1Nick Vujicic: a man with no limbs who teaches people how to get up
2Nando Parrado: survived airplane crash and 72 days in the Andes
9 days after the crash, due to dire desperation and hunger, the survivors called for an important meeting. One member proposed that they eat the dead. The 2 hours meeting ended with a conclusion. If any of them died in the Andes, the rest had the permission to use the corpse as food. After 2 weeks, their hope of being found dashed when they found out via their radio transistor that the rescue effort was called off.
On the 60th day after the crash, Nando Parrado and 2 other friends decided to walk through the icy wilderness for help. By the time they left, Nando Parrado said, the crash site was “.. an awful place, soaked in urine, smelling of death, littered with ragged bits of human bone and gristle”. Wearing 3 pairs of jeans and 3 sweaters over a polo shirt, he and his friends trekked the mountains with human flesh as their ration.
Knowing that they must search for rescue, the team endured frozen snow, exhaustion and starvation, walking and climbing for 10 days before finding their way to the bottom of the mountain. The team was finally helped by a Chilean farmer who called the police for help. Parrado then guided the rescue team via a helicopter to the crash site.
On the 22nd December 1972, after enduring 72 brutal days, the world found out that there were 16 survivors who cheated death, in the mountain of Andes. 8 of the initial survivors died when an avalanche cascaded down on them as they slept in the fuselage.
During the ordeal, Nando Parrado lost 40 kg of his weight. He lost half his family in the crash. He is now a motivational speaker.
3Jessica Cox: became the first pilot with no arms, proving you don't need 'wings' to fly
The plane she is flying is called an Ercoupe and it is one of the few airplanes to be made and certified without pedals. Without rudder pedals Jessica is free to use her feet as hands. She took three years instead of the usual six months to complete her lightweight aircraft licence, had three flying instructors and practiced 89 hours of flying, becoming the first pilot with no arms.
4Sean Swarner: first cancer survivor to complete the 7-summits, the highest peaks of the 7 continents
Sean isn't just a cancer survivor; he is truly a medical marvel. He is the only person in the world ever to have been diagnosed with both Hodgkin's disease and Askin's sarcoma. He was diagnosed in the fourth and final stage of Hodgkin's disease at the age of thirteen, when doctors expected him to live for no more than three months. He overcame his illness only to be stricken a second time when a deadly golf ball-sized tumor attacked his right lung. After removal of the Askin's tumor, Sean was expected to live for less than two weeks. A decade later and with only partial use of his lungs, Sean became famous for being the first cancer survivor to climb Mount Everest.
After the summit of Everest, Sean had the desire and dream to continue moving forward and reaching people around the world. Climbing the highest mountain on each continent became his next goal. Proving to others that anything is possible, Sean successfully summited Mt. McKinley, to be the first cancer survivor to complete the seven summits. You can read more about Swarner's story on his 2007 book.
Keep Climbing: How I Beat Cancer and Reached the Top of the World
5Randy Pausch: inspired thousands of people with his dying speech
In his famous speech, Pausch showed a list of his childhood dreams, and explained how he achieved each of them. His dreams were: being in zero gravity, playing in the National Football League, being the author of a World Book Encyclopedia article, meeting and being Captain Kirk, being "one of the guys who won the big stuffed animals in the amusement park", and becoming a Disney Imagineer.
He was given 3 months of life, he lived 3 more years.
6Ben Underwood: the boy who could “see” with his ears
He was so good at it that he could tell the difference between a fire hydrant and a rubbish bin, distinguish between parked cars and trucks, and — if you took him to a house he had never been to before — he would tell you he could 'see' a staircase in that corner and a kitchen in the other. He could even distinguish between different materials.
An unflinching faith in God guided Ben and his mother during his last few months as cancer spread to Ben's brain and spine. He eventually died on January 2009 at the age of 16.
7Liz Murray: from Homeless To Harvard
Her life became a movie in 2003 and she now works as a professional speaker, representing the Washington Speakers Bureau. That same gutsy strength that pulled her from the streets now transforms the lives of others, from student groups to business audiences in need of inspiration to overcome their own obstacles.
8Patrick Henry Hughes: born blind and crippled, now "marches" in the Louisville marching band
surgically attached to Patrick's spine to correct scoliosis.
Despite circumstances, Patrick has overcome these physical issues to excel as a musician and student. Patrick started playing the piano at the age of only nine months, and also plays the trumpet and sings. He even participates in the University of Louisville School of Music Marching and Pep Bands with help from his father (Patrick John Hughes), who tirelessly maneuvers his wheel chair through the formations with the other 220+ members of the
Cardinal Marching Band.
A virtuoso pianist, vocalist and trumpet player, Patrick has won numerous competitions, as well as winning awards acknowledging the circumstances he has overcome to achieve these heights. He has been featured on ESPN, ABC-TV, Oprah, CBS-TV, The Ellen Show, Extreme Make Over Home Edition, FOX-TV, CSTV, NBC-TV, Million Dollar Round Table, The Grand Ole Opry, People Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Star Magazine, and many, many others.