Guiding Light

On our cover this month, we feature Dr. Kent Brantly, picked by the magazine’s readers as one of the area’s most interesting people of the year. All of the 10 locals included on the list (see page 52) are extraordinary in some way. Whether it be Brandon Finnegan, the first to pitch in both a College World Series and the MLB World Series in the same season, or Heather Reynolds for her work nationally to end poverty, they are all pushing the limits of what is expected of them.

Our list was generated after a lengthy nomination process open to our readers. After examining the submissions, the editorial staff narrowed the results down to what we considered to be the top 10 who have been the most captivating.

It’s Brantly, however, whose story most moved me. My previous knowledge of Brantly came from recent news stories about his medical mission work in Liberia through Samaritan’s Purse, a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to people around the world. I knew that he had survived Ebola and had a servant’s spirit. It wasn’t until our interviews with him that I understood the magnitude of Brantly’s altruism.

When asked during our behind-the-scene’s video (visit what his initial reaction was to the diagnosis, Brantly said that he felt a strange sort of calm. His first thought was, “How am I going to tell my wife?”

He went on to talk about how important it was for us to maintain a sense of compassion and sympathy for those who are suffering and that because of what he’d been through, he now had an incredible platform to help share that message.

After surviving Ebola, Brantly donated the plasma in his blood to three other patients to help them combat the deadly disease. Right now, he isn’t practicing medicine, although he has plans to return. Raising awareness for medical and social needs in West Africa through Western media is his current full-time job.

Quite honestly, after reading many of the most interesting stories, we may be left asking ourselves, “What did I do this year?”