The Most Heroic Moms of 2021

They saved their own and others' kids from drowning, wild animals and house fires and provided lifesaving CPR among other incredibly heroic feats

01 of 10
Alyssa DeWitt
Courtesy Alyssa DeWitt

Alyssa DeWitt was five months pregnant and enjoying a day at the beach with her three children when she noticed three girls in Lake Michigan struggling in the rough water.

"They were literally drowning in front of my eyes and there was not one person on that side of the beach I could scream to for help," DeWitt, 27, of Manistee, Michigan, wrote on Facebook. "I pulled them up the pier wall, with the waves slamming into me and throwing the kids all over the place...I was going to do whatever I had to do. I'm beyond thankful I was where I was and that those kids get to live another day."

02 of 10
Mother foils mysterious attempted kidnapping of her 5-year-old son
Eyewitness News ABC7NY

Dolores Diaz Lopez saved her 5-year-old son Jacob from a kidnapper who snatched the boy off a Queens, New York sidewalk in July and put him in a car. She reached through an open window and pulled Jacob to safety.

"I was scared, I said, 'Oh my God, my kid,' I was screaming. You have to do what's necessary, no matter what," Diaz Lopez tells WABC News 7. "I would never have imagined that a man would get out of the car and grab my son. Always hold their hand when walking with them, because there are a lot of evil people and you never know who is near."

03 of 10
Lucas and Autumn Wiste
Courtesy The Wiste Family

Minnesota mom Autumn Wiste donated one of her kidneys in May to her youngest son, Lucas, then 13 months and born with renal failure from a rare birth defect that kept him on dialysis 12 hours a day.

"I know most moms would do [what Autumn did], but it's just so special," Autumn's husband, Josh, tells WCCO.

Added Autumn, 34: "The fact that he's in our family, it just means so much to us. He's such a happy little guy, and through all this ... he's just smiling."

04 of 10
Life Saving Award 2021
NRH Public Safety

Brandi Rowntree saved another woman's toddler from drowning in a North Richland Hills, Texas pond in June, pulling the 2-year-old from the water and performing CPR for the first time.

"He was blue," Rowntree told Fox 4. "I knew the only way that he had a chance is if I did whatever I could do. My husband and I have four children. I just prayed that somebody wouldn't give up on ours."

05 of 10
Angela Luneau and Everleigh
Courtesy Angela Luneau

Quick-thinking Kansas mom Angela Luneau used the CPR training she learned in the Army to save the life of her 7-week-old after she stopped breathing.

"She was normally supposed to wake up and she didn't, so I guess my internal clock woke me up," Luneau told KMBC 9 of finding baby Everleigh gasping for air and then not breathing. "I started CPR on her. I couldn't find a pulse. I don't even know how to describe the terror. I just laid her on a flat surface, tilted her head back, gave her a two breaths and watched the rise of her chest."

06 of 10
Hiedi Johnston
Eureka Police Department

Hiedi Johnston swam through frigid 51-degree water to pull a man from his car after he suffered a stroke and drove it into a California bay in January.

"The water just made this whoomp sound. I pulled with everything I had. He twisted…I don't know if the water helped. But he came out of the window," Johnston, a Willow Creek, California, stay-at-home mom, tells kymkemp.com. (She later won a Carnegie hero medal for her efforts.) "I don't think he was meant to die that day. God must have plans for him."

07 of 10
Mountain Lion
Getty

This California mom fought off a mountain lion that attacked her 5-year-old son and dragged him about 45 yards near their home in August.

"The commotion caused by the attack and the boy's screaming alerted the mom who was inside. She ran outside and immediately started striking and punching at the lion and managed to fend the lion off her son," Capt. Patrick Foy with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife tells CBS LA. "This mom's an absolute hero who saved her son's life, there's no question about it."

08 of 10
Mikala Vish, Single Mom of 4 Runs Into Burning Home to Rescue Her Kids: ‘She Is an Absolute Hero’
Mikala Vish and kids. GoFundMe

Mikala Vish suffered second and third degree burns over 60 percent of her body as she repeatedly ran back into her burning Michigan home to save her four children in October.

"It was the most heroic thing I've ever seen," Lt. Derek Klink of the Chelsea fire department tells NBC affiliate WDIV. "People sometimes call us heroes. And in this instance, in no way were we the hero. Mikala deserves all the credit."

Vish, a single mom, and her 6-year-old son, who also suffered burns, are recovering from their injuries, according to a GoFundMe set up to help the family.

09 of 10
Grace Bunke and her mom Vicki Bunke
Vicki Bunke. SWIM ACROSS AMERICA

After Vicki Bunke's 14-year-old daughter Grace, an avid swimmer, died of cancer, she decided to swim 14 open water events across the country to raise money for cancer research.

"I was not a swimmer before this all happened," Bunke tells PEOPLE (the TV Show!) of her efforts to benefit Swim Across America. "I'm a little bit claustrophobic and I don't like putting my face in the water... I credit Grace for inspiring me and giving me the courage to do something that's really difficult..."

10 of 10
A New Jersey mother is speaking out for the first time since saving her son after he fell down a manhole
Jennifer Marrow. Good Morning America Twitter

Jennifer Marrow jumped into an open manhole filled with sewage to pull her 2-year-old to safety after he fell seven feet down the opening at a Union, New Jersey playground in September.

"There was no other option. There was no other choice," Marrow told Good Morning America. "There was no waiting. I don't think any mother would have waited."

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