Your entire life can change on a dime. For Dave Riley, the culprit was much smaller than that.

As a search-and-rescue swimmer in the Coast Guard, Riley knew there were risks involved in his profession. But it wasn’t a dangerous rescue that led to tragedy. In fact, the risk was completely invisible to the eye.

While Riley was vacationing off the shores of Dauphin Island, Alabama, bacteria in the water led to an infection which eventually turned septic. His body went into shock, and he fell into a coma. When he woke up three months later, he found all four of his limbs had been amputated in order to save his life.

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Miranda Legg has always known the recycling basics, but she didn't realize just how harmful plastic can be if not recycled properly until she visited a sea turtle hospital in Florida.

At the time, she was a sophomore in high school, and she recalls seeing helpless sea creatures living with injuries, sometimes permanent ones, that were the result of plastic garbage in the ocean. Miranda has carried the experience with her ever since.

A turtle stuck in the plastic rings that hold soda cans. Photo by Stefan Leijon/Flickr.

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For as long as she can remember, Aria Finger has fought against social injustice wherever she's found it. Even when that fight ruffled some feathers.

For example, in a high school social studies presentation, way before she'd made social justice her career with DoSomething.org, she proposed this rather logical solution to the absurdly wide wage gap in America: the maximum wage shouldn't be greater than 40 times the minimum wage. Soon after, she found the word "communist" scrawled on her locker.

While no doubt jarring, it didn't deter her from her mission of advocating for those unheard voices.  

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