01:35 PM EDT 05/24/2013
Originally posted 05/23/2013 07:30AM
Earl Morse had no idea that a casual question would end up launching him on a life-changing crusade.
It was December 2004, and the physician assistant was chatting with some World War II veteran patients when the subject turned to the memorial in their honor that had just opened the previous spring in Washington, D.C.
"I said to them, 'Have you been to see your new memorial?' " says Morse, 54, who was working at an outpatient clinic for veterans in Chillicothe, Ohio.
"Sadly, none of them had been," says Morse, who still works as a full-time PA for the VA and lives in Enon, Ohio, "and reality had set in that they were never going to see their memorial because they didn't have the financial means. That broke my heart."
Originally posted 05/18/2013 04:00PM
The young YouTube star (and honorary CoverGirl) gets to fulfill another dream
Originally posted 05/16/2013 02:05PM
Darian Craig was just 3 years old when she was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a cancerous tumor that affects mostly infants.
She was given less than a 15 percent chance of surviving.
Darian eventually beat the disease, but spent the next 14 years of her life in and out of emergency rooms battling Behcet's syndrome, a rare disorder that causes blood vessels to become inflamed, and receiving radiation treatments, chemotherapy and undergoing a bone marrow transplant.
Originally posted 05/09/2013 04:35PM
Back in 2006, ecologist and musician Favio Chavez found himself working on a recycling project in Cateura, Paraguay – a small village that sits atop a landfill.
He was horrified by the conditions in which children were living.
"It is not a place where people are supposed to live," he tells PEOPLE. "It's where the city throws its garbage."
So he decided to do something about it. Chavez, who had once run an orchestra in his nearby village Carapeguá, was inspired to create the Recycled Orchestra, where kids play instruments made from recycled garbage.
Originally posted 05/09/2013 01:30PM
This could easily be the most moving celebrity shout-out of all time.
Zach Sobiech, 17, inspired millions with his cancer fight and the farewell song he penned, "Clouds."
Now, a slew of celebrities are showing their support for the brave teenager (he's been diagnosed with osteosarcoma) with a tribute video set to his song, in an effort to raise awareness and funds to help find a cure for childhood cancer.
Among the stars featured in the new video, which airs on Rainn Wilson's SoulPancake YouTube channel: Ashley Tisdale, Colbie Caillat, Anna Faris, Jason Mraz, Sara Bareilles, Jenna Fischer, The Lumineers, Rachel Bilson, Ed Helms, Phillip Phillips and more.
Originally posted 05/02/2013 05:45PM
The Boston Marathon started off like any other for Dick Hoyt, who pushes his son, Rick, in his wheelchair when they compete.
"We took a bus filled with runners from our team from the hotel to the start line," says Dick, 72, who has completed more than 1,000 races (many of them marathons) with his son. "We put together Rick's running chair, put him in it and off we went. It was a great day."
They were making good time, an hour ahead of last year, when Dick noticed an unusual number of police officers around mile 23. "I stopped and asked one of them, 'Is everything OK?' " says Dick, of Holland, Mass.
Originally posted 04/25/2013 12:50PM
Retiree Don Hanlon is showing his community – and the rest of the world – how well he can shop, and how many hungry people he can help doing it.
In 2001, Hanlon, a retired warehouse worker living off his social security and savings, walked into the office of Family Tree, a Denver, Colo., nonprofit that helps the homeless, and made a stunning offer: He wanted to take a struggling family grocery shopping – and pay the bill.
"It was so unusual," says Rita Caldwell, a Family Tree coordinator. "Other donors just want to write a check, but Don wanted to get personally involved."
Originally posted 04/19/2013 03:30PM
When blasts rocked the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, many bystanders selflessly ran toward danger in an effort to save the injured.
Now, many of those same heroes are trying to reunite with those they helped to see if they're okay.
Matt Patterson, 30, an off-duty firefighter from Lynn, Mass., north of Boston, is among those looking to reconnect after helping to save a little boy who lost a leg in the bombings.
Originally posted 04/19/2013 08:00AM
The world can always use more heroes. And in Oxnard, Calif., no one deserves that title this week quite like Officer Michael Kohr.
Responding to a report of child's stolen bike on Monday, Officer Kohr went above and beyond the call of duty – not just by lending a hand but by fixing the problem then and there for Nina Sanchez and her daughter Bella.
"On my way to take my daughter Bella on a bike ride, to our dismay we realized her cherished Minnie Mouse bike that Santa brought her had been stolen, along with our jogging stroller. To say we were heartbroken is an understatement," Sanchez wrote in a Facebook post that has gone viral.
Originally posted 04/18/2013 11:30AM
Former US Army officer Bruce Mendelsohn, 44, who served during the Persian Gulf War, was at a post-race party looking out the window at the Boston Marathon spectators when he heard the the explosions and sprang into action, pushing people to safety and assisting victims. He gave this first-person account of his experience to PEOPLE's Nicole Weisensee Egan.
On marathon day I was enjoying a post-race party with about two dozen people at an office right across from the finish line. At around 4:10 on the marathon clock I saw a flash from the corner of my eye; a blast wave immediately blew me off the couch upon which I was sitting and onto the floor.
I yelled at my brother – who'd finished the race over an hour before – to get all the people away from the windows, in case there was a secondary explosion. As soon as I said that, the second explosion detonated.
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