There are situations in life that people don’t always walk away from, and it’s totally understandable. Right now, let’s look at five individuals who lived to tell what it’s like to keep on truckin’ against some pretty unfavorable odds and circumstances. Turn up your favorite Destiny’s Child CD–it’s time to celebrate survivors.
Jose Salvador Alvarenga
If his story doesn’t end up being false, you’ve gotta give it to JSA for being a truly lucky guy. The 37-year old survivor says he was taking his fiberglass boat out for a day’s fishing off the coast of Mexico, and ended up drifting for 13 months around the Pacific Ocean. He swam to shore at Ebon Atoll on January 30. He was found naked, with a knife in his hand and yelling in Spanish, on the island Ebon Atoll by two locals. He made it back to his home in El Salvador in February, and says that he avoided scurvy and everything else bad that could have happened by drinking rainwater and eating birds, turtles, sharks, and raw fish. Dang–survivors always know where to find the best sushi!
Marine Corporal William Kyle Carpenter
It’s always awesome when someone receives a Medal of Honor from the President of the United States of America. In the most recent case, Corporal Carpenter became the eighth living recipient of the Medal for shielding a fellow Marine from a grenade, taking the majority of the blast himself and saving Lance Corporal Nicholas Eufrazio’s life.
Though he lost his right eye, took shrapnel wounds to his head and had his arm shattered in over 30 places, he is now medically retired, enrolled at University of South Carolina full-time, and finished his first marathon in 2013.
America collectively gasped when Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot in the head by a would-be assassin in 2011 during a public discussion with constituents. Although the shooter unfortunately took the lives of six people and wounded another 13, Giffords lived, and though she retired from public office at the beginning of 2012, she has become a symbol of strength as well as an advocate for gun control. Refusing to let the debilitating shooting place her on the sidelines, she attended the final launch of Space Shuttle Endeavor, on which her husband was part of the crew in 2011, and marked the third anniversary of her shooting this year by skydiving. Oh, and she taunted rapper 50 Cent on Twitter by saying her first pitch at the annual Congressional Women’s Softball Game would be better than his (which it was).
The sister of journalist Lisa Ling (Oprah Winfrey Network, CNN), Laura Ling was arrested along with fellow reporter Euna Lee for illegally crossing the border from China into North Korea while filming refugees. Some of the abuse she suffered while in custody for 140 days includes being dragged across a frozen river, being knocked unconscious with the butt of a rifle (she still has a scar hidden beneath her bangs), and having an endoscopy performed on her–without anesthesia–to see if an ulcer would stop her from being able to perform the hard labor part of the 12-year sentence she was given when found guilty. Her captivity only ended after President Bill Clinton personally negotiated her release with Kim Jong-il.
This Italian policeman was running a six-day marathon through the Sahara Desert in Morocco when an out-of-nowhere sandstorm threw him off the trail. Continuing in hopes of finding his way, he ended up lost in Algeria, having veered more than 180 miles off his intended route A wandering family found him in an abandoned mosque, where he’d taken refuge for nine days and survived by eating bats. Did that convince him to quit? Heck no; in 1998 he did the race again. This time he probably got directions first.