Debbie was rescued by her students Scott, Nimesh and Austin

1. Students Protect Their Teacher
Debbie's Spanish students were finishing up their exams when suddenly the door to their classroom burst open. Debbie's estranged husband, Ted, charged towards her with an 8-inch butcher knife. "There was no doubt in my mind, looking into his eyes and seeing the fury of hell there, that he intended to kill me," says Debbie. "I began to shout, 'Get out, kids. Get out. Call 911. Get help. Get an administrator.'"

As her students sprang into action, Debbie tried to defend herself and was injured. "At that point I realized I needed more help than I knew," Debbie says. "And I said, 'Guys, pin him, now!' They weren't waiting for an invitation. They were there immediately." Scott, Austin and Nimesh (clockwise above) grabbed Ted and restrained him until the police arrived. Debbie says without the intervention of these brave boys, "there's no doubt in my mind that I would have been killed." How did the incident affect the young heroes?

Scott: The incident really changed how I look at my life and how I look at life, but it really hasn't changed my everyday, how I live my life.

Nimesh: [My father] was a little shocked that I had actually done something like this, because, looking at me, I'm not one to jump on someone's back. Every time I see him, and he tells someone the story, he's always got a big smile on his face. I feel like I finally made him proud for once.

Austin: All the little things that I used to take for granted in life I really cherish more, because now I know how easily they can be taken away from me. I mean, it can be anything from my mom cooking me breakfast to, you know, being able to drive to work or something. I just, I cherish everything. And I'm thankful that I have it.

Debbie's ex-husband Ted has been sentenced to jail for 15 years.
Joshua thanks Kathleen for saving his life

2. A Stranger Saves Boy from Pit Bull Attack
Kathleen was on her way to work when she saw 7-year-old Joshua being chased by two pit bulls. Without thinking twice, Kathleen jumped out of her car and ran towards Joshua to help him. Kathleen tried to scare the dogs off, but they would not stop attacking Joshua. Kathleen threw herself over the bleeding and screaming little boy using her body as a shield. "This was a child, a little tiny boy screaming for help," Kathleen says. "I didn't have a choice in the matter. I just did what was needed."

When the paramedics arrived, Kathleen's left eyebrow had been detached from the skull and she had multiple teeth marks on her arms and on her back. Joshua's ear was almost completely torn off. He also had bite wounds by his scalp, on his hand and on his arm.

"Thank you for saving my life," Joshua says to Kathleen.

Kathleen says now she carries a small baseball bat in her car so the next time someone needs help, she'll be better prepared.
Jason donated part of his liver and saved baby Saylor

3. High School Friend Saves Baby's Life
Just a year ago, David and Andrea celebrated the birth of their daughter Saylor and the beginning of their perfect family. Like many newborns, Saylor was a little jaundiced, so they kept her under a special light at home. However, Saylor's health began to deteriorate, and David and Andrea rushed their baby to the emergency room. Saylor was in acute liver failure and her doctors said she probably wouldn't live more than 12 days without a liver transplant.

As David and Andrea prepared for the worst, friends and family rallied to help find a suitable donor. In David's hometown, Jason, a friend from high school and a father himself, heard their heart-wrenching story and believed he could help. Immediately, Jason went in for testing. Doctors needed a donor with a certain body size and blood type for the surgery and, miraculously, Jason was a perfect match.

As Saylor waited on life support, Jason flew hundreds of miles to get to the transplant center. David says, "Jason walked in and said hi to my wife and he went to Saylor's crib and said he was going to save her life." Without a moment to spare, the surgeries began. The transplant operation lasted 11 hours and, despite major complications in both surgeries, the liver transplant was a success. Last weekend was Saylor's first birthday and her hero, Jason, was on hand to celebrate it with her.

"There's no words to say what Jason's done for us," Andrea says. "He's given her a life. A chance to do something in this world. To be a good person. To do something for other people. And of course given us the love of a child and I just don't think that there's any greater gift."
Michael, Latoris and Joel Puz

4. Strangers Save Driver of Gasoline Tanker
Would you have the split-second courage to save the life of a total stranger? Michael and Latoris, along with their friend Cedric, who is now serving overseas in the military, were such heroes. While traveling home from a basketball game, they came across a horrific accident.

Joel had been driving his gasoline tanker on a Detroit highway when, suddenly, another truck cut into his lane. When his tanker filled with 13,000 gallons of fuel hit the truck, Joel's vehicle flipped on its side, instantly becoming a death trap. Joel jumped through the fire out of the tanker, but then blacked out. Michael, Latoris and Cedric all ran to his rescue. Moments after they pulled him to safety, Joel's tanker exploded.

"My wife and I cannot thank these guys enough," says Joel. "There are no words to put in my mouth to express to them. What they did was so miraculous. They shouldn't even have been there."
Melissa reads her husband's last letter home

5. A Soldier's Last Letter to His Family
Private First Class Jesse Givens served in Iraq for only three weeks before tragedy struck. His wife Melissa says that when Jesse was parked on the side of a riverbank in Iraq, the land gave way, and he toppled into the river. Jesse left behind a beautiful son, Dakota, who he called Toad. He never met his baby boy, Carson, who was born four weeks after Jesse was killed. Jesse called his unborn son Bean.

Melissa says it was hard to accept Jesse was gone because, due to the delay of overseas postal deliveries, letters continued to arrive after his death. Melissa brought a letter her husband wrote only a few days before he died. He had instructed her to only read it if he didn't come home.

"My family. I never thought I would be writing a letter like this. I really don't know where to start, but I've been getting bad feelings. … [Melissa,] I married you for my lifetime and that's how long I'll be with you. Please keep our babies safe and please find it in your heart to forgive me for leaving you alone. Teach our babies to live life to the fullest and tell yourself to do the same. I will always want you, need you and love you in my heart, my mind and my soul. Do me a favor, after you tuck Toad and Bean in, give them hugs and kisses for me. Go outside and look at the stars and count them. Don't forget to smile. Love always, your husband Jess."
FROM: Meet the Heroes in the Headlines
Published on December 01, 2004


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