Three Who Triumphed Despite Odds

What is courage? Many people see it as a dramatic attribute, the ability to suddenly rise above fear.

But courage can also be something quieter and more lasting. Thursday CBS News' 48 Hours profiles three people whose courage consists in their dogged, decades-long fight to overcome obstacles.

The three face different difficulties, but what they share in common is their commitment to triumph no matter what the odds.

  • Tony Volpentest: Born without hands or feet, Volpentest is the world's fastest amputee. He holds the world record among amputees for 100 meters, 11.36 seconds, just a little more than 1.5 seconds slower than Maurice Greene's able-bodied world record.

    Volpentest, 26, started running in high school. At first he came in last in every race. But with his dedication and the help of high-tech prosthetics, he improved immensely.

    "He's very competitive. You can see it in his everyday life," says his wife, Alison. "He's so competitive."

  • He has won more than 25 gold medals in his sprinting career.

  • Baseball player Curtis Pride
    Curtis Pride: Thirty years ago, when she was pregnant with her son Curtis, Sallie Pride came down with German measles. As a result, her son was born deaf.

    That's never stopped him, though. Today Curtis is a professional baseball player. A left-handed left fielder, Pride has played for the Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves. There have only been five deaf major leaguers; the one before Pride played for only four games in 1948.

    Pride has excelled at sports for a long time. He was a star soccer, basketball and baseball player in high school; he played basketball at the College of William and Mary, where he received a degree in finance.

    Now recovering from a wrist injury, Pride hopes to return to the majors later this season. He also condusts baseball clinics for kids with hearing impairments.

  • Joel Sonnenberg
    Joel Sonnenberg: On Sept. 15, 1979, the Sonnenberg family was on its way from New York to Maine for a long weekend. In Hampton, N.H., a truck crashed into their car, which burst into flames.

    Two-year-old Joel Sonnenberg, strapped into a baby seat, was horribly burned. Doctors spent years trying to repair the damage. He underwent more thn 40 separate surgeries.

    But Sonnenberg hasn't let misfortune stop him. During his high school days in North Carolina, he became captain of the soccer team, president of the student council and prince of the junior prom. And at Taylor University in Indiana, he served as president of the sophomore class. Sonnenberg has described his life as "a Cinderella story."

    The man who drove the truck during the accident, Reginald Dort, jumped bail after the crime. He was finally caught in 1997, while driving a truck in Illinois. He spent two years in prison after pleading guilty to one count each of assault and fleeing justice. Dort was released this summer.

    Sonnenberg, who spoke at Dort's sentencing, says he hopes one day to sit down and talk with him.

    Recently, Sonnenberg has been working as an intern for a San Francisco computer game company. He is a bug tester, playing games for hours to find flaws. "Basically it's every kid's dream come true," he says.

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Produced by David Kohn;