For most of us, the people who have the greatest impact on our lives are those closest to home. These are the everyday angels who give us "a piece of Heaven here on Earth," as Beliefnet member areangel wrote about his best friend and companion, Colleen, adding, "Through many trials and adversity she has continued to be a light of balance, peace, and love in my life and the lives of others." More than 100 nominations on Beliefnet's Most Inspiring Person board were dedicated to family members, pastors, friends, professors, a family doctor, and even to fellow Beliefnet members for being, as user Marianah put it, "brave, wonderful, and witty."

Selflessness and strength in adversity were the most admired qualities of friends and family alike. Mothers and fathers drew a special outpouring of love.

"The most inspiring person in my life, and this year especially, was my mother. Always one to put others first, Mom's courage in her battle with pancreatic cancer really helped me cope with caring for her and accepting the fact that she would soon be gone. [She died on Sept. 7.] The extraordinary part of this story is that Mother was not bitter and rarely complained of her illness..She didn't give up without a fight."-parkesbo

"My Dad and Mom are the inspiring people because they are so dedicated in God's work.Once when they came to visit us, they stopped at a rest area and came across a family living in a van due to a house fire and they gave them food, blankets and filled their van with gas so they would not be hungry or cold.I hope that I can be as caring and loving and faithful as they are." -poohbear1891

"I nominate my father, Kris Gratrix, for the most inspiring person of 2001. When my world was closing in on me, he gave me strength, hope, inspiration and peace. .When I was at my lowest time in my life it was his love that gave me wings to fly again." -r1k1gratrix

"I would love to nominate my mother, Minnie L. Matthews. She has been a constant inspiration not just to me but to her grandchildren as well. She has helped me and others all her life.even raising her younger brothers and sisters." - Psalm 27

And when the going got tough, the tough got nominated. Skla4ever extolled her Aunt Carol who "took her legal case all the way to the Supreme Court!!!! She had many obstacles and never gave up! She is a real-life Erin Brockovich."

Eighty-six-year-old grandmother Lorena De Roin, a member of the Otoe-Missouri tribe, was nominated by her granddaughter, nativechurchgirl, who wrote, "She is still employed, and was recently the first Native American to hold the title of the National American War Mother President. Even today she assists everyone selflessly and never expects anything in return."

Sixkidsandme paid tribute to "a very special friend..[who] has traveled to El Salvador and Peru to build orphanages, medical buildings and homes for the earthquake victims." Unfortunately, her friend died on Sept. 25th in a car accident, but "I trust not in vain. I pray that each child he touched will carry a piece of him in their heart."

Of those outside the family, pastors and teachers garnered eloquent praise.

"My pastor Rev. M.E. Yarbought is the most inspiring person of 2001. He has been our pastor for 17 years and has a major heart condition and was recently diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. Yet he has always has been there for each member." -BARNES8

KatrinaD wrote: "I'd nominate my former pastor, still friend and mentor, Steve Garnaas-Holmes. He's been a source of strength, peace, inspiration and joy for me. During his 8 years in Missoula MT, he was a shining light that made the city more tolerant, caring, and beautiful."

"I would like to nominate James Lucal, Instructor with Western Washington University's Human Services Program.He was very instrumental in helping me to keep going when I felt like I wasn't going to be able to make it." -bdpope26

And, perhaps a first on our boards, Kenyon Miers (Kejun99) nominated his physician, Dr. Dean Edell. "His advice is offered with care, an extreme amount of common sense and love and consideration of the human condition. He's a listener, polite, patient, sympathetic and caring.He is my supreme choice."

Some of the most moving tributes were given by spouses to their husbands and wives, whose everyday examples were love made visible.

Corrand4ever nominated her husband Randy Johnson. "He died on Wed. Oct. 3, 2001, after fighting courageously, advanced melanoma and many brain tumors for almost 18 months. He is truly a `mighty man of valor'; he seldom complained, despite many treatment, setbacks, and side effects. Was brave and kept walking in faith, trusting God right up to the final moments of his life..My kids and I love and miss Randy and honor him above all others on this earth."

Hawks88 writes: "My wonderful wife, Robyn, is my inspiration! Her life has been a struggle, her mother died when she was 14 and she had two children before age 20 with NO family help or support.yet she has risen above this and displays a wonderful attitude. I am very thankful to God that she entered my life and I give thanks everyday for her."

Finally, Jensine nominated her four-year-old spiritual "teacher": "First and foremost, my daughter Lucy. She's just four, but she has shown me how to have a 'happy childhood,' she appreciates everything and in her simple way, she finds joy in everything!"

With her second nomination, Jensine threw the door of inspiration wide open: "I nominate EVERYONE!" she wrote. "I nominate the human race! We are still wonderful, and there is so much hope for the future!!! And seeing as I believe we are all `one,' then that is the 'one' person I would nominate!!"

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