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by Lori Lewis

We’ve all heard amazing stories of Moms who seem to gain superhuman strength when their children are in danger:  a Mom can lift a car off a trapped child; can break down a door between them and their endangered child’ even a Mom’s intuition is said to be strengthened when the stakes are high, giving her a sense of certainty when her child’s been hurt.

Indeed there seems to be no bounds to the dedication and strength of motherly love.  Here’s a roundup of moving, amazing stories of Moms who heroically preserve their children’s well being – even at the cost of their own lives.  Although some of these stories do not have happy endings for the courageous women, they leave behind a legacy of life and love in the form of those whose lives they saved.

Sometimes, an act of heroism can be deceptively small – like Tiffany Hyink-Browne’s calm resolve to keep her son from panicking during a terrifying four minutes of shaking in the Japanese earthquake of March 2011.  As literally everything violently shakes around them, Tiffany remains steady and sure, holding her son in her arms, keeping his gaze and calmly stating, “Ya, the ground is shaking”.   While it may not seem like much – Tiffany herself brushes off praise dubbing her “Mother of the Year” – anyone who’s lived through a strong quake can tell you it’s a horrifying experience even for adults.  Imagine the post-traumatic stress that boy would have endured were it not for his mother’s resolve to keep him calmly engaged during the quake.

Indeed, human Moms do not hesitate to take on Mother Nature when it comes to protecting their children.  Indiana Mom of two Stephanie Decker used her own body to shield her son and daughter from a tornado that was bearing down on the family’s home.  After the tornado moved on, the children were unscathed but Decker sustained severe injuries to her legs which later led to a dual amputation.   Since heroic fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree, 8 year old Dominic then ran for help, saving his mother’s life, keeping her from bleeding out.

Joanna Krzysztonek had already lost one of her unborn triplets when she was positioned almost upside down in a hospital bed to hold off another premature delivery.  She hung that way – in labor – for 75 days to ensure the healthy birth of her son and daughter.

Stephanie Hines receives a hero award for saving a young boy’s life. Credit: Chuck Schechner/KRLD NewsRadio 1080

Stephanie Hines took action to save a stranger’s child, an autistic boy who had wandered out of his family’s motel room and onto a freeway, headed for busy traffic lanes.  When she saw the barefoot boy walking up the on ramp. Stephanie called 911 and ran onto the highway to bring the child to safety – placing her own well-being at risk in the process.  She was later given a community hero award by local emergency rescuers.

Sadly, there is no shortage of stories who gave their lives to save a child – even other people’s children.   34 year old Zurana Horton, who was 5 months pregnant, was killed when she used her own body to shield schoolchildren after a gunman opened fire on a Brooklyn, New York school playground.

Kala Golden fought valiantly to keep a stranger from kidnapping her newborn daughter.  The kidnapper had miscarried – a pain Kala herself was familiar with – and was trying to cover it up.  She shot Kala several times and ran her over with her car as the terrified mother tried desperately to stop her.

Stacie Crimm was overjoyed to learn she was pregnant at age 41, after years of trying.  When she was diagnosed with neck cancer, she refused treatment in order to protect her unborn child from the harmful effects of chemotherapy.   She lived just long enough to deliver and hold her baby before the cancer took her.

As Sharrie Shelton Duncan, her son and a friend stood on a piling on the coast of Positano, Italy, a rogue wave smashed into the trio.  Sharrie pushed her son toward shore and rescuers before being swept out to sea herself.

This last story may or may not be true – extensive research reveals nothing but ambiguity as to the veracity of the tale – but it is still so moving a concept, and so perfect an illustration of motherly love and dedication that we felt this tribute to heroic Moms wouldn’t be complete without it.  In the rubble of the 2011 Japan earthquake, rescuers reportedly discovered the body of a young woman.  Further digging revealed that her body had been shielding her baby, who, miraculously was still alive.  In her hand was a cell phone which allegedly contained a text message on the screen: “If you can survive, you must remember that I love you.”

Indeed, it would seem that a mother’s love can withstand any force of man or nature if their child’s life lies in the balance.   Though their heroism and courage they reaffirm the gift of life they gave their children at birth – and that is the gift that truly keeps on giving in every sense of the word.