The Nominees have been announced. Beliefnet’s candidates for Most Inspiring Person of 2008 are all heroes who exemplify the highest standards of courage and service. Please join us in saluting these extraordinary people by voting for your candidate and discussing the contributions of all of them and describing what inspires you in our forum. We are so grateful to all of these nominees for their extraordinary compassion and commitment and for reminding us that even in these cynical times there are still people who can inspire us with their example of giving for others.
* Heroic Boy Scouts?Transformed into True Leaders by a Deadly Iowa Tornado
Dozens of Nebraska and Iowa Boy Scouts attending a weeklong leadership training session rallied into action without missing a beat when a devastating tornado ripped through their remote western Iowa campsite. Courageously, the boys overcame fear and panic to rescue their friends and community members and assist the injured.
* Paul Newman?Beloved Film Star and Philanthropist Who Built a Life by Doing Good for Others
Academy Award Winner and generous humanitarian, Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang Camps for seriously ill children give hundreds of thousands of kids an opportunity to laugh, play and enjoy the fresh air, green grass and sunshine.
* Randy Pausch?Carnegie Mellon’s “Last Lecture” Professor Who Inspired Millions to Live Their Dreams
Hugely popular professor who recently passed away after a brave journey through pancreatic cancer showed the importance of living each day well–even when facing death–and to never give up on your dreams. His “Last Lecture” video and book, and interviews with Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America remain an inspiration to people around the world.
* Master Sgt. William “Spanky” Gibson?Oklahoma Marine Who Returned to Iraq Despite Devastating War Injuries
After doctors amputated his leg above the knee as a result of a combat injury, 19-year veteran Master Sgt. Gibson refused whole-heartedly to think of himself as disabled. “Born to be a Marine,” Gibson retrained with gusto, and returned to battle with a prosthetic leg; he proudly serves his country to this very day.
* Dr. Halima Bashir?Sudanese Doctor Brutalized for Condemning Darfur Horrors
Bashir’s memoir relates how she was brutally punished for medically treating the injured and then declaiming the rape and torture of young girls who are being traumatized by government-backed rapists in Darfur. Her breathtaking life story and passionate commitment to speaking out against violence on behalf of those who cannot fight for themselves has inspired millions.
* Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor?Amazing Story of Stroke and Recovery by a Brain Scientist who Views Her Experience as a Gift to Others
A doctor who spent her life studying the human brain awoke to discover that she was having a massive stroke herself. As she watched her own brain deteriorate she reached a profound level of spirituality that eventually inspired her to change the course of her life and share new knowledge with the world.
* Christina Applegate?Vivacious Actress and Breast Cancer Survivor Passionate about Raising Awareness and Helping Other Women Find the Treatment they Need
The well-known actress has risen as an inspiration to women everywhere. When her mother was stricken with the disease, she became a passionate crusader for breast cancer awareness and finding a cure. Now a breast cancer survivor herself, she continues to inspire and motivate others to join the fight against this deadly disease.
* Dara Torres?Olympic Swimming Medalist and Selfless Competitor
At the Beijing Olympics this past summer, 41-year-old Dara Torres hauled in three silver medals for Team USA, to become the oldest swimming medalist in Olympic history. But many considered Torres’ most valiant and inspiring moment to be her instinctive and selfless gesture to help a competitor that stopped the clock seconds before race.
* Darin Headrick?Reuniting a Tornado-torn Community by Rebuilding its Schools
When ten people died and 95 percent of tiny Greensburg, Kansas was destroyed by a two mile wide tornado, Superintendent of Schools Darin Headrick spearheaded efforts to get the school system back up and running better than ever before. His environmentally-friendly “Green” schools gave students and families hope and a reason to stay and grow with the new community they pledged to build.
* Steven Curtis Chapman?Christian Music Artist Who Faced a Parent’s Darkest Hour
Award-winning singing star sustained his family’s spirit and faith through the tragic loss of his daughter. His courage in the face of personal loss balanced by a reliance on God serves as a model for millions of people around the world. Chapman is a tireless advocate for underprivileged children and Christian relief.