12/24/1984 at 01:00 AM EST
While on his way to street-crossing patrol at Chicago's Davis School on Sept. 28, Mark Gilbert, 12, became suspicious when a car pulled up beside him and schoolmate Wendy Fico, 11. The driver told Wendy her mother had been hurt in an accident and that he would take her to the hospital. Mark warned Wendy against getting into the car. When she refused, the man drove off, only to return minutes later to try to seize Wendy, dragging her by the hair. Mark, an 82-pound sixth grader who stands 4'10", intervened. "I kicked him in the groin, and he ran back to his car," Mark says. Twelve days later Mark spotted the stranger in the car again, got his license-plate number and alerted police. An arrest followed, and Mark won a Chicago police department award. Says he coolly of the culprit, "They locked him up that night."
Father Jerzy Popieluszko
Once a month he held a special "Mass for the Fatherland" at Warsaw's Saint Stanislaw Kostka Church, to which supporters of the banned Solidarity movement rallied. For his defiance, Father Jerzy Popieluszko, 37, knew he was in danger. "I am prepared for anything," he said. On Oct. 19 he was abducted by three secret policemen, beaten and thrown into a reservoir. After his body was recovered, Poland's military government charged its own police with murder. Father Jerzy's spirit lives on. On Nov. 25, 20,000 Poles gathered outside Saint Stanislaw to continue the monthly celebration of the Fatherland mass—"a mass," said Father Jan Sikorski, "that was meant to be canceled."
Oveta Wilson's admonition to her husband, Ben, to "drive carefully" on Oct. 3 was unusually urgent. The night before, Oveta had dreamed that the school bus he drove on their Navaho reservation had tipped over. That morning Ben's bus containing six screaming youngsters was stuck in a gully and trapped by a rising flash flood. Seeing their desperate plight, Oveta drove her Chevy pickup to the water's edge. She tied one end of a rope to the truck's bumper and the other to herself. One by one the 56-year-old grandmother of 13 hauled the children through swirling water to safety. In presenting an award for valor, New Mexico Gov. Toney Anaya likened her to those who "protect us in war and explore for us in space."
Priscilla the Pig
Folks have just been wild over Priscilla ever since the 3-month-old, 22-pound pig saved a retarded boy's life. During an outing at a lake outside Houston on July 29, Carol Burk, a friend of Priscilla's owner, took her 11-year-old son, Anthony, and the aquatically agile animal out for a swim. When Anthony floundered, his mother yelled, telling him to grab the pig's leash as it paddled by. Before you could say Where's the pork? Priscilla had towed Anthony safely to shore. Explains owner Victoria Herberta: "Priscilla is sensitive to human pain." For her feat, last month the spunky Blue Butt (the name refers to its markings) won the American Humane Association's Stillman Award, making her clearly "Pig of the Year."
Franklin L. Henderson
Fire broke out in the trailer home of Anthony Viero, 68, in Rialto, Calif, last Feb. 15. The situation was all the more desperate because Viero was a paraplegic confined to a wheelchair. "He was hung up on the inside of the door, hollering for help," says Henderson, 72, a neighbor who came running. A retired auto mechanic, he had had five heart attacks. Yet without hesitation Henderson plunged into the smoke and flames to drag Viero to safety just before the trailer exploded. In his exertion, Henderson slipped, broke a vertebra and wound up in the hospital. Sadly Anthony Viero died five months later from causes unrelated to the fire. But none of that diminished Henderson's bravery, for which he won a Carnegie Hero Medal.