As we’ve mentioned before (several times now), the world is full of people who commit a sizeable percentage of their waking life to achieving goals that would seem unusual or impossible to ordinary folk. Something we absolutely think should be applauded because in this, the darkest timeline, it’s nice to know there are people out there who’d spontaneously develop the ability to fly to headbutt a nuclear missile out of the sky if it prevented them from doing what they loved.
Join us as we chronicle the stories of 10 legendary people more dedicated to their goals than any Greek hero. Starting with…
10. John Burkhill – The Fuzzy-haired Avatar of Generosity
John Burkhill’s life story reads like the first draft of a superhero Marvel turned down the chance to make a comic about because it’d be too raw. After losing his wife to cancer in the ’90s, Burkhill made a solemn vow to himself that he’d spend the rest of his natural life raising money to eradicate the disease that killed her while looking fly as all hell. True to his word, since that fateful day Burkhill has spent virtually every waking moment walking around the city of Sheffield, England pushing a pram while wearing a giant fuzzy green wig – the purpose of which is to advertise the charity Macmillan Cancer Support (which has green livery), to whom Burkhill gives every penny he raises.
Now in his freaking 70s, Burkhill has made it known that he won’t stop walking until he’s raised at least a million pounds for Macmillan, a goal he hopes to accomplish by collecting donations and running in races with his trademark pram and wig. To date, Burkhill has raised several hundred thousand of pounds, been awarded a British Empire Medal, and carried the Olympic flame when it passed through his city in 2012. He’s also run in countless marathons, presumably so that one day he might have strong enough calf muscles to simply kick cancer to death.
9. Chen Zhitong – The Master of Claw Machines
Gifted with a steadier hand than a surgical robot playing Jenga, Chen Zhitong is a marked man in his native China thanks to his uncanny ability to dominate those silly claw machines you occasionally see in restaurants. Zhitong claims to be able to tell, on sight, whether or not it is possible to win a prize from a specific claw machine and he’s admitted that he’s been banned from a number of establishments due to his habit of clearing out individual machines of all of their prizes in a single gaming session.
Zhitong is so good that in an attempt to stop him from swaggering into their store with a pocket full of change and walking out with an armful of stuffed bears, owners of claw machines who know he’s in the area will simply attempt to buy him off to keep him at bay.
After winning 15,000 stuffed animals in a single year, Zhitong grew tired of having to bodycheck 50 Eeyores to use the bathroom and decided to donate the bulk of his collection to a children’s hospital. If you wondering if this story can get any more adorable, the hospital was specifically for blind and deaf children.
8. Evan Amos – The King of Console Photography
After becoming immensely frustrated with every website on the internet only having piss-poor quality photographs of gaming consoles, Evan Amos decided that he was going to do something about it. A keen photographer and a keener gamer, Amos set about taking beauty shots of classic gaming consoles and accessories he owned and uploading them all to Wikipedia where anyone could use them, for free.
After noticing that his photos were pretty much the only high-quality, professional grade photos of these devices in existence (even the companies that produced some of the consoles Amos took pictures of didn’t have clean shots of them), Amos decided to start taking photos of older, more obscure consoles and gaming accessories. Asking like-minded folks to support his endeavor to chronicle every gaming system in history, he set up a page on Kickstarter.
The really impressive thing, though, is that Amos’ pictures are of such high-quality that nobody has tried to improve upon his work, with some of the pictures he’s taken being used by the companies that made the devices.
7. Steven Reisman – The Man Who Makes it Rain ($2 bills)
Steven Reisman is a man with perhaps one of the most relatable problems in human history: he has too much money. Specifically, Reisman, a highly successful lawyer-man, was sitting around one day contemplating how to use his vast wealth to help his fellow man when he was given the answer in the form of a $2 bill he was given with his change after a cab ride. According to Reisman the bill was like a sign, and as soon as he saw it he realized what he could do to make the world a better place: make it rain.
Since that day Reisman has made a point of giving $2 bills to everyone he meets, hoping that like him, seeing it will brighten their day. An equal opportunity baller who believes the power of the $2 bill isn’t necessarily its physical value, but the value people ascribe to it because it’s rare and unusual, Reisman frequently hands out the bills to rappers.
Why? Well, because Reisman is a massive fan of hip-hop and he doesn’t let the fact that the artists he follows are millionaires stop him from trying to brighten their day. Because of this, Reisman has handed $2 bills to everyone from Kanye West to Drake. It’s also worth noting that he likes throwing handfuls of the bill into the air at Justin Bieber concerts, just because.
So yeah, if you’ve ever wondered what confidence looks like, it looks exactly like a middle-aged man making it rain at a Justin Bieber concert.
6. Benedict Jebakumar – The Iron Avenger
Apparently in India it’s a common scam on rural roads to throw handfuls of nails into the path of oncoming traffic and then sit nearby offering puncture repair. After having the tires on his bike popped one too many times by this predatory and, to be honest, kind of dickish scam, one man decided that he’d had enough.
That man was Benedict Jebakumar, an engineer from Bengaluru with a 9-pound moustache and a seething hatred of scammers who prey on those trying to make an honest living.
Initially, Jebakumar would spend hours per day picking up every single nail he came across on his way to and from work with his bare hands, which only served to annoy the scammers, who began throwing even more nails onto the road he took to work in retaliation. So Jebakumar got his Tony Stark on and cobbled together a high-tech nail finding device (a magnet on a stick) which he uses to sometimes collect as many as a kilo of nails per day.
Not content with cutting off the scammers’ revenue stream, Jebakumar carefully catalogued his findings so that he could report them to the police and get them arrested.
5. David Chandler – The Post Box Fanboy
Despite being an integral aspect of the country’s revered postal system, nobody in Britain is really quite sure exactly how many iconic red post boxes are dotted around the country. That’s a fact that didn’t sit well with one David Chandler, who decided one day: “You know what, I’m going to take a picture of every single damn one of them” – a goal even he admits is likely impossible because of how many tens of thousands of post boxes there are across Britain. Yes, Chandler openly admits that he has undertaken a futile, nigh-impossible task and he still wants to do it anyway, because sometimes it’s about the journey, not the destination.
Knowing that the task he’s set himself on would be impossible for a man with the ability to run at cheetah-speed and cameras for eyes, Chandler has taken to outsourcing his goal, running a website where people can send him pictures of post boxes he hasn’t had a chance to visit yet.
4. Jamie Owen – The Mountain Man
After struggling with autism his entire life, Jamie Owen discovered as a teenager that climbing Mount Snowdon in Wales had a remarkably soothing effect on him. Wanting to continue chasing that snow-topped dragon, Owen decided to climb another mountain a short while later, and then another one a short while after that. You can probably see where this is going.
After realizing that he enjoyed mountaineering and that the act of conquering massive mounds of earth and rock made him feel good, Owen decided to dedicate his life to climbing as many as he could. Because climbing mountains is expensive, Owen keeps his skills sharp by climbing the first mountain he conquered, Snowdon, every single weekend. Or to put it another way, Owen walks a kilometer into the sky every week, for fun.
3. Derek Murphy – The Running King
The act of running for a very long time in a single direction without stopping is a commendable achievement you are entitled to feel good about accomplishing. But the thing is, running a marathon is kind of hard, which is why some people just lie about running them. It’s not like there’s a person out there who spends his free time combing through pictures of marathons to catch liars, right? Enter Derek Murphy.
A former long-distance runner himself, Murphy explained in an interview with the BBC that there’s nothing he hates more than people who lie or cheat their way through marathons due to the fact said people invariably take away a spot from a person who legitimately wanted to challenge themselves by actually running the damn race.
So he took it upon himself to call out cheaters and have their records and times disqualified, because screw them. As a double whammy, Murphy does this from the comfort of his home, from his computer, by analyzing photos the cheaters post on their publicly accessible Instagram profiles. He also sometimes catches people by scanning available footage, but that’s nowhere near as funny. Murphy isn’t just about catching cheaters, though, and he’s lent his seasoned eye to people accused of cheating who simply missed a checkpoint or something, to prove they ran the distance in their claimed time, using the same methods.
2. Dale Irby – Sweater Vest Connoisseur
After accidentally wearing the same fetching sweater vest for two yearbook photos in a row and having his wife mock him endlessly for being so predictable, a Texas teacher named Dale Irby thought it’d be kind of funny to see how long he could get away with wearing the vest before people other than his wife noticed. The answer? About 40 years.
According to Irby, he held onto the vest and the shirt he’d worn in those two photos until the day he retired, pulling them out of his closet once a year whenever he had to pose for his school’s annual yearbook photo. The end result was a series of yearbooks in which it looked like he’d worn the exact same outfit for four decades straight, and presumably included Irby laughing his ass off when someone finally noticed and asked him about it on his last day.
1. Alan McFadyen – Kingfisher Fan Extraordinaire
Taking pictures of animals is always an adventure because for every shot you get of the proud lion of the Serengeti looking like a boss-ass feline mack daddy, you get about 10 shots of it going to town on its sack with its tongue. Alan McFadyen is a man who knows this all too well, because he spent 6 years trying to get a single, perfect shot of a kingfisher.
Specifically, McFadyen wanted a shot of a kingfisher mid-dive that was just about to break the surface of the water – a difficult, seemingly impossible task given the speed at which said birds dive-bomb into the water. Unperturbed, McFayden returned to the same patch of water week after week, taking endless photos of his favorite bird headbutting its way into the water beak-first.
Now just for a moment put yourself in McFayden’s shoes, and think about how many failed attempts it would take for you to give up entirely or get so annoyed you tried batting kingfishers out of the sky with your tripod. Then double that number and add a couple of zeroes because according to McFayden it took him 740 thousand photos to get the shot he wanted. A number you might be tempted to think is exaggerated, and a thought we’d like to counter by asking a simple question: do you really think a man who spent 6 years taking the same photo of the same bird sounds like a liar?