Doris Baker, a 97-year-old Virginia Beach woman, spent decades teaching the children of US Special Forces soldiers at their base in Bad Toelz, Germany after World War II. On Wednesday, she became an honorary Green Beret for her hard work, which is a title only 10 people hold. A ceremony with full military honors was held for her at the retirement community in which she now lives. Baker signed up to teach abroad when she discovered that the Michigan school where she’d been working paid women less than men. The school in Germany, which served the 10th Special Forces group, was extremely close to one of the largest SS training camps. In addition to teaching, she became a major emotional resource to her students and their families when the soldiers were away. Even the high-ranking leaders on the base referred to Baker as an officer in charge, and dozens of Green Berets who lived on the base during Baker’s tenure affirmed their support for her nomination to receive the honor. Over the years, she rose to become the principal of the school on the base. If her storied teaching career wasn’t amazing enough, she’s also an accomplished photographer whose images of the Cold War have been applauded and exhibited. She also published a book called “The Originals,” the only book about Green Berets written by a woman. Basically, we should all want to be her when we grow up. Congratulations, Doris! [UPI, WTVR] [Image via WTVR]
Gladys Misiewicz of Grand Rapids, Michigan almost never goes a day without exercise. She and 16 other residents of Villa Maria Retirement Community, where she lives, are training for a 5K — her very first! At age 100, she credits her long life with years of focus on activity and nutrition, and growing up without a car during the Great Depression. A fast walker who’s light on her feet, Gladys gets up at 4:30 every morning and attends every fitness class offered at the retirement home. When asked about her tai chi classes by local news station WZZM 13, Gladys says, “Guess how many mornings a week I go? Always.” Keep reading »
Krystal Cantu, a 25-year-old Texan and member of Ballistic CrossFit, was just a few days away from participating in a competition last summer when she and her boyfriend got into a car accident that forced her to amputate her right arm. Up until that day, CrossFit had been Krystal’s outlet for de-stressing and building confidence, and she wasn’t about to give up such a big lifeline. Only one month after the accident, Krystal was back to CrossFit and working with a coach. Three months later, she was competing in the Working Wounded Games. Now, she can lift heavier weights than she did before her accident and looks forward to competing as an Adaptive CrossFit Athlete. She’s also inspired countless fans to drop the excuses and work towards their goals.
She told Refinery 29, “I went back because I didn’t die … and my pride and competitive nature didn’t die, either. I’m a human, I’m scared of a lot of things — lightning storms, the world ending, and flying in planes — but, I’ve never been scared to go after something I love.”
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By day, she is Elise S. Carter. Onstage, she is The Lady Aye, a professional sideshow performer. She can eat and breath fire, lay on a bed of nails, escape from a straightjacket, and is one of the few female sword swallowers in the world (and the only Jewish female sword swallower in America). In this mini documentary by Martyna Sarosta for The Jewish Daily Forward, you can watch The Lady Aye doing part of her act. But just as compelling is the story about how the self-discipline of her highly-skilled act has helped her cope with an eating disorder. Her thoughts on what it means to be “pain-proof” — a sideshow term that means smiling through the pain — carries a certain poetic justice. [Forward]
Hedy Epstein, a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor, human rights activist, and St. Louis resident, knows a thing or two about standing up against injustice. She’s spent her life fighting inequality, so when Missouri Governor Jay Nixon called in the National Guard to get involved in the unrest in Ferguson following the shooting of unarmed teen Michael Brown, she showed up at a peaceful march on Monday protesting his choice. The protestors planned to march through downtown St. Louis directly into Nixon’s office to request that he take a different approach to the situation. As they walked, they chanted “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” and ”Hey, hey! Ho, ho! National Guard has got to go!” When they reached the building, the group was blocked from the office by police officers who told them Nixon was not around. The protestors were told to leave, but Epstein and 8 others refused, only to be arrested and carted to a police station downtown. She told Newsweek, “I really didn’t think about being arrested or doing anything like that. I was just going to be somebody in the crowd. I guess maybe I was impulsive: Someone said, ‘Who is willing to be arrested if that happens?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’m willing.’” Epstein was released, but she has an October court date looming. Keep reading »
Maryam Mirzakhani, who is 37, became the first woman to win the Fields Medal this week. In the world of mathematics, the Fields Medal is equivalent to the Nobel Prize. If you’ve seen “Good Will Hunting,” you might remember hearing it referenced quite a few times. Mirzakhani was one of four recipients and was presented the award at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Seoul. Mirzakhani grew up in Iran, where she initially thought she might become a writer before she fell in love with math, and then went on to study at Harvard. Now a professor at Stanford University, she is known for her studies of geometry and dynamical systems, especially the symmetry of curved surfaces. Mirzakhani says on Stanford’s website, “This is a great honour. I will be happy if it encourages young female scientists and mathematicians. I am sure there will be many more women winning this kind of award in coming years.” Keep reading »