By Esther Zuckerman
Updated December 10, 2014 at 02:11 PM EST

Time magazine chose the Ebola Fighters as the Person of the Year. Time editor Nancy Gibbs announced the choice on the Today show Wednesday morning, explaining that “it’s an exceptionally great amount of courage and kindness and bravery that’s required for them to do what they did.”

In an essay, she wrote: “The rest of the world can sleep at night because a group of men and women are willing to stand and fight. For tireless acts of courage and mercy, for buying the world time to boost its defenses, for risking, for persisting, for sacrificing and saving, the Ebola fighters are TIME’s 2014 Person of the Year.”

Though the men and women battling the epidemic earned the title, the runners-up included the Ferguson Protestors, Russian President Vladimir Putin, President of Iraqi Kurdistan Massoud Barzani, and Alibaba founder Jack Ma. The longer shortlist also included the likes of pop star Taylor Swift and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.