On Oct. 3, Harford County Government recognized this year's 35 nominees for the 27th annual Harford's Most Beautiful People. Through their volunteer work they have touched the lives of many people living in and around Harford County and their stories should be an inspiration to everyone.

We are proud to announce Erik Sauer as Harford's Most Beautiful Person for 2013. Erik, a leukemia survivor, was diagnosed just before the birth of his second son and was admitted to Johns Hopkins for a treatment which included chemotherapy and ultimately a bone marrow transplant. He faced many challenges, but did so with the support and love of his wife, family and friends. Through it all, his support network made sure the family received emotional support as well as nutritious and delicious meals.

While at the hospital, Erik could not help but notice the many patients who did not have that support. This prompted Erik to create the "There Goes My Hero Foundation" whose mission is to restore hope to leukemia patients and their families. The foundation provides meals, holds bone marrow drives, fundraisers and other events. Erik dedicates hundreds of hours per year to his organization, also known as "Hero," promoting the organization and creating partnerships with other organizations so more families can be fed and more individuals recruited for the Bone Marrow Transplant Registry. His organization also host fundraisers throughout the year to raise money and ensure a continued increase in the number of people served. Erik won't rest until they have the same opportunity for recovery that he had. He will gladly tell his story, not to show how strong he is, but to share it to help others in need.

The nominees for the 2013 Harford's Most Beautiful People were: Brenda Aleman, Patricia Aylmer, Laurena Bell, Josephine Bodt, Michael Bowen, Lawrence Burton, PJ Chambers, Carol Cheicante, Mark Dardozzi, Scott Di Gennaro, Beryl Fleming, Jennie Garrison, Donna Gustafsson, Bonnie Haden, John Haug, Shannon Hitchings, Wynona Hilton-Stanley, Kim and Russell Hurd, Linda Marlow, Edna Matterson, Evelyn McSorley, Debora Merlock, Barbara Polack, Pastor Al Reeves, Patricia Reeves, Clair Roz, Erik Sauer, Gary Stokes, Christine Sullivan, Cathy Swisko, Shirley and Alan Thompson, Stanley Williams and Wanda Williams.

This year, the nominees served in nursing homes, churches, community agencies, shelters, clothing closets, Sunday Schools and supported and founded civic causes. They worked with youth, special populations, community members, hospital patients, and others. They cared for friends, family and neighbors. Overall, the contribution of their time and talents significantly enhances the quality of life and community spirit in our county.

They are quietly and diligently working in our communities to make Harford County a better place to live, work and play and we cannot thank them enough for all they do.

Elizabeth Hendrix

Director of Department of Community Services

And the Staff of the Volunteer Harford