Candice Tarter was only 16 when rheumatic fever led to serious heart issues, and four open-heart surgeries over the next 12 years. It was a devastating blow. Tarter had dreamed of taking her high school basketball talent to the college level, and several schools had been actively pursuing her. And although her life took an unexpected path, today Tarter is living another dream. The strong, determined 28-year-old woman is a teacher at Detroit’s Marion Law Academy, where she encourages her 5th-grade students to be responsible for their own actions, education and life — lessons she herself has learned the hard way.

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