Growing up in Guatemala, Juan Pablo Romero Fuentes watched many of his peers succumb to drugs, gangs and crime.
"Kids here are forced to grow up in a very harsh environment filled with violence," he said.
Reeling from decades of civil war, Guatemala continues to be plagued by poverty and violence. According to the United Nations, the country has the fifth-worst homicide rate.
Romero Fuentes became a teacher in his hometown, and he found that many of his students were struggling with the same issues his generation had faced.
"Their parents had no jobs; their families were disintegrating. They had no hope or motivation," he said.
So, at 23 and with his parent's blessing, Romero Fuentes turned part of his family's home into a community center. In 2006, he began tutoring and mentoring a handful of kids after school. Word spread quickly, and children from all over the community joined the group.
Ned Norton was working as a fitness trainer for Olympic athletes and bodybuilders when a young man with a spinal cord injury asked him for help.
"At first, I had no idea what to do with him," said Norton, who managed a health club in Albany, New York.
Together they developed a workout program, and the young man made great strides.
"Even (his) doctors saw the physical and psychological improvements we were able to make," Norton said.
It didn't take long for word to spread. Patients from a rehabilitation center sought out Norton's help, and he began training them for free. After a newspaper published an article about Norton's workouts with the disabled, his phone rang off the hook.
"So I opened a gym designed to fit their needs," he said.
For the past 25 years, Norton has dedicated himself to providing free and low-cost strength and conditioning training for hundreds of people living with a variety of disabilities.
"They can't move, they can't be independent. They can't live their lives," said Norton, 55. "I'm building them up, building them stronger, so they can go out and live life like they're supposed to."
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