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CHAPTER 1: STORIES 1-50

Good Job, Mom”

In July 2012, Utah Highway Patrol Sergeant Cade Brenchley got an emergency call. A mother was in labor on the side of a highway, 75 miles from the nearest hospital. The couple, who want to be anonymous, are from Wendover, Utah, and they had been trying to make it to a hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah, but they had run out of time. Mr. Brenchley said, “I came upon them and there they were by themselves in a little Honda Accord. I walked up, and she was in the front passenger seat and had one baby in her arms wrapped up in a towel.” The baby was a boy; his umbilical cord had been tied off with a shoelace. The mother said, “My water just broke on the other one!” Mr. Brenchley said, “You have another one ready to come out? I’m going to get my first-aid kit.” He added, “The mother was a real trooper—for lack of a better word—for holding on to this baby and then getting ready to have the second one.” The mother said, “Something is coming out!” Just 10 minutes after Mr. Brenchley had arrived, the second baby—a girl—was born. He said, “It just came right out and I had my gloves on and caught the baby and checked the airway with my pinky finger.” He added, “I kind of held her up face-down, and a little breeze came in the door and her arms went like this [raising his arms] and she let out a good healthy cry.” After the mother gave birth, he told her, “Good job, mom.” Mr. Brenchley is a father of four, and he has been present each time his wife has given birth. He said, “It’s a little bit different emotion, obviously, when they’re your own children versus somebody else’s, but it’s still a neat experience helping bring a child into this world.” The babies, Miguel and Jocelyn, are doing well. (1)

I Did Not Feel Pity for Her. I Felt a Lot of Respect”

The least qualified athlete at the 2012 Olympic Games in London was also perhaps its bravest and most important hero. Although some people from her home country of Saudi Arabia called her one of the “Prostitutes of the Olympics,” Wojdan Shaherkani, age 16 and 241 pounds, became the first female athlete from Saudi Arabia to compete in any Olympic event. Competing in heavyweight judo, Ms. Shaherkani lost in approximately 90 seconds to Puerto Rico’s Melissa Mojica, who is ranked 24th in the world. Ms. Mojica knew the meaning of Ms. Shaherkani’s being able to compete in the Olympics. Ms. Mojica said, “I did not feel pity for her. I felt a lot of respect.” Ms. Shaherkani and her father, Ali, hugged after the loss. Ms. Shaherkani had been studying judo for only two years, and the Olympics were her first official competition. She said, “I was scared a lot, because of all the crowd around, and I lost because this is the first time.” Saudi Arabia did not broadcast the competition. Still, Ms. Shaherkani said, “Hopefully, this is the beginning of a new era.” Her Saudi representative, Hani Kamal Najm, said, “I feel this is a milestone we’ve achieved.” As Saudi officials had demanded, Olympic officials allowed Ms. Shaherkani to wear a modified hijab. Another Saudi woman, Sarah Attar, who was also well covered, later competed in the 800-meter run. Ms. Attar said, “It is the hugest honor to be here to represent the women of Saudi Arabia. It is an historic moment. I hope it will make a difference.” She added, “For women in Saudi Arabia, I think this can really spark something to get more involved in sports, to become more athletic. Maybe in the next Olympics, we can have a very strong team to come.” She has a Saudi father and an American mother and is a student at Pepperdine University near Los Angeles, California. Two other Islamic countries, Qatar and Brunei, brought female athletes to the Olympics for the first time. Ms. Attar’s coach, Joaquim Cruz, who was the 1984 Olympic 800-meter run champion, agreed to coach her after he heard her story. He said, “She’s a kid. She’s 19 years old and this is like going to Disneyland for the first time. Everybody else is concerned about the press, the media, what people are going to say. She’s just taking a ride.” The crowd gave her a standing ovation as she finished the race in last place. Ms. Attar’s father, Amer, said, “To see how the crowd reacted to her when she was running was very touching and very exciting.” Ms. Attar said, “I mean, seeing the support like that, it’s just an amazing experience. I was so excited to be a part of it. I really hope this can be the start of something amazing.” Mr. Cruz said, “She’s a dream come true for a lot of female athletes who dream about coming here and didn’t have that opportunity. She’s also a dream for a lot of generations to come. They can dream about that now, where they couldn’t dream about it before.” (2)

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