PITMAN: ‘Heroes of Character’ provides important community recognition

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Character matters.

It’s an important virtue, and it’s often under-recognized.

But next month, we’re going to see it honored at the Champion Mill Conference Center at Spooky Nook where the Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Hamilton’s City of Character will showcase several “Heroes of Character.”

Recognizing and reinforcing good character needs to be celebrated, said Steve Lippert, chair of Hamilton’s City of Character committee. And it’s good to recognize the characters of a community’s leaders, like retired Butler County Judge Randy Rogers, who, when he was on the bench, presided over many specialty dockets that focused on treating people’s problems rather than punishments. Either on the bench, or though his volunteerism, Rogers has spent decades helping people with mental health issues and developmental disabilities, and has been an advocate of adoption.

“Character counts,” Lippert said. “It’s important to who we are. We want to recognize and reinforce it when we see it.”

In order for communities to prosper, they need people of character, honor, and integrity to pull together to make it a better place.

We’ll see character in spades on April 18 at the event where Judge Rogers is just one of several of Butler County’s most upstanding being honored along with other honorable people in the Southwest Ohio region.

At the top of the slate will be Kim and Bonnie Nuxhall, who will receive the “Pillar of Character” award. The Nuxhall name has been synonymous with Butler County ever since Kim’s dad, the Ol’ Lefthander Joe Nuxhall, was signed by the Cincinnati Reds in 1944 as a 15-year-old.

Kim is a lot like his dad, a man who was the definition of integrity.

For more than three decades, Kim Nuxhall instructed the children of Fairfield in physical education ― retiring in 2010 ― but he was the founder of character education in the district. In retirement, he’s led the Nuxhall Foundation, named for his dad, where as chairman leads a team of volunteers giving those physical and mental challenges opportunities to play baseball at the Miracle League Fields in Fairfield.

Tyler Bradshaw, the Nuxhall Foundation executive director and emcee of the April 18 event, said Kim and Bonnie Nuxhall “have just molded what it means to be good citizens and caring citizens in our community.”

Through their mantel of service, the Nuxhalls are probably working harder in retirement, selflessly improving the quality of life of many in the region.

Frank Downie, of 17 Strong, said for him, character means integrity and “doing the right thing.”

It’s also humility because he’s more honored to be included in the same breath as Kim and Bonnie Nuxhall. He called it a privilege.

Brandon Saurber, Hamilton’s director of Neighborhoods, said Downie, who also leads People Reaching Out To Others: Celebrate Our Lindenwald, or PROTOCOL, is “someone of steadfast conviction” and “a person that you would never question their integrity, their sincerity, their authenticity.”

“Human beings did not become the dominant species on planet Earth because we’re the biggest and the strongest with the sharpest teeth. We did so because we evolved to work together to solve problems,” said Saurber.

But it’s not just the adults in the community that understand the importance of character, of being a good human being. Many of the community’s future leaders already understand that today.

Several regional students, several of who are from Hamilton, will be recognized next month, which Andre Gendreau, with the Hamilton City Schools, said “it’s important we acknowledge our students because many times they’re doing a fantastic job but seem to fly under the radar.”

“It aligns with what we do on a daily basis,” he said. “To have a chance to honor these students who were nominated by their teachers or by people in the community is really great to honor them.”

Downie, 72, said it’s nice to see the students honored because in the day where good character can be hard to find, especially on social media. In fact, honoring the students of character is “about the greatest thing you can have.”

He’s not wrong.


Tickets for the Heroes of Character celebration is scheduled for 6 to 8:30 p.m. on April 18 at the Champion Mill Conference Center at spooky Nook in Hamilton. Tickets are on sale through Friday online at charactercincinnati.org, and the event includes a silent auction. Or call 513-678-9037.

Adult honorees include:

Kim and Bonnie Nuxhall, recipients of the “Pillar of Character” award; Frank Downie, Seventeen Strong, Hamilton; Kristi Eberhart, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Dearborn County Indiana and Harrison, Ohio; Christopher Oser, Three Rivers Local School District, Cleves; Judge Randy Rogers, Hamilton; and Daniel G. Spraul, Esq., Cincinnati.

Student honorees include:

Lillian Fackey, Hamilton High School; Journee Jackson, Linden Elementary, Hamilton; Vincent Kiep, Hamilton High School; Mason Little, Hamilton High School; Mabel O’Donohoe, Highland Elementary, Hamilton; Ethan Stone, Oakwood High School, Dayton; and Jacob Taylor, Taylor High School, Cleves.

There were several student finalists, who are: Jamel Smith, Xenia High School, Xenia; Jon Hildebrand, Urbana High School, Urbana; Jacob Spangenberg, Julianna Miller, Jayden Mitchell, Devon Adams, Hamilton High School; Reagan Southard, Zoey Harris Linden Elementary, Hamilton; Mya Merbs, Avery Tyler Highland Elementary, Hamilton; and Fenou Tohounho, Fairwood Elementary, Hamilton.

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