(Photo: Bridgeport Hospital)

Photo: Bridgeport Hospital

We’ve had a lot of new visitors to Purpose 2 Play lately, so we thought it we’d take a look back on some of our top feature stories since our launch in December. Here are some of our favorites, all exclusive interviews:

1. NFL Wide Receiver Eric Decker and Wife, Jessie James, Support Military Service Dogs

“There’s this one guy who used to clear buildings in Afghanistan. He came home, and he couldn’t go in his house without his dog there. He had to have a neighbor or a family member come over, go through the house, turn on all the lights and make sure it was safe for him. Now this dog is able to go inside, turn all the lights on, clear it for him, and bring him in.” – Eric Decker

2. No Longer Running from Africa, U.S. Marathoner Meb Keflezighi Thrives

“In the war, my dad was wanted by the Ethiopian military, and he had to make a decision. To stay, he was going to get prison or he was going to get killed. My mom told him to go.” – Meb Keflezighi

3. Fitness Saved NYC Firefighter Matt Long After Being Struck by Charter Bus

“I was open from the base of my penis down to my anus, and my rectum had been torn. The wound was so massive that the doctors could basically stick their hands through a hole in my abdomen and straight down to my anus.” – Matt Long

4. First Man with Cerebral Palsy Climbs Kilimanjaro, Completes Ironman

“If you make a fist and squeeze really hard, that’s what the lower half of my body feels like every morning when I wake up. It stiffens up at night.” – Bonner Paddock

5. UFC’s Cat Zingano, the First Mother of Fighting

“I wouldn’t say I got into fights more than the average kid. I’m like the great retaliator. I don’t go looking for trouble, but if people ask for it, I do have some little switches that can be turned.” – Cat Zingano

6. Sochi 2014: Biathletes Tracy and Lanny Narnes Favor Love Over Gold

Identical twin sisters, Lanny and Tracy Barnes, have always had a friendly rivalry that has pushed each other to become better. But when biathlete Tracy made the cut for the 2014 Olympic team and Lanny didn’t, Tracy didn’t play fair. She let love win.

7. Pro Snowboarder Kevin Pearce Lost His Sport, Found Himself After Traumatic Brain Injury

“I think the scariest part for me was finding out what the result was. For so long, I didn’t know how severe things were. I didn’t want to believe or accept that it was that bad. When I found out how real it was, when I found out I wasn’t going to be able to do what I love anymore, that was the hardest.” – Kevin Pearce

8. Athlete Jenna Zecchino Redefines Normal as Extraordinary

Throughout this piece, I have pointed out that Jenna has lived a relatively normal life. However, if you consider the hand she was dealt, she has redefined what “normal” actually is. I have laid out the peaks (no pun intended) and valleys of a an extraordinary little life. One which has defied the odds and prognosis’ of medical professionals. What those medical professionals did not account for was what love, support, determination, spunk, and a strong will can do to overcome those things which are perceived as disabilities.

9. Hiking from Mexico to Canada in Ongoing Journey Back to Good Health

“When I started shooting heroine, my life went into an out of control tailspin. I had no grasp of reality. I hopped on a Greyhound bus to Las Vegas, and I was homeless for three months. I was panhandling. I literally slept under a bridge on a sidewalk. I looked like a homeless bum. I ate out of trashcans. I searched through the trash trying to find anything of value. It was just a miserable, miserable existence.” – Andrew Floor

10. Oddly Enough, Jamaican Cliff Divers Choose Diving for Safety

“It’s a way of life. It takes ourselves out of certain situations. It takes us away from crime, and helps us move our way up to something great in life.” – Diver Korey Wilson

11. USWNT Goalie Jill Loyden: A True Underdog Story

“I’ve been an underdog my whole life. I didn’t always play on the best teams. I never had goalkeeper training until I got to college. I wasn’t recruited by all these big-time college schools, and I was never on any youth national teams or anything like that. I’ve kind of always been an underdog. The person least likely to succeed.” – Jillian Loyden

12. Two-Time Cancer Survivor Sean Swarner Conquers World’s Tallest Mountains

Swarner is the only person in the world to have been diagnosed with both Hodgkin’s disease and Askin’s sarcoma. He’s also the first cancer survivor to reach the peaks of the highest mountains in Asia, Africa, Europe, South America, North America, Australia, and Antarctica. Along with being accustomed to seeing stars at eye level, Swarner has completed the Ironman Hawaii. Did we mention that he’s done all of this with just one fully functioning lung?

13. Man Running 15 Marathons in 15 Days to Pay Teachers’ Salaries in Africa

“In Kito Village, there’s no electricity and everyone goes to the well to get their water. There’s a lot of poverty, but there’s a real sense of beauty and joy among the people there.” – Chris Robbie

14. Not Just Makers of Boxing Belts, SARTONK Promotes Literacy and Social Contribution

“Boxing is very much about achieving the impossible. That’s something that resonates with me because as a magician, the thing that made me most passionate about magic was performing things that showed us that, that which is perceived to be impossible may just be a matter of perspective. In boxing, it’s about overcoming barriers that are seemingly impossible.” – SARTONK CEO Edward Majian

15. Jordan Spieth’s First Golf Coach Does the Right Thing from the Links to Ukraine

“The first time I saw his swing, how he hit the ball squarely on the face, I thought, ‘wow, there’s a lot of golf talent here in Dallas.’ I had trained state champions in New Mexico and have never seen anything like this,” – Joey Anders on Jordan Spieth

16. Writing Helps Renowned Open Water Swimmer Lynee Cox Float On

“Each time I did one swim, I was able to use that as a step to the next place. I realized that if I hadn’t swam the Catalina Channel when I was 14, I don’t think that I would have started to train to swim the English Channel. If I hadn’t swum the English Channel, I don’t think I would have swam the Cook Strait to New Zealand.” – Lynne Cox