They are the nurturers, the caregivers, and the ones who always put their families first. But what happens when these mothers face adversity? They often find the strength to overcome any obstacle in their way and come out on top. Here are 7 inspiring stories of mothers who overcame adversity and achieved great things.

  1. In 2015, Nadia Lopez founded Mott Hall Bridges Academy, a middle school in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, New York. The school’s mission is to provide quality education to children in one of the most underserved communities in the city. Despite being born into poverty herself, Nadia was determined to give back to her community and provide opportunities for children that she never had.
  2. When Yolanda McQueen gave birth to her son Trayvon in February of 2012, she was just 16. As a young mother, she struggled to balance school and work with raising her son. But she was determined to give him the best life possible. In 2013, Yolanda was featured in a CNN documentary called “The Trayvon Effect,” which told the stories of other young mothers who were raising children in the aftermath of the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
  3. Shanesha Taylor was arrested in March of 2014 after she left her two young children in a hot car while she went on a job interview. She was charged with child abuse and faced up to eight years in prison. But thanks to the support of strangers who started a fundraising campaign for her, Shanesha could get back on her feet and take care of her children.
  4. In 2010, Cherelle Farrugia was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. She was just 36 years old and had three young children at home. Cherelle was determined to beat the disease and be there for her kids. After undergoing treatment, she is now cancer-free and works as an advocate for other women battling breast cancer.
  5. When Nia Lawson was pregnant with her first child, she was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Doctors told her that she had a 50/50 chance of survival. But Nia was determined to fight for her life and the life of her unborn child. She underwent treatment and gave birth to a healthy baby girl. Today, Nia is cancer-free and working to raise awareness about the disease.
  6. Leah Ottmann was born with a rare genetic condition that caused her to be reproduced without arms. But that hasn’t stopped her from living a full and happy life. Leah is a mother of two and an advocate for people with disabilities. She has spoken at TEDx conferences and been featured in magazines and newspapers.
  7. At just 21 years old, Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis was teaching first grade at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. When a gunman opened fire at the school in December of 2012, Kaitlin barricaded herself and her students in a bathroom to keep them safe. She is credited with saving the lives of 14 children that day.