Heartfelt Stories of 2020


Article by City Lifestyle

Photography by City Lifestyle

2020 may not have been the banner year everyone was hoping for, but if you look in the right places, you can still find the good. We've rounded up our favorite heartfelt stories from this year.

Happily Blended with Love

"There are no limits that Inger and I have. She works for one of the best cardiology practices around and ironically healed my broken heart. She brought the best out of me and she says that I did the same for her. Through the pandemic has shown us how great our foundation is."

The Art of Skiing

"While Sage and Annie, with whom he met and fell in love at Burning Man, occasionally ski and mountain bike together, their real connection is through the artistic endeavors of visual art projects, music collaborations, and farming their three acres of land alongside their young twins."

Smiles Across the Globe

"Dr. Mabe and his wife Yvette are using their gifts for good. While most days you will find them making beautiful smiles at Naples Family Dentist, it’s likely they are also laying the groundwork for their next mission to Central America or packing up the tools of their trade to provide free dental services at a Naples homeless shelters."

"We always focus on sharing the Good News of the Gospel as we share our talents and gifts through dentistry." —Dr. Mabe

Dishing Up Dignity

"St. Vincent de Paul of Bend (St. Vincent’s) is more than just a food pantry. While food boxes are their most frequent request, since 1981 St. Vincent’s also provides clothing, help with obtaining identification, propane, affordable housing (on premises), bus passes for in-town transport, and help with utility shut-off notices and prescriptions."

The Science and Hope Behind Headache Research

"Houstonian Will Erwin took his own life at age 24 after years of suffering from cluster headaches, often called "suicide headaches" for their excruciating pain. Will's parents, Pam and Jimmy Erwin were determined for some good to come out of their son's tragedy."

"We think this may be a key to understanding how a cluster headache turns on, and hopefully will be a key to understanding how to turn it off." —Dr. Burish

Unfinished or Undone? 

"Although the painting is incomplete, I strangely believe it to be a true to life reflection of a man I’ve never met, who has had a hand in forming the societal rights and privileges I either enjoy or am denied each day, and therefore I feel he exists as a whole piece to the puzzle that is our American History. The image is indistinguishable, incomplete and indelible, a seemingly accurate depiction of a time, a person, and a suite of lasting actions and legislation that continues to impact the daily life of every American."

When Ovarian Cancer Strikes

"The Georgia Ovarian Cancer Alliance was founded in 1998 by a group of thirteen ovarian cancer survivors to educate Georgia's women, their families, and healthcare providers about the risks, symptoms and treatments of ovarian cancer."

"Every day is a gift! I am blessed with a healthy body that allows me to practice yoga, ride my Peloton, play golf and tennis. I spend time with friends and family, travel and experience life."
—Betsy Gentry

One Hundred Cows

"This past July I decided to take my three kids on Crossing Threshold’s trip for several reasons: . I wanted them to experience a different lifestyle, 2. I hoped it would inspire them to give back to local communities after we returned, 3. I wanted to go to Africa. I knew Kenya didn’t need my kids to paint walls or hammer a nail; plenty of people can do that far better than they can. Rather, I wanted it for my kids, so they’d understand they could paint a wall, they could teach a child a game and it would make difference."

I Define Me

"Last year, during National Dyslexia Awareness month, Kyler Eric Smith, age nine, released his book, “I Define Me,” an autobiographical children’s book to empower students with learning differences and their parents by providing a candid peek into his life."

Martial Arts for Kids

"In addition to equipping children with skills to help them deal with bullies, the other objective of Warrior Way’s youth program is to instill children with character traits that will yield success in all areas of life. There are eight chapters in Warrior Way’s character development program: tolerance, perseverance, courage, responsibility, health, respect, strength and honor."

“A huge part of our program is mentorship. We help them become mentors as we are right there to teach them how to talk to kids and how to talk to people in general."
—Brandon Fracassi-McDaniel

The Huff Project

"Unfortunately, lung cancer gets a bad rap. When someone is diagnosed with lung cancer, instead of sympathy, the response that people can’t help but to have is, “Did you smoke?” In fact, Stephen said, “I was guilty of it myself. The first words out of my mouth when he told me I had cancer were, ‘But I’ve never smoked!’” The Huffs decided that they wanted to fight the negative stigma of lung cancer and create a Lung Cancer Awareness specialty license plate for Tennessee."

Man of the Year

"More than 30 years ago, in Lagos, Nigeria, a nine-year-old African boy was approached by a missionary from Wisconsin with an invitation to enter a contest to win a pair of shoes. The young boy won his first pair of shoes that day, a luxury that until that moment, as is true for so many in impoverished Africa, was beyond his wildest dreams."

Preserving a Medina Treasure

"With tentative plans to have the museum open to the public in June, the restoration portion of the project is now well underway. Brian can hardly contain his excitement for the opportunity the community will have to experience the history and the home for themselves: “The project is going to be so good for Medina. It’s really going to be a presence that, I think, everyone is going to be proud of when we are done."

Tony and Ayden Maggio Bond Over Anime

“People aren’t sure what to make of manga and anime,” explains Tony, who has been a fan of the storytelling art forms for years. “I had to explain to my grandmother what it is, how intricate and deep the storylines are, how complex the characters can be. It’s not just superheroes. Anime stories go very deep into a character’s upbringing and what makes them who they are.”

Hometown Heroes

"St. Charles County residents and workers pitched in during the coronavirus pandemic in a variety of ways. This is just a small sample of some of the projects, and caring, creative ideas generated during this challenging time."

All For Prom and Prom For All

"In February, four Johns Creek High School students held the second annual “Ignite the Light” dance for special needs kids. MJ Tredway, Lucy Clarke, Liz Cheung, and Megan Cosgrove, in partnership with the Johns Creek High School PALS Program (Practical Application Life Skills) along with about 50 volunteers and children with special needs danced the night away with a roaring twenties theme. PALS is designed to serve students who have documented significant cognitive or physical disabilities which prevent them from making meaningful progress in a general education curriculum and who require instruction in daily living skills."

“There are no words that can capture the joy of watching the first kid walk in and seeing the smiles."

Fighting For Our Communities

"Firefighting is a profession in which women are often underrepresented, but West Chester and Liberty both have multiple female firefighters. They work hard alongside their male counterparts every week to care for people at their most desperate moments, meeting the same standards and taking the same trainings as their male co-workers." 

Something to Sing About

"She has a world of opportunity in front of her and incredibly supportive family and friends around her. Nineteen-year-old Kirkwood resident Joanna Serenko talks about life before, during, and after 'The Voice.'"  

Save the Planet

"Three Individuals—A Professor/Priest, Mammalogist and Wild Care Specialist—Discuss their very different work."

Future Women Leaders

"We stand on the shoulders of the women who spoke loudly and persistently for a better future, but kindness is also a strong power that changes the world. “When I am a future leader,” says Analiese, “I will spread kindness.”

“I could be in Congress or President one day. If she can do it, I can do it too.” —Bella Latham

A Message of Hope and Forgiveness

"Brryan Jackson has no memory of his father, Brian Stewart, purposely injecting him with a syringe tainted with HIV-infected blood. That’s because he was 11 months old. It wasn’t until Brryan began having unexplained health issues—cuts that wouldn’t heal, severe asthma, mosquito bites that didn’t diminish, but rather grew—that his mother started seeking answers. He was hospitalized, yet no doctor could tell his mother what was wrong. Until they could."

“I help people break down the practical steps so they realize they can do it by setting goals. The goals are out there, but we need to break down the process, and the process needs to be celebrated."
—Brian Stewart

New Sense of Self

"All I wanted was to have a normal life again. CTCA gave me that gift. I encourage any woman to be her own best advocate. If you feel something is off with your body, listen to your instincts. I’m so thankful I did."

Bridgewater First Grader Lends Her Voice to Charity Holiday Album

"DFTH is an ongoing series of holiday albums featuring amazing children. The purpose is to not only provide children battling chronic illnesses with an opportunity to experience the process of music production, but to also give back to the organizations that help them live their best lives."

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