Toledo's unsung heroes get day in the national spotlight

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- They give their time and their hearts, and Thursday night the country gives them the recognition they deserve.

Black ties, celebrities, and a modern take on the red carpet, for the Himmels - it's hard to believe they're among the stars of this show.

"Hearing all the stories today, it's like what are we doing here," said Bill Himmel, "we don't feel like we're doing anything special, we're doing it for the kids, the families, the volunteers."

Thursday, the the 46th annual Jefferson Awards were held, organizers bill it as America's most prestigious celebration of public service.

Terri and Bill Himmel of Sylvania punched their ticket by establishing a chapter of a skating program - Gliding Stars -- for kids and young adults with disabilities.

Without their frozen family , the couple said they're not sure how they would have made it through their darkest days. Years ago, they their favorite skater, their late daughter Lily. "But even day-to-day, I think sometimes we get way more out of this program than our participants," said Terri Himmel.

Toledo University-bound Freshaman Diala Abou-Dahech and Toledo Early College High School rising junior Grace Grand came to the awards party to represent their high school and all of their classmates.

"It's amazing, we're kind of speechless, that this is happening to us," said Abou-Dahech.

They led a community service effort that went viral - with every single student at TECHS finding time to give back to the community. Collectively the school of about 350 students registered more than 3,100 hours.

Asked how she plans to build off this year's success, Grand sets her sights high. "I also want to expand more into the community and other schools in our area," she said.

The nominees from our area won't be bringing home the national awards. But, they said all the love and appreciation, as well as the chance to share their passion, will be remembered for a lifetime.

WTVG is a sponsor of the annual Jefferson awards given out locally.

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