Mr. Gebreselase and Ms. Coles were chosen from a total of 111 honorees who were recognized as Unsung Heroes this year, nominated from 68 Baltimore-area public, private, parochial and independent schools. McCormick is proud to continue the tradition of honoring students throughout the region. In a time where there is a spotlight on the city, troubling stories dominate the news and hope is hard to come by for many – it is critical for the business leaders who call Baltimore home to lift up the community.
Mr. Gebreselase, a soccer player at Digital Harbor High School in Baltimore City, has used soccer to channel incredible hardships and overcome obstacles. As a young child, he escaped persecution in Eritrea and spent six years alone in a refugee camp in Ethiopia before he could get to the United States to reunite with his mother and brother. When he arrived as a 9th grader, he knew no English but went to school and soccer practice every day with a positive attitude and a smile. From his first day of school, he pushed himself in class, on the field, and to grow as a human being. He has never missed a practice or day of school in over three years and has led his team and peers by example. His coach remembered a Saturday before a Monday game where Mr. Gebreselase, only one of two players who showed up in the pouring rain, was the first one there and running laps to prepare. He is the definition of an unsung hero.
Ms. Coles comes from Reginald F. Lewis School of Business and Law, a magnet high school in Baltimore City. The Lewis School serves some of the most vulnerable students coming out Northeast Baltimore, offering the opportunity to study a specialized curriculum designed to ease college preparedness. A member of the school’s volleyball team, she was selected for her unselfish behavior and good sportsmanship. Ms. Coles’ coaches and teammates also praise her for her stellar leadership, consistent support of her team and dedication to doing whatever it takes for her team to be successful.
Four additional scholarships were also awarded to deserving student-athletes at this year’s Unsung Heroes banquet. Matthew Valentine of Western School of Technology and Environmental Science and Treasure Valdez of McDonogh School, each received $7,500 scholarships. Leon Brooks of Benjamin Franklin High School and Helen Delgado Pineda of Owings Mills High School, each received $5,000 scholarships. More than 700 Baltimore area officials, school administrators, coaches, Unsung Hero honorees and family members attended the event on May 13, 2019.
McCormick’s Unsung Heroes program was founded by the late Charles Perry McCormick Sr. in 1940. The mission of the program is to recognize athletes for unselfish team play and highlight the efforts of those who contribute to the success of their teams without acclaim. In 1969, the scholarship component of the award was added to the program in his honor, and to date, has awarded over $1.7 million to deserving student-athletes. The Charles Perry McCormick Scholarship is awarded to one female and one male student-athlete each year and is worth $40,000 over four years.
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