Beliefnet's Most Inspiring Person of 2005--Victoria Ruvolo

How a Long Island woman who showed compassion for her attacker became Beliefnet's Most Inspiring Person of the Year.

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Mable Brown

, who showed both guts and compassion in the wake of Hurricane Katrina; and


, the spiritual leader whose acts of loving-kindness have generated so much to help the victims of the tsunami.

We were especially impressed by

Capt. Ian Fishback

, the West Point graduate who reported on prisoner abuse and torture in Iraq. Capt. Fishback faced a painfully difficult decision: If he went public, he risked rejection by his fellow soldiers and the end of his military career. But Fishback noted that the oath he had taken to uphold the Constitution was sworn before God, and so he had no choice but to speak out about the abuses. Significantly, his two biggest champions have been supporters of the war: writer Andrew Sullivan and Sen. John McCain, both of whom argued that degrading American values would harm, not help, our war on terror. "[Fishback] had the courage to stand up and say what he thought was best for his country,"

McCain told Beliefnet


. "He had his country's interest above his own ambitions."


The three finalists selected by our readers Alex Scott, David Rozelle, and Victoria Ruvolo have one thing in common: Each was an "ordinary" person who, when faced with difficult circumstances, did extraordinary things. Each exhibited qualities we wish we had, but fear we don't.

If Victoria Ruvolo can manage to quell her anger, summon such wisdom, and sense gratitude in the wake of such a calamity, can't we do the same in less difficult situations?



Alex Scott

was four years old and battling cancer, she opened a lemonade stand to raise money for cancer research. Soon, her friends joined in and opened lemonade stands in her name. On June 12, 2004 she raised $40,000 at her stand and supporters around the country raised $220,000. A few weeks later, Alex died, but her cause didn't. Her parents set up a foundation to continue the child-led fundraising efforts for pediatric cancer research, which in 2005 raised $3 million. Her story begs us to ask ourselves: If one four-year-old child can do so much, can we really be pessimistic about our own ability to make a difference?

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Steven Waldman, Editor-in-Chief
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