Five People Who Beat The Odds

1. Josh Sweeney
Two things that are sure-fire signs that someone is tough: playing hockey and taking a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Josh Sweeney did both, but with a twist–while on patrol in the Islamic Republic in fall of 2009, he stepped on an improvised explosive device that separated both of his legs and damaged his left arm and hand. That probably should have meant no more hockey, but it didn’t stop him from scoring the only/winning goal allowing Team USA to take home the gold medal against the Russians in the 2014 Winter Olympics. Apparently to beat the bomb you just have to be the bomb.

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Josh Sweeney

Josh Sweeney


Ahad Israfil

Ahad Israfil


2. Ahad Israfil
Being shot in the head by accident is no way to die. That sentiment must have been the thinking young 14-year-old Israfil had when, after having half of his head blown off by a shotgun (which fell accidentally from a mounted rack at his job), he woke up and tried to speak, shocking doctors who’d spent five hours performing life-saving surgery. They obviously didn’t expect it to be speech-saving, but who’d have guessed that Ahad would go on to graduate–with honors–from college, and though he gets around in a wheelchair, the gun blast did not damage his scalp, so aside from a scar on the side of his head you might say he looks perfectly normal, until you hear his incredible story of survival, making you realize he’s a total badass.

Juliane Koepcke

Juliane Koepcke


3. Juliane Kopcke
What do you do when you’re on a plane and it’s struck by lightning and splits apart? Well, usually you die. But not JK, who somehow, someway, fell 10,000 feet to the Peruvian rainforest floor, with her seat strapped to her body. She awoke with a closed eye, slashed arm and broken collarbone, but through the luck of where she’d landed (near a stream which lead her to civilization), and by using survival skills taught by her dad–she poured gasoline from an anchored boat’s fuel tank on her insect-bite-infected arm, causing 35 maggots to come crawling out–she hung on until workers who used the boat discovered her and helped her get airlifted to a hospital. Her book, “When I Fell From the Sky” won Germany’s prestigious Corine International Book Prize.

Beck Weathers

Beck Weathers


4. Beck Weathers
It’s the perfect name for someone with such a grueling story. After getting stranded in a blizzard near the top of Mt. Everest, enduring a hypothermic coma, losing half an arm, all of his fingers on the other arm, and parts of his feet, nose and face to the extreme elements encountered on the earth’s tallest mountain, this pathologist (whose mere continuance of life is considered a medical miracle) continues to practice medicine, plus write best-selling books, motivate people through speaking engagements, and inspire people to never give up. Note: his first name is actually “Seaborn.” Somebody tell Marvel Comics about this guy!

Charla Nash

Charla Nash


5. Charla Nash
When Oprah invited Charla Nash to be interviewed after her gruesome mauling by a 14-year-old chimpanzee named Travis (whose owner was a friend of Nash’s), the world saw the results of an attack that left her without hands, blind, and almost literally faceless. She received transplants for her hands and face (although a case of pneumonia and poor circulation forced the new hands to be removed), and later received a $4 million settlement from the estate of Travis’ owner after she died.
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