A year of courage

By Paris Walther | Published Wednesday, January 2, 2013

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Paris Walther

Courageous (adjective): not deterred by danger or pain; brave

At 16 years old, Gabby Douglas and her gymnastics team won the team all-around gold medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics. She then went on to become the first African-American woman to achieve an individual all-around title.

In 1993, Timothy Ray Brown of San Francisco tested positive for the HIV virus. In 2007, he decided to undergo an experimental blood stem cell transplant with an HIV resistant gene mutation. In 2012, Mr. Brown no longer carries the HIV virus, making him the first man to become completely cured.

On Oct. 29, when Hurricane Sandy hit his town of Manasquan, N.J., high school football coach Jay Price rallied a local ladder company to search for people stranded in their homes in the middle of the storm. He saved dozens of people and later assembled his football team to aid the relief effort.

Jennifer Livington, a Wisconsin news anchor, received a letter from a viewer stating that her obesity hindered her from acting as a good role model to the public. Feeling that she needed to address this, Livingston bravely spoke out on her morning broadcast to viewers, advising them not to “let your self-worth be defined by bullies.”

On Oct. 14, Felix Baumgartner took a plunge from 24 miles above earth. His body reached speeds of up to 700 mph, piercing the sound barrier. He landed nine minutes later safely on the ground and became the first man to break the sound barrier with his body alone.

Victoria Soto stood teaching her elementary school children at the front of her classroom when she received the warning about a rampant shooter in Sandy Hook Elementary. Hiding the kids in closets and cabinets, she stared down the barrel of a gun and told the gunman the students were in the gym. The gunman shot and killed Victoria, never suspecting that there were young children trembling behind the cabinets.

I don’t know if it’s that I’m older and beginning to see more that’s going on in the world, or if 2012 truly was the courageous year that I think it was. I’m guessing that it’s a little bit of both.

I feel that as more significant events occur, good and bad, we as a world become a little braver every day.

I know people worry about the nation and our economy. We agonize over the natural disasters and tragedies that seem to relentlessly torment our planet. But as much fear as there seems to be these days, there seems to be quite a few people brave enough to face it, and that motivates me every day. These were ordinary people who didn’t know they were destined to encourage a wounded world, and they did it by facing their personal demons head-on. That is what I believe makes 2012 so courageous.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela

Paris Walther is a senior at Decatur High School and is a Messenger Youth Spoken reporter.

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