Another Good Year in the Books: 2020 Highlights

By Thomas Yannick

Although last year proved to be an extremely difficult journey around the sun – cue worldwide pandemic, through-the-roof unemployment, social injustices and uprisings, and record-breaking weather events – there were many little victories that caught our attention and deserve even more attention. From small acts of kindness to awe-inspiring events, 2020 still had very sweet moments that kept our heads held high. Here are snippets of some of the good deeds that made headlines from around the U.S.

SpaceX Launches Two Astronauts into Space for First Time
On May 30, 2020 a rocket ship designed and built by Elon Musk’s SpaceX launched two NASA astronauts into orbit from U.S. soil for the first time in nearly a decade. The launch marked the first American-manned space mission since 2011. All eyes were on NASA’s Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, who were lifted from the same launch pad used to send the Apollo astronauts to the moon a half-century ago. “WE DID IT!!!” former NASA astronaut Michael J. Massimino wrote about the historic event. “It takes about 8-and-a-half minutes to get to space, and a whole day to parallel park,” wrote astronaut Catherine Coleman, who departed the International Space Station in 2011.

7-Year-Old Throws Personal Prom for His Babysitter After Hers Was Canceled
A 7-year-old boy in Raleigh, North Carolina surprised his nanny with how much she really meant to him by throwing her a private prom. He was inspired to hold the socially distant dance after the COVID-19 pandemic upended the high schooler’s original prom plans.

ABC 11 reported Curtis Rogers went two months without seeing his nanny, Rachel Chapman, due to the coronavirus. After Rachel’s prom was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, she was understandably upset. Rachel’s mother explained, “My daughter has been a nanny for this amazing kid for over a year. When he realized she wouldn’t have a senior prom, he wanted to throw her one. He planned a socially distant prom, complete with dancing and her favorite foods.” Rachel confessed she was a little bummed putting on her dress without all her classmates. However, she had a great time seeing her little friend after two months of staying at home. A silver lining in her virtual school year.

With a Combined Age of 205, These Two Survived COVID Against All Odds
After he was given a clean bill of health, Major Lee Wooten got a standing ovation from hospital staff during his sendoff at Madison Hospital on December 1st. Not only did Wooten, known as “Pop Pop” by staff, overcome COVID-19, but he did it at the ripe age of 103. The World War II veteran was released just two days before his 104th birthday. The heartwarming video shared on the hospital’s Facebook page showed Wooten being wheeled out as staff members sang the happy birthday song to him.

In addition, a 102-year-old New York woman – who survived the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918 and beat cancer – defeated COVID-19 not once, but twice. Angelina Friedman was born on October 18, 1918, and more than 100 years after making it through her first major pandemic, she was diagnosed with COVID-19 in April. After running a fever for several weeks, Angelina finally tested negative for the virus in late April. But six months after that first positive test, the nursing home called her daughter to inform her that her mother had tested positive again. Joanne said she got daily updates from the nursing home, and by mid-November, Friedman had once again squashed the virus. “My invincible mother tested negative,” Joanne said, attributing her mother’s survival to “an iron will to live.”

Iowa Boy Sells Baseball Bats from Fallen Trees to Help Storm Victims
After a storm hurled 100 mph winds across the Midwest in August, Tommy Rhomberg crafted more than 200 baseball bats from fallen tree branches in order to raise money for victims of the storm. He whittled each bat, about 30 inches long, with his grandfather’s woodworking tools. The bats sold for $100 and Tommy donated $20 from each sale to the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund. Using Facebook to launch his message, Tommy’s mother got his bat fundraiser to go viral. Tommy had a waitlist of more than 600 people looking to purchase the bats after his story got widespread attention. Tommy explained to his customer why to expect longer wait times, “I am 12-years-old and my parents won’t let me drop out of the 6th grade.”

We hope you got a kick out of a few of the many good things 2020 brought. We have all helped out in new ways and found a greater, deeper sense of appreciation for the little things we used to take for granted. That is a big take away from last year–and it puts us in a humbler place to begin this New Year.

From all of us at Kernersville Magazine, we wish you a year full of peace, love, and kindness.

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