Unwilling to be beaten by advanced cancer, cyclist Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France in 1999--and, to prove it was no fluke--again in 2000. His astounding comeback has brought hope and even excitement to many thousands world-wide who are facing cancer. Cancer-free today, he has started the Lance Armstrong Foundation to help support those who are facing the disease.
"Lance Armstrong would not permit the devastation of his illness define him. He trascended the limitations of his situation, and soared: the marks of a hero."--
Azim Khamisa and Ples Felix
Azim Khamisa and Ples Felix are two men whose lives collided in heart-breaking violence when the son of one murdered the grandson of the other. Yet instead of shriveling into the usual positions of vengence and defensiveness, rage and shame, they moved into an extraoridnary alliance to heal each other's shattering losses and to try to stop tragedies such as theirs from happening. It began when Azim, the father of the murdered boy, went to find the killer's family and met Ples, a good man, the boy's grandfather, the person raising him-a good man as devastated as Azim was himself. Instead of recriminations, Azim extended his hand in shared sorrow. This courage was repeated the next day by Ples, walking alone into a room filled with Azim's shocked and grieving family, there to express his own shock and grief at what his boy had done.
Now the two of them go together into schools, with open, grieving hearts, to talk to children about the unthinkable cost of violence, helping kids face the sorrow that violence has brought into their own lives, getting them to pledge that violence will never be the path they take themselves.--Anne Medlock, the Giraffe Project
Baby Matthew was found dead, stuffed in a duffel bag by the side of a California highway. He never would have had a funeral, or even a name, if housewife Debi Faris hadn't heard his story on the news and felt compelled to call the coroner to find out what happened to unclaimed dead babies. (They are cremated and held till there are enough of them to put into a common grave.) Matthew was the first of 41 abandoned babies that have received a name, a funeral and a loving burial in the Garden of Angels, a small cemetery set up by Debi and the organization she started. Discovering that the policmen or other professionals who find these dead children are profoundly affected by their discovery, she invites the finder to name the child and attend the burial.
Spurred by the plight of these tiny victims, Debi became an activist for "safe abandonment" laws, which would give desperate mothers of newborns the option of leaving their babies in a hospital without fear of prosecution. Through the work of Debi and others like her, California passed such a law last September. It goes into affect on January 1.
"No one should ever feel that they are so alone in this world, or so desperate, that they think the only thing they can do to distance themselves from their child is to open the lid of a trash can or dumpster."--Debi Faris.
The "Protestant Pope," and bringer of a message of hope and love to millions worldwide, Billy Graham continues to speak even though he is 82 years old and fighting illness. Through his efforts this year, more than 10,000 Christian leaders from all countries and denominations were brought together for "Amsterdam 2000." "The test of a preacher is that his congregation goes away saying, not, 'What a lovely sermon!' but 'I will do something."--Billy Graham
When he was twelve, Craig was deeply disturbed by the murder of a 12-year-old factory worker who spoke out against child labor. Stunned by the harsh reality these children's lives, Craig mobilized thousands of his peers to start Free the Children, an organization that seeks to end forced child labor worldwide. Now 17, Craig has traveled to more than 30 countries visiting street and working children. The organization he founded, (Kids Can) Free the Children currently has 100,000 active youth in 27 countries. They have built more than 100 schools and have supported rehabilitation centers for children freed from labor.
"Maybe I can't solve all the world's problems. But I can work to solve some, with the help of other kids--and grown-ups--who care, and a God who guides us all."--Craig Kielburger
Kim Dae Jung
Kim Dae Jung, president of the Republic of Korea and most recent winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, risked his life not just once but repeatedly in his attempt to bring democracy to South Korea. As early as the 1960s, his was the first voice effectively raised against the military dictatorships that--with American support--ruled that country during the Cold War. When after setbacks (not to speak of assassination attempts) that would have stopped any lesser man he was elected president in 1997, one of his first acts was to pardon the disgraced dictator, Chun Doo Hwan, who had sentenced him to death in 1980. In the same spirit of forgiveness and humility, Kim has gone further, faster than anyone would have thought possible in moving North and South Korea toward detente and reconciliation. Referred to by some as the Nelson Mandela of Asia, Kim is a man of courage, vision, patience, magnanimity, and (though this fact is little publicized) deep and sincere Christian faith. --Jack Miles
Omri Jadah, a 24-year-old Palestinian construction worker, was picnicking at the Sea of Galilee with his cousin when they noticed 6-year-old George Leftov, some distance out, splashing against the current and calling for help. According to the cousin, Omri knew full well the child was Israeli when he dived in to save him. He was able to swim out to the boy and pull him back to safety. But the exhausted young father was not able to fight the undertow, and he himself was pulled him back under the water. By the time he was rescued he was in a coma. Two days later he died, leaving a 2-year-old son, a ten-month-old daughter and a pregnant 23-year-old wife. His widow received condolances from both Yasser Arafat and Elud Barak, and his funeral was a Muslim funeral of honor. Tanya Leftov, a recent Jewish immigrant from Russia, made her first visit to an Arab village to pay tribute to the savior of her son.
The events that have erupted since then have not dimmed the selflessness of Omri Jadah, but stand as a testament of hope of what can be when people are willing to sacrifice themselves in love rather than in anger. "Everything is possible among the ordinary people. Even if the high-ranking people, the politicians, can't make peace, we can."--Omri's uncle, Abdullah Ghana Radan
A man known for living by his Orthodox Jewish faith, Joe Lieberman pulled no punches in the Senate even if it meant decrying the moral behavior of members of his own party. Marking his place in history by being the first Jewish candidate on a Presidential ticket of one of the two largest political parties, he remained true to himself during a very difficult election season.
"His prayerful response to being named a vice-presidential candidate touched a chord in many who have closely held religious beliefs."--Dinty Moore
Donna and WC Martin
When Donna prayed for a way out of her depression following the 1996 death of her mother, she heard a one word answer: Foster. Thus began the adventure of Donna, her husband W.C. and the members of their small church in Possum Trot, Texas. To date, more than 40 families belonging to--or spurred by--the Bennett Chapel Congregation have adopted 70 hard-to-place children, many of them multiple siblings.
"We're not just saving souls, we're saving lives. These children have been such a blessing to us. But there are so many more who still have nowhere to call home."--WC Martin