Who’s your hero? I know countless individuals in Independence and Blue Springs who would list members of the Central Hockey League’s Missouri Mavericks as their heroes as the team captivated our community and quickly became the hottest ticket at the Independence Events Center.

Who’s your hero?

Is it George Brett, the Kansas City Royals Hall of Famer who gave us so many thrills over a 20-year career that included a World Series championship in 1985 and three batting titles in three decades?

How about Derrick Thomas, another Hall of Famer who made life miserable for opposing quarterbacks in the 1990s, while he played outside linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Or is it a teacher, doctor, neighbor or parent who made a real impact on your life?

I know countless individuals in Independence and Blue Springs who would list members of the Central Hockey League’s Missouri Mavericks as their heroes as the team captivated our community and quickly became the hottest ticket at the Independence Events Center.

Well, those same Mavericks are looking for community heroes, and they’re going to honor them on the ice in a special event that I’ll keep under wraps for now.

“I was sitting in my office, thinking about what this great community has meant to our organization,” team president and general manager Brent Thiessen said Thursday afternoon.

“And I thought, ‘Let’s find out who are the real heroes in the community – the teachers, the firemen, the single moms raising a family – and have folks nominate them for a special honor.”

We can all appreciate the George Bretts and Derrick Thomases of the world, but what about the folks who work in the trenches or behind the scenes who never get their name in a headline or have as sold-out stadium chant their name?

I remember listening to an interview with the late Willie Stargell, a Hall of Fame first baseman for the world champion Pittsburgh Pirates.

He was asked what it was like to be a hero and he said, “I’m no hero. The hero is a man who makes minimum wage and puts food on his family’s table and a roof over their head.”

I don’t know about you, but I already have a couple of folks in mind. I’m going to keep their names private, but nothing would make me prouder than to see them honored for their accomplishments in the community.

They make the world a better place and they certainly make our community more livable and loveable.

They avoid the spotlight like a vampire avoids the early-morning sun and would be embarrassed to be called a hero – but if the shoe fits, they’re going to have to wear it.

The Mavericks will be accepting nominations from now until September 24. Fans wishing to fill out a nomination please go to  www.missourimavericks.com/community/community-heroes.html and download the nomination form.

Speaking of heroes, I had lunch with Bill Vandemeer Friday afternoon and he walked from his car into Tim’s Pizza with the help of a walker.

The Mavericks forward fell more than 20 feet while trimming a tree on May 29, crushing both of his heels. He was given no chance of getting back on the ice until mid February.

He’s light years ahead of that early appraisal and now says his goal of playing by Nov. 15 is looking more and more like reality as every hour passes.

“After I’m on my feet about 10 minutes, it feels like spikes going up through my heels,” Vandermeer said, “but that’s better than not feeling anything at all. The people over at Centerpoint are my heroes for the way they’re getting me through my rehab.”

Vandermeer is expected to be a big part of the Mavericks offense this year, and proved last year – when he was healthy – he was among the most dangerous forward in the Central Hockey League.