Published November 20, 2014
Yes, you could look at the Nobel Prize, the Academy Awards or Time magazine, but there's nothing like receiving the most prestigious award of them all - Dr. Manny's Best Person of the Year. This tradition has been a common-place in the world of electronic media for a long time.
One thing I can tell you is that this award comes from the heart, and I usually look at many factors before deciding. Yes, there have been many accomplished people throughout the year, but the result of their actions has to impact beyond the current year. This is why this year's award goes to the 33 miners in Chile.
On August 5, a cave-in at the San Jose copper-gold mine in the Atacama desert near Copiapo, Chile, left 33 men trapped 2,300 feet below ground. It also kicked up a thick dust cloud that blinded the miners for up to six hours afterward.
Soon after regaining sight, the miners discovered that they were unable to climb out of the mine because the mine company had failed to install escape ladders. They gathered in an emergency shelter room and organized their limited resources for survival. Even then, they were aware of the gravity of their predicament and how difficult rescue would be.
The miners had to use backhoes to dig for underground water sources and severely ration their food supplies during their time underground. They stretched emergency supplies that were only intended to last for three days for two weeks.
Meanwhile, rescuers above ground were using drills to make exploratory boreholes to locate the minders. On August 22, the drilling engineers pulled up the drill from the eighth borehole and found a note attached. The note read, "Estamos bein en el refugion los 33," - meaning, we are all right in the shelter, the 33 of us. A few hours later, rescuers sent video cameras down, capturing grainy images of men who were shirtless, dirty and skinny.
Despite the enormous stresses of being trapped in the dark mine, the miners later recorded their own 40 minute video that showed a group of men who were in good spirits and better-than-expected health. To cope with their situation, they had assigned different members of their group to different roles, ranging from medical to spiritual, and they continued working in shifts to keep their living conditions safe for the remainder of their time in the cave.
The miners were finally rescued on October 13, after 69 days of being trapped underground. In front of a television audience of more than 1 billion, a transport capsule brought each miner, one by one, to the surface. The miners, their families, Chile and the world rejoiced in unison as the last miner was pulled out and rescuers unveiled a banner reading "Mision cumplida Chile" (Mission accomplished Chile).
One thing that these 33 people showed the world is that faith, hope and the love of mankind can conquer all. Their faith allowed them not only to survive in the tremendously poor living circumstances in the mine, but as we clearly saw, they barely had any significant detrimental health problems coming out of it. In one of my previous entries, I talked about "the Chilean miracle". I think for people that are struggling with problems at the end of this year, whether its personal, financial or health, you have to remember that, in many cases, when you just let go of your problems and rely in whatever faith you truly believe in, positive things can happen, and you will be able to help others at the same time.