Welcome to Hero of the Week, where each week we celebrate the most extraordinary stories of heroism from all over the world. From putting another life before their own to making someone else’s dreams come true, these are ordinary people who are making the world a better place.

The holidays and the new year are usually a time when spirits are high and good deeds are plentiful.

This year, global tensions and political squabbles at home threatened to put a damper on those good spirits. But the story of one Florida man has inspired millions and reminds us all of the power of courage and selfless action.

How an arm cast saved a life

On a cool Florida night, Altavious Powell smelled smoke while at his family’s Miami Gardens home.

When Powell realized the smoke was coming from his neighbor’s residence, the home of 93-year-old Maria Cabral, he immediately ran to her aid.

According to CNN affiliate WSVN while interviewing Maria’s family, she’d frequently light a candle and place it near the windowsill at night. On this particular night, the candle caught the wall on fire and the home erupted into flames.

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Unable to get in the front door, Powell tried using a plastic chair to shatter a window and get inside. When the chair wouldn’t work, Powell used the arm cast he was wearing from a recent injury to break the glass and enter Cabral’s home.

“I said, ‘Maria, Maria, where you at?’ And she said, ‘I’m right here,’” Powell told WSVN.

Powell found Cabral alone in the hallway near her bathroom. Powell took her by the arm and led Cabral out of the home.

“She looked back at me and she just said ‘thank you.'” said Powell.

By the time the Miami-Dade Fire department arrived, all visible flames had been extinguished by Powell and the home, although it had sustained great damage, was saved.

A winter miracle


Shortly after, Cabral was taken to the trauma center at Jackson Memorial Hospital and treated for smoke inhalation. Powell remarkably sustained no injury during the rescue and came away a true hero.

Powell, who has lived next to Cabral for most of his life, said he was just happy everyone was safe. “I’m just glad I was able to do it and I got it over with, and everybody is safe now.”

Maria’s son, Fernando Cabral, said “She wouldn’t [have gotten] out of the house alive if that man didn’t come here.”