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Kevin Saunders has a remarkable story of perseverance in the face of tragedy. If you've ever felt down and out, discouraged, beaten or broken, Kevin Saunders has been there.  But he rose from those ashes to become a champion.

Like any other young man from the Kansas countryside, Kevin Saunders was fresh out of college and starting a family. He worked long hours as a Federal grain elevator inspector. Touring facilities day after day in the heat, he knew the job wouldn't be easy - but he didn't know it would nearly take his life.

On a busy afternoon like any other, Kevin heard the sound he would never forget ... one explosion, and then another, snapping like popcorn in the distance. The rising volume and tremor of the floor told an unmistakable truth - that the building he was standing in would soon burst into flames. And, in a matter of seconds, it did. Before he had time to even think or move, a blast rocketed the office and sent him over a 2-story building three hundred feet into the air. When rescuers found him, he was lying a quarter of a mile away in a parking lot, bent and broken at the chest.

For days, Kevin lay teetering on the edge of life and death, even hearing his doctor admit to a visitor that there "wasn't any hope." Against all odds, he survived his injuries only to find that the real trauma was about to begin. Paralyzed from the chest down, he struggled to find a new meaning and focus for his life. Abused and abandoned by his young wife, his life fell into disarray. Divorced, bankrupt, and utterly alone, Kevin fell into a deep depression. 

But rather than remain miserable, Kevin did what he now teaches audiences around the world to do - he decided to keep moving forward. By sharpening his body and mind together, he became a world class competitor. Athletically, he won hundreds of gold medals and earned the title of "the greatest all-around wheelchair athlete in the world." And that success was only the beginning. He's gone on to feature in a major motion picture, serve under two administrations on the President's Council on Physical Fitness, participate in "the biggest turnaround in college sports history," push his wheelchair across North America and Europe, and even pen five books and appear on shows like ESPN, USA Today and countless other national, international and local media outlets.  Read more at his website: http://www.kevinsaunders.com/.


 
Frederick Dukes overcame homelessness and hunger to graduate high school. Keeping a positive attitude and staying determined, he was able to accomplish his goals despite the overwhelming odds. When Frederick’s stepmom decided to move back to North Carolina, he decided to stay in Atlanta. For two years, Frederick had been homeless and often felt hungry. But that did not stop him from going to school and studying hard.
 
“A lot of people talk about doing things, but you can’t talk about it. You can’t think about it. You can only just go and do it,” said Dukes, a senior at Washington Senior Academy.

“I’m still a high school student. Even though I am dealing with the hardships of adults, I am still a young man and teenager at the moment in time.”
 
“My lowest moment over the last two years was this Christmas break when it was cold and I didn’t have anywhere to stay,” said Dukes. “I knew if I didn’t stay on myself, nobody would. If I didn’t care, nobody else would care. If I didn’t help myself, nobody else would help me,” said Dukes.
 
Despite all the hardships, Dukes graduated from one of the top schools in the state.

“Your environment is not what makes you. Who you are is what you do and the decisions you make is what makes you who you are,” Dukes said.
 
Copyright 2012 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
source (and video): http://www.wafb.com/story/18312118/high-school-student-overcomes-hunger-and-homelessness-to-graduate
 
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Arthur Renowitzky speaking to a group of high school students.
Arthur Renowitzy was shot point blank outside a San Francisco night club by someone he didn’t know and never saw again. He was rushed to the hospital, where he was medically induced into a coma for twenty-three days. He survived the shooting, but when he awoke, he was paralyzed from the chest down and was told that he would never walk again. He was eighteen at the time of the shooting, a young man just starting out with his life.  


After he was released from his rehabilitation, he entered into a severe depression and spent several weeks in his bedroom, twenty-four hours a day with tinfoil on his windows. He was debating suicide until his father and brother forced him out of the house to try hand cycling. He then met a wheelchair basketball coach and found his new passion. Although he was now in a wheelchair, he decided to make the most of his life and move forward with the realization that life must go on. He now plays for a semi-professional wheelchair basketball team called the San Jose Spokes. Arthur had made a decision during his recovery that he would embrace his new reality rather than spiral into depression.


He also established the Life Goes On Foundation, whose aim is to help bring an end to gun violence among young people in California. Arthur does not want to see another young person become a victim of gun violence. Today he runs the foundation and hits the streets, speaking about his incident and spreading his message of  peace. He also speaks at special events. Like me, Arthur had people in his corner giving him encouragement, but it was his decision to get back into the ring.

To read more about Arthur's story, click the link below:
http://www.ktvu.com/news/news/man-paralyzed-in-shooting-works-to-end-gun-violenc/nKqnm/ 

 
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Fiona Page was a small town girl who lived a pretty normal life in Blackshear, Georgia. She went to college to get her degree in teaching, married her college sweetheart, and began a career she loved teaching children. In 1983, at the age of 40, she was divorced and, although she continued teaching, she signed up for storytelling classes, finding a new passion.

In the late 1980's, she had two life changing events: she won the Christa McAuliffe fellowship and she lost her eyesight. Imagine the terrible feeling of having had vision for 40 years and then losing it completely. 

But Fiona did not feel sorry for herself. She immediately got back to doing what she does best: teaching and storytelling. The publicity from her award and her sudden loss of vision allowed her to embark on a 15 year career continuously speaking to others about embracing change and using storytelling as a teaching tool.

Fiona has since written a book about her ordeal called "My Nightlife is 24/7 . . . From Tragedy to Triumph." You can check it out here: www.fionapage.com.