avon & Plainfield. We collected over 2,000 canned goods the first weekend and doubled it the next 2 in Brownsburg. Troy impacted so many people just because he said YES to my request for good music and fun! He is a Hoosier Hero! #rollinghopeV2