I’ve been at the helm of this blog for the past year, searching for stories about miserable situations that turned wonderful, radical acts of kindness and people who, through sheer force of will, refused to be defeated.
I’ve been surprised, delighted and sometimes brought to tears. With that in mind, here are a few of my favorites from the year.
Walter Carr was a college student with a broken-down car. He was supposed to begin his new job as a mover the next morning — at a home 20 miles from his apartment in Alabama. He struck out finding a ride, but he wasn’t about to miss his first day of work. He needed the job. He concluded there was only one option: He would walk.
According to Google Maps, it would take eight hours on foot. As a former high school cross-country runner, he knew he could do it in less. “I’ve always been that person who figured things out on my own,” Carr said. “I went out walking.”
A daughter’s hilarious obituary unravels her father’s mysterious life. You have to read to the end to get it.
The obituary was a mystery, the tale of a globe-trotting Renaissance man who disappeared in a single-engine plane over the Atlantic Ocean after learning he had cancer. It was written by Alex Walsh about her father, Rick Stein, 71, a man who she said had an endless appetite for comedy.
The obituary begins: “Rick Stein, 71, of Wilmington was reported missing and presumed dead on September 27, 2018 when investigators say the single-engine plane he was piloting, The Northrop, suddenly lost communication with air traffic control and disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Rehoboth Beach."
You need to read it to the end, trust me.
He searched for his Japanese birth mother. He found her — and the restaurant she had named after him.
Air Force Col. Bruce Hollywood had a heart attack in the Pentagon parking lot and found himself on the ground, thinking, “This is where it ends.” He felt a pang of regret that he never thanked the Japanese woman who gave birth to him, then gave him up for adoption in 1960.
Through a series of events, he finds her and learns her story. “And I thought, ‘This is either the most incredible story I’ve ever heard, or this woman is crazy, and these things aren’t true,’” Hollywood said.
Amanda Needham’s bike was stolen in front of her Brooklyn apartment building. Armed with yellow paint, she crafted an 8-by-3-foot cardboard note to the thief and hung it across the entire front of her brownstone. It said: “To the person who stole my bicycle. I hope you need it more than I do. It was $200 used, and I need it to get to work. I can’t afford another one. Next time, steal a hipster’s Peugeot. Or not steal! P.S. Bring it back!”
To Needham’s surprise, people started ringing her doorbell to help her find her bike, including an art dealer who admired her hand-painted sign and wanted to buy it. “There’s definitely some craftsmanship in this sign,” he said.
George H.W. Bush sat outside near a flower garden in Kennebunkport, Maine, in 2013, holding a 2-year-old child. The pair wore matching blue polo shirts and khaki pants — and sported the same hairstyle.
Bush had learned that the boy, the son of an agent on his Secret Service detail, had leukemia. The toddler had lost his hair, and to show their support, members of the detail were planning to shave their heads. So Bush did, too.
This teacher on a plane talked about her low-income students. Passengers overheard and gave her more than $500 in cash.
Chicago schoolteacher Kimberly Bermudez has always been the chatty type. On an airplane, she was talking to her seatmate about her first-grade students, some of whom are homeless and come to school hungry. A moment later, she felt a tap on her shoulder. She turned around to see the man seated in the row behind her, who had a baby on his lap.
He apologized for eavesdropping. Then he handed her a stack of cash. Bermudez looked down and saw a $100 bill on top. Other passengers spontaneously started following suit. When she walked off the plane, she had $530 in cash for her students.
And last but definitely not least — for reading until the end — I give you Lucas.
The 2018 Gerber baby was named, and he is Lucas Warren, the first child with Down syndrome to receive the honor of, essentially, America’s cutest baby.
The 18-month-old from Dalton, Ga., was selected as “2018 Gerber Spokesbaby” from more than 140,000 photos submitted by parents. It was Lucas’s smile that won him the iconic contest, the president of Gerber said.