Heroes You Should Know: Megan Coffee

Dr. Megan CoffeeWhen a catastrophic earthquake devastated much of Haiti on January 12, 2010, Dr. Megan Coffee, an infectious disease specialist headed there to help.

Tuberculosis is easily treated and contained in the first-world. But in a country like Haiti, where few get prompt and adequate medical care, it spreads like wildfire and kills like a weapon of mass destruction. And as thousands of patients were thrown together after the earthquake, the danger of a TB epidemic was great.

So, amidst the rubble, with a tent serving as her hospital, Coffee went to work. That was four years ago…and she’s still there.

Coffee has gathered a grateful group of local volunteers—many of whom survived Tuberculosis because of her—to help administer care to the seemingly endless flow of infected men, women and children. When she realized that her money alone wouldn’t suffice, the good doctor had to become adept at raising money through donations to help pay for the medical care the hospital can’t or won’t cover.

And for all of this, the Harvard-educated physician and Oxford-educated epidemiologist gave up a research position at Berkeley, and does not receive a salary.

Megan admits that her family and friends still think she’s a little crazy for making this career choice. What Coffee thinks is crazy is that some people are making a big deal about her. Haiti has become her home, and the infected, contagious, suffering patients her brothers and sisters.

What’s so hard to believe about that?

Megan Coffee is a hero you should know. And I’m Dr. Ross Porter.

Heroes You Should Know: Welles Crowther

wellescrowtherWelles Crowther was working on the 104th floor of the South Tower on the morning of September 11, 2001 when the plane hit. Crowther, with a red bandanna covering his mouth and nose to protect him from the smoke, sprang into action. He is directly responsible for saving the lives of at least 18 people.

 

The fact that he made it out of the inferno three times when so many didn’t make it out at all is remarkable enough. But that he went back three times to help others is the epitome of heroism. Six months after the South Tower collapsed, the body of this hero was finally recovered.

 

Courage? Crowther was the very embodiment of it. But I want to focus on another virtue he displayed that day: prudence.

 

Prudence is about putting “first things first”; it is the virtue that guides sound judgment.  Some might quietly and respectfully question the “sound judgment” of a man who would go back into a collapsing sky scraper three times.  But prudence isn’t about playing it safe. We’re talking about virtue here, not the basic rules of accounting.

 

Crises don’t make or break people, they reveal people. And long before September 11, Crowther was figuring out what it meant to make good decisions, judgments that were based on more than just emotion, and ease, and self; in the home, in the classroom, on the athletic field and eventually as an investment banker.

 

In the last hour of his life, Welles Crowther made the sound judgment that saving lives was what he was supposed to do…first things first. Not because he had to, but because he could.
Welles Crowther is a hero you should know. And I’m Dr. Ross Porter.

Heroes You Should Know: Jennifer Bricker

 

Jen-Bricker-Dominique-Moceanu-sister-with-no-legs-photo

Jennifer Bricker was raised with one rule, “Never say ‘can’t’!”

 

But what if you’re left at the hospital by your parents the day of your birth because you have no legs?  And what if your dream is to be a gymnast, and play basketball and softball, and eventually be a star in Hollywood?  ‘Never say can’t’ doesn’t just sound unrealistic…it sounds cruel.

 

But for this amazing young woman, who was adopted by amazing parents, it was the phrase that gave her life direction.

 

Jennifer grew up idolizing Olympic gold medal gymnast Dominique Moceanu.  So at 7 she began to work with her father on a trampoline.  And by high school she had become the Illinois state tumbling champion.  And yes, she also played high school softball and basketball.

 

But one question continued to nag her…who were her birth parents?  At 16 she asked and learned that her last name had been…Moceanu…and her idol growing up, gold medalist Dominique Moceanu…was in fact her birth sister.

 

Jennifer tracked down the contact information of her hero, sent her proof of their relationship, and then phoned her sister.

 

Jennifer recalled highlights of that first conversation…that they were sisters, that Jennifer was also a gymnast, and oh yeah, that she had no legs.  Is it any wonder that little sister is now big sister’s hero?

 

Jennifer presently lives in Hollywood, has toured as an acrobat with Brittany Spears, and is training for an upcoming aerial performance at the Lincoln Center.

 

Jennifer Bricker is a hero you should know. And I’m Dr. Ross Porter.

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