Sadako Sasaki was two years old when the atom bomb was dropped on her hometown of Hiroshima, Japan in 1945. Sadako’s home was about a mile from the epicenter, and her family survived. When she was an eleven-year-old school athlete, she began to experience weakness, lumps on her neck, and spots on her legs. Sadako was diagnosed with leukemia, with a life expectancy of a year. She spent the next eight months in a hospital.
During that time, she heard about the Japanese legend that says if you fold a thousand paper cranes, your wish will come true. Sadako began folding cranes whenever she could get paper or other materials. Some versions of Sadako’s story say she failed in her attempt, and that her friends completed the thousand cranes, but most historical sources say she completed her mission, and made 1300 cranes. Sadako died on October 25, 1955.
Sadako’s story grew bigger and bigger after her death. Read about her legacy, including many videos, at mental_floss.