Most Inspiring Person of 2007: Liviu Librescu
A Virginia Tech professor who died saving his students from a gunman is the winner of this year's award.
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Each year for six years Beliefnet editors have asked themselves whether the nominees for Most Inspiring Person can get any more exceptional. And in the seventh year of the feature, we're amazed to find out that, yes, they can. The heroic actions of our nominees range from putting their lives on the line to protect others to selflessly dedicating themselves to helping those in need, to serving as a role model for youth.
This year our list included two coaches: Tony Dungy, coach of the Super Bowl-wining Indianapolis Colts and a prominent Christian, who encourages faith and family ahead of winning; and Luma Mufleh, founder of the soccer team the Fugees, comprised of refugee kids from war-torn countries.
The most high-profile nominees on this year's list, actors Don Cheadle and Angelina Jolie, both work to aid the world's poor by giving them a public voice. Cheadle puts his focus on aiding the people of Darfur, while Jolie works on a variety of humanitarian—including Darfur, Doctor's Without Borders, and the Daniel Pearl Foundation.
Jolie also has the distinction of being the most controversial nominee this year, with many Beliefnet readers writing in to express their disappointment with her nomination. Many noted that Jolie was "living in sin" with boyfriend Brad Pitt. But others pointed out the fact that she currently gives one-third of her earnings to charity. For someone who usually commands upwards of $15-20 million per film, that adds up to a lot. For this and other reasons, Jolie placed second among the top three finalists.