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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Man in a Wheelchair Travels 2,800 Km in Epic Journey Across China

While most people view wheelchairs as a symbol of disability and confinement, this young man from China is proving the opposite – over the past couple of years he has been using his wheelchair to fulfill his lifelong dream of backpacking across the country.

29-year-old Quan Peng began his epic journey from Beijing on August 31, 2014, spending a whopping 566 days on the road before reaching Fuzhou city last Thursday. So far he’s traveled a total of 2,800 km spanning the length and breadth of the nation, but his trip is far from over. He still plans to cover another 1,700 km to Sanya, in China’s southernmost province of Hainan, before calling it a day.

“This is the fifth province and 22nd city I’ve passed through during my trip,” Quan told local media after reaching Fuzhou. “My fate deprived me of my freedom. I have to get it back by any means necessary. Along with wanting to see the world with my own eyes, I also am making this trip so that people will see the importance of having barrier-free facilities.” In each of the cities he has visited, Quan made it a point to document the type of facilities available for disabled people like himself. Sadly, he reports that in most places such conveniences are non-existent.

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