Courtesy Libbe Becker Fairty
  • A selection of 11 heroes nominated by readers. readers wrote in from across the country to share stories of their personal heroes. Among those heroes was 12-year-old Jessica Joy Rees. After Jessica was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in the spring of 2011, she and her family founded JoyJars, a program to give gifts to children fighting serious illnesses. "She is an inspiration to all (who) meet her," one reader wrote.
    Courtesy Libbe Becker Fairty
  • A selection of 11 heroes nominated by readers.

    Charity Heppner Graff runs Gentle Hands, Inc., an orphanage in the Philippines serving sick and special needs children. "She personally bathes, feeds and administers medication to dozens of children daily," wrote reader Nikki Esquivel Esquivel. Esquivel said she adopted a boy with Down syndrome with Graff's help.
    Courtesy Nikki Esquivel
  • A selection of 11 heroes nominated by readers.

    Chrisa Hickey's son Timothy, 17, is fighting to help those with mental illness through the National Alliance on Mental Illness. He has schizoaffective disorder, which includes symptoms of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Above, Timothy is pictured with Green Bay Packer Ryan Grant at a NAMI event."Tim is my hero because he tells his story to help" others, Hickey wrote.
    Courtesy Chrisa Hickey
  • A selection of 11 heroes nominated by readers.

    Army veteran and Pearl Harbor survivor Henry Hedden, pictured above with family, died two days before the 70th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. He later became a math professor and was married for 60 years before his wife died of breast cancer. "He is my true life hero and I miss him dearly," his granddaughter Emmalyn Dyer wrote.
    Courtesy Emmalyn Dyer.
  • A selection of 11 heroes nominated by readers.

    Karen Jackson, left, founded of Sisters Network Inc., an African-American breast cancer survivor organization. "I am alive today because Karen became an advocate for the black breast cancer patient more than 15 years ago," reader Crystal Brown-Tatum wrote.
    Courtesy Crystal Brown-Tatum
  • A selection of 11 heroes nominated by readers.

    Houston Police Department Lt. Harry Zamora pulled an elderly man from a burning car earlier this year. The man did not survive but "my husband did everything he could and suffered third degree burns in the process," Zamora's wife wrote. "He says he's just doing his job. I think not...There is no such greater love for mankind than to risk your life for a complete stranger."
    Courtesy Lesli Zamora
  • A selection of 11 heroes nominated by readers.

    A Sudanese refugee, Dut Bior founded SOAP International, a group that helps provides education aid to orphans. Bior "inspires me, many others and we now sponsor students in Kenya and Uganda with hopes to sponsor more in 2012," SOAP member Sayra Moran wrote.
    Courtesy Sayra Moran
  • A selection of 11 heroes nominated by readers.

    After her son was killed in 2007 by a man shouting gay slurs, Elke Kennedy founded "Sean's Last Wish," an anti-hate group. "My mother's dedication and unbelievable determination for LGBT rights and equality is an inspiration to me and countless others," her daughter, Dawn Kennedy wrote.
    Courtesy Dawn Kennedy
  • A selection of 11 heroes nominated by readers.

    A teacher at Boone High School in Orlando, Fla., for more 40 years, Sarah Kittrell "taught me the meaning of having pride and dedication combined into everything you do," said former student Leah Harding. "I cannot thank her enough for the time, patience and love she has poured into my life," Harding wrote.
    Courtesy Leah Harding
  • A selection of 11 heroes nominated by readers.

    Cali Overcast, 14, has worn a prosthetic limb since her leg was amputated years ago following an infection. Her mother said in a message to ABC News that Cali now raises funds for soldiers' programs and speaks to other amputees about living with limb loss. "She has looked at life not like a victim but victorious," her mother wrote.
    Courtesy Clo Overcast
  • A selection of 11 heroes nominated by readers.

    On her blog, Courtney Roth writes about caring for Tripp, her 2-year-old son who has Junctional Epidermolysis Bullosa, a devastating skin disease that covered his body in sores and later left him blind. Roth "is the most amazing and selfless person, holding (Tripp) in a rocking chair every single day, all day long...…She handles the situation with such inspiring faith and grace," one reader wrote.
    Courtesy Courtney Roth
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