Most Inspiring People of 2012

Too often we hear stories of tragedy and conflict in the news. As a journalism student I am more than familiar with the negative images and stories with too many unhappy endings that are displayed in headlines daily. But what about the good news? There were a lot of people who inspired me in 2012, so I thought it would be cool to take a look back over the year that was and explore some of these inspiring stories.

With a lot of inspiration to choose from it was hard to narrow down my choices. There is the story of the homeless student who earned a visit to the White House…the many heroes who helped victims of hurricane Sandy…the 14-year-old girl who became the youngest person to swim across Lake Ontario….all were moments that uplifted and inspired.

Here are a few more inspiring stories from the year 2012:

Oscar Pistorius: Olympic and Paralympic athlete

He may not have captured the gold medal at the London Olympics but Oscar Pistorius takes the prize for inspiring the world this past summer. The 26-year-old athlete made history in 2012 as the first amputee runner to compete in the Olympics. Nicknamed “Bladerunner” after his cutting-edge prosthetic sprinting legs, the double amputee was fast enough to run in the semi-finals of the 400 m and the finals of the 4×100 m race. While he didn’t land a medal, his perseverance and passion managed to break down barriers and inspire fans worldwide. Pistorius went on to win three gold medals at the 2012 Paralympic Games. Sidenote: he also made the 2012 cut for People magazine’s “sexiest men alive.”

Felix Baumgartner: The Man Who Fell to the Earth

Watching Fearless Felix jump from a space capsule 24 miles above the earth was one of the coolest things I have ever seen. in my life. Scratch that – it’s probably the coolest thing I will ever see. I love this man so much! Not only did he shatter the sound barrier but he also showed us that it is possible to jump from the stratosphere 128,000 feet above New Mexico and not die. I’m impressed by that feat. If you watched the dive on YouTube you will remember that at one point Baumgartner went into a terrifying 834 mile per hour death spin, but thanks to a lifetime of jumping he managed to gain control and successfully land on his feet. When asked what he wanted to do next, Baumgartner said “I want to inspire a generation.” I think it’s safe to say he’s accomplished that goal.

Jenna Talackova: The Miss Universe Canada Story

This 23-year-old blond from Vancouver made history in May 2012 by breaking barriers against transgendered persons. Jenna Talackova fought to become the first transgendered person to compete in the Miss Universe Canada pageant.

Talackova, who underwent gender reassignment surgery when she was 19, was initially barred from the competition because she was born male. After public outcry and a lot of worldwide media attention, pageant owner Donald Trump allowed the young woman to compete by over-ruling an earlier decision made by the Miss Universe committee. The change means Miss Universe pageants will now include transgender women, and brings the competition in line with other groups that have taken a stand against gender discrimination such as The Olympics.

For her inspiring efforts towards the fight for equality, Talackova makes the cut.

Kelvin Doe: Africa’s Self Taught 15-year-old Engineering Whiz

This bright young boy from Sierra Leone, West Africa made headlines in 2012 as a self-taught engineering marvel. He tells ThnkTV that in his hometown “the lights come on once a week and the rest of the month it’s dark so I built a battery to power peoples houses.” Searching through trash bins for scrap metal and wires, Kelvin built a battery, an FM radio transmitter to broadcast the news and a generator to power the devices. Even more impressive, he is completely self-taught, having never taken an engineering, physics or electronics class and was the youngest person in history to be invited as a guest resident at MIT. Kelvin has made it his goal to promote innovation to the youth of Sierra Leone and is currently working on his next project – an electricity-generating windmill for his community. I wish I had his ambition when I was fifteen.

Check out the video of his incredible story here!

Stephanie Deckler: The Hero Mom Who Lost Her Legs Saving Her Kids from a Tornado

Stephanie Deckler gets my inspirational vote for her bravery and killer mom-instincts. This hero mom that saved the life of her two children when a deadly tornado ripped through their Ohio Valley home in 2012. The 37-year-old knew she had to act fast and with no choice but to shield her two young kids with her own body, the tornado began to suck their home into its vortex. Her quick thinking saved the lives of her two children, but both of her legs were injured and had to be amputated. Thirty nine people died during the March 2012 storm.

Deckler later told ABC news “I stayed conscious the whole time. I couldn’t afford to pass out. They needed me. They had to have me, so I had to figure out what to do.”

Bear: The Dog That Saved a 1-year-old Boy from Drowning

How amazing is this family dog who jumped into a family pool and rescued his best friend, a one-year-old boy named Stanley. Stanley’s mother was outside with her son working on the garden when she went to the garage to get tools. Thinking her son was right behind her the mom went into a panic when Stanley was nowhere to be found.

She ran back into the yard only to find her son face down in the pool – and their family dog – a black lab named Bear – swimming underneath Stanley trying to hold the boy up on his back and get him out of the water. The dog was able to lift the boy just enough to keep him from swallowing too much water and drowning.

The young boy survived, thanks to the quick instincts of their family dog Bear!

Check out the the inspiring story here!


The Honest Bus Driver Who Returned Half a Million Dollars Found in a Bag

Picture this: You’re riding the TTC when you notice a bag that’s been left behind and it’s stuffed under your seat. You open it up curiously, only to discover…half a million dollars in cash!!! What do you do next? Do you turn the bag into police? Do you take the money and run? (Goodbye student loans!)

That’s exactly the predicament an Austrian bus driver faced after an elderly woman left her fortune behind. The driver from Vienna was inspecting his vehicle at the end of its route when he found the bag with 390,000 euros ($509,700) stuffed behind a seat. The man handed the bag over to police who tracked down the owner using a bank deposit slip. No word yet on whether the owner has given the honest man a reward.

Well Ryerson, do you agree or disagree with my choices? Did I miss someone inspiring? Let me know by commenting in the space below.