Amanda Hayhurst: Selfless Angel

Caya and Courtney Knight posted the flyer time and again across the greater Atlanta area. For five long years, their 50-year-old single mom, Vonchelle, had been hooking up nightly to a dialysis machine to replicate the critical blood cleansing and balancing work of her failed kidneys. She feared her time was running out. The grim statistics say that once a person starts on dialysis they have an average of seven years of life remaining. Unless they are blessed to find a kidney donor. The disappointment of spending eight years on the donor wait list was wearing on Knight and her family. But she never lost her hope or optimism. Besides her family, her saving grace was her career as an analyst at Northside Hospital’s Bone Marrow Transplant Department, where she participated on a team that regularly saved the lives of others, including many children. A mission of love can certainly keep one’s spirits high. When at home, she would raise her daughter’s spirits by repeating her affirmation, “This is my year, Lord, this is my time for a miracle. I

Shawn Hardnett: Beacon Of Hope

Going above and beyond to educate those who need it most, he illuminates their future, offers a role model, and makes them a part of a legacy. He was told that North Forest was a “wasteland in Houston.” That was exactly why he was determined to go. Though weary from years of work in the struggling education system in New York, he was focused on entering one of the lowest performing districts in Texas as a force of change. Educational Reset “We opened the school for black and brown boys, taking the lowest performing demographic out of the lowest performing district. Now, these kids are outperforming the state in Reading and Math,” says Shawn Hardnett. His title is Founder and Chief Executive Officer for Statesmen College Preparatory Academy for Boys Public Charter School. That said, he has proudly worn many other worthy titles – school founder, leadership coach, principal, educational consultant and, most notably – teacher.  What Hardnett does may not be obvious to the casual observer, but his results clearly are, and they are profound. You can see it

Chad Pregracke: Rescuing Our Rivers

One of the most powerful forces of nature, the river, has been revered the world over since ancient times, says ‘HelpSaveNature.com.’ These massive freshwater bodies have been called ‘the sources of life,’ and some of the most advanced civilizations of the world have originated and flourished on the banks of major rivers. Apart from being sources of sustenance, rivers have also been major hubs of economies. Their ease of transportation has facilitated mass mobility and trade and led to incalculable wealth accumulation. Clearly, this has been the case with America’s second longest river with the second largest drainage basin, the prodigious Mississippi River. The Noble Mississippi “The Mississippi River carries the mud of thirty states and two provinces 2,000 miles south to the delta and deposits 500 million tons of it there every year. The business of the Mississippi, which it will accomplish in time, is to methodically transport all of Illinois to the Gulf of Mexico.” – Charles Kuralt               From the time of Native Americans to the present, the “business” of the river has


This real-life Indiana Jones not only reveals ancient artifacts but helps young people discover their cultural heritage. Next time you’re asked to name a charismatic archaeologist with the last name of Jones, Dr. Indiana Jones shouldn’t be the only one who comes to mind. Just like the fictional character, the pursuit to preserve history has pit Dr. Alexandra Jones in her fair share of adventures. The only difference — her stories are real. Jones has searched for ancient artifacts at a site that explorers once believed was a city made of gold. She’s researched the cliffside mega-homes of civilizations rumored to be run by lavish female elites. She’s dug deep to find insight into the lives of slaves at a private 17th century mansion with Civil War ties. Dr. Jones’ adventures are larger than life, and her passion for archaeology has helped her reach enormous success. Today, she is an adjunct professor of anthropology at the University of Baltimore and founder of Archaeology in the Community (AITC), a non-profit organization dedicated to introducing students to the wonders of archaeology through

Luke Mickelson: Beds For Kids

Sweet dreams for needy children is his mission. If angels truly roam the Earth, this hero would surely be one of them. Idaho native, Luke Mickelson, a high school quarterback and a church-going family man, had a successful white-collar career and coached his kids’ sports teams during his free time. But what really makes him a star is his big heart for humanity. Sleep in Heavenly Peace Mickelson is the founder of Sleep in Heavenly Peace, also known as SHP, a non-profit organization dedicated to building bunk beds for needy children across the country. He realized that every town has the same problem as his own with kids sleeping on the floor, often without a pillow. It was a need no one was filling, so he made it his mission and formed Sleep in Heavenly Peace. He was surprised with the outpouring of volunteers dedicating time and materials, each being true to the organization’s motto ”No kid sleeps on the floor in our town.” It Started with One Bed It all started when Mickelson was asked by his church in

Ned Norton: A True American Hero

How one man looked beyond the physical limitations of others and brought them quality of life, liberty, and happiness. True heroes are few and far between. But thanks to his selfless humility and patience, Ned Norton has a very special calling with very impressive results. He isn’t hard to find being either at his gym teaching wheelchair-bound people independence through upper body workouts, helping wounded combat veterans overcome fitness obstacles at a low-income housing project in Albany, NY, or sending fitness equipment overseas to help victims of war and landmines. Norton is on a mission to make the world a better place one person at a time, one workout at a time. As a former elite trainer for professional athletes, he used his physical therapy knowledge to create Warriors on Wheels, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping disabled people not only improve their range of motion, but also their quality of life. With many clients paying only $25 per month, he’s not in the Warriors on Wheels business for the money. “I just love to see people smile,” he said.

Dr. Jim Withers: The People’s Street Physician

Meet the man who brought health care to the homeless and started the “street medicine” movement. Melancholy and despair hover above a homeless man as he limps down the dark streets of Pittsburgh in 1984. This evening he found warm shelter under a condemned and broken bridge. He found company there. An infection on his right foot has been slowly growing making it difficult to walk. He limped up to three men and painfully sat in the corner. He didn’t say anything, but they looked to be starting a fire. He’s getting a fever. Finally, some luck. One of the three men by the fire pit walked up to him, holding a leather messenger bag. “Let me see that,” said the stranger. He hardly understood; it’s been so long since someone was kind to him. But what could this other man, in the same rags as him, possibly do to help? “I’m a doctor,” the stranger continued. The homeless man pulled up his pant leg as the stranger grabbed medical gloves from the leather bag. “Thank you, doctor,” he replied,