6 December 2012 11:25 AM, PST | PEOPLE.com | See recent PEOPLE.com news »

They stepped up to help people in need, often putting themselves in harm's way. One thing People's incredible 2012 Heroes of the Year award winners all have in common: selflessness and compassion. This week, People profiles individuals whose extraordinary bravery and kindness stood out this year. Michael McDonnell, 51, and Dylan Smith, 23, of Belle Harbor, N.Y., are two of them. During Superstorm Sandy Oct. 29, as a 6 ft. surge roared down their block, and a fire from a gas line explosion engulfed houses around them, McDonnell, a sales director for Chefs Diet, and Smith, a lifeguard, ushered six people to safety with »

- Kristen Mascia

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