At InspireMore, we’re all about heroes. We even have a whole vertical devoted to them! So when Spirit Airlines asked to team up with us, we knew we had to look for real-life heroes to bless with a giveaway.
We were blown away by the hundreds of submissions we received. We read so many stories of heroism from children, to health care workers, first responders, parents, truck drivers, and everyone in between! Each story was incredible and, suffice to say, reminded us that heroes walk among us every day.
Still, we were faced with the (seemingly impossible) task of choosing 5 winners. It wasn’t easy, but these stories are the ones that stood out the most.
1. Sgt. Kodiak McBrayer, USMC – nominated by Nikol De Riso
“I’m nominating my son, Sgt Kodiak McBrayer, USMC. He was born a preemie. I was told he would never be athletic or play sports. He grew up to set swimming records in high school. He joined the Marines in 2014 at 19. He is in aviation cryogenics.
In December 2018 while only an E3 (LCpl), while stationed in Japan he noticed a glitch in the system that if the Jets in the air didn’t land immediately they would combust; killing 40 plus pilots and costing the Marine Corps millions of dollars. This glitch wasn’t in the training manual. He wasn’t trained to find this glitch. However, from his own research, he knew something was wrong and an imminent threat. He informed his Staff Sergeant who went up the Chain. As a result, the Jets were grounded – both in the air and on-ground – fleet-wide. He saved lives; multiple lives. He saved families from burying their loved ones. He got a Navy Achievement Medal and promotion to Cpl. As a result, the training manuals were changed. He is now stationed in New York.
My son is not just a life saver, he is a history maker. However most of all he is my hero.”
2. Brandon Beasley – nominated by Anita Beasley
“I would like to nominate my grandson, Brandon Beasley. When Brandon was twelve I took him and his siblings to a nearby state park in the summer. We hiked in the heat and humidity and on our return I allowed the children to get in the river to cool off but I stayed out to watch over all four children.
After about an hour, we continued on the trail back when I passed out due to becoming dehydrated. I awoke to Brandon crouched beside me. He ordered his siblings to go get water from our car and he was able to help me over to the shade. He kept pushing the water either through drinking or pouring it over me until I was fine. How he knew what was wrong and how to treat me, I didn’t know.
Fast forward three years later and I was returning from a trip to the beach with the same grandchildren. It had been raining and it was nighttime. A truck ran a stop sign and entered the highway in which I was going the speed limit. I had no time to avoid the wreck and I T-boned the truck. We started spinning round and round; I was trying to correct my spin when we went over an embankment and we turned almost upside down. Water was entering our van and I was seriously injured but alert.
Brandon was in the front passenger seat but wound up in the center of the van from the impact, he had been awake while his siblings were asleep when we hit. He was calming all of them down, I was bleeding so bad, the children started screaming again when I was able to turn to check on them. We were all aware of the rising water but Brandon struck the side window with his fist to try to break it, when it didn’t break he thought to snatch the headrest from the seats out and with the metal prongs that the headrest is attached to the seat with, he swung it at the window and broke it out. He cleared the window of broken class and started putting out his other siblings.
Once they were out and climbing to the top of the ravine, he turned to try to help me out but I told him that I couldn’t get out. My legs were trapped in the deployed airbags and I was bleeding too bad from a head wound. He found a towel and wrapped it around my head to slow down the bleeding since he broke the window the water leveled off to my waist and did not rise anymore. I asked him to go to his siblings and call 911. When he got to the top of the ravine he found a passerby had stopped and already called 911 but he asked to use his phone to call his father. He was able to tell my son where we were so he was able to get there before any of us were taken to the hospital.
When the firemen arrived, I could hear Brandon telling the firemen, ‘Be careful of [her] neck, she just had neck surgery 6 months ago.’ The passerby told my son when he arrived that Brandon had been tending to his siblings (thankfully just cuts and bruises for them), calling his dad, telling the firemen about my health issues – he thought Brandon was a young adult. He couldn’t believe he was 15.
Thanks to Brandon, I was taken out with precautions and flown to a trauma center and recovered from my injuries. So Brandon rescued me two times before he was even an adult. I was not surprised at all when he decided to become a fireman after high school. He went through paramedic school a year after he finished the fire academy. He now rescues people from fires, car accidents, and a myriad of other situations. How he has faced the things he has seen or been apart of and remained calm but took charge and reacted correctly at his young age makes me so proud of him. I have told him he is my guardian angel come to life.”
3. Connie J. Hom – nominated by Deb Childs
“I am nominating my friend, Connie J. Hom who lives in Richmond, VA. and owns Buckingham Greenery, a company that supplies and maintains plants for companies and organizations. She is a Chinese-American with the biggest smile and heart of anyone I have ever known in my life. I wish I could be a tenth of the person she is, and I would bet my life that everyone who knows her would agree with me.
Connie finds so many unique, creative, and fun ways to support and give love and joy to others. She enlivens the lives of everyone she knows and many that she doesn’t. As an example, during the pandemic, I have been met at the door by unexpected deliveries; from my favorite Chinese restaurant, a bouquet of rare tulips, and a birdhouse craft project. I have tried to send the deliverers away every time because I didn’t order anything–before realizing that Connie J. Hom has struck again. But this was not only her way of lifting the spirit of a friend she knows is alone in Covid19 isolation. She also used this opportunity as a creative way to support small businesses with product purchases and exposure during this economically-challenged time. I know for a fact that she sent similar deliveries to others.
Connie is also a marriage officiant and recently married a couple of friends. She hosts a Chinese New Year luncheon every year with gifts for ten or more of her friends. She is a huge supporter and plant caretaker for her church. (Members rave about her generosity.) She supports the Richmond Forum and gives free tickets to friends. I got to see President Obama, front row seat, for free! Every year at Christmas, I find her at my door delivering three huge poinsettias and ferns for summer. She supports charities and just months ago coordinated and led an amazing luncheon event that featured Deborah Norville and raised millions for Massey Cancer Center.
The point is: Connie lives and breathes to find ways to give freely from her heart and pocketbook all year long in more ways than there is room to share here. I have never met another soul like her on earth and doubt I ever will. She is a vivacious and joyful spirit of love and an example for America and the world, especially today. I have chills and tears just thinking about her and all she does for others.
I could never give back the money Connie has spent so freely on me to enrich my life, nor could I do for her what she has done for me. I would love to surprise her in this way to show my appreciation. She is my hero and a hero to many. I don’t believe that Spirit Airlines could ever find a more beautiful spirit to inspire the world and represent your company’s initiative than my friend, Connie J. Hom.”
4. Jenny Thelwell – nominated by Angella Andrade
“Jenny Thelwell is an educator in the Broward County Public School System. She is native-born in Miami to immigrant parents from the Dominican Republic. This young lady is a first-generation college student who does not let adversities stand in her way of achieving her goals.
Jenny is married with one child and is currently the ESE Specialist in minority populated school in a low socio-economic neighborhood. Coming from a dysfunctional childhood, Jenny demonstrated resilience and tenacity to overcome sexual abuse to attend college, complete her Masters, and is currently pursuing her doctorate.
As if that is not enough, she found her own publishing company, Revoluntary Diamond to help others like herself tell their stories and become published authors. Jenny [recently] released her first book, “Pressure Point”, where she tells the touching and inspiring story of her lifetime journey.
She is dedicated to her students and works hard to ensure that the needs of all the students are being met. When you observe Jenny with one of her students with disabilities, you can see the pure love reflected on her face. This young woman is a go-getter and refuses to let anything stand in her way of achieving her goals. Jenny is also very humble and gets along with all her co-workers, a true team player, she is always ready to spearhead and participate in any task..I am proud to be a co-worker and friend of this revolutionary diamond!”
5. Robbie Sylvester Stokes, Jr. – nominated by Scott duPont
“Over 10 years ago this young man, quit his cushy job in D.C., sold all of his possessions with a Mission to ‘Talk to Strangers’ to break down barriers and connect more people in this virtually ‘dis-connected’ world. To date, Robbie has traveled to over 24 countries on 5 continents setting up networks that are literally changing the world one person, one conversation, one stranger at a time.
Seeing the racial tension and division growing in the U.S., Robbie recently flew back to the U.S. (from the kid’s education system he set up in Mexico) to create the ‘Community Garden Complex’ in Atlanta, Georgia. The youth and community have appreciated his tireless efforts to embrace & teach kids of all ages build a garden and heal one of the most embattled cities in the world right now.
His Ted Talk sums up his relentless Mission to change the world, one person, one conversation, one stranger at a time”
Congratulations to all of our winners, and we hope you enjoy your well-deserved flights. Thank you to everyone who submitted your story. Keep an eye on our Instagram and Facebook as we highlight some of our favorite submissions that aren’t on this list.
Remember, it doesn’t take a life-saving act to be a hero, it can be a small gesture that makes someone’s day a little easier. Share this and go out and be someone’s hero!
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