What do Mr. Rogers, a single mother, and a high school computer teacher have in common? They all just might be a real-life hero to somebody. But what makes a hero? The stories in this list aren’t necessarily full of the death-defying acts you might be used to from the latest MCU blockbuster. Instead, they’re full of selflessness, unexpected kindness, and compassion. For some, a hero is a teacher who refused to allow them to give up on their dreams; for others, a hero might be a stranger who literally saved their life. Reading these stories might just make you reconsider your definition of a hero—and you might realize you have some hidden superpowers yourself! Truly, these 42 stories of real-life heroes will restore your faith in humanity.
1. Stepping Up
My stepdad. When I was a child, I had an asthma attack and went to the hospital. I was kept overnight, but I was too scared to sleep. He climbed into the bed with me and held me until I fell asleep. He always made me feel safe. He came into my life when I was a one-year-old and couldn’t have loved me, my brother, or my mother, more. He was the kind of man who would do anything for anyone—and came to my rescue more times than I can count. He’s who I want to be when I’m older.
He died from cancer two days ago. The world without him seems impossible but, because of him, I’m not scared. No, I’m not scared of anything anymore.
2. The Kindness of Strangers
A random dude I met at a mall. I was 15 years old and had just started my first part time job. During my lunch break, I was sitting on a bench texting my friend when this old man suddenly put his hand on my thigh and started stroking me. I yelled, “Stop touching me!” and immediately got up. I felt scared, alone and incredibly vulnerable.
Only ONE person reacted. He came over and asked me if everything was okay. I was shaking and just said that I had to get back to work. He then offered to follow me so that I wouldn’t have to walk by myself. He made me feel somewhat safe in a very scary situation. So yeah, that dude is my hero.
3. From All Angles
There are a nearly endless number of stories that I could tell about my father. Throughout my entire childhood, the man was everything from an amateur magician to an insightful educator. When I wanted to create a “real lightsaber,” he helped me design and build the thing (which really just turned out to be a particularly unsafe flashlight) from scratch. If ever I was curious about some detail in the world, he’d devise an experiment that we could run together…with some of those experiments seeming to involve real magic.
Still, perhaps the most important thing that my father ever did for me was teach me how to think. Whenever I needed help with something—regardless of what form the issue took—he would run through the same script with me: “What’s the problem?” he’d ask. “Why is it a problem? What’s causing the problem? How can you fix it?” If my answer to any of those questions was “I don’t know,” he’d encourage me to re-examine the situation.
For example, I got a stereo for my birthday when I was about ten years old, and the CD player stopped functioning after only a couple of weeks. Rather than simply fixing it for me, my father supervised my attempts at diagnosing and repairing the malfunction, using those aforementioned questions as a guide. I can remember carefully extracting screw after screw, exposing the inner electronics of the music-player…and thoroughly failing to find anything noticeably wrong with the system.
Strangely enough, though, the damned thing started working again after I’d put everything back together, leading my father to offer another life lesson. “Sometimes,” he told me, “if you look at a problem closely enough, it will solve itself. Other times, you have to take a step back and look at the situation as a whole.”
It took me quite a few years before I realized what I actually learned in those moments, since each scenario seemed pretty unique to me at the time. As I’ve gotten older, though, I’ve come to understand what I was actually being taught, and why it was such a valuable skill: There’s very little that you can’t accomplish if you’re willing to figure it out on your own…but sometimes, the real challenge is in changing the way that you’re looking at things.
I also learned to make sure that my stereo’s speakers were actually connected
4. Give Him A Round Of A-paw-se
A random guy who saved my dog’s life one night. I had just adopted a large German shepherd/lab mix that night and brought him outside of my apartment to pee. I didn’t have the right collar/didn’t realize he’d never seen traffic before so he immediately panicked, backed out of his collar and sprinted across the four-lane (very busy) road in front of my apartment.
I ran after him, dodging traffic, and miraculously got him to come back to me…but he wouldn’t let me put the collar back on him…so I was just kneeling on the sidewalk in my pajamas, clutching this giant terrified dog, traffic speeding past me, wondering how I was going to get him back inside. And then this random guy appeared in a very nice suit and jacket and asked if I needed help and I basically said, “Yes, can you carry my dog back into my building?” Without a second thought, he reached down, scooped up my giant dog like a baby and walked with me back into my apartment, brushed himself off and said he was late for a dinner.
I gave him a hug and he walked off. He was amazing and I think about him all the time.
5. Persistent Parents
My parents are my real-life heroes. They both were children of farmers, one of six and one of three, they worked their socks off for an education in India and qualified with a degree. Then they went from place to place in India seeking work and eventually ended up going to Saudi Arabia. There, they spent 10 years endlessly working to create a better future for me. That’s where they met and I was born.
Later, my mom first came to the UK in search of a better life and education for her children and soon me and my dad followed. My mom worked as a nurse, whilst my dad worked whatever jobs he could (carer, supermarket assistant) doing whatever it took to put food on the table. My dad’s actual job was an engineer, but he hasn’t done his actual profession for 15 years, yet he still keeps trying and I am proud of him.
My mum is always there for us, all of us, no matter whatever we do. Now, 14 years later, I have three sisters and a wonderful family.
6. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Mr. Rogers. My parents were both diagnosed with cancer (brain cancer, breast cancer) within 30 days of each other when I was a kid. We didn’t have family in the area to look after my sister and I. My parents were too sick to take care of me, and they both had to take medications for YEARS on and off with devastating depression side effects.
So anyway, I would just sit down in front of the TV and watch Mr. Rogers. I love my parents, but the truth is he was the only adult in my life who was always there for me. Always.
7. All in the Family
My adoptive older brother has been my superhero. I may not be blood, but he never treated me any different as a younger sister. He has been my emotional rock throughout childhood, teenage years, and even now. He would shield our younger brother and me from parents’ wrath, taking blame for us, deal with bullies, and take time to play games with me and help out with homework.
When in middle school and high school, he would be around during my time of need (when I was going through puberty, he always had some pads in his backpack, more or less due to how forgetful and a klutz I was). He also introduced me to the hobbies that would help get me through tough times and teach me how to handle myself.
My older brother is a wonderful mentor, and despite the fact that we live far apart now, he always has time to be my pen pal. Sure, he teases me a lot for being a bumbling fool at times, the usual big brother thing, but he is a giant with a heart of gold. I could not ask for a better older brother.
8. Proud Papa
My father. We came to the US from Mexico when I was three, and to me, my dad has always been like Superman. He used to work five days a week at a factory, plus nights six days a week as a valet. All of that was for me to be able to have a better life and as I grew older I started to realize how much he sacrificed for me.
I used to get upset at him because we had this tradition growing up where we would go to the video store, rent a couple of movies, and then watch them together. However, he would always fall asleep during the movie and that made me feel like he either hated them or got bored spending time with me. Now I realize the reason he fell asleep was that he was so tired from working two jobs, but he still went out of his way to have this little tradition and spend time with me.
One memory I have that especially changed my view of him was when I graduated from high school. It didn’t really mean a lot to me because I was a stupid teenager and thought it was cool to not care. I remember when we were driving back, about to celebrate at this diner we have been going to for years. I was sitting in the back of his van and saw his face in the mirror.
He was crying, silently, but that was the first time I had ever seen him shed a tear in my entire life. It was because he was proud and that was a really life-changing moment for me. I understood at that moment just how much he really loved me even if he never showed directly because of the “macho culture” he was raised with.
9. Real Fore-sight
My old foreman back when I was a carpenter’s apprentice. We would talk while we worked and one day he told me, “Bornking07, you are too smart to be doing this kind of work, have you thought about college?” I told him no, so one day instead of going back to the job site after lunch, he drove me to the community college in my city and we met with a counselor.
He helped me complete all the paperwork and get registered for classes. When I had to pick a major, I settled on the first on the list—Anthropology. I had no idea what anthropology was and I probably couldn’t spell it if you asked me back then. I fell in love with the subject. Five years later, I graduated with honors from a four-year university after transferring. I was accepted into a master’s program. I now work a desk job with a great salary on the 17th floor of an air-conditioned building in the central district.
I have a window view of a construction site across the street. I sometimes imagine my life if it wasn’t for that foreman (Art was his name). I would be working in the hot sun along with the other guys down there. I’m grateful for my current place in life…all thanks to one person taking an interest in me and following through.
I have been involved with a mentoring program the last few years and have personally walked two people down to the community college to meet with counselors and complete applications.
10. The Gift that Keeps on Giving
My father-in-law. He came here as a refugee, and when he became financially comfortable, he didn’t get greedy, he got generous. He regularly volunteers in the community and helps other people. He treats me like one of his kids. He does not feel bitter or dwell on people who have taken advantage of his kindness, and doesn’t let the few bad apples stop him from helping people.
I wish I could be half as good a person as he is. I have no idea how he isn’t jaded.
11. That’s Doctor Selfless to You!
My mom, as cliché as that may be. She raised me and my brother on her own, even when her and my dad were married. She taught me unconditional love and sacrifice (we were always dirt poor but I swear she would do ANYTHING to make sure we had what we needed, and a LOT of times what we wanted). She helped me when she was poor, but I was poorer.
She taught me to never rely on anybody but myself, but to be open to help. I could go on for pages, but you get the idea. I definitely took her for granted as I was growing up, but hats off to that lady. Not to mention she moved from Ukraine in 1992 without a penny to her name and learned English by working at a Pizza Hut.
Finished her Ph.D. with two kids under five.
12. Paging Doctor Hero
The doctors and nurses who have dedicated their lives to helping children with cancer. They saved my son’s life. Diagnosed at four months, he is now four years old and his doctor told us a couple weeks ago that she is confident that he will remain cancer free
13. Sting Like a Bee
To be honest—and I actually gave this answer in a college interview some years back—Muhammad Ali. Literally came from nothing, was the best at what he did—and threw everything away based on his moral code. For almost any athlete, even at that time, throwing always years in your prime was usually a career death sentence.
He didn’t waver in his dedication to what he believed, and then he came back and reclaimed the crown that should have always been his. People can say what they want, but that’s what I admire.
A woman who worked at the consulate of the country I grew up in. So about a decade ago I was deported from the country where I’d spent a decade of my life. My family moved out there when I was 10. I went to the United States to visit some family when I was 18. Upon returning I found out that I had been an illegal immigrant for four years (14-18, so I wasn’t in much of a position to handle all the immigration stuff). I was put in a customs cell, questioned for a few hours, and then deported back to the states.
So there I am, an 18-year-old in a country that was more or less foreign to me, stuck in LAX, thousands of miles away from anywhere I had any connections. I had to wait there for a few days while my family scraped together the money for a flight, and my mum called literally everyone she could in immigration to fix it. Well, she got in touch with the Consulate General, who actually put me up for a few days while I figured everything out.
I don’t know her name anymore—that was a hazy few months for me—but her kindness to a complete stranger in a devastating position was one of the things that pulled me through the darkest time I’d ever faced at that point in my life.
15. Hall Monitor
I feel like superheroes are portrayed to be able to stop disasters, but I think true and real-life heroes are people who can enhance the quality of life for all the people around them. When I was young, impressionable, timid and depressed, I was randomly stopped in the hallway by someone who spontaneously gave me a hug.
I looked up to see a guy who had an incredibly bright smile and an aura of positivity about him. In that moment, all the walls came down, and I didn’t feel insecure and wasn’t worried about social stigma (I am male and at the time homosexuality was much less accepted than it is now) I simply embraced the moment of someone whom I assumed to have the social grace to pick someone up when they saw them down, and continue in stride.
That moment caused a mental shift to occur, and where I was cynical and negative before, I felt like I just needed to reach back into that moment to be a pillar of positivity for others. I worked on becoming a more positive person and every day try as best I can to pay that feeling forward to others. I think that, though subtle, that’s what a real hero is like.
16. An Angel Gets Its Wings
A random couple at my church whom I barely knew. I grew up in a low-income area and started going to church mostly because it was a safe place with free food. I had a really rough home life so I went to youth group, Sunday School, worship team—pretty much any excuse I had to get out of the house and I’d take it. This one older couple (probably in their late 60s/early 70s) noticed that I wasn’t like the other neighborhood kids—they felt like I had really tried to clean up and could tell I was trying hard to get out of the neighborhood I grew up in and make a life for myself.
I had a job from the day I turned 14, volunteered every chance I got at the church, and got pretty decent grades. This couple anonymously (I didn’t find out it was them until I was done my degree) offered me $32,000 to put towards post-secondary education. They barely knew me, but they just felt like I had been handed a rough go at life and wanted to make it better for me.
I did my BA and MA, and although I did have to take on a significant amount of student debt (I was in school for seven years), I graduated with $32,000 less debt than I would have if not for their generous offer. To be honest I might not have even considered going to university if I hadn’t been offered this amazing opportunity.
It is the kindest thing anyone has ever done for me and I am so thankful that this couple saw potential in me when I didn’t see it in myself.
17. To Infinity and Beyond
John Glenn—and it took me 20 years to realize it. I never actually met the man, but he shaped my life without my being aware of it. I had to do an oral report on his life when I was in second grade, which was the year he took his second flight into space (at 77 years old). I read his biography (a simple version for kids) in a day, then read another, then another.
He led an admirable and fascinating life. But that was the first time I was really introduced to space travel and aerospace technology, a fascination that hasn’t left me even as I approach 30. I received a bachelor’s in chemical engineering, and am working on my master’s in aerospace engineering, with the hope that I can get a job in the aerospace industry.
My love of space travel has never left me. I didn’t realize how much that simple report on John Glenn affected me until he died in 2016. I felt like I had lost a close relative.
18. X-Ray Vision
My eye physical therapist. I always thought in high school that I was just dumb for not performing well in AP classes like my peers did. I fell into depression and didn’t apply to college because I was so sure I wasn’t going to get in anywhere. Until my first year of community college, I never knew I had an eye disability and when I found out, I was on the verge of flunking out of college.
When I went to an optometrist who specialized in how the eye muscles work together (only simple way of explaining it) it was then that they told me there was hope for me to do better in school. “J,” let’s call her, cared about my success more than anyone else in that office. We’d meet once a week with exercises I was to do to get better.
I finally had worked up the courage to take a calculus course I had failed three times before and crushed it with an A. Without J, that wouldn’t have been possible and I wouldn’t have been able to pursue my STEM major. Thanks, J. You literally changed the way I see the world. And for that, I am forever grateful.
19. Hitting All the Right Notes
My mom. My father died when I was a little kid, and he was the breadwinner. She could have easily gotten an accounting job, but I would have had to be left alone at home for most of the time. So instead, my mom buckled down and expanded her tiny piano teaching studio. She managed to grow it to the point where it could support us, and since she could work at home, she was always around.
She even managed to make enough money that I got through college debt free (also by telling me that getting good college scholarships would be how I would “make money,” so I should just focus on school rather than getting a part-time job). And she did all of this and more while dealing with racism, a government that hates small businesses, and people treating her like garbage because she’s a single mother (they assume she had me out of wedlock).
Now that I’m fully independent with my own family, she’s finally going off and doing whatever she wants (which at this moment is getting a Ph.D. and teaching at the local college). She’s amazing and I wish I could be more like her.
20. To Serve and Protect
There’s a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) who works in my area that’s very involved with the community, to the point he helped set up a homeless project and started a volunteer group that (short version) helps make sure drunk people are safe and sound on Friday and Saturday nights, providing first aid and cups of tea where needed, which generally takes the pressure off the police and clubs, etc.
I got to know him through the drop-in sessions he ran at the library I worked in, and through that, got involved in some volunteering, which eventually led me to the job I’m in now. When we met, I was stuck in a bit of a rut with work and life, and was on a bit of a mental health slump. He basically got me on to a more positive path, which now involves work in the charity sector.
21. Reaching for the Stars
I think my real-life hero is Yuri Gagarin. You know, the first cosmonaut in space. He didn’t do so much for me personally, or my relatives, or maybe for people I know. Instead, he was a hero for all of humankind. He allowed us to believe that we can reach so far, far away, and, someday, even touch the stars.
22. Hit the Books
Isaac Asimov is my hero. His works have brought me so much fulfillment and personal growth. He was master writer, interweaving his science fiction with cultural analysis and humanism. He helped teach me what is most important is not what you think, but how you think. I love him like a grandpa! I wish I could have met him.
23. Saboteur Extraordinaire
My grandpa. He was five years old and an orphan when he started fighting fascists, sabotaging their trucks of (stolen) food by crawling under them and cutting out pieces of the transmission, cutting into the truck and stealing food for the resistance and the people. He was shot twice, but he kept on fighting, moving information from one group of partisans to the other while working in a carpenter workshop and stealing food for his mother.
From that he moved on after the war, working double jobs (factory worker in the day and lorry driver at night for a good 15 years, carpenter, shoemaker and everything he could put his hands on) and was able to build a family with no money problems, a house he built himself, loved by everyone in the village and with an always-bright future.
He’s still alive and working in his orchard at almost 90 years of age, his wife died after 65 years of marriage and he still visits her every other day at the graveyard and visits his daughter (my mom) for dinner every night. He is my real life hero. My only hero to be honest. Men like him are made of something different, as we say in my country.
24. Teacher of the Year
Mr. Kenty. He was my English teacher back in 10th grade. I was failing nearly all of my classes, my parents were in the middle of a nasty divorce, everything was going wrong. The school was ready to drop me to remedial classes, but instead, he fought to have me put in honors classes. Before that, I didn’t feel like anyone even noticed me…there was just too much going on, and I didn’t feel like I mattered to anyone.
He was clear, direct, and unequivocal in telling me he believed in me. My GPA was something like 3.4 after that. I was struggling to give a damn about myself at that point in time, but I really didn’t want to let him down. The education I received, even if for the wrong reasons, eventually got me to and through college, and got me where I am today.
More than anything else, he gave me a chance to have the life I’ve got right now.
25. Fight for Your Rights
Ursula Franklin. She was a Jewish girl who survived the Holocaust, moved to Canada, and became the first woman to achieve the highest honor (getting named University Professor) at the University of Toronto. She helped discover the after-effects of radiation due to nuclear bombs, co-founded a new type of science, and was a woman who believed in rights for women all across Canada.
26. A Friend in Need
My women’s doubles tennis partner. We started out getting put together on our neighborhood tennis team and became friends. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, she took me to lunch, asked how many days a week we would like meals, and got a schedule of my kids’ activities. I ended up having to have three surgeries that kept me out of commission for about six months. I didn’t cook in all that time, but I never worried about needing a ride or support. She kept everybody informed about my progress and if I was having visitors or not.
At one of the lowest times of my life, she lifted my spirits and made sure I felt strong. I am forever grateful to her, and to everyone who helped me.
27. Creatures of Habitat
Steve Irwin showed me to appreciate everything in nature and how to admire every facet of its beauty, even the stinking ugly creatures and creepy crawlies. If humans have any purpose in the universe, it’s to take care of the animals we share our planet with and their homes. We are not being good humans.
28. Life Savers
The two paramedics who saved my life when I went into anaphylaxis on my friend’s floor due to a penicillin allergy I didn’t know I had developed. I remember my throat being incredibly tight, my vision getting darker, and thinking, “This is it, I suffocate on my friend’s office floor in his university house at the age of 26…awesome.” Then I blacked out.
Mere minutes later, two angels in green suits busted through the door and pumped me full of adrenaline and stuff. I woke up thinking I had pissed myself but it was just blood from the cannula that had run onto my trousers. I had swollen lips and eyelids for a couple of hours and a throbbing headache, but I was fine after that.
That day I learned you can develop an allergy to penicillin randomly, as I had the same antibiotics not two months before this event. Make sure someone knows you are taking something. If you start getting super hot and itchy after taking something like that, get to someone fast.
29. Pulled From the Depths
The man who saved my life. Sadly, I don’t know his name: When I was ten years old, my dad’s company had a barbecue at a lake. About one hundred meters out, in the middle of the lake, there was a floating dock with a bridge attached to the shore. I ran along the shore to the bridge and got out to the dock to join the other kids from the barbecue in diving off the dock into the lake and playing in the water.
Most of the kids were older than me by three to five years, but they still let me play with them. After thirty minutes or so, the parents called from the shore that burgers and hotdogs were ready. The older kids all decided they would swim across the lake to the shore, rather than take the bridge back to land. I decided that I also was old enough to swim across the lake.
I made it maybe thirty meters before my legs gave out. Back then, I could barely doggy paddle. I started getting water in my nose and in my mouth. I started to sink. I could see the sunlight shimmering through the water grow dimmer and dimmer. The outlines of the other kids’ feet kicking bubbles to the shore became ever fainter. I remember feeling alone and cold underneath the surface.
Suddenly, something grabbed me by the wrist and pulled me up. I remember waking up on shore to my mother crying her eyes out. My savior was handed a towel and a beer, and I was eventually given a hot dog. I played with the kids my age the rest of the day on shore, within eyesight of my parents.
I think about this often and hope that one day I’ll be able to meet the man who saved my life.
30. The Force is With You
Mark Hamill. The man is just so full of life, energy, and confidence, it’s incredible! He’s 67 years old and I bet he could run a hundred miles! I’ve always had trouble with motivation (I’m not depressed, but the reason is an entire other rant) so his energy and spirit help me get through things like work. The main reason I love Mark, however, is that he showed me that it’s okay to be a geek.
I have mild autism, so when I was younger I had a lot of trouble fitting in with literally anyone around me. I was much more of an Indiana Jones kid than a Star Wars kid growing up, but I don’t think I would have fallen in love with Hamill’s performance as Luke Skywalker anyway. At least not compared to his OTHER star performance.
I first really met Hamill’s iconic interpretation as the Joker when I was a teen and played Batman: Arkham Asylum, and his incredible amount of personality and energy put into the character just hit me like a brick wall. From there, I was addicted-I looked all over YouTube for clips of Mark Hamill’s Joker, and I got to hear about how energetic he was behind the scenes.
Going back to my troubles with autism, I got to learn about how much of a geek Hamill was, and after getting to know more about how he was at conventions and autograph signings, it really opened my eyes to the fact that it’s okay to be different and unique. How it’s okay to enjoy things that other people don’t and to forge your own path and interests.
From there, I discovered my love of writing and am currently learning how to be a screenwriter. If had never become enamored with Hamill’s personality, I probably wouldn’t have any clue as to what to do with my life. I feel like it’s a tad overdramatic to say he saved my life or anything like that, but he definitely made a huge impact on what direction I want it to go.
I always have trouble on figuring out how to end these long, heartfelt posts, so I’ll just say that Mark is a great guy, and I can’t wait to eventually be where he is.
31. You Don’t Know Jack
His name was Jack Sullivan. He was the computer teacher at my high school. Early in my school career, I’d been “tracked” as something between a day laborer or a human piñata. As far as they were concerned, college wasn’t going to be for me. What I really was, however, was a kid who had ADD and a burning interest in programming, to the exclusion of everything else.
I’d started teaching myself C, the programming language, in seventh or eighth grade, and by the time I got to HS, I knew what I wanted to be, I just didn’t know how to accomplish it. The backdrop to this was the guidance counselors who would nod along and then say things like, “I know that you think you like those things and you think you’re good at them, but honestly, you should leave that stuff to the smarter kids and focus on getting some trade skills.”
Jack was one of the few teachers who saw my potential and told me to have the audacity to follow my dreams. He scoffed at their advice and challenged me. He nudged me to study a bit more and strengthen my math and English skills to be more rounded. I took his advice and went off to university and hit my stride and haven’t looked back. I know he knew of some of my success through my younger siblings.
Sadly, he passed away before I could tell him how much his encouragement changed my life. That audacity to follow my dreams has been a running theme in my life.
32. Dexterous Mind
Dexter Holland. He has his Ph.D. in molecular biology. He focused on HIV, of which my father passed away from due to a bad blood transfusion in the late 80s. Dexter intends to continue research towards an eventual cure. Also, he is the front man in an awesome band. I respect the hell out of this guy and he has become one of my heroes.
33. Victory Lap
Niki Lauda. He is a three-time Formula 1 world champion. In 1976, he crashed at the Nordschleife and nearly died because of burns and inhaling toxic fumes from his Ferrari. He survived and raced six weeks later. I’m only eighteen but that story about him showed me that no matter what happens to you, you can always come back from it.
34. Spreading the Love
My old boss, Frank, basically helped me pay my way through nursing school. I worked at a head shop for a LONG time. The owner was an eccentric stoner whom I loved. He supported me when I applied for nursing school—and when I failed out after my first semester, financial aid wouldn’t pay the fees for me to do it over again.
I went crying to Frank and he cut me a check for $1,000 that night. He even let me spread out payments to pay him back. When I got my first (horrible) nursing job in a doctor’s office, he offered me my position back at the store until I found another nursing job. He passed away a few years ago of brain cancer, and I visited him in the end even though I hadn’t been working for him in a while.
He was and will always be my hero.
35. That’s NOT a Wrap
I was about to drop out of college (film school). I needed to get all my professors to sign this piece of paper so I could drop their classes. All of them said some variation of “I’m sorry to see you go but you gotta do what you gotta do.” Then I got to the last professor. His class was really hard and I definitely was not doing well in it.
Plus, I sat in the back and he and I had barely ever talked so I didn’t think he had a very good impression of me. When I went to ask him to sign the paper he just said, “No.” Then he asked what I needed in order to stay. This man lent me a computer so I could do my homework at home instead of having to pay to go to the editing lab, he gave me extensions on projects I hadn’t been able to finish, and, most importantly, told me he believed in me.
I made it through the semester and he eventually hired me as his TA so I could get free equipment rentals so I could stay in school. Now I work on a TV show in NYC. All because this one professor believed in me.
36. Savings Grace
My dad. My biological father took off when I was young. When my mother met and married my dad. he treated me great, never tried to push himself on me. In third grade, I asked him to adopt me. Since we didn’t have a lot of money, he worked 2-3 jobs at a time so they could afford it. He reminds me always that he loves me and has almost punched a few lousy relatives who called me his “step-son.” He corrects them very quickly that I am in fact his son.
I’m very proud of him and hope to become the type of man he is.
37. Sticking to Your Guns
Hugh Thompson Jr. He intervened in the My Lai massacre, including telling his men to open fire on their own fellow US troops if it came to that. He did the right thing, even though it would have been easier to do nothing. And he caught hell for it, including dead animals left on his doorstep after he went back to the US.
38. The Marrow of the World
My oldest nephew, at age 11, donated his bone marrow to his little brother who was dying from leukemia. I was away at college and I asked over 20 people I knew if they would consider joining Be the Match as they could potentially save someone’s life. Every single person I asked, except for one who wasn’t allowed due to a medical condition, told me that they wouldn’t sign up because they were afraid it would hurt. Even after I explained the new, less invasive and less painful procedures, they maintained their stance.
I just couldn’t understand the logic. For me personally, I just think about how suffering from cancer and all the treatments involved is so much worse than a few hours of your life donating bone marrow that could potentially save somebody else. My younger nephew ended up dying at age eight, as we learned he had a genetic mutation in which the cancer would keep coming back, no matter what. However, he was an outlier, and so many other people have lived long and healthy lives after receiving bone marrow from a donor.
To this day, my nephews are my biggest real-life heroes. My older nephew for his strength and bravery when all of my adult friends had none, and my younger nephew for how hard he fought and how he made the most out of his time here.
39. National Treasure
Tommy Douglas gave Canada national socialized healthcare. I’m old enough to be able to afford healthcare now, but I struggled as a young man and had some health issues. I might not be in the position I am today had I not had that coverage. Maybe I wouldn’t even be here.
40. I Got Your Back
SSG Mira. Operation Enduring Freedom, 2010. I was a young, dumb private who had finished Medic school a couple of months before deployment. I had just finished treating some casualties from our mortar team and had to get back to my gun truck, where my platoon was also taking casualties. It was a 200-meter sprint in between good cover. I stepped out without checking to see if we were taking fire.
Mira grabbed the back of my plate carrier and jerked me back, as a spray of enemy rounds landed in front of me. “You’re good, Doc! This time, we’ll lay down some cover fire!” Mira really saved my bacon that day. I thanked him every time I saw him.
She’ll never see this but my hero is my adult best friend. She’s a wife, mother of two, full-time employee and part-time student. She is the money maker and planner of her family and extended family. I’m just blown away by her ambitious attitude and ability to keep everything on track with a positive attitude. She didn’t come from a well off family but has provided ten-fold for her kids and even for her brothers. She’s taken in people in bad situations and housed them until they get on their feet (or pushed them to do so).
Though this isn’t why she’s my hero… she’s my hero because despite all of that she’s continues to make time for me daily. None of my problems are too small and there’s nothing she hasn’t been there for. Even though we live four hours away she makes time and drives to be with me. We take turns visiting each other, no less than two months apart.
I met her and her family because of a relationship I’m no longer in. Since the day we met we’ve clicked and every day I look up to her. She keeps me going in my darkest times and has held me when I had no one else. We’ve traveled the country and she’s let me into her kids’ lives. I called her one night crying my eyes out…my long term boyfriend had dumped me.
Without hesitation, she told me her husband and herself would be there to help me move everything out and she would drive me (four hours) back to my parents’ house. I never ask for her to do anything…she just does it. Not only did they come down, they pretty much packed everything for me and her husband drove my car while I rode with her. THEN, four weeks later, she made time to meet me again to grab the rest of my stuff.
Every day she’s my hero for being a light in this dark life. Even if today we stopped speaking and never spoke again, she’d be forever a hero to me.
42. Motherly Instincts
The lady that saved me. When I was in fifth grade, I had what I now know was an atonic seizure. It was so bad, it put me into shock. I nearly died. The bus had stopped to pick up a boy a few years younger than me. I remember being super jealous of him because his mom always walked him to the bus. No matter what, she always walked her boy to the doors of the bus.
While the boy was getting on, I told the bus driver that I needed to get off as I thought I was going to vomit. The lady had already gone back to her porch, where she normally waited until the bus left. I stumbled off the bus, to the ditch, vomited and blacked out. My friend told me the rest. The woman ran from her porch, scooped me up and took me to the house.
She ran inside and grabbed water, a blanket and a phone. I woke up to her cradling me, wrapped in a blanket, saying, “Drink, baby” and offering me the water. She had already called the paramedics at this point, according to my friend. I drank two swallows and fell unconscious. Apparently, that lady sat with me and held me until the paramedics got there.
Lady, I’m not sure who you are, but I love you and thank you for being my mom for that hour. I hope you and your son have and have had happy lives.
43. Ticket to Ride
I was at a bar with my then-girlfriend. Seated next to us was an older gentleman who was alone and looking forlorn. After some time, he tapped my girlfriend on the shoulder and said, “I like the way you two talk to one another. Here’s what I’m going to do. I spent a fortune on these tickets for my wife. Unfortunately, she can’t go anymore, and I just don’t feel like going without her. So, I’d like the two of you to have them. The only catch is that the concert starts in twenty minutes.”
He didn’t elaborate, nor would he accept any kind of payment. He asked only that we go, enjoy ourselves, and keep being good to each other. He paid his tab, handed us the tickets and left. And that’s the story of how I got front row seats to a Prince concert.
44. Angels in the Heavens
When I was really ill in October 2017, my father also became even more ill than I was in another country. There was nobody else around for him who actually gave a darn, so I had to fly over there to see and support him. I planned to bring him home with me after he had recovered from his surgery. I had just been through a lot of trauma, and I was in no physical or emotional state to be getting on a plane—but there was literally no other option.
The flight was only around two hours long, but even that was way too much for someone as weak and frail as I was at that time. When I was waiting in line to board the plane, I could immediately feel myself getting dizzy and panicky—but that got a lot worse when I got onto the plane and when it started to take off. I started having a full blown panic attack, hyperventilating and crying in my seat.
I was sitting at the window, and there was a rather large man sitting in the middle with his daughter on the outer seat. The man noticed me crying, and he and his daughter switched seats. She took my hand and said something along the lines of “You’re okay, we’re here. There’s no need to hold this anxiety back, we’re not going to judge you, just let it happen and everything will be alright.”
She just hugged me and told me she’s so sorry while I hysterically cried. Once we landed, she and her father drove me in their car directly to the door of the hospital my dad was admitted to (over an hour away). They even offered to book me a hotel for a night or two, but thankfully I already had my accommodations sorted out. I do not know what I would have done without those people that day. We have each other on Facebook now, and she still occasionally checks in with me to this day.
45. Can’t Put a Price on Education
On September 14th, 1986, my dad dropped me off at boarding school and gave me a five-dollar bill. I never heard from him again. He never paid my tuition bill. So, from the age of 14, I took every job I could get and worked my way through. At $4 an hour, I didn’t even come close to paying off my entire bill, but the school let me stick around because I was a model student in and out of the classroom.
We get to graduation. I opened my little diploma thing expecting to see a bill in five figures. Instead there was a note: “Congratulations on your graduation. A group of us who believe in you and love you have taken care of your bill. We are proud to present you with your diploma.” I later found out that one of my friend’s dad, a fairly well-off dentist, went fundraising among his golf buddies because he didn’t want to see me enter life at 18 under crushing debt. He will forever be my hero.