Heroes: Made in the USA
True stories of heroes, from underdogs to everyday people overcoming great obstacles, who contribute to their communities and define championship.
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In the past, worried parents had to wait years for a cure to their babies' congenital conditions that cause a blue complexion. However, Dr. Albert Pacifico's surgical team is providing new hope. Gary Steiner and Kenny Polk run marathons, not as individuals, but as a team, and together, they show what the concept of 'winning' really signifies. In Miami, FL, 86-year-old congressman Claude Pepper is truly earning his reputation as a champion for America's senior citizens.
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In America's Heartland, Virignia Allen wanted to do more for AIDS patients than just raise money. She provided them with a home, and now she's educating an entire city. In Cleveland, Ohio, Nancy Leibold constructed her law practice to specialize in representing the deaf, and today, her clients understand the law better than most people who can hear. On Skid Row in Los Angeles, Jimmy 'Tex' Lacey helps shelter residents make something great of themselves.
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Cus D'Amato helped make Mike Tyson the youngest heavyweight champ in boxing history. We'll learn why Cus was a hero to Tyson and the entire boxing world. When Pepper Edmiston's son was diagnosed with cancer, she created Camp Good Times so that he and other children could share some happy moments amidst their daunting treatments. Today, even President Reagan salutes her as a true American hero. For children suffering the trauma of divorce, Susie Yale found a way to help them share their feelings and develop a new outlook on life.
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Accomplished bull rider Charlie Sampson is one of America's contemporary cowboys: The Rodeo Riders. It wasn't enough for Dr. Charlie Clements to survive fifty combat missions as an Air Force pilot in Vietnam now he must dodge bullets and death squads while caring for the victims of El Salvador's civil war. For some time, her only identity was that of Gloria, Archie Bunker's daughter, but actor Sally Struthers now has a daughter of her own, along with seven children in Third World countries whom she sponsors as part of her work with the Christian Children's Fund.
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For most Americans, winning an Olympic gold medal would be the victory of a lifetime, but for wrestler Jeff Blatnick, it was only the beginning. On the mean streets of Los Angeles, the police department crash unit wages war on street gangs. We'll see how these urban heroes work to keep neighborhoods alive. Chicago super-teacher Marva Collins is skeptical about her newfound fame, but her students know that she deserves it. The combination of love and high expectations that comprises her curriculums is heavily impacting these kids' lives for the better.
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If the first American in space isn't a hero, then no one is! America's premier astronaut, Admiral Alan Shepard, goes to space camp, looking for the right stuff in tomorrow's space explorers. Olympic gold medal diver Greg Louganis soars up into the air like an eagle before piercing the water with hardly a ripple. Vietnam vet Ron Kovic lived the 'Platoon' experience. He also shares the goal of that award-winning movie: to make sure it never happens again.
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In 1976, he became the world's best athlete. Now, decathlon champion Bruce Jenner wants to become the world's best car racer. With her team of dogs, musher Susan Butcher covered more than 1,100 miles from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska in eleven days, making her only the second person to win the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race more than once. The Archbishop said no, but the Pope said yes to Chicago's Father George Clements adopting three orphaned teenagers and becoming the first Catholic priest in the area to adopt a child.
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Rock drummer Keith Knudsen has arranged several fundraising events for troubled Vietnam War vets, but his most celebrated recent achievement was reuniting his former band, The Doobie Brothers! Bob Burton reforms juvenile delinquents into upstanding young adults during rugged wagon train expeditions to remote pockets of the American wilderness. Like the archetypal hero, Dr. Robert Gale didn't wait to be asked. After hearing of the Chernobyl disaster, he volunteered his services and sprung into action.
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He was also recruited by professional baseball teams, but the Denver Broncos are awfully happy that John Elway chose and pursued pro football instead. So obsessed were they with proving their loyalty to the United States of America, the 442nd regimental combat unit suffered more casualties than any other unit in American military history. Activist Carol Hodne advises struggling family farmers how to stave off bankruptcy and foreclosure... and one of those farmers is her dad.
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Ervin Johnson is making magic with the Los Angeles Lakers after growing up in Detroit, the son of an auto factory worker. Though they look like ordinary teenage girls, the capable and formidable hands of Kristie Phillips and Phoebe Mills carry the U.S. hopes for Gold in '88. The son of migrant farm workers, Luis Valdez directed the hit film 'La Bamba' and became an American success story of the '80s.
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At 50, Richard Petty is the winningest and oldest active driver in stock car racing, and he refuses to retire until he claims one more big championship trophy. After qualifying for the Olympic trials in the Pentathlon, world championship bull rider Lynn Jankowski is now a woman with a new mission, and she's going after it the hard way. United States Senator Jake Garn was the first senator in space. He's a man who loves life, and a father who loves his daughter even more, having selflessly donated a kidney to her.
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Atlanta Braves star Dale Murphy is a hero with heart, and he can play 'Angel of Mercy' as capably as he can play baseball. Chicago teacher and state legislator Jesse White uses his spare time to teach kids how to FLY out of poverty and disadvantage by utilizing the power of their own bodies. Though she's only ten years old, Chrissy McKenney is a wonderful mentor for deaf children in Mississippi.
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John Wayne played Paul 'Red' Adair in a feature film, one legend portraying another. He's king of the oil well firefighters, having incomparably innovated the extinguishing of oil well blowouts. Many are called, but few are chosen to be Blue Angels, the elite aerial artists of the Navy. Finally, her appearance in Playboy made history, and unexpectedly struck a blow for human rights. Meet Ellen Stohl: a very special Playmate.
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Dan Rather calls him tough, and the Soviets call him a criminal, but the people of Afghanistan call cameraman Mike Hoover a hero. Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone hardly scratched the surface of Richard Boyle's life in his film 'Salvador,' but there's sufficient material to populate more sequels than 'Rocky' and 'Star Trek' have birthed combined. Documentary filmmaker Jeff Harmon is aware of the meaning of the word 'fear,' but he never lets it come between his camera and the story.
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The Washington Bullets drafted Tyrone 'Muggsy' Bogues in the first round, and the 5'3" rookie plans to live up to their expectations of him. Actor Thomas Gist traveled a long and bumpy road before landing a role in the pilot episode of Danny Coleman's 'Slap Maxwell' television series, and the auditions, agents, and actor's guilds were the least of his problems. Zina Bethune once danced for her and George Balanchine's New York City ballet, but now, she dances through The Disabled Children of Dance outreach.
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Newhaven doctor Bernie Siegel has taken on the medical community over cancer treatment. He says that love and hope are just as vital to success as chemotherapy. Reverend Cecil Williams of San Francisco is a self-professed entertainer and politician, and his Glide Memorial Church packs audiences from the Tenderloin District to Nob Hill. Non-violent resistance may be past its prime in some quarters, but Cesar Chavez is still weaponizing it against toxic agricultural pesticides.
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Whitewater racing was considered a predominately European sport until two young Americans, John Lugbill and David Hearn, made waves and claimed the World Championship trophy. Today, hundreds of women in the United States can defend themselves against violent attack thanks to one quiet man, Matthew Thomas. An unsung hero of Broadway musical theater, swingman Jordan Leeds has done his job best when no one knows he's there.
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Former basketball coach John Wooden took UCLA where no team had gone before to ten NCAA championship wins, with seven in a row, and thus far they're still the lone achievers of the feat. When she swam the Bering Strait, Lynne Cox blazed a trail into Russian territory, swimming history, and the annals of medical science. Eleven-year-old John Kevin Hill saw a blank space in the Guinness Book of Records and filled it with his own historic flight across the United States.
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The only man in NBA history to score 100 points in a single game is still going strong, but it's a ball of a different sort for big man and all-star Wilt Chamberlain. King of contemporary American theatre and producer Joseph Papp discovered the likes of George C. Scott, Meryl Streep, and Raúl Juliá, and additionally helped America rediscover Shakespeare. Veteran writer and statesman Norman Cousins is living proof that the ills of the body are all in the mind, and now prescribes the same cure for the world's most threatening disease: nuclear power.