Meet the Film’s Characters

It was an honor to work with the researchers, scientists and everyday people whose stories form the heart of the movie. We hope their experiences inspire you to get even more curious about the exciting innovations happening in the world of medical research and healthcare.

Ty Duckett

A West Philadelphia native who now lives in Los Angeles, Ty is a dad, husband, accountant and adaptive athlete. In receipt of the Life Rolls On “Inspirational Athlete” award, Ty volunteers with this organization that creates surf, skate, and fishing events for adaptive athletes. He also hopes to participate as a Paralympian if surfing is approved as an event at the Los Angeles Paralympics in 2028. Ty appears in the film with his wife Jasmine and son Taj.

James Garrett

A retired flight nurse and accomplished rock climber, James volunteers his time training medical staff around the world to perform sight-restoring cataract surgeries. After his diagnosis of a faulty heart valve in 2017, James chose a revolutionary non-invasive procedure, called Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR), over open heart surgery. It saved his life, and allowed him to return to his active, rock-climbing lifestyle almost immediately. Franziska Garrett, his wife and a retired physician, also appears in the film.

Emily Whitehead

When Emily was five she was diagnosed with a leukemia that became resistant to standard treatments. An experimental therapy that re-engineers a patient’s immune cells to attack the cancer became available just in time for Emily. The CAR T-Cell immunotherapy was a success, and she has been cancer-free for more than ten years. An avid nature photographer, Emily graduated from high school in 2024 and now attends the University of Pennsylvania. Her parents, Tom and Kari Whitehead, who also appear in the film, started the Emily Whitehead Foundation to share Emily’s story and raise awareness for childhood cancer research and cures.

Dr. Carl June

A pioneer in immunotherapy for cancer treatment, Dr. June is known for his groundbreaking work in engineering chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells for the treatment of leukemia. He is the Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Director of the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies at the Perelman School of Medicine, and Director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy. A graduate of the Naval Academy in Annapolis, and of Baylor College of Medicine, he has published more than 350 manuscripts and received many honors for his work.

Dr. Ayanna Howard

An accomplished roboticist, entrepreneur and educator, Dr. Howard first worked with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory on the Mars Rover.  In her quest to engineer robots to help people, she created a company, Zyrobotics, that develops therapies and products for children with special needs.  Dean of the College of Engineering at The Ohio State University, she is also professor in the Departments of Electrical Computer Engineering and Computer Science and Engineering. Dr. Howard earned her bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from Brown University, her master’s degree and Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Southern California, and an MBA from Claremont Graduate University. Among many accolades, Forbes named Dr. Howard to its America’s Top 50 Women in Tech list.

Dr. Hugh Herr

Stranded in a blizzard while rock climbing, a young Hugh Herr lost both legs below the knee, and soon began shaping prosthetics that could enable him to climb again. He turned his tragedy into an amazing career. He first earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering at MIT, then a PhD in biophysics from Harvard University. Today he co-leads the Yang Center for Bionics at MIT, where he produces breakthrough advances in bionic limbs that provide greater mobility for amputees. His innovations have received many awards and you can find his TED Talks and appearances on news and in documentaries on the Web.