We're awed by every story of returning soldiers and their struggles to fit back into their old lives, but 23-year-old Taylor Morris' injuries were particularly horrific—after stepping on a bomb in Afghanistan, he is now one of the world's few quadruple amputees. And yet in just a few months, with the help of his devoted (and bad-a**) girlfriend, Morris has learned to walk, and even dance, in a whole new way. Their tear-inducing love story went viral, capturing even the coldest of media-weary hearts. Learn more, and see a video of Taylor and Danielle dancing at a friend's wedding.
The Heroism of Pudding (Not That Kind)
Pudding is just the latest hero to overcome humble beginnings. After a few unsuccessful adoptions, this cat was spotted at a shelter by Amy Jung and her son, who were volunteering (and not planning on picking up a new pet at all). On a whim, Jung took the cat home. That very night, Jung had a seizure in her sleep, and Pudding saved her life. (Yahoo has the whole scalp-prickling story—and details on how Pudding became the first feline ever to win the grand prize in the Purina "Tales of Greatness" Story Contest.)
A Musician's Unlikely Survival
This country has had way too many stories of mass shootings this year. But hidden in the darkness, there are also reminders that sometimes life can be miraculous—as in the case of Petra Anderson, a talented musician who was shot in the head in the Aurora, Colorado, movie-theater massacre this summer. Amazingly, the bullet didn't hit any critical speech, memory or motor-processing areas. At first it was reported that Anderson had a rare brain condition that protected her from the bullet, but it turns out her only rare condition is a millimeter of fate, or luck, or whatever we want to call it. NBC recently caught up with Anderson, who is still able to play her violin and who plans to marry her boyfriend in the spring—read the whole article (with a hanky handy) for the amazing story of how she was able to say goodbye to her terminally ill mother.
A Brave Girl Paves the Way
In October, 15-year-old blogger Malala Yousafzai was shot by the Taliban in retaliation for having written about the inequalities faced by Pakistani girls seeking education. A horrible act, to be sure—and yet, amazingly, Yousafzai survived, the attack and her plight has called even more attention to her issues. In response, Pakistan has announced plans to open "Malala schools" for poor children in areas affected by disaster or conflict. The Pakistan Tribune has more details on the ambitious plan.
Next: The man who came back to life to vote