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  • Age
    54
  • Occupation
    District Manager
  • Company
    Dollar General
  • Location
    Moore, Okla.

A monster tornado that hit Moore, Okla., in May 2013 affected about half of the district Mary Gardner oversees for Dollar General—and it critically injured an employee’s son, who emerged from the rubble of a destroyed 7-Eleven with an exposed spinal cord. “Originally they did not think there were any survivors,” recalls Gardner, who along with co-workers raised more than $5,000 for their colleague, Kim Sheaffer, enabling her to stay at her son’s bedside and keep up with medical bills. (The young man, Josh Sheaffer, is now “doing amazing,” says Gardner, pictured above, in the middle, with Kim and Josh.) Gardner also organized fundraisers and toy drives to assist 250 families in Little Axe, Okla.—a rural town about 20 miles from Moore—which had been devastated by twisters that same month. For Gardner, they were neighbors, one and all.

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