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Richie Parker was born without arms in May 1983. But that didn’t stop his parents from giving him a normal childhood and it didn’t stop Richie from learning to first be independent and then very successful in life. He learned to ride a bike with no arms and later, he learned to drive a car.

 For the last eight years, he has worked for Hendrick Motorsports designing chassis and body components for NASCAR’s most winning organization. "Based on his resume, I knew he could do the things that I needed him to do, it was more a question of how,” said Rex Stump who is the engineering manager at Hendrick. He writes with his feet, he uses a keyboard and mouse with his feet and he uses his chin and shoulders to carry things.

ESPN recently featured Richie Parker’s story and his successes at Hendricks Motorsports. During that show, Richie summed it up perfectly: “I don't know there's a lot in life ... that I'd say I can't do – just things I
haven’t done yet.”

 
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Matt Golinski is a celebrity chef in Australia who you might
have seen on the show Ready, Set, Cook. In 2011, Matt suffered a horrific tragedy that took the life of his wife Rachel (38) and his three daughters, Starlia (10) and twins Willow and Sage (12). A fire started in their Sunshine Coast home and took everything in Matt’s life.


 Although Matt was spared himself, he ended up with severe burns on 40% of his body. He also has limited mobility in his arms due to a condition called heterotopic ossification, that is common in burn victims and causes your elbows to lock up. There is also nerve damage in his fingers which has affected his grip strength.

Since the incident, Matt has very much remained in the public eye. In many interviews, he has discussed the physical and emotional journey he has taken since losing his family and going through a difficult recovery.
 “I have no idea why I was spared from the fire but I am determined to look forward and live a life that would make them proud,'” he said in his first interview since the tragedy. “I want to honour the memory of
Rachael and our girls by finding a silver lining somewhere in these dark clouds. To say my world has been turned upside down is an understatement. Although the loss of my family is unfathomable, at this stage of my recovery I am simply grateful to be alive and to have experienced the love of my beautiful wife and
three daughters.”

In April 2013, Matt returned to the celebrity chef world and began cooking on stage at the Jan Power
Farmer’s Market in the Brisbane CBD. Along with other celebrity chefs, Matt also has started a charity called Plates for Mates, which aims to raise money to assist in developing techniques to help heal burn victims.

Matt has also found love again. During his recovery, he developed a close relationship with his personal trainer and physiotherapist Erin Yarwood. "They clicked right away, a lovely friendship formed and, slowly
and gently, their feelings have changed. It’s become a very special love story," a friend told an Australian magazine. 

Despite still being plagued by issues with his health two years later, Matt has gone back to long distance running, which was a passion of his before the incident. He is trying to make the most of his second chance by training for a marathon - with the help of his trainer, Erin, of course. Matt’s story is inspirational in that he appreciates what he had in his prior life and honors his love for that family, while still moving forward to make the most of his time left on earth. Included in that plan is sharing his story with others and helping to assist other burn victims. That is what you do with a second chance!

Read more at: http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/celebrity/matt-golinskis-new-lease-on-life-sees-him-smiling-again/story-e6frfmqi-1226668823971
 
Plates for Mates website: http://platesformates.com.au/

 
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Somaly Mam has an incredible story of survival from the industry of human trafficking. She was born to a small tribal family in Cambodia where she grew up in extreme poverty.  At a very young age, Somaly was sold into the sex slave industry and was forced to work at a brothel for many years. She was often beaten and raped by her captors and the men who paid to have sex with her. She even witnessed her best friend murdered in the brothel.

Somaly realized that she must do something to escape this life that she was trapped in and that she must do something to help others who are in the industry involuntarily. She felt that she could no longer keep her silence. In heroic fashion, Somaly escaped her captors and left the country. She was able to build a new life abroad and start the healing process.

In itself, that is quite a story. But what makes Somaly so amazing and inspirational is that she decided that she would never forget those women and children she left behind in the brothel. So, she returned to Southeast Asia and started to work on helping others escape this horrific life. In addition to helping them one on one, she built shelters and programs around the country to help heal victims and empower survivors to help even more victims. In 1996, she established an NGO called AFESIP, which offers a holistic approach to helping victims not only escape, but attain the emotional and economic strength to start a new life.  

 In 2007, Somaly established the Somaly Mam Foundation, which raises money and awareness on the human trafficking issue. It provides a means for trafficking victims to let their voices be heard around the world. The NGO and Foundation have helped over 7,000 trafficking victims to date. Somaly has been named on of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People f 2009 and she was the recipient of the Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation. 

To escape the life of a human trafficking victim truly makes Somaly blessed to survive. But to go back and risk everything to help others escape these horrors shows what courage and determination really exist inside this remarkable woman.  Asked why she continues to do it, Somaly says: "I don't want to go without leaving a trace." To learn more about her foundation, go to: www.somaly.org.