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Beliefnet's 'Most Inspiring Person of the Year' Honors the Amish Community of Nickel Mines

Rural Community's Awe-Inspiring Forgiveness in the Face of Senseless Violence is Seen as a Living Example for the World Unforgettable Story Tops a Year of Remarkable and Life Affirming Choices


Contact: Caren Browning, Public Relations Manager, 212-561-7464, pr@beliefnetstaff.com; Andrea Saunders, 212-561-7457, pr@beliefnetstaff.com; both with Beliefnet


NEW YORK, Jan. 18 /Christian Newswire/ -- Beliefnet.com, the leading online community for inspiration and spirituality, today named the Amish of Nickel Mines as the Most Inspiring People of the Year for 2006. Traditionally, this honor is bestowed upon one person who is deemed by readers and Beliefnet editors to have risen above expectations, countered stereotypes and demonstrated courage, forgiveness, self-sacrifice and love under difficult and challenging circumstances. This year's acknowledgement goes to the entire Amish community of Nickel Mines for their remarkable spirit of forgiveness in reaction to the murder of five young girls in their community this past October.


The Amish of Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania provided a living example for the world to follow when they expressed forgiveness and generosity towards the man who gunned down ten children in their community. This extreme example of how true faith and forgiveness can be awe-inspiring, prompted Beliefnet readers, writers and editors to express overwhelming support for the Amish, who were nominated along with 11 exceptionally inspiring individuals, including Warren Buffett, Immaculee Ilibagiza, Russell Simmons and others whose heroic stories are detailed in video and narrative form at www.beliefnet.com.


"The Amish showed super-human qualities of forgiveness," said Steven Waldman, Editor-in-Chief and CEO of Beliefnet.com. "We all watched what they did and thought 'wow--I doubt I would have the strength and wisdom to practice such radical forgiveness. They really taught everyone how to live our faith and values in a vivid way."


This is the seventh year that Beliefnet has honored the Most Inspiring Person. To assemble this year's contenders, editors conducted a year-long search for 12 extraordinary candidates who were nominated for the honor. In several rounds of voting, more than 50,000 members of Beliefnet's online community narrowed the choice to three final nominees.


Beliefnet's editors then made the difficult choice between the three finalists: the Amish of Nickel Mines; Immaculee Ilibagiza, author of Left to Tell, who, after spending three months in hiding, discovered her parents, grandparents and three brothers had been murdered in the Rwandan genocide and forgave the murderers, and Lance Corporal Todd Corbin, a U.S. Marine fighting in Iraq, whose bravery, selflessness and extraordinary grace under pressure saved the lives of many of the men in his unit as he single-handedly carried them off the battlefield under heavy fire, into the safety of his truck.


Other nominees included: Adam Zuckerman, teenage Darfur activist; Bindi Irwin, daughter of "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin who's stepped into her fathers' shoes on behalf of wildlife preservation; Jason McElwain, an autistic basketball player who proves that having a disability should not interfere with your dreams; Warren Buffett, billionaire philanthropist who this year made our country's largest charitable donation; Russell Simmons, hip-hop mogul and anti-bigotry activist; Elissa Montanti, advocate for war-maimed children; Charles Moore, homeless good Samaritan who returned $21,000 in savings bonds to their rightful owner; Richard Cizik, pro-environment evangelical, and Kathleen Traylor, wheel-chair bound actress who founded a theater for the disabled.


Video features on selected nominees, including an exclusive interview with a designated spokesman for the Amish community, can be found at Beliefnet.com.


Last year's honor went to Victoria Ruvolo, the Long Island woman known by many as the "Turkey Toss Victim" who urged leniency for the teen who nearly killed her by tossing a turkey through her windshield.


Beliefnet is the largest spirituality online community, attracting more than 3.1 million unique visitors per month according to Media Metrix (August 2006). More than 9 million people subscribe to Beliefnet's daily email newsletters, accounting for more than 16.5 million subscriptions. Beliefnet won the Online Journalism Award for General Excellence Online, the highest honor given by the Online News Association, the Webby for best Spirituality Website and has three times been named a finalist for the National Magazine Award. Beliefnet editors or writers have also won awards for best analysis and commentary. Some of Beliefnet's major content areas include Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam; however, the company is independent and not affiliated with a particular religion or spiritual movement. Beliefnet, Inc. is a privately held company funded by employees, individual investors, Softbank Capital and Blue Chip Venture Company. For more information please visit www.Beliefnet.com