In 1983, NFL Chiefs running back Joe Delaney sacrificed his life in an attempt to save three children from drowning. This is despite the fact that he had never learned to swim. The team unofficially retired his number, and his hometown erected a statue in recognition of him.
In 1986, a 22-year-old Indian flight attendant named Neerja Bhanot hid the passports of American passengers on board a hijacked flight to save them from the hijackers. She died while shielding three children from a hail of bullets.
In 2009, an 18-year-old teenager named Muelmar Magallanes lost his life saving a baby girl and her mother during rampaging floods in the Philippines. He was swept away as he helped them reach cover. He'd already saved more than 30 people from the floodwaters after helping evacuate his family.
A Polish priest named Maximilian Kolbe volunteered to die in the place of a man in Auschwitz after he overheard him cry out for his wife and children. The man he saved, Mr. Gajowniczek, died in 1995 at the age of 93.
An FDA official named Frances Kelsey saved the US from a generation of children with birth defects such as flipper-like arms and feet by repeatedly blocking the authorization of a drug named Thalidomide in the 1960s that was already approved for use in pregnant women in Europe.
A woman named Irena Sendler worked as a plumber in the Warsaw Ghetto during World War 2 and saved over 2,500 Jewish children, smuggling many of them out in her tool box. She was also nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize but lost to Al Gore.
During World War II, a stockbroker named Nicholas Winton saved the lives of 669 Czechoslovakian Jewish children who were destined for Nazi death camps by taking them to England. He refused to take credit, and his accomplishment went unnoticed for 50 years until his wife found a scrapbook of the children that he saved and gave it to the BBC in 1988.
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Geertruida Wijsmuller-Meijer was a Dutch woman who saved 10,000 Jewish children during World War II by charming and paying off Dutch train workers and German officers, including a young Adolf Eichmann.
In 2006, a teacher named Jencie Fagan stopped a school shooter by hugging the shooter. The shooter dropped the gun, and the teacher held him firmly against her until other teachers arrived to help.
In 1888, a Nebraska teacher named Minnie Freeman saved all of her students after a freak blizzard struck. The winds were so strong that the roof and door blew off the school. She roped the kids together and led them over a mile in whiteout conditions to the nearest farmhouse.