In America, the race goes to the loud, the solemn, the hustler. If you think you’re a great writer, you must say that you are.

  • GORE VIDAL

Legendary author Gore Vidal certainly is no slouch when it comes to self-promotion – chances are you know Vidal’s name even if you’ve never read any of his books.

And though his comments concern writing, Vidal could well have been talking about many aspects of American life. In politics, in sports, in business, in education: It’s no secret that the meek don’t inherit much publicity in this life, even if a greater reward ultimately will be theirs.

That’s why our annual Advocate Award, first presented eight years ago to coincide with our publications’ first anniversary, is one of my favorite promotions.

It’s our chance to shed light on some people who are out to make a difference rather than out to build a resume.

Every year since 1992, we’ve asked readers to nominate people who are making life better in our neighborhood. Some of the stories we receive in these annual nominations from readers are sweet and simple. Others are compelling and inspiring.

Over the years, nominees have included tutors, Realtors, homemakers, volunteers, school board members, parents, children and grandparents.

And each year, our editorial staff reviews each nomination and selects someone to feature in our April cover story we believe you ought to know.

I’ll let you read our story this month to meet this year’s honoree. I hope the story inspires each of us to at least think about raising our hand the next time volunteers are being sought at some neighborhood event.

And I thought I’d close this column with a description of just one nominee for this year’s Advocate Award:

“He makes little boxes out of greeting cards and passes them out at Kroger’s, Tom Thumb and Minyard’s,” our reader wrote in her nominating form. “He visits hospitals and nursing homes in the area, bringing smiles to all with his boxes of love!

“He is a warm, funny man who spends countless hours making his little boxes so that he can bring cheer and happiness to total strangers. I’m very lucky and proud to have him as my dad!”

Perhaps Gore Vidal is a great writer simply because he keeps telling us he is. In his daughter’s eyes, Advocate Award nominee George Gray is a great man because of what he does, rather than what he says.

And that is what the Advocate Award is all about.