Reynoldsburg News

New award planned to honor those who inspire

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Officials with the Columbus Foundation have created a new award to honor central Ohioans who change things around them for the better.

It's called the Spirit of Columbus Award, taking the name from the airplane former Bexley resident Geraldine "Jerrie" Mock flew in her 1964 bid to become the first woman to fly solo around the world.

Born in 1925, Jerrie Mock lived through the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War and many other things, according to the website womenaviators.org.

"After having had several jobs, Geraldine (Jerrie) Mock, nee Fredritz, became manager of the Columbus Airport (Ohio)," the website said.

"She had married Russell Mock in 1945 and they had three children. In 1962 Jerrie complained to her husband of having nothing interesting to occupy her, she wanted to go somewhere; she had already learned to fly. Almost as a joke Russell replied 'Why don't you fly around the world?' " according to the website.

Mock took off from Columbus March 19, 1964, and returned April 17, the site stated. President Lyndon Johnson presented her with the Gold Medal Award of the Federal Aviation Administration. Many other countries also gave her awards and decorations.

"Jerrie Mock had covered 22,858 miles in 30 days, and had flown 158 flying hours," the website womenaviators.org noted.

"I think it's fair to say that not many people know about it (the accomplishment)," said Carol M. Harmon, vice president for communications and marketing with the Columbus Foundation.

"It's part of central Ohio's history," Harmon said.

"Jerrie's historic accomplishment was an act of vision and courage, and serves as a platform for inspiration and aligns with the community spirit we see in our community today.

"Through the Spirit Award, the foundation wants to celebrate the inspiring accomplishments that happen in our community each and every day.

"We wanted to acknowledge what Jerrie did."

The eventual recipient of what's almost an inaugural Spirit of Columbus Award (one has already been presented to Mock, who now lives in Florida, according to Harmon) will be allowed to select one of the nonprofit organizations featured in PowerPhilanthropy to receive a grant of $5,000.

The deadline for nominations, which must include the identity of the person being suggested for the honor as well as the name of the individual making the nomination, is noon Wednesday, April 10.

The criteria for selection, according to the rules and regulations on the foundation's website, include that the nominee:

* Impacts central Ohio, which includes Delaware, Fairfield, Licking, Madison, Morrow, Pickaway, Union, and Franklin counties.

* Inspires others.

* Acts with an emotional bond.

* Drives community progress.

* Demonstrates pride of place.

The person must be willing to be publicly acknowledged, as well, the rules state.

"We want to celebrate the community pride," Harmon said. "We've asked people in the community to nominate someone who inspires them.

"We're committed to doing this on an annual basis," she added.

The nomination form as well as more on the rules for the Spirit of Columbus Award is available online at www.columbusfoundation.org.

As of last week, 25 nominations had been received and there had been a lot of activity on the site, according to Harmon.

"Which we think is fabulous," she said. "We're very encouraged and excited."

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