Katie Beckett fits herself with a vibrating vest that helps clear mucous from her lungs. A nurse comes over to her apartment in Cedar Rapids to help her do this twice a day. On the wall to the right are pictures of Katie as a child with Ronald Reagan. This story starts twenty-nine years ago with an angry President Ronald Reagan. <> We just recently received word of a little girl who has spent most of her life in a hospital. <> The little girl in the hospital was three-year-old Katie Beckett. Because of a brain infection, she needed to be hooked to a ventilator at night to breathe. Her parents wanted her home. Her doctors said she'd be better off at home. And it'd be cheaper, too: Just one-sixth the cost. John Poole/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption John Poole/NPR

Shirley Ree Smith sits in the living room of her daughter's upstairs duplex in Alexandria, Minn. Smith is waiting to hear if California Gov. Jerry Brown will grant her clemency. "They say things happen for a reason. I'm not sure if I'll ever figure out a reason for all of this," she says. Courtney Perry for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Courtney Perry for NPR

Ernie Lopez hugs his daughter, Nikki Lopez, for the first time since 2009. Ernie was released from prison on March 2 in Amarillo, Texas, after nine years, while he awaits a new trial. Katie Hayes Luke/Katie Hayes Luke for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Katie Hayes Luke/Katie Hayes Luke for NPR

Students stand outside Penn State's Old Main building, protesting the handling of a child abuse scandal involving retired Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. Gene J. Puskar/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Gene J. Puskar/AP

The final patient from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C. arrives at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2011. Maggie Starbard/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Maggie Starbard/NPR