In January, Grant Korgan, paralyzed from the waist down, used a device called a sit-ski to reach the South Pole. Korgan and his party traveled about 75 miles in sub-zero temperatures over two weeks. “Although my body has been broken, my spirit never will be.” The challenge raised money to help injured athletes recover and get back to their sport.
Late spring, Scott Widak, a 47-year-old artist with Down Syndrome, was diagnosed with sclerosis of the liver, a terminal disease. He loved to receive mail, so his nephew posted his address on Reddit and asked users to send him mail to comfort him during his final days. Widak received thousands of letters from Reddit users.
Meghan Vogel was competing in the Ohio state track championships in June when she saw another runner who was struggling to finish the 3200-meter race. Instead of running past the runner who was down, she helped the runner to her feet and supported her as they both finished the race where Vogel allowed the other girl cross the finish line ahead of her.
John Unger was featured in the Duluth News Tribune swimming in July with his 19-year-old dog Schoep to help the dog relax and fall asleep. Schoep had once saved Unger from suicide, so Unger was dedicated to help ease Schoep’s pain. After the photo went viral on Facebook, Unger was able to pay for laser treatment for Schoep’s arthritis with the many donations he received.
The Mars rover Curiosity touched down on the surface of Mars in August. Dubbed the “Super Bowl of Space Exploration” the rover touched down after eight years of planning and eight months of space travel. It’s a true achievement of modern exploration capabilities.
Taylor Morris was hit by an explosive device while serving in Afghanistan and became one of the few surviving quadruple amputees. His story was highlighted in September after he and his girlfriend, Danielle Kelly, who had been by his side throughout his recovery, were able to dance together at a wedding.
Chy Johnson, a sophomore at Queen Creek High School, was bullied on a regular basis because she has a brain disorder. This fall, the quarterback of the football team took notice of the bullying and he invited Chy to sit with the football team at lunch. Members of the football team befriended Chy and she is no longer bullied.
In November, Hurricane Sandy’s wake revealed much about the human spirit.
Late November, a New York City police officer saw a barefooted homeless man in Times Square and promptly purchased a brand new pair of boots for the man.
In December, Andre Johnson, Texans wide receiver, purchased $19,000 in toys for at-risk youth in Houston at Toys “R” Us during an 80-second shopping spree with 12 children selected by Child Protective Services. After the spree, Johnson also joined the Houston Police Department’s Blue Santa program to surprise 800 students at Houston’s Bastian Elementary School with Christmas presents.
While the Sandy Hook tragedy was on all our minds through the holiday season, seeing the golden retrievers from Chicago providing comfort and care to the people of Newtown brought tears to our eyes and a little joy in our hearts.