11 extraordinary people of 2014

Story highlights

Here are 11 ordinary people who did extraordinary things in 2014

They include brave cops, inspiring young athletes and a bold space explorer

CNN  — 

Between Ebola, ISIS, downed planes and racial unrest, it’s been a year of sobering news.

But if you look harder, 2014 has had its share of inspiring stories as well.

A 13-year-old athlete who showed that girls can more than hold their own against boys. A woman whose dignified death gave us a lesson in how to live. A wheelchair-bound man whose illness helped inspire countless people around the world to dump ice water on their heads.

What stories got you talking in 2014?

In world that often seems wracked with conflict, we need stories like this to remind us of our common humanity and the intrinsic goodness of most people.

Check out the gallery above for a brief look at some of 2014’s extraordinary people. Some performed little random acts of kindness. Others were just doing their jobs well. But all of them deserve recognition for making 2014 just a little bit better.