Photo: Mario Moran/Facebook

Photo: Mario Moran/Facebook


Basketball, roller derby, swimming, and running. Our top five stories from June cover a lot of different sports. More importantly, they detail the lives of some athletes doing amazing things for their communities.

Have a look at the roundup:

5. The Cerebral Palsy Swagger: Teen Walks Hundreds of Miles with Little Brother Hitched to his Back

While most 16-year-old’s are embracing a drivers license — a highly anticipated ticket to freedom — Hunter Gandee is happier walking.

The high school junior from Temperance, Mich. recently completed a 111-mile walk, and he did it with his 9-year-old brother, Braden, strapped to his back all to raise awareness and money for cerebral palsy.

4. Woman Once Afflicted with Self Harming Behaviors On Team That Ran Across the U.S. to Break Mental Illness Barriers

We have surefire markers for heart disease and cancer. But there are no blood tests or PET scans to show evidence of mental illness.

Because symptoms are expressed as feelings and behaviors, there is less acceptance, more judgement, and greater shame surrounding an issue that we should be able to talk about as freely as cancer.

That was the idea behind the Ice Breaker Run — a 24-day relay-style gallop across the United States made by six people, who have a history of mental illness.

The group of men and women took turns running 3,100 miles, day and night, starting on May 15, 2016. Their route ran from Santa Monica, Calif. to Alexandria, Virginia, the location of this year’s Mental Health America conference.

3. Life Beyond the Streets: Mario Moran Finds Wheelchair Basketball After Getting Shot

When you hear “Miami Heat basketball,” you probably think Dwayne Wade or Chris Bosh. Or maybe images of slick-haired Pat Riley or former big man Alonzo Mourning pop into your head.

There’s another Miami Heat team in the sizzling town, and they’re just as dedicated as the NBA pros.

The Miami Heat Wheels is a cutthroat wheelchair basketball team in the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWSB). And had Mario Moran, 30, not found them, his life would be dramatically different than it is today.

A New Jersey native, Moran was shot and paralyzed from the waist down over a decade ago. After the near-death experience, he moved to Miami on a whim to begin anew.

2. Former Navy SEAL Swam Length of Mississippi River To Honor Gold Star Families

The 29-year-old hopped in Lake Itasca, the source of the Mississippi River, and swam all 2,552 miles of it to become the first American to ever swim our country’s second-longest river.

The test of endurance was more than just a personal quest to conquer, however. Ring’s strokes were for a much greater purpose — to honor Gold Star families, or those who have lost a loved one in service to the country.

1. Ruining the Body to Save the Soul: Flint City Roller Derby Lifts One Player Who Lost Her Son

There’s a sport out there where you ruin your body in order to save your soul. “And for some reason, that makes perfect sense.”

So says Bonnie D. Stroir, a hard-hitting roller derby player.

Jessica “Crazy Diamond” Bateman of Flint, Michigan completely agrees. For the 39-year-old, who has played on the Flint City Derby Girls’ team for the past three years, the sport and her teammates have, indeed, been life-saving.