tv Extraordinary People CNN December 31, 2013 12:00am-1:01am PST
>> i'll tell you who he is, an enigma, a muse, and as a vodka swilling baby eater, amazing. the following is a cnn special report. >> i'm anderson cooper, welcome to the special report "extraordinary people". >> and i'm robin meade, extraordinary may be in the eye of the beholder, it could be somebody very athletic, or uber-talented. but what about every day folks who have to have courage in the every day situations they're in? looking back on 2013, who do you feel was truly extraordinary? >> yeah, that is what we'll look at in the next hour, you will look at extraordinary people, people like antoinette tuff. and as the suburban teacher in
the atlanta school, she had her own weapons, playing out with the power of love. all playing out for everybody to hear on a 911 call. >> please address the emergency. >> yes, ma'am, i'm on second avenue in the school, and the gentleman said tell them to hold down, if the police officers are coming he will start shooting so tell them to back off. do not let anybody in the building. including the police, do not let anybody in the building, including the police. >> can you get somewhere safe? >> no, he will see me. call me back. >> antoinette tuff was caught between a gunman and what could
have been another violent school tragedy, something she never could have expected when her alarm clock went off that morning. >> when i woke up that morning, it was just a normal day for me. >> a typical tuesday, going to work as a bookkeeper at the discovery learning academy in suburban atlanta. except on this day, antoinette tuff was not working in her usual back office. >> we turned this entire event, the miracle on second avenue, because it started with a decision made on monday. >> a decision made by the principal, brian bolden, he unknowingly put antoinette tuff on the front lines that day. >> i said i need you to operate in the front office, because between the time of 12 and 1:00, that is the busiest time for the dismissal of students, she said no problem. >> we were just going there, the gunman came fully armed and ready. >> what did you think, first of
all? >> that it was a joke. >> but it was no joke. she would soon learn that brandon hill had a history of mental problems. a locked security door should have kept him out but he reportedly made his way in by following a parent through the front door. >> did he say what he wanted? >> he just continued to say that it was not a game. that he had been off his medicine for several weeks. so he made it known that he came in the building today to still kill and destroy. >> he told you you were going to die that day? >> yeah, he told us we were all going the die that day. that was going to be the end. >> and he showed he meant business when a cafeteria worker came in the office unexpectedly. >> he asked the cafeteria worker to go in the office with me, and he didn't do that. he moved kind of slowly. so for him to show authority he filed the first shot to let him know he was not playing. >> hill wanted him to know he was ready to shoot anyone that
got in his way. so he let the cafeteria worker go to alert the rest of the school. >> and so then it became just me and michael in the office again. i was terrified on the inside. but i knew that if i kept him there with me it was the likelihood that no one would actually get hurt. >> i called ms. tuff. i said tell me what is going on. she said everything is fine, we're having a wonderful day here at the academy. i knew at that point the threat was in the building. >> as police started to mobilize outside the school, inside hill forced antoinette tuff to call 911. >> stop all movement now on the ground. stop all movement on the ground. are you talking about the shooter? >> that is what he is telling me to tell them on the radio. >> a call that would be her lifeline. >> he said he doesn't care if he dies, he doesn't have anything to live for. and he said he is not mentally
stable. >> on the 911 call, you do sound very calm. >> i was calm on the call, but i was terrified, i was literally screaming on the inside, i knew if i got upset or anything he would actually start to shoot me, too. >> antoinette was now a mediator between the police and the gunman. do you believe you were meant to be in the room at that time? >> oh, most definitely. i truly believed god prepared me for everything that i went through just for that moment. >> reporter: the past year had been particularly hard for antoinette. experiences she used to connect with the gunman. >> well, don't feel bad, baby, my husband just left me after 33 years. >> but i kind of started to feel sorry him. >> you felt sorry for him, how? >> because i knew the pain, i just had the pain myself, my son was multiple disabled, too, so i
understand the pain of wanting to be heard and having mental issues and things like that. >> do you think he heard you on that? >> i think he started to listen. and we started to connect within that time. >> after about 15 minutes, tuff had managed to calm hill down. >> if i walk out there with him, so they won't shoot him or anything like that he wants to give himself up is that okay? and they won't shoot him? >> yes, ma'am. >> he let her alert the school that they could evacuate. all the students were able to escape. >> no injuries, all the kids are safe. all the employees are safe. >> as helicopters and news crews captured the joy, outside antoinette was on the inside trying to save herself. >> you going to be okay? i thought the same thing, you know, i tried to commit suicide last year after my husband left me.
but look at me now, i'm still working and everything is okay. >> a remarkable moment that many believe turned the whole thing around. >> she had the ability to touch his heart. and once you touch a person's heart touching the hand is easy, when she touched his heart, she was able to take the gun, she made him feel like he was a human. >> she has always been someone who can connect to an individual. >> her pastor and uncle, ulysses tuff, says faith guided antoinette that day. >> she studies and prays and tries to do what is written in scripture. >> it is going to be all right, okay, i just want you to know it is going to be okay, and i'm proud of you. just for not giving up, don't worry about it. we all go through something in life. >> after a 30 minute standoff, hill was taken into custody. >> hello, i'm going to tell you something, babe, i never been so scared in my life.
>> but you did great. >> oh, jesus. >> you did great. >> when i went back to see all of the children, they were safe and everybody got out safe. i know it could have went a different way. >> feels good. >> very good. very good. no tragedy. so that was wonderful. >> how has your life changed? >> oh, wow. it has just opened up so many amazing doors. and if i can go and share someone else and show someone else how to be prepared for their purpose in the moment, it is well worth everything that i went through. >> she will share that experience in a book she is now writing. and at some point she expects to go back to work at the school. she listens to that now famous 911 call often. >> i listened to it this morning to realize when god uses you, just how calm you can be. >> you have been called a hero? >> uh-huh. >> do you feel like a hero?
>> i feel like god's vessel. i wouldn't say that i am a hero or not a hero. i feel like i was just there ready in open arms to be used. >> you going to be okay? >> that 911 call that the world had an opportunity to witness, we get to witness that every day here in the building. it is that same compassion, that same concern to everybody here. she loves to say sweetie and baby, that is how she is and that is what she does. and she makes people feel like they can do just about anything. >> can you say it to me one more time? >> sweetie, it is going to be all right. >> thank you. i am like this, my arms are around as many kids that i can reach. >> when we come back, you're going to learn about a teacher's split second decision that ended up protecting school children against this.
but thieves can steal your identity and turn your life upside down. hi. hi. you know, i could save you 15% today if you open up a charge-card account with us. you just read my mind. [ male announcer ] just one little piece of personal information, and they can open bogus accounts, damaging your credit, stealing your money, and ruining your reputation. that's why you need lifelock to relentlessly protect what matters most, helping stop crooks before the damage can be done. and now you can have the most comprehensive identify-theft protection available today -- lifelock ultimate. for protection you just can't provide yourself, get lifelock ultimate. i didn't know how serious identity theft was until i lost my credit and eventually i lost my home. [ male announcer ] lifelock is on the job 24/7. when they detect a threat to your identity within their network, they'll alert you by phone, text, or e-mail. that's protection from the industry leader --
lifelock. identity theft was a huge, huge problem for me, and it's gone away because of lifelock. [ male announcer ] while no one can stop all identify theft, if criminals do steal your identity, lifelock will hire experts to help fix it with our $1 million service guarantee. you have so much to protect and nothing to lose when you get two full months of identity-theft protection risk-free. that's right -- 60 days risk-free. use promo code "gethelp." if you're not completely satisfied, you won't pay a cent. order now and also get this shredder to keep your documents out of the wrong hands -- a $29 value free. ♪ ♪ ♪
what split second decisions would you make if a twister was headed your way? ladonna cobb was caught in the twister that hit oklahoma in may. you're talking about storms that had already injured or killed 855 people in the previous 40 years. now even though 25 people died in the moore, oklahoma storm, this teacher's assistant may have saved lives with a risky decision. okay, so tell me what i'm looking at right here. >> this is the beginning of the new briarwood. >> this is where you used to teach? >> correct, this is where the old briarwood was. >> this is where you were during the storm? >> this is where we were may 20th.
>> on may 20th, ladonna cobb, an assistant, risked her life to save students, all while the tornado was tearing up her building. >> all of us were saying lord, please, please protect us, let us be okay. >> tornado warning until 4:30. >> most tornadoes hit this area in the evening. >> moving toward moore. >> but this time the forecasters at the national weather service predicted that the storm will blow through earlier in the day. in other words, when the classes were still in session. >> 35 right now, in moore. >> what was different about this one? >> whenever we turned on the radio and we were listening, you can hear it in their voice. they were saying you know, this one has the potential to be deadly. >> ladonna and her husband, steve, had taken off work that afternoon to close on a new home. but that would have to wait.
>> when the alert came on, we said we're going to go to the school and get our girls because we want them to be safe. >> out of the 32 schools in the town of moore, only two had fema-approved safe areas. their three daughters were not in those buildings. they were at briarwood where their mom works. >> we got to the school and i saw my students and the pre-k teacher, and my substitute were there, rubbing their back and singing songs to them. and i don't know what came over me. but just protection for them. and i told my husband, i said i can't leave. >> i guess it is fight or flight, whatever, you know how they talk about what your reaction was. and i think mine was more flight than maybe fight. >> he kept coming and just going you know, come on, and i just kept going, no, you know, he would be out for a moment, and say come on, and i would go, no. >> she felt that need to protect
everybody. >> when he came in and said get out here now, i knew, my stomach kind of dropped at that moment, just the look on his face, the tone of his voice, i knew something was really, really wrong. and when i came around that building and saw it, my heart just dropped. >> you actually saw the twister? >> oh, yes. >> what did you see? >> it was enormous. i could see big, huge pieces of debris flying in the air. >> could you really? >> yes. it was -- you know, i would say half a mile to a mile, at the most away from us at that point. >> by then, they felt there was no time to get away. ladonna and steve bolted inside to classroom 202, which just happened to be the class for their daughter. >> the tornado precaution was to put your hands over your head, and get down on your hands and knees.
>> so i'm a child, what are you doing for your daughter? >> i'm like this, over the back of them. i'm over her, and my arms are around as many kids that i can reach. >> so you're not safe at all? >> no. >> but that doesn't really cross my mind. at that point, i just wanted to put whatever i could between whatever was going to happen and those babies. >> so what did happen? >> at this point, it is pitch black. there is no electricity. and big, huge banks, just bam, bam, which later we found out was cars. farm equipment. and then you -- just a loud undescribable roar. >> a teacher in another class reported this cell phone video. and you can tell how frightened everybody is.
yet you can also hear the teachers trying to calm the youngsters. >> honey, it is okay. it is almost over. >> the darkness, they were hiding in was suddenly washed in light. because the roof was gone. >> oh, my god. oh, my god! >> when the roof came off, i felt myself being pulled. and it was not very long before the wall fell on top of me. >> oh, my gosh, the wall fell on you? >> yes. >> this is the wall that we're talking about. it is made of cinder blocks and has steel rebar, and it is heavy. >> the wall that fell on me would have been too much for those kids. i can't even imagine what it would have done to their little bodies? >> did somebody remove the bar? >> i looked over at my husband, he could see the back of my legs, he could hear me screaming it is crushing me, it is crushing me.
>> i was like i got to get the wall off my wife. i just remember grabbing it as hard as i could to get it off my wife. because i was like she is going to die if i don't get that off of her. >> my daughter was one of the kids underneath me, one of the youngest, she was just screaming mom, mom, mom, wake up. and i could see her, she seemed kind of translucent to me, i kind of thought she was dead. >> you can imagine outside how parents and teachers and the students who were able to pick themselves out of the rubble were traumatized. a local photographer took this picture, steve and ladonna and two of their daughters in shock. ladonna was trying to learn the extent of the injuries. >> i broke my cheek bone, this side of my face is still numb. i had a gash in my head, i had
16 staples. >> oh, that probably scared the kids too, didn't it? >> my middle daughter was screaming, she thought i was going to die. i just kept saying i'm hurt, baby, but i'm alive. >> amazingly, nobody died at briarwood elementary school. but just a mile away at plaza towers elementary school, seven children did die. >> i can't even imagine the amount that plaza towers lost. and how hard that is for them. >> today, both schools are being built with fema-approved safe areas. >> now, it is hope, i think. hope of what is to come. >> a good sign for the future, says ladonna cobb.
>> would you do anything different that day? >> you know, i wouldn't. i don't feel like i'm extraordinary. i feel like i did what anybody else would have done in my situation. >> when we come back. >> when the second boom went off, i went like this. i did the cross and i just said god protect me. and i went on there. >> the story behind the man they call "cowboy.
on april 15th, three people died and more than 260 others were injured when the enthusiastic cheers of the boston marathon spectators were silenced with bombs. it takes a special person to run the course, and on the days after it was heroic of the people who came to the rescue. one man's name was carlos adondo. >> when the bomb went off, you see the ball of fire whatever it was, it was very bad, very bad. >> on april 15th, carlos arredondo, an immigrant from costa rico, became the picture of passion. while others could have run for safety, others ran to save lives.
>> there were people who needed my help. i hoped not to get in anybody's way and helped in any way i could. >> in boston, it is patriot's day. but carlos was not there just to celebrate. >> i give away 400 american flags to the spectators. i was holding the last one in my hands when the bombs went off. >> for several years he has been talking about the needs of military vets and suicide prevention. >> this is my son, we lost him in iraq. >> his son, alex, was deployed to iraq in 2004. in carlos's memory is the fact he learned carlos was killed by a sniper. >> i felt my heart went down to the floor and rushed 100 miles an hour to my chest.
and it was a very, very hard time before his brother could cry, especially. >> brian, the younger son, fell into a deep depression, and drug addiction. he took his own life several years later. >> brian never recuperated from all of these feelings himself. losing his brother was the worst thing that could happen to him. >> this year's marathon included runners who were honoring veterans and carlos wanted to support them. but suddenly his mission changed. >> when the first bomb went off, we were not too sure about it. when the second bomb went off? >> something just blew up. >> we pretty much figured out that this was some kind of attack. i went like this. i did the cross, and i just went
with -- i just said god protect me. and i went on there. >> with that invocation, carlos began to move the barriers across the sidewalk and went to help the victims. it was pure instinct. years earlier he had been a volunteer firefighter. >> so it helped me that day to realize the people were in trouble and i was there to help. >> the carnage reminded him of what his son, alex, had faced in iraq. >> i know about the ieds, and that was sort of happening right there on the sidewalk. it was like a war zone. >> including the threat of a third bomb. >> that is his nature. >> carlos's wife, melita, saw him disappear into the crowd. she was worried but not surprised. >> that was his mom's fault. she instilled in him some really good values.
>> in all the carnage, one victim stood out to carlos. a young man about the age of the two sons he had lost. >> part of his leg was missing. completely ripped off from his sides, you know. if we didn't get him to the hospital his life was in danger. by missing so much blood. >> car are loss asked a woman who had grabbed a wheelchair for help. and with another man he applied a make shift tourniquet. then as quickly as possible they raced toward an ambulance. >> it got stuck in the wheel. that is when we stopped and we ripped it apart. and we did it again. i had my hands on the tourniquet, tightening up the bleeding. in the ambulance i asked him for his name. he responded to me. jeff ballman.
>> carlos, shaken, met up with his wife waiting down the block. >> well, he had blood all over him. he took one look at me and i looked at him and we both started to cry and grabbed each other, hugged and kissed each other. and he explained to me what had just happened. >> four days later, they reported that jeff described to the fbi the man he saw minutes before the blast. >> he is the person who pretty much broke the case on these two criminals. >> six weeks after the bombing, carlos once again pushed jeff baughman's wheelchair. this time, across fenway park, to throw the ceremonial first pitches for the red sox. >> this is a moment that we were healing together.
anticipating with the whole community, thousands of people right there you know, it was very beautiful. and very healing. since then, they have appeared at other sporting events and fundraisers to help the victims with medical bills. along the way, carlos has become well known. >> you're a hero to all of us. >> thank you very much. >> they call him? >> cowboy. >> great picture. >> thank you so much. >> god bless you. >> and god bless you. >> but cowboy shrugs it off, saying the real heroes are the survivors, people with the courage of jeff baugmman. >> a very beautiful young man, you know, he was already an inspiration for myself and many other people, you know, willing to live. god works in strange ways, you know. and this kid is really quite a survivor.
welcome back to extraordinary people. you know, in any city you can see so much chaos, and people may pause to watch and then walk on. because they don't want to be involved. or are afraid. >> just keep on moving. >> but one new york city resident could not look away. this past september, a man named sergio consuego, who is a regular neighborhood guy, father of ten, managed to diffuse the violence, risking his life to save others. >> i usually come here to go shop. say hello to the owner. >> it was an ordinary sunday. >> i was on my way to church. >> it turned into one of the most dangerous days of his life.
>> there was a lot of motorcycles coming. they were all over the place. people screaming, people rushing. and then pulling out. the man, hitting the man, seeing the blood lifting from his face. >> a terrible chase that landed right in front of sergio. and a split second decision that may have changed the fate of the driver. >> he saved his life. >> this man has known sergio for nearly 30 years. >> he is that type of guy. he can't see somebody being hurt and just stand there and not do anything about it. >> what made you decide not to keep on walking? >> i saw a family there. i saw that this family needed help. >> do you think about that day a lot still? >> yes. every day. >> every day? >> yes. >> it was a picture perfect day in washington heights, working class neighborhood in upper manhattan.
while sergio walked to church, a group of motorcyclists who were just a few miles away on new york's west side highway. they had broken off from hundreds of other bikers during a mass ride in the city. as the bikers headed north. alexi lien, his wife and daughter were ahead of them. the sunday drive turned into a problem when one of the drivers allegedly slowed down in front of the suv. the biker's helmet camera reported what happened. it is not clear what first happened before the camera rolled. we saw a biker, the biker was clipped, slightly injured. other bikers swarmed the suv, pounding the car and authorities say slashing the tires. then lien, who said he feared for his life, sped off, plowing into a biker, critically injuring him. the bikers chased the suv in hot pursuit.
one tried to open the car door. lien peeled off again but then exited off the highway. his car stopped on sergio's block. >> that is when everything happened right here. the first thing i saw was the jeep. and the motorcycle following. they kept coming and coming, and wow. i didn't -- what the hell is going on here? >> things only got worse when lien came to a final stop. >> the jeep couldn't go on because there were too many traffic here waiting for the red light. >> the bikers used helmets, ripped lien out of the vehicle, dragged him to the ground, and as scared wife and daughter watched, began to beat him. >> i looked to the left side and saw the man down on the floor bleeding. and getting hit, you know, many times.
>> while he was down in the floor he was still getting hit? >> yes. he might have got killed that day. he might have got killed. i just tried to do it peacefully. i kept my cool. >> you know in new york city, often people pause for a little bit to watch something and then just keep on walking. >> i felt that it was my part in life to help this family. i say to myself, oh, god, stay with me. in this one -- i got to step in. i cannot let this happen. >> sergio says he made his move when he saw the driver's wife could be next. >> you felt they were going to drag her out, as well? >> yeah, he was doing that, dragging the lady out of the car, and that is when we saw the baby in her arms. when they took the arm, like this, i stepped in. i said that is it, guys. let her go. i just kept saying the same
thing. that is it, guys, let her go. >> sergio says he tried to shield the driver and his wife, staring down the bikers face to face. >> i just wanted to let them know that i was there to protect the lady, and the guy in the floor. and that i was not going to let go. you know? that i was going to be there until they leave. i looked then at -- at them, straight in their facing and they decided to let her go. >> you were surprised? >> i was surprised. i said wow, they looked at me and they kept their distance. >> the bikers backed off and help finally arrived. lien survived but was badly injured. police used videos to track down and arrest at least ten motorcycle riders, and later arrested an undercover police officer, accusing him of assisting in the assault.
were you in the middle of something, like wait, this could go bad? >> yes, but after a little while i felt like something came over me and i felt real strong and confident that i could manage the whole situation. >> sergio had a secret weapon just in case, years of weapon experience and doing karate. >> i don't like to tell people i'm a black belt, but it is always there, the knowledge. >> he is a strong guy, as we say, he gets things done. >> already a well known resident, sergio became a local hero. >> people started calling my family, oh, the police, the media. i said -- well, i thought i did something bad. >> you have ten kids, right? >> yes. >> did you tell your kids what you had done? >> yes, i explained to them, and my ex-wife, i explained it to
her. and she said oh, wow, what did you do? you were crazy. >> they said you were crazy? >> you were crazy, how the hell you got involved in that thing? you could have got killed. >> you could have. >> i said i had to do it. i had to do it. >> today, sergio says he feels like a different man. a bit humbled after all the attention, but certainly he would step in to help somebody else. do you regret it at all? >> no. >> would you do it again? >> that similar situation, yes. >> would you advise somebody to do what you did? >> if they have the power. if they have the opportunity to do it. to do something for a family, in crisis. i think it is a good thing to do.
but thieves can steal your identity and turn your life upside down. hi. hi. you know, i could save you 15% today if you open up a charge-card account with us. you just read my mind. [ male announcer ] just one little piece of personal information, and they can open bogus accounts, damaging your credit, stealing your money, and ruining your reputation. that's why you need lifelock to relentlessly protect what matters most, helping stop crooks before the damage can be done. and now you can have the most comprehensive identify-theft protection available today -- lifelock ultimate. for protection you just can't provide yourself, get lifelock ultimate.
i didn't know how serious identity theft was until i lost my credit and eventually i lost my home. [ male announcer ] lifelock is on the job 24/7. when they detect a threat to your identity within their network, they'll alert you by phone, text, or e-mail. that's protection from the industry leader -- lifelock. identity theft was a huge, huge problem for me, and it's gone away because of lifelock. [ male announcer ] while no one can stop all identify theft, if criminals do steal your identity, lifelock will hire experts to help fix it with our $1 million service guarantee. you have so much to protect and nothing to lose when you get two full months of identity-theft protection risk-free. that's right -- 60 days risk-free. use promo code "gethelp." if you're not completely satisfied, you won't pay a cent. order now and also get this shredder to keep your documents out of the wrong hands -- a $29 value free.
was dealt a horrible hand, diagnosed with cancer at the age of 14, through his passion for music, zach found peace and purpose in his suffering. he shared that music with the world, and as you will see he made an extraordinary impact in a way that he probably never dreamed possible. music, sports, family. the things most important to zach sobiak. >> zach loved sports from a very young age, he tried all sorts of sports from football to basketball. >> in august of 2009, 14-year-old zach sobiak went for a run that stopped him in his tracks. >> he said mom, my hip hurts. i took him to the doctor, we had tests done. >> you initially think oh, it is a muscle thing. >> exactly, we went to therapy for two months and it got worse. it got to the point where he
couldn't bend over and tie his shoes anymore, it was that bad. finally, the physical therapist said it was not working. you need an mri. >> that is when doctors discovered a tumor in his left hip. his mysterious pain was caused by a rare form of bone cancer. >> a small amount of adults are diagnosed in the united states with this disease. >> despite the shattering diagnosis and the sickening rounds of chemotherapy, zach remained hopeful. >> he was determined he was going to do the things he wanted to do, despite his cancer. >> we had a lot of hope. there were a lot of treatments that could have worked. but tragically for zach, they didn't. >> when we went on our trip to europe, i noticed that he was limping. we got home from europe. they did a p.e.t. scan and we found out that his pelvis was involved. cancer was everywhere.
>> doctors delivered the news he had just months to live. >> we had to talk through that. how do you do this? how do you live while you're dying? >> zach turned to his guitar for answers. last fall, laura was tidying up the house when she saw a piece of paper that struck a chord. >> i said did you write this? he said, yeah, i did. i said do you have music for it? >> is this his phone? >> this is his phone. he pulled his phone out of his pocket and i recorded it. do you want to listen so it in i'm like, yeah, of course i do. ♪
>> i think it's a great song. i'm his mom. of course i'm going to think it's a great song. >> laura sent the song to the local radio station. >> it's this song that was so personal and so poignant. i felt like it was this amazing message that needed to be shared. >> within days the station's general manager assembled a team of local musicians who donated their time and expertise and helped zach record "clouds" and produce his own music video. ♪ go up in the clouds because the view's a little nicer ♪ >> we launched it on youtube. >> then things went crazy. we were at 2 million by christmas and it went crazy.
>> ♪ we'll float up in the clouds ♪ >> i think what started out as a personal message became a message that everyone can relate to because who doesn't want to live life to the fullest? >> but zach's cancer was spreading. his time was running out yet there was so much more that he wanted to do. >> it was very important to zach that anyone affected by osteosarcoma wouldn't go through what he went there. >> that became more important to him when he found out he was terminal. >> zach created a fund to find treatments for osteosarcoma and hopefully a cure. >> 100% of the money raised will go to a research team at the university of minnesota, where zach was treated.
>> next on zach's list, a documentary about his final days. >> we wanted to build awareness. we wanted to direct people to the fund. so that is what kind of led us to do it. >> sobiech family, everyone come downstairs. >> the producers enlisted some of zach's favorite stars including jason mraz. >> thank you, zach. >> when i heard "clouds" for the first time i felt it was one of the most important songs i had ever heard. rarely do you come across a song that is written with such purpose or written for something so purposeful. >> his purpose was to leave a powerful message behind. >> you want a leave a melody behind? >> yeah.
it's kind of me always been there for them. like, if they keep singing that song throughout their whole life i'll be right next to them the whole way. >> zach sobiech died in may shortly after his 18th birthday. 1200 people gathered for his funeral and together, they sang "clouds." >> i know he was there and he was grinning ear to ear because it was beautiful. ♪ go up in the clouds because the -- >> days after his passing, "clouds" hit number one on itunes and on billboard's rock chart. the online documentary went viral as well. over 11 million youtube hits and still counting. >> and that's when i could see this isn't just about a kid with cancer with a nice song. this is something much bigger.
>> zach lives now as an inspiration and a reminder to the power of music. >> the power to heal and the power to help. >> i really think that with the substantial gift that zach gave us through his music, we will be able to change the outcome for patients with osteosarcoma. >> when you come in here what does it do for you to be in his room? >> i feel close to him. >> yeah. do you still feel him here? >> yeah. >> today seven months after zach's death laura struggles with the loss of her son. >> what do you hope zach and his lasting legacy means to all of us? >> that joy and suffering can go hand in hand. he chose to be happy and he fought for it every day. ♪ maybe some day i'll see you
welcome back. robin, when you meet these people and you hear their stories it's humbling and inspiring. >> don't you go i wonder what i would do in the same situation. i doubt what i could do what they did. but they feel they were in those situations for a reason whether god was testing them or put them there or a higher power, they believe they were meant to be there and to do these things. >> and the other thing that they share is they don't consider themselves heroes. just human beings and ordinary people wanting to help others. it makes you wonder how you would react if you were in their shoes. i'm anderson cooper. >> and i'm robin meade. thank you so much for joining us.
from spy guy scandals to health care chaos! >> we fumbled the rollout on this health care plan. >> from an electric car that went zoom to a falling star that went boom! from miley gone mad to canadians gone crazy. >> the stress is largely of my own making. >> ain't nobody got time for that. >> 2013 was a bumpy road. and for the next hour, we'll take a wild ride through the year with our guests from mtv and sirius xm, sway callaway,