08:09 PM EDT 12/02/2013
Originally posted 08/01/2013 11:30AM
Michele Gannon knows what it's like to be sick and unable to care for yourself, let alone your children.
In 2009, while recovering from an ongoing, debilitating illness, her doctor put her on bed rest for several weeks.
"My kids would say, 'Are you better now? Now? Now?' " says Gannon, 45, of Interlaken. N.J. "When I did surface, I just saw my whole world, my well-oiled machine, was broken down and that led to depression."
"I said to myself, 'I wonder what a woman does when she has a long-term illness like cancer?' " she says.
Originally posted 07/25/2013 06:15PM
Robyn Rosenberger thinks that children who are sick or struggling to recover from an injury need a little reminder of the hero they have inside them – so she's stitched thousands of capes for kids to wear.
"If getting a cape can make a child feel like they are a tiny superhero," she says, "I'll keep sending them for the rest of my life."
Rosenberger, 28, of Seattle launched Tiny Superheroes in January 2013, and along with her volunteers has sent over a thousand capes to ailing children across the world, including survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing and the Oklahoma tornadoes.
Originally posted 07/18/2013 03:30PM
Racing through the store, picking out new outfits with the money each received as a gift, the three 10-year-old girls still attract attention, just like any set of triplets. No one would ever expect that two of them were once physically attached to one another.
"When they encounter something they can't do," says their mom Darla Garrison, "they don’t dwell on it too long."
Indeed, Macey and Mackenzie – formerly conjoined twins who each have one leg – rely on prosthetics, but in every other way keep pace with their triplet sister Madeline.
Originally posted 07/11/2013 02:25PM
Two days before he was to leave Iraq in 2006, Army Sgt. Brian Taylor Urruela’s Humvee hit a pair of roadside bombs, killing his commanding officer and severely injuring him and his comrades.
After 35 unsuccessful surgeries, the life-long baseball player from Tampa, Fla., made the agonizing decision to have his mangled right leg amputated. He thought the worst was behind him, but a new kind of suffering soon began.
"When I got out of the military, all the support was gone," says Urruela, 27, who was diagnosed with PTSD. "I was drinking away the pain."
Originally posted 07/08/2013 01:00PM
From his seat in row 32, Benjamin Levy looked out the window as the plane he was traveling on, a Boeing 777 – one of the safest aircrafts in the world – prepared to land.
Levy is a businessman and frequent flyer, so he knew something was wrong when Asiana Airlines's Flight 214 out of Seoul began to approach the San Francisco International Airport runway on Saturday just before noon. The jetliner was too low, he recalled to The New York Times.
"The pilot put the gas full steam, and we tipped back up – he went full throttle to regain a bit of altitude," Levy said in an interview from his home. "We were so close to the water, the water got sprayed up. There were walls of water beside the window – before we started hitting earth."
Originally posted 07/08/2013 10:05AM
Nineteen firefighters killed in a wildfire a week ago went home for the last time on Sunday, their bodies traveling in individual white hearses in a somber caravan for 125 miles through Arizona cities and towns.
The nearly five-hour-long procession began near the state Capitol in Phoenix, went through the town where the Granite Mountain Hotshots were killed and ended in the mountain community of Prescott, where they lived and will be laid to rest this week.
Thousands of people from across the state and beyond stood patiently in triple-digit temperatures in Phoenix, lined highways and overpasses along the route, and flooded the roads of downtown Prescott to pay their respects to the 19, whose deaths are the greatest loss of life for firefighters since 9/11.
They included fellow firefighters, the men's family members, complete strangers and residents of Yarnell, the small town they died trying to save.
Originally posted 07/05/2013 06:30AM
As many in the Old West town of Prescott, Ariz., used the Independence Day celebration to honor 19 fallen firefighters, bereaved families began speaking more publically of their loved ones.
Coleen Turbyfill, mother of 27 year-old Travis Turbyfill, on Thursday recalled that she had misgivings when her son's elite "Hotshot" firefighting crew set out for a fire burning so close she could see the flames, but he comforted her and told her, "This is what I love."
Turbyfill and his 18 colleagues were killed last weekend battling a wildfire in Yarnell, not far from the place they called home.
A red-eyed Amanda Marsh called a press conference to make her first public statements about her husband, Hotshot leader and founder Eric Marsh.
Originally posted 07/04/2013 03:00PM
When a child has a dream of meeting a rodeo star or having a horse of their very own, Donnalyn Quintana of Weatherford, Texas does everything she can to make it a reality.
"Every time I come away from granting a wish, my life is changed for the better," says Quintana, 65. "I feel that this was put into my heart for a reason."
Since 1994, Quintana has raised funds through her nonprofit Western Wishes to help more than 600 terminally ill or disabled kids. She has arranged visits with country star Reba McEntire and bull riding legend Tuff Hedeman and even bought a girl with cystic fibrosis her very own horse.
Originally posted 07/02/2013 03:05PM
They were fathers and expectant fathers. High school football players and former Marines. Smoke-eaters' sons and first-generation firefighters.
What bound together the members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots – so named because they were willing to go to the hottest part of a blaze – was a "love of hard work and arduous adventure," and a willingness to risk their lives to protect others. And now, 19 families share a bond of grief.
All but one of the Prescott-based crew's 20 members died Sunday when a wind-whipped wildfire overran them on a mountainside northwest of Phoenix, in what was the deadliest single day for fire crews since the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
"We are routinely exposed to extreme environmental conditions, long work hours, long travel hours and the most demanding of fireline tasks," the group's website says. "Comforts such as beds, showers and hot meals are not always common."
Originally posted 06/27/2013 04:30PM
When a dedicated school bus driver decided to take kids on a roadtrip outside their usual route, she quickly found out that the new view gave them new perspective – and that she could change their lives forever.
Tanya Walters, a school bus driver from Los Angeles Unified School District for 22 years, saw a distinct difference in her students when she took them on their first road trip over spring break and they left their inner city Los Angeles neighborhood. She took them only 25 miles west, to a marina to learn about marine life, but she watched their eyes widen and their spirits lift.
"They were being exposed to different people, a different place, different backgrounds, and all they did was go from one neighborhood to the next," says Walters.
Top 10 News Categories
The most buzzed about stars this minute!
Treat Yourself! 4 Preview Issues
More On People.com
Got a News Tip?
Send it to our People.com editors!