Baran-Unland: Who are your everyday heroes?

Please tell us about yours so we can honor them, too

Everyone knows at least one person who selflessly gives his or her time to help a cause or community - and never gets recognized.

So here is the perfect opportunity to ensure those people know their efforts are appreciated.

Each year, The Herald-News recognizes individuals in Will and Grundy Counties who make a difference in the lives of others by officially naming them as Everyday Heroes.

Nominees could be teachers, volunteers, caregivers, first responders or community leaders. They could be teens, such as 2019 honoree Brayden Caraynoff-Huber who, with his family, donated more than 15,000 pop tabs to Ronald McDonald House Charities. Brayden’s sister older sister Kaitlyn had a concussion after she went over the handlebars of her bicycle and flipped. During her recovery, the family spent time at a Ronald McDonald House.

They could be seniors, such as 2019 honoree Nancy Hackett, who served the Girl Scouts for more than 60 years.

They could be someone like 2019 honoree Joanna Veghts, who started a nonprofit (Team Nicholas) to help children with cancer after her own son died from leukemia.

An Everyday Hero might be your neighbor or co-worker or the person who sits across from you in church.

The only requirement is that the person be at least 13 years old and live or work in Will or Grundy County.

To nominate the people you consider heroes, visit and scroll down to “Nominate your Everyday Hero today!” on the right hand side. You may submit more than one nomination. And the more detailed the nomination, the better.

But please submit your nominations soon. Nominations close Aug. 29.

Honorees will be selected in late August and then featured in a special section in October so the entire community will know about these heroes, too.

And if you haven’t already, please “meet” The Hearld-News’ Everyday Heroes for 2020 by visiting

Denise M. Baran-Unland is the features editor for The Herald-News. Contact her at 815-280-4122 or

Denise  Unland

Denise M. Baran-Unland

Denise M. Baran-Unland is the features editor for The Herald-News in Joliet. She covers a variety of human interest stories. She also writes the long-time weekly tribute feature “An Extraordinary Life about local people who have died. She studied journalism at the College of St. Francis in Joliet, now the University of St. Francis.