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It seems to me that every month, a new film is released featuring another hero, super or otherwise.

In these often cliché plots, a mild-mannered, run-of-the-mill person is miraculously bestowed with extraordinary powers, overcomes unfavorable odds or saves the helpless and huddled masses.

While those movies are fun to watch on a snowy night, surrounded by bowls of popcorn, I would argue that heroes are more common than these flicks portray.

Heroes are everywhere, because anyone can be a hero.

Giving humbly of yourself can make you a hero to a person in need. Persevering, even in moments of frailty, can make you a hero. Being an encouragement to someone else can make you a hero.

She might be embarrassed when she reads this column, but I have to say that my hero, the one to whom I look for inspiration, is my youngest sister, Brynne (this doesn’t mean my other two siblings, Mallan and Zach, are any less inspiring; they just do so in different ways).

Brynne, 18, doesn’t fit the Hollywood mold of a hero. She has never saved anyone from death (but she has pulled me from depression on occasion). She’s not particularly strong and she certainly isn’t fast. In fact, she’s one of the physically weakest people I know.

See, Brynne has a genetic neuromuscular disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type III. It’s a form of Muscular Dystrophy that robs its victims of muscle strength from the loss of nerve cells called motor neurons in the spinal cord.

The first two types of SMA also bring about respiratory problems and in many cases, the inability to swallow; thus, most children with SMA Type I or II pass away at a very young age.

Thankfully, those with Types III or IV can live normal life spans, but with significant difficulties. The use of a wheelchair or leg braces, modified vehicle controls and dietary changes usually become necessary later in the disease’s progression.

As a result of her SMA, walking and climbing stairs are daily challenges for Brynne. She cannot run and she grows weary easily. She often falls down without warning, and when fatigued, the muscles in her arms, legs and hands quiver uncontrollably. She cannot drive a vehicle because of impaired reflexes and weakness in her feet.

She’s not using a wheelchair yet, much to the surprise of her doctors; the fact that she is still walking and standing independently makes her a rare case. She can, however, feel herself growing weaker by the day.

But SMA is not Brynne’s only obstacle. She also has a hole in one of the valves in her heart and a soft tissue disorder that caused a malformation in her jaw.

She had surgery in December to correct her bite and is planning a surgery to close the opening in her heart in the spring.

With so many physical difficulties, it’s enough to make a healthy person wonder how Brynne even finds the motivation to get out of bed in the morning.

But I have only seen Brynne, whose name is Gaelic for “strength,” get discouraged twice in my life. In almost all circumstances, she is the ideal of what it means to have a positive attitude.

Take the week before her scheduled jaw surgery, for example, when she came down with a case of appendicitis.

I called her in tears and she comforted me from her hospital bed, even though I should have done the same for her.

A week later, she endured another painful procedure that left her face swollen and her mouth wired shut, and even in the midst of her recovery, she continued to look forward to the day when she would have a straight and stunning smile.

I am always amazed at how, when Brynne’s legs give way, she turns her collapse into an opportunity to laugh.

When she loses the ability to easily contract yet another vital muscle, she smiles and says, “Hey, it could be worse.”

Even with the purchase of a scooter looming in the near future, she has plans to deck out the chair with as much glitz as she can find.

Brynne hasn’t let SMA stop her from living. I often tell her that if it was I, the eternal pessimist, in her shoes, bitterness and anger would be my closest companions.

But Brynne has every intention of becoming successful, of falling in love, even having children of her own.

She shows me that there is beauty in hardship, hope in desperation, laughter even in moments of ruin.

Brynne may never be the subject of a blockbuster hit, but because she reminds me that life is always worth living, she will always be my hero.

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