This nonprofit honors compassionate risk-takers, people who are largely unknown, people who have the courage to stick their necks out for the common good, in the US and around the world.

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BECAUSE WATER IS LIFE #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut Dan and Patricia Shepherd risked their livelihood to speak out about groundwater contamination in the Central Valley of California. The Shepherds weren't interested in politics or environmental issues until their daughter Jenny and other young children in their farming town of Fowler were diagnosed with leukemia. DBCP, a carcinogen that causes reproductive disorders, was found in Fowler's wells. When Dan organized a public information meeting about toxins in the water, the mayor of Fowler called his own meeting, complete with scientists, engineers, and public health officials, who attacked the Shepherds as misguided alarmists. Death threats, ostracism and a boycott of Dan’s barbershop followed; his income dropped by 40%. The family sold their home and moved out of the town where Pat and the kids had spent their whole lives. Three months later, Governor Deukmejian finally signed a cancer registry into law; a registry the Shepherds had lobbied hard to get. It confirmed their worst suspicions—tiny Fowler had had 8 recent cases of cancer. The Health Department deemed it a cancer rate 4 times higher than the norm, while Dan Shepherd calculated it to be 32 times higher. Since then, the Shepherds have become two of the state’s leading anti-toxics activists and their daughter has recovered from leukemia — the only Fowler child who did. In a ceremony at the Los Angeles Zoo, the Shepherds and Giraffe “Sweet Alice” Harris were honored by Lieutenant-Governor Leo McCarthy. Update: Although the Shepherds have moved away, their influence in the Valley continues. There have been hundreds of articles and reports about the poisoning of drinking water by farm chemicals. In 2013, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law AB685, the “Human Right to Water” bill. The bill declares, “Every human has the right to safe, clean, affordable and accessible water, adequate for human consumption, cooking and sanitary purposes.” The bill is one of the first clear victories in acknowledging the amount of water-contamination in California. Thanks for Liking this story. Now please LIKE this whole Page so we can send you more great stories.

Giraffe Heroes International

Comedian and Giraffe Hero Sylvanos Mudzvova just sent this from Zimbabwe (sic): "Sorry for late responses i was recovering after being abducted ,tortued and left for dead by security agents" Mudzvova is just one of many Giraffe Heroes in Zimbabwe who are bravely facing down the thuggish Mugabe government. His comedy routines making fun of Mugabe are really getting under the regime's skin.

Giraffe Heroes/Zimbabwe has honored heroes of the resistance to the current dictatorial regime, and many of them have paid a very high price for their resistance.

A TRAPPER TURNS WILD-LIFE CHAMPION #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut To understand trapper Dick Randall's role reversal, imagine yourself in the body of a young animal—let’s say, a fawn—walking along in the wild. It’s not hunting season and you’re not even big enough to tempt a meat hunter. You should have nothing to fear from humans. But you step into a trap that won't let go of your leg. Now you have several potential futures, all of which are horrible: After a time of great suffering, you may die of heat, starvation, or dehydration. You may get eaten by a predator. You may die of internal injuries. Real deaths like these haunted Dick Randall. He was a professional trapper for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal Damage Control program, and he knew that millions upon millions of animals were trapped and killed every year, many of them needlessly. He knew that these animals suffered grievously and that one of the most popular traps—the steel-jaw leg-hold trap—had been declared inhumane by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Animal Hospital Association, and the National Animal Control Association. The trap had been banned or severely restricted in 8 states and 80 countries. But the turning point for Randall came when he took his 10-year-old son out to see the coyotes that he was hired to capture in Wyoming’s Red Desert. They came upon a bobcat caught in one of Randall’s traps. It had chewed partway through its own foot in an effort to escape, it was weak and dehydrated, and as Randall and his son approached, it lunged, collapsed, and died. Randall’s son looked at the bobcat and said, “Why are you doing this, Dad?” Randall had no good answer. So Dick Randall went against the USDA and his peers. He quit his job and became first a field representative for Defenders of Wildlife, then a consultant for the Humane Society. He traveled the country, speaking before community groups about the suffering of animals caught in traps. He testified at a US congressional hearing about the indiscriminate cruelty caused by the tools of his trade and showed them sickening photos he’d taken of all kinds of animals caught in traps. Part of his testimony: “Even though I was an experienced professional trapper, my trap victims included non-target species such as bald eagles and golden eagles, a variety of hawks and other birds, rabbits, sage grouse, pet dogs, deer, antelope, porcupines, sheep, and calves. The leg-hold trap is inherently non-selective. It is probably the most cruel device ever invented by man.” He has no patience for the excuses of farmers and ranchers who set traps, claiming that they’re protecting their livestock. He tells them that good ranchers and farmers know how to protect their livestock without this indiscriminate maiming and killing. People don’t take kindly to those who challenge their careers or their way of farming and ranching. Randall lost his work allies, personal friends, and his reputation as a professional. He went right on, planning a documentary with the Humane Society, and telling everyone he could about the inhumanity of traps. “Mass extermination of wildlife has never solved the problem of protecting livestock from predators,” he says. “It’s cruel, it’s futile, and it has to stop.” Update: Randall has died, but his testimony before Congress is still cited in campaigns to save wild creatures from cruel human-caused deaths. Please Like this story AND Like the whole Page so we can send you more stories. Thanks!

FINDING MEANING ~ IN THE AIR #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut People have many reasons for flying to destinations around the world: to negotiate a business deal, to visit a relative, to tour a new country, to relax in a warm climate. But Nancy Rivard’s reason was deeper: She wanted to search for meaning. And she did. Rivard was supervising American Airlines flight attendants when she suddenly lost her father to cancer. She looked at the corporate ladder and determined that it wasn’t what her life should be about. She wanted to know Truth, and she wanted to understand the nature of Reality. And to do that, she decided to become a flight attendant, because “working as a flight attendant would give me the time off and flexibility to pursue my search for Truth.” The search took her everywhere. Rivard lived with the Hopi Indians, adopted a little girl in Sri Lanka, and had spiritual experiences in the Philippines, India, Italy, and parts of the United States. She sought out teachers and advisors in Thailand and Germany. After all this travel, she gave away most of her possessions and moved to a tiny house on Oahu, Hawaii. She immersed herself in deep prayer and meditation, and she realized that she could find what she’d been looking for by helping the less fortunate of the world. And then she had the idea: Why couldn’t the travel industry be used to bring aid and succor to children around the world—poor children, orphaned children, children who needed medical supplies and notebooks and heaters and blankets and clothes? There was plenty of empty space on airplanes, both in empty seats and in cargo holds. It was a natural! The airlines didn’t think so. After many rejections of her ideas, Rivard asked herself, “How am I supposed to make a difference? I’m just a flight attendant.” And she answered herself, too: “The best way to teach is by example. You do it, take one jacket to one orphan, escort one child for medical care, and watch what happens.” What happened was that Rivard now directs Airline Ambassadors International (AAI), a worldwide organization of 6,000 members. AAI volunteers have hand- delivered over 50 million dollars worth of humanitarian aid to orphanages, clinics, and remote villages in 51 countries. They’ve escorted orphaned children to new adoptive families, and children with medical conditions to hospitals for care they would not otherwise receive. And AAI has started schools, clinics, housing projects, and vocational training programs, affecting over 500,000 children. Rivard’s first little step has led to some large strides including identifying human trafficking on airlines. In 2009, AAI began to train flight and airport personnel in how to recognize and intervene in such situations. As an example, a flight attendant who’d received the training identified two distraught children on a flight; from this tip, authorities uncovered a trafficking ring in Boston and rescued 82 children. Nancy Rivard is continually searching—for children who need help, and for meaning in her life. By all accounts, she has been successful in both endeavors. As she says, “Stop looking outside for teachers and answers. Look within, find yourself in service, and discover the love that is already within you.” You can keep track of her work at We're happy if you Like this post. We're even happier if you Like this whole Page so we can keep sending you great stories.

REACHING OUT AT THE END OF LIFE #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut When he’s asked to summarize his beliefs about life, Mark Reiman says, “You can’t control the wind but you can adjust your sails.” He should know. Reiman has reset his sails to meet a wind that would blow most people flat on their faces. Reiman could have despaired in 1991 when, at only 37, he was diagnosed with ALS, a neurological disease with no known cure. Instead, he decided to spread a message that life is worth living, no matter how difficult, and that challenges are opportunities in disguise. A popular school counselor and music teacher, he had to retire due to the progression of the disease. But he then set out to raise awareness about ALS—by singing the National Anthem in every major league baseball park in the country. Though he was trained as a singer, he had never sung for such large audiences before he started his tour. “That was a big personal risk. Standing up in front of thousands of people and not feeling confident of my voice.” But he did it—he sang in all 30 major ball parks, each time with media coverage of his campaign about living life to the fullest, and information about ALS. Reiman is now a frequent speaker, telling audiences that personal challenges don’t have to be defeating. “We can each have a choice in how we respond. To quote Saint Paul, ‘My weakness is my greatest strength.’ Don’t try to be anything that you aren’t. Just be you. Communicate your enthusiasm for the belief you have. If you do the right thing for the right reason, everything will happen the way it’s supposed to. And prepare. Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” As he puts it, “Every person lives with challenges, though we don’t always see them. When people encounter a life-changing event, it can cause them to go to the foundation of who they are and what they believe.” Update: Mark Reiman died in November, 2003. Before his death, he started a fundraising bike ride in the Skagit Valley of Washington State, where he grew up. It's called the ALS Doubleday and it continues to help raise awareness of the disease and raise funds for research. We'll be glad if you Like this story. We'll be even happier if you Like this PAGE so we can send you more great stories.

More Giraffe Heroes


This is Sister Megan Rice, a nun for most of her 80+ years and a peace activist since the 1980s. She had been arrested more than three dozen times and had done time twice when she and two other peace activists performed what was called the most serious security breach in the history of US...


Andy Hall, a Brit, works for Finnwatch, a world-wide nonprofit that spots human abuses around the world and works to stop them. When Hall called out Thailand's National Fruit Company for the way it treats its workers, he asked to work...


This is Catherine Hamlin MD, who left her home in Australia in 1959 to provide gynecological care to poor women in Ethiopia. At 90, she's still doing that, focusing on one of the most distressing medical/social issues imaginable: obstetric fistulas.

This is an injury that women can...


This is Hanna Hopko. She braved snipers' bullets in Kiev during a citizens' uprising that brought down a corrupt government there. Now she's leading a rapidly growing citizens' movement that's doing more than rising up and demanding...


Imagine you're 11 years old and your body is twisting from scoliosis, causing you constant physical pain and making you look very different from other kids. You're scheduled for surgery to straighten your spine and your mom takes a "before" picture so you'll have a history of how you once...


Bob Bajek, a reporter on a small-town newspaper in Illinois, came up with a Big Story: the town's recreational lake, where residents fished, swam, and boated, was highly toxic--a now defunct military base had dumped Agent Orange in the water....


There were no protections for whistle-blowers in South Africa when businesswoman Wendy Addison reported her own corporate bosses for breaking the law. She was fired, got death threats, and was blacklisted, even in England, where she took her...


This is veteran environmental activist, Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez. He's 12. And he's been working to save his beloved Colorado for half of his life. It started when he saw that the forest near his home was changing. Trees were dying, plants...


Allan Adam is Chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan nation, whose lands lie within Alberta, Canada. These First Nation people have formal treaty rights that protect their lands from being taken or used by outsiders, but that treaty has been...


Sangduen Chailert, known as "Lek," puts in 18-hour days caring for sick and injured elephants in a protected reserve she co-founded, the Elephant Nature Park in northern Thailand.

The dwindling elephant population is a world-wide...


Nobis Est - It's Up To Us

Meet people who stick their necks out for the common good, all of them commended by the Giraffe Heroes Project, the nonprofit that's "EnCouraging today's heroes - training tomorrow's." Check out for more stories, and for a way to honor your own hero.

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