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The Amazing Story of a Blind Professional Photographer and Rock Climber

Justin Salas was only 14 when he lost his sight almost completely and was declared legally blind. Now 22, the ambitious young man is a living example that nothing is impossible – even though he can’t see, Justin is a professional photographer and skilled rock climber.

Justin’s blindness wasn’t the result of an unfortunate accident or a sudden occurrence where he woke up one morning to find that he couldn’t see anymore. His eyesight had always been poor and he started wearing glasses when he was 5-years-old. But it wasn’t until his freshman year of high-school that his vision started deteriorating at a rapid pace. His glasses no longer helped and tests revealed that his optic nerves were dying, although the cause was a mystery for all the doctors he’d seen.

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Meet Jana Jihad – Palestine’s Youngest Amateur Reporter

While most 10-year-olds are busy playing games, learning the ropes at school and enjoying their childhood, Janna Jihad risks her life reporting on the Palestinian – Israeli conflict in the occupied West Bank, in an effort to raise awareness to the plight of her people.

A resident of Nabi Saleh, a small Palestinian village north of the West Bank city of Ramallah, Janna has been a witness to the tragedies of war from a very young age. Her mother, Nawal, says she was traumatized after one of her friends was shot dead by the Israeli army. “He was older than her but used to always be friendly and nice to her so that she became attached to him. When she saw his blood on the ground, she became frantic.”  She used to pen her feelings and frustrations in a locked journal every night, but the deaths of two of her relatives – her cousin, Mustafa Tamimi, and another uncle, Rushdie Tamimi – inspired her to get involved and reveal the injustice the people in her village are being subjected to.

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Amazing Human Being Has Laid Over 550 Unclaimed Bodies to Rest in the Last 60 Years

Mithalal Sindhi, from the Indian city of Ahmedabad, is not a rich man, by any means. He has been living on the streets for the last six decades, earning a modest living by selling Bajra (pearl millet) from his pedal rickshaw. Most of what he makes, Mithalal spends on performing the last rites for unclaimed dead bodies that no one else takes responsibility for. He is without a doubt one of the most kindhearted people we have ever written about.

During the partition of the British Indian Empire, 15-year-old Mithalal moved from Pakistan to Bombay, with his family. He did a number of odd jobs to make ends meet and survive in the big city, but in 1957, he moved to Ahmedabad where he started a small fruit selling business using what little savings he had. It was during this time that he met Nyaldas Sindhi, a vegetable vendor, with whom he became very close friends. They would eat lunch together and even sleep next to each other on the footpath, at night. Their friendship came to an abrupt ending in just two years, after Mithalal tried waking his friend one morning, but he didn’t respond.

Devastated by Nyaldas’ death, the young fruit vendor realized his friend had no close families or relatives to take care of the last rites. Mithalal asked the Mukhya (Leader of Vegetable Market) for help, but he refused, telling him it was not his concern. No one was willing to take responsibility for his friend, so he stepped up and had his body cremated near Callico Mill. It was this experience that made him realize that there were so many people dying every day in Ahmedabad that had no one to perform their last rites. He decided he was going to be the person to do it.

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Meet the Plus-Size Male Dancer Challenging Ballet Stereotypes

American ballet dancer Erik Cavanaugh is proving to the world that plus-size performers can be just as agile and graceful as their slim counterparts. His Instagram is filled with photographs and videos of himself performing ballet and other contemporary dance routines. He hopes to appear in music videos and on the Ellen Show, and his ultimate goal is to “change the mind and shape of dancers”.

Erik, 23, works at a pizza parlor by day and spends all his spare time dancing and choreographing. He learned the basics of dance at the Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts School when he was much younger, and was encouraged to post videos of his performances online by his dance coach at his alma mater, Slippery Rock University.

Some of his short video clips feature him pulling off incredibly difficult and impressive moves, like multiple pirouettes, set to contemporary music like Justin Bieber’s Purpose and Jordan Smith’s Settle. The New York Post featured a compilation of Erik’s moves in a Facebook video, which went viral, inspiring millions around the world.

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The Inspiring Story of a Man Who Became a Top Bicycle Repairman after Losing Nine Fingers and Both Legs

23 years ago, Yue Jin lost both his legs and nine of his fingers in a freak accident. He thought his life was over, but somehow found the strength to start over and today he is one of the most sought-after bicycle repairmen in Jilin City, northern China.

In 1993, while he was cutting firewood in the mountains of Jilin province, Yue Jin accidentally fell into a deep valley and almost died. His injuries were so severe that doctors had to amputate both his legs and all but one of his ten fingers. For a man who made his living with his hands, it was almost a death sentence. And it was even more devastating considering Yue had also lost his wife just three days after childbirth, leaving him to take care of their daughter. After the accident, he couldn’t see any other way to do that than go out and beg for a few coins and some food, so he left his daughter in the care of some neighbors and ventured out on to the streets.

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Amazing 7-Year-Old Born without Hands Wins National Hand-Writing Competition

7-year-old Anaya Ellick was born without hands, but she’s mastered the art of writing by holding her pencil in between the ends of her arms, as she stands over her desk at a comfortable angle. The adorable first-grader could have used prosthetics, but she chose to practice using her own arms instead and got so good at it that this year she actually won  the Nicholas Maxim Special Award for Excellence in Manuscript Penmanship for beautiful writing.

Anaya’s parents, Bianca and Gary, were naturally shocked and worried sick when they first found out she didn’t have hands. But Anaya proved to be a precocious child, learning early on to tie her shoes, dress herself, and attempting to do other things by herself before asking for help. Her ambitious nature was also mentioned by the principal of her school, Tracy Cox. “There is truly very little that this girl cannot do,” the Greenbrier Christian Academy principal told ABC News. “She is determined. She is independent. She is a vivacious and a no-excuses type of young lady.”

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Meet the Middle-Aged Cholitas Conquering the Highest Mountains in South America

Most mountaineers wouldn’t venture out on an expedition without the proper gear and attire, but a group of Bolivian women have shocked the world by climbing some of South America’s highest mountains – all while wearing their traditional attire of colorful, layered skirts. Dressed in ‘cholita paceñas’ outfits complete with Andean ‘aguayo’ shawls and knitted cardigans, they look like typical grannies albeit on a serious mission.

These women, belonging to the indigenous Aymara people of the Andes, would normally stay at home while their husbands worked as mountain guides in the worst of conditions. They would cook at base camps or work as porters, never actually scaling the treacherous peaks themselves. But all that changed a couple of years ago, when Lydia Huayllas, wife of a mountain guide, wanted to know what it felt like to scale the steep, glacial slopes of the 19,974-foot Huayna Potosi mountain.

“What do you do up there, how does it feel?” she asked her husband, Eulalio Gonzalez. In response, he told her to find out for herself. So she did just that.

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Afghan Teacher Turns His Bicycle into a Mobile Library to Give Isolated Children a Chance to Read

In a nation ravaged by war, where children have little to no access to quality literature, a school teacher is trying his best to make a difference. Saber Hosseini, who teaches children in the city of Bamiyan, central Afghanistan, has converted his bicycle into a mobile library which he rides to remote villages.

“I came up with the idea for this project six months ago. I talked about it to friends in literary circles, who donated money and got some of their friends abroad to donate as well. I started alone with 200 storybooks for kids, and started riding to remote villages throughout Bamiyan province. Soon, I recruited more volunteers – now there are 20 of us, and we have a collection of about 6,000 books.” Most of these books are imported from Iran.

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Meet the Incredible Jake Olson – A Completely Blind College Football Player

After years of cheering for his favorite college football team, University of Southern California student Jake Olson has achieved the impossible dream – despite being completely blind, he is now a part of the team, playing as long snapper for the USC Trojans, approaching the game based on feel rather than sight.

Born with retinoblastoma, a rare cancer of the retina, Jake lost his left eye when he was only eight months old. “When the doctors found my cancer, it was completely taking over my left eye,” he said. “The greatest fear is the cancer spreading through the optic nerve to the brain.” So the eye had to be removed entirely, followed by several rounds of chemotherapy and laser treatment to prevent the cancer from spreading to the right eye. Sadly, it kept coming back.  At age 12, Jake received news that he would have to lose his right eye as well. “Realizing what I was going to be confronting… a life without sight, it was difficult. I didn’t feel completely hopeless, but there was this sense of ‘I don’t know how I’m gonna do anything anymore.’”

Being a lifelong Trojan fan, one of Jake’s last wishes before he lost his eye was to watch them play at Notre Dame and also to witness a practice session the night before the surgery. “There were nights of crying and stressful times when I couldn’t get the thought of going blind out of my psyche,” he said, speaking to the LA Times. “But every time I was up at USC or talking to one of the players or just being around, it was just pure fun. And truthfully, peace.”

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The Inspiring Story of a Blind Boy Who Built a Company Worth Millions

At age 23, Indian entrepreneur Srikanth Bolla is the CEO a company valued at INR 50 crore (over $7.5 million) . That’s a wonderful achievement in itself, but what’s truly inspiring is that he managed to do it despite being born completely blind. Today, he considers himself the luckiest man in the world, not for his success, but for having supportive parents who always stood by him.

When Srikanth was born blind, several of his parents’ friends and relatives advised them to abandon him. That would indeed have been the easier thing to do, given the fact that they were poor and uneducated, earning a mere INR 20,000 ($300) a year. But they chose to not only keep the boy, but also raise him in a positive, loving environment. “They are the richest people I know,” he often says.

And their excellent parenting has paid off – today, Srikanth is the CEO of Bollant Industries, a Hyderabad-based company that employs physically challenged staff to manufacture eco-friendly consumer packaging solutions made from leaves and recycled paper. The company has four manufacturing units in three states in southern India – Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Karnataka. Srikanth’s hard work and unprecedented success has impressed the business world, attracting investments from the likes of Indian business tycoon Ratan Tata.

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Man Runs 370 Marathons in One Year, Proves Nothing Is Impossible

For most people, running one or two full marathons a year is quite the feat,  but for 33-year-old Rob Young it’s merely a short warm-up. This British superhuman did the unthinkable last year, completing a whopping 370 marathons, which basically means he ran more than one marathon per day!

It all started as a silly bet with his partner Joanna Hanasz on a Sunday morning, in April 2014, as they watched the TV coverage of the London Marathon. It was, in fact, Young who had insisted that he’d rather stay in and watch TV than go for a walk in the park with their son. He obviously wasn’t very interested in running at the time, and actually considered it ‘boring’.

But something changed that morning, when Hanasz teased him that he couldn’t run marathons, even if he tried. Young jokingly replied that he would bet her ‘twenty pence’ that he could run 50, a challenge that he later took seriously. The very next morning he woke up at 3.30 am, printed out the route of the Richmond Marathon, and completed it before work. And he felt so good that he returned to it every day, running the equivalent of 10 marathons by the end of the week.

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The Amazing Story of a Gambler-Turned-Conservationist Who Spent $90 Million Saving Nature

Former gambler and businessman M.C. Davis placed the biggest bet of his life about 20 years ago when he decided to spend a considerable chunk of his fortune on nature. Over the past two decades, he spent $90 million purchasing thousands of acres of land all over Florida. And the risk paid off – he managed to revive forests and swamps across the state, saving several wildlife species in the process. Although he tried to do his conservation work without attracting too much attention, the positive effects of Davis’ efforts could not go unnoticed forever. Last year, he was featured in Smithsonian Magazine and on the National Public Radio website, and his story went viral.

Having grown up in a cramped trailer on a dirt road in the Florida Panhandle, Davis set out to make a fortune at a very young age, becoming a self-proclaimed gambler and hustler. He made hundreds of millions of dollars, but it took a simple traffic jam to bring about the epiphanic moment that would change the course of his life forever. “It’s drizzling rain, and I was just sort of frantic with exasperation,” he told NPR. “Stuck in traffic, and I looked up, and I saw on the marquee of the high school, ‘Black Bear Presentation’. Intrigued, he decided to pull over and attend the event.

At the time, Davis didn’t even know that Florida had black bears, but the lecture made by two women of the Defenders of Wildlife piqued his interest – the very next day he donated enough money to keep the Defenders campaign alive for two years. He also began to read more books written by environmentalists, and kept in touch with Laurice MacDonald, one of the Defenders that had oipened his eyes. “He had the steepest learning curve,” MacDonald later said. “We would begin with little debates. They were a little testy but fascinating.”  

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The Inspirational Story of a 545-Pound Man Running 5K Races Like There’s No Tomorrow

Meet Derek Mitchell, an inspiring 35-year-old race runner who weighs a whopping 545 pounds. Despite his heavy frame, he’s spent the past year walking and running a total of 21 5k races and two 10k events. He even made it halfway through a muddy, 10-mile obstacle course!

Mitchell, a Kansas City native, was diagnosed with a noncancerous tumor on his pituitary gland five years ago, a condition that slows down his metabolism and is the primary cause for his obesity. Although he was put on medication to shrink the tumor, Mitchell felt that “at one point, I was using that condition as a crutch, telling myself, ‘I’ll wait for the pills to start working before I start working out or change my eating habits.’”

But he realised that wasn’t a very good plan in November 2014, when his body weight reached an all-time high of 625 pounds. “That’s when I knew I needed to make a change, and decided to start with a new year’s resolution.” So in the beginning of 2015, he cut soda from his diet, switched to more nutritious food options, and tried switching to a healthier lifestyle.

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Doctor with No Legs Wears Out 24 Wooden Stools in 15 Years of Making House Calls

Despite having had her legs amputated at a very young age, Li Juhong somehow managed to fulfill her dream of becoming a doctor. The 37-year-old has been treating patients for the past 15 years in her hometown of Wadian village, in southwest China’s Chongqing province.

Li was only four years old when she was involved in a tragic accident – a truck ran over her and her legs were crushed under its tires. The only way to save her life was to amputate them. But Li, an incredibly resilient child, didn’t lose hope. She was determined to stay mobile and by age eight, she taught herself to move using her hands and two wooden benches for support.

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Tough 9-Year-Old Girl Completes 24-Hour Obstacle Course Designed by US Navy SEALs

She’s probably not done shedding her baby teeth, but 9-year-old Milla Bizzotto is tougher than most adults. The four-foot-tall, 53-pound third grader from South Florida recently shocked the world with her incredible physical fitness, becoming the youngest person in the world to complete the 24-hour Battlefrog Xtreme race, an outdoor fitness event designed by Navy SEALs.  

“I don’t want to play video games,” she explained in an interview with The Miami Herald. “I don’t want to hoverboard. I don’t want to do things to make life easier. I want to be comfortable being uncomfortable. I have one body and it’s all I want and all I love.”

“I’m fearless,” she added. “And knowing I’m inspiring people makes me more fearless. It is hard, but that doesn’t stop me.”

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