She pledged to be by his side in sickness and in health. She didn’t let him down.

A year ago, a couple faced what they called 'the toughest year of our lives.' But they faced it together, and they’re stronger for it.

We see people who stay strong in the face of insurmountable odds in movies and shows all the time, but there are heroes all around us.

Challenges are a part of life. But some have bigger and harder hurdles than others. Their inspiring stories remind us that all we are capable of greatness, that we are strong.


"Ben-Hur" hits theaters in the U.S. on Aug. 19. In preparation, Paramount asked viewers to share their moments of triumph over adversity using the hashtag #MyGreatestVictory on social media.  This is one of those stories.

On Aug. 13, 2015, Stephen Connolly hopped on his motorcycle and left for work at 4 a.m.

He’d had a tooth extraction the night before, and his wife, Laura was worried that he wasn’t well enough to head into work, especially since, as a warehouse operative, his job is physically demanding. She asked him to stay home, but he reassured her that he was OK.

‌Image via Dragunsk Usf/Flickr. ‌

Three minutes later, he got into an accident that would turn their world upside down.

Fortunately, Stephen's crash happened right in front of the local police and fire station and was able to receive help immediately.

"Having spoken with 2 police officers who witnessed the full accident it turns out he passed out while driving, slumped forward and accelerated the throttle, the bike lost control and he crashed into a metal bollard and then onto a large tree with the bike coming down on top of him, he was unconscious,” Laura said in an email.

When she got to the hospital, Laura found her husband broken.

Panic set in, but she knew she needed to be strong for him and for their 2-year-old son. And the news wasn’t good. Stephen was alive, but he’d sustained leg and ankle fractures and broken his shoulder and clavicle in seven places.

‌Image via Laura Mcevoy, used with permission. ‌

He was completely bedridden and she’d have to do everything for him.

That realization was hard on both of them. Said Laura, "He tried so hard to be my brave husband but you could see how much pain he was in." Life as they knew it had changed.

Stephen went from being an extremely independent and hardworking man to his wife’s patient. And Laura found herself balancing being a wife, mother, and caregiver.

Laura cared for Stephen 24/7, bathing him, feeding him, dressing him, and learning how to move him without affecting his healing body. And as they faced complication after complication — bones that wouldn’t heal, extra surgeries, blood clots — she didn’t waver. She said, "It was just a natural thing for me to ensure my husband was pain free, clean…" She takes her wedding vows seriously and "in sickness and health," she’d pledged to be by his side.

‌Image via Laura Mcevoy, used with permission. ‌

Laura leaned on her friends, family, and neighbors to get her through the darkest days.

She learned to take everything day by day and appreciate whatever kindness was offered. From friends who took their son for walks, to her mother and mother-in-law who dropped everything to care for her son so that she could care for Stephen, to the neighbors who knew what they were going through and dropped groceries off to show their support — every bit of kindness helped.

And most of all, Laura believed that their love would be the anchor holding them both together through the tough times.

She says that she and Stephen always knew they were meant to be, and one song in particular reminded her of that and gave her comfort. Rebekah Jordan’s "I Will Be Loyal to You":

When you have hard times, and all others

Are gone, I will be there when the troubles come, through sunshine or rain when no help can be found, things may seem hopeless but just look around

I will be there to the end with you, I'll do my best to be faithful and true, through the hardest of days we will choose the right ways,

My commitment I prove

I will be loyal to you







Laura and Stephen on their wedding day, via ELBE Photography. Used with permission.

‌Laura said, “Yes we had bad days, yes we had bad luck, we have had the hardest year of our life, but we have made it through…”

Their love and resilience in the face of Stephen’s accident reminds us of the power of love and — as cliché as it may seem — how fleeting life can be.

Everything can change in a moment. Today, Stephen is back at work. He’s not 100%, but he’s slowly rebuilding his strength. Their relationship is stronger than ever, though there are still challenges ahead. And Stephen never leaves home without kissing his son and his wife goodbye because they know now how quickly things can change and how important it is to show each other as much love as possible — every single day.

We've all had moments when it felt like life knocked us down and stood on us. But somehow, we get through those times.

Share your moments of triumph with Paramount using the #MyGreatestVictory hashtag. You never know who your story will inspire.

More
True
Paramount Pictures Ben Hur

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

Culture
via Cadbury

Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

Keep Reading Show less
Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

WE Teachers
True
Walgreens
via KGW-TV / YouTube

One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture