Action Figures: Chicagoans of the Year 2009

Grahm Balkany
Gropius in Chicago Coalition

Ramsey Lewis
Proclamation of Hope / Songs from the Heart

Sam Harris
Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center

Annette Nance-Holt & Ronald Holt

Purpose Over Pain

Sara Foszcz
Main Stay Therapeutic Riding Program

There are people who talk about doing, and then there are people who get things done. Our six Chicagoans of the Year for 2009—a jazz musician, a Holocaust survivor, a horsewoman, an architectural detective, and two grieving parents—clearly fall into the latter category.

At a January luncheon at the Four Seasons, sponsored in part by Coldwell Banker, Chicago will celebrate the achievements of these remarkable individuals and reward them with a $1,000 donation from the Chicago Tribune Foundation for the charity of their choice.

PLUS: Tell us, Chicago: Who were the heroes in your life this year? Tell us in the comments below, and check back for the full story, coming soon.


Photography by Katrina Wittkamp



5 years ago
Posted by Elizabeth

As usual (and cheesy), my mom was my hero this year. It's amazing--she becomes more of a hero to me the older I get. Anyone who starts with nothing, yet perseveres, is a hero to me.

5 years ago
Posted by ChicagoKT

To find the heroes in my life, I don't have to look far. With two brothers serving our country, in Iraq, I've had a first hand experience of the sacrifices that the soldiers and their families make.

I know what it's like to worry so much that it actually, physically hurts. I know what it's like to watch your mother cry, as she prayers for her sons' safety. I know what it's like to hold your breath for days, after hearing that a group of soldiers was killed by a roadside bomb; and the names will not be released until all families are notified. I know. And then, through my worry..through my tears...through my prayers...I stop. I stop, and I realize the sacrifice that my brothers are making, during these precious years of their young lives; and I'm so thankful that I don't have to look far to find the heroes in my life.

5 years ago
Posted by Bran

My friend and co-worker, Bethanne, was my hero this year. She's gone through many trials throughout the year, including deaths in her family, but she always holds her head high and keeps a smile on her face. She's always willing to take the extra step to help others and she never complains about the big or little things many of us get so easily disgruntled about. She's a winner in every way!

5 years ago
Posted by SallyZara

My Chicago Heros because they spread good "Chicago vibes" beyond Chicago and they are amazing women:

- Deborah Adams Doering, Chicago Artist
- Jane Dunne, Culinary Enthusiast and Wonderful Food Writer of The Culinarian with Shore Magazine

5 years ago
Posted by kzech

This year, my heroes are those that pushed though this awful economic climate with optimism and grace.

5 years ago
Posted by Jenn F.

My hero has always been my grandmother. She's an incredible lady who grew up on a rural Mississippi farm, and lost her hearing at a young age. She didn't let that stop her and she went on to go to college, get her Master's degree, become a teacher, a librarian and raise her family. Her lifelong dedication to learning, reading and writing has inspired me in my love of the arts and to become a journalist. Love you Maw-maw!

5 years ago
Posted by sarahs

My hero is also my mom. I continue to learn more and more about what she's been through in her life, and it blows me away the person she was able to become. She gives so selflessly and kept me afloat in so many ways this year. She has the best heart out of anyone I know even though she's been dealt a lot of bad cards in the past. She is kind, incredibly thoughtful, and overall just rocks.

5 years ago
Posted by ALT

My hero is my father because he is the smartest, hardest working person I know. He has been through a lot in his life but he never complains and always looks out for others before considering his own needs. I honestly don't know anyone with more integrity and I know I would not be the person I am today if it weren't for him. Another hero of mine is my aunt. She has advanced lung and liver cancer and this will probably be her last Christmas with us. She has faced her illness and has dealt with life's hardships with humor, grace and a very brave heart. She deserved so much more than she ever got from life and I love her very much!

5 years ago
Posted by Chicago Red Cross

These stories are amazing! The American Red Cross looks every year for stories like this to honor local heros. Can you take a minute to share your story here:

5 years ago
Posted by EPS

To me, a hero is selfless, brave, strong and compassionate. So, my parents are my heroes. They have centered their lives around my sister and I, and provided a life for us that was unavailable to them. They're endlessly supportive, patiently wise and are the best drinking buddies I've got.

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