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Photo: Lisa Usher Photography

Puppy Love. Before you read this story, a warning. By the time you finish the first paragraph you may have already fallen in love with Nelson, a Labrador Retriever puppy. You might also fall in love with his selfless trainers, who, over a period of nine to 18 months, are helping Nelson learn the ropes, so in turn, he can be help someone with autism, PTSD, diabetes or seizure disorders. You can learn much more about this very good boy here.

Losing to Gain. Chuck Carroll stopped by Taco Bell so often the employees knew his $20 order by heart. Some days he went twice. Over the course of a year, Carroll estimates he spent $10,000 at the fast-food restaurant. The only thing surpassing his big expense was the 400-plus pounds he carried on his 5′ 6″ frame. Today, Carroll, a radio and podcast host, is 265 pounds lighter—and thriving. How did he do it? Read his story here.

Love and War. At Al-Furat University in Syria, Muhammad Sinjar studied English language and literature. He liked to joke he has always been interested in tragedy, which was in full supply in his home country. Sinjar left Syria in 2012. He said it was the hardest decision he ever had to make. You read about his remarkable story here.

Over the Moon. And the Rainbow. When she picked up the phone, her manager asked, “How many seats do you want?” That’s how Sarah Lasko found out she would be playing the role of Dorothy in the national tour of The Wizard of Oz. Six auditions, 40 pages of material and eight shows a week added up to the experience of a lifetime for Sarah Lasko and well, you know, Toto too (played by a rescued Carin Terrier named Nigel.) Learn more about Lasko’s down the yellowbrick road here.

Competitive Edge. Okay ready? See if you can keep up! Wake up at dawn, head to the rink, head to classes, head home to study and eat, head back to practice. Still there? The daily routine for competitive ice dancers is not for the faint of heart. Try earning a college degree at the same time and you can’t help but admire these extraordinary athletes. You can read their story here.

Sick and Tireless. It is Friday night and Lynn Wolfson is slicing up strawberries for a traditional Sabbath dinner at her home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  She says the berries are “big, fat and beautiful” but nonetheless she will not eat them.  Wolfson, who was born with Hirschsprung’s disease, is on the short bowel syndrome diet.  Or as Wolfson likes to call it, “chicken, fish and mush.” Read Lynn’s  story of surviving and thriving here.

A Lost Boy. Few students have taken a longer road to college than Guor Kiir.  Born in war-torn Sudan, Kiir escaped the country on foot, with only the clothes on his back.  It was just the beginning of a journey thousands of miles long. You can read more about his nearly unbelievable story here.

Professor on Patrol. During the week, Professor Ed Riggs is much like any other college instructor, busy with classes, office hours and meetings. But on the weekends, well before dawn, Professor Riggs heads to the mountains for his second job as a ski patrol officer. You can read more about Riggs’ nearly two decades on the slopes here.

Life Savers. It’s the waiting which is so hard. And Sarah Taylor knows waiting. Her partner, Keith Childerhose, spent months waiting for a new set of lungs, without which his prognosis was grim. “The waiting is horrible…you start to look—it is awful to say—you look at the weather patterns—oh, big storm coming, car accidents…” You can find out what happened next here.

Love Lessons. Dr. Leszek Sibilski, professor of sociology, might just be in love with love. He has spent a lot of time wondering if love can change the world, reduce poverty and boost economic development. This is more than a fanciful romantic notion—it is a component of his research and Introduction to Sociology class. Fall in love with Professor Sibilski here.

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