Strict math teacher’s secret identity… as a baby cuddler

(Photo courtesy Children’s Hospital Los Angeles)

With his short gray hair, watchful eyes, authoritative voice and stern manner, high school math teacher and Vietnam veteran Jim O’Connor is used to commanding respect in the classroom. So his students were surprised to learn about his nickname at the hospital where he volunteers: the baby whisperer.

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'Little pirate': Baby's eye patch inspires superhero wear

(Photo courtesy Jessica Butler)

Superheroes come in all shapes and sizes. Some of them even have to go to the eye doctor.

When a mom in Eugene, Ore., got tired of stares and comments about her infant’s eye patch and glasses, she set out to make him feel special about his unique baby accessories.

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Man helps girlfriend with spinal cord injury cross finish line

(Photo: Kathleen Flynn / The Times-Picayune)

Four months ago, Monique Koll was in a hospital bed, wondering if she would ever walk again. The Louisiana woman had suffered a severe spinal cord injury when a motorist struck her while she was riding her bicycle, and doctors originally weren’t sure she’d survive.

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Terminal cancer patient, 13, becomes honorary CoverGirl

(Photo: Desiree Castellano)

Plenty of people have a hard time thinking positively about a bad situation. But 13-year-old Talia Castellano isn’t one of them. Diagnosed with cancer when she was 7, the teen has built a strong Internet following through her video makeup reviews and tutorials over the past year.

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Giving severely burned girls a place to find strength

Bethany Essary, 16, smiles while watching her friends get ready for a closing ceremony at the Angel Faces retreat in Corona, Calif., on June 22

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‘Payback painter’ thanks town for kindness with mural

Bussey, Iowa, may make you homesick for a place you’ve probably never been. Just 422 people live there — but this small town has made a big difference in Todd Spaur’s life.

“The whole community helped me raise my three kids,” Spaur explained, “because I had my hands full, being a single dad.”

Two decades ago, Spaur was in a terrible accident. After his car flipped off a highway, he lay trapped for more than 16 hours, hidden by underbrush. He could not call for help or crawl away because he’d broken his back, his neck and most of the bones in his face. “I just wanted to die,” he said.