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Everyday Heroes

by Geraldo Rivera | Jan 04, 2007

In a world that can be selfish and hard, one of the most positive, life-affirming things is courage; the fireman who runs into the burning building, the lifeguard who saves the drowning child, the soldier who sacrifices everything for his comrades. And in some way, it's even more inspiring when the hero is just an average Joe; a regular guy who when push comes to shove, does exactly the right thing.

Wesley Autry is a 50-year old New York construction worker who faced a life and death decision Tuesday. On his way to drop off his two little girls and head to work, he watched in horror as a young man apparently suffering a seizure fell off the subway platform and onto the tracks, a 370-ton train fast approaching.

"This train is coming. I was trying to pull him up but you know his weight, he was fighting against me... He didn't know who I was the only thing that popped in my mind was like OK well go for the gutter so I dove in and pinned him down and once the first car ran over us, my thing was then was to just keep him still."

In the instant that defines heroism, and even as his own youngsters looked on in horror, Wesley risked all and saved the life of Cameron Hollopeter, a 19-year old Massachusetts film student whose grandfather, Jeff Friedman is eternally grateful.

"The good Samaritan. I would like to buy him a drink, maybe a hundred drinks, well that would be a negative not a positive but all we could say on behalf of the entire family is thank you so much.

"I think I did the right thing and it ain't about being a hero," said Wesley with John Wayne-like modesty, " just being able to be here to help the next person."

Wesley's was an inspiring act of classic courage by a quick-thinking, real-life hero; humble and incredibly brave.  And there is another kind of heroism, just as special in its own way: the quiet courage to open you heart and your home to strangers in distress. From the New York Subway Superman, let's go out to New Mexico, and the Blizzard of 2006.

"We knew it was really bad and even got to the point of impossible when we couldn't even see the front of our hoods."

Clayton Shumaker was just the first of several dozen motorists stranded on U.S. 56 in a blinding blizzard last Friday, after a minor accident blocked the roadway, and stalled traffic was then trapped by drifting snow. Fortunately for the lost caravan, Christine and Randy Glover live nearby in a lone, small adobe ranch house set in the middle of the vast and desolate snow-covered plains, their nearest neighbor five miles away. The Glovers heard the increasingly desperate motorists talking to each other over two-way radios.

"Just so happened they had the same type of hand-held walkie-talkies we had and they were on the same channel and the same frequency."

The Glovers talked Clayton through the storm to their tiny house, hidden by snow and trees from the roadway. After settling his family in, Clayton then hiked back and directed the others to the sanctuary. So 44 strangers in all, ages 4 to 70 something spent the next two and three days living with the Glovers. Happily, a fully stocked food truck was among the stranded vehicles, so the refugees from the storm were well supplied. I spoke with Randy Glover by phone a couple of hours ago.

"I just can't emphasize enough that every neighbor we got would've done the same thing. It just happened to fall into our hands. So we were glad to do it."

Another modest hero, a great guy and an inspiring story.

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