Let’s face it, 2016 has been a rough year. From humanitarian crises to unexpected election results, these past 12 months have certainly not been the greatest.
But, 2016 has also had its positives. There have been acts of kindness and many newsworthy moments where humans have treated each other with love and respect.
To leave the year off on a positive note, we thought we would share some of the best stories of 2016.
1. Teen’s emotional reaction after receiving heart transplant goes viral
Fifteen-year-old Trevor Sullivan was diagnosed with a heart condition called cardiomyopathy in March 2015. After several months of waiting, the Michigan teen finally received a heart transplant. While waking up from his surgery, Trevor’s mother filmed his emotional response to having a new heart. In January, Sullivan shared the video with an organ transplant organization called Gift of Life Michigan. The video went viral and Sullivan’s reaction to his new heart serves as a beautiful reminder to not take anything in life for granted.
2. Traditional wedding haka ceremony moves New Zealand Maori bride to tears
A beautiful and emotional video of a traditional Maori wedding dance went viral in January. Aaliyah and Benjamin Armstrong shared the special moment that took place at their wedding reception in Aukland. The haka is a traditional Maori war cry that uses body slapping and intense facial expressions, and is also performed at special celebrations, such as weddings, to welcome new guests. The special dance caught Aaliyah and Benjamin by surprise as the groomsmen wedding party suddenly began to perform. The couple decided to join in too, but not before Aaliyah was moved to tears.
3. Nurse goes out in blizzard to bring snow indoors for sick kids
— FoxNewsInsider (@FoxNewsInsider) January 25, 2016
Clinical research nurse Alex Classen did not let a blizzard stop her from putting smiles on the faces of young patients at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Maryland. In February 2016, Classen noticed that seven-year-old Lucy Weise was staring longingly outside the hospital room window looking at the snow falling. Lucy was recovering from a bone marrow transplant and there was no way she could go out to enjoy the winter weather. So Classen decided to run outside in her scrubs and bring buckets of snow indoors for Lucy so she could play with it. Classen then returned to collect more snow for other children in the hospital ward. “Anything I can do to make these kids smile is awesome. So whenever they’re happy, it just makes my day,” Classen told The Washington Post.
4. Strangers form human chain to save trucker hanging off steep hill after accident
Matthew Collins was driving through a snow storm on a Pennsylvania highway in February 2016, when two cars in front of him swerved out of control. This caused Collins to hit the breaks on his big rig truck, sending the 18 wheeler over the guardrail. The truck was hanging over a hillside and Collins was sure he was not going to make it out alive. Luckily, Collins was able to escape from the truck and when he made it out of the cab, he was amazed to see a human chain leaning over the guardrail ready to help him up the steep hill. Good Samaritans stopped their cars on the side of the highway in order to assist the truck driver. “It’s nice to know that there’s people like that out there still,” Collins told WTAE News.
5. Afghan boy finally gets real Lionel Messi jersey
In mid-January, a story broke about five-year-old Murtaza Ahmadi from Afghanistan. The little boy is a huge fan of soccer star Lionel Messi. For his fifth birthday, Ahmadi asked his dad for a real Messi jersey but his father told him that the family could not afford one. So Ahmadi’s older brother fashioned him a makeshift Messi jersey out of a blue and white plastic bag.
A photo of Ahmadi wearing that plastic bag jersey began making rounds on the Internet in March and even Messi saw the photo. That prompted the soccer star, who is a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF, to send multiple signed jerseys to Ahmadi and other children. “I love Messi and my shirt says Messi loves me,” Ahmadi told UNICEF.
6. Boy forms unlikely friendship with whale at Vancouver Aquarium
Ten-year-old Lucas Nielsen of Vanderhoof, B.C., visits B.C. Children’s hospital on a regular basis to receive treatment for an eye condition. While spending his time in Vancouver, Nielsen also enjoys visiting the Vancouver Aquarium. Over his past few visits, Nielsen has formed a friendship with a false killer whale named Chester. “He started recognizing me and started following me from one underwater viewing gallery to another, and he started actually spitting regurgitated food out at me and sticking out his tongue,” Nielsen told CBC Vancouver. Nielsen is homeschooled and doesn’t get the chance to hang out with other kids a lot. So his bond with Chester is very meaningful. “I think of him as my best friend in Vancouver,” Nielsen said.
7. Mountie stops traffic to help beaver cross the road
— CBC British Columbia (@cbcnewsbc) April 2, 2016
In April, Mounties on Vancouver Island had to shut down a part of the Trans-Canada Highway to help a beaver cross the road. Officers closed the highway lane when they noticed that the beaver was just sitting there, taking its sweet time to travel across the street. The very Canadian moment was caught on RCMP dash cam.
8. Boy with Autism overjoyed at Coldplay concert
This young boy was overjoyed to the point of tears when he got to see his favourite band, Coldplay, perform in Mexico City. Luis Vazquez took his son, who has autism, to the concert. Vazquez captured a video of his son tearing up while the band played their hit “Fix You.” The video has gone viral and has inspired many with autism to reach out to Vazquez and thank him for sharing the footage. “I have autism myself I was diagnosed at age 7 and I am also a mega Coldplay fan, this made me tear up, thank you so much for sharing this video,” one person wrote on Facebook. The video is touching that even Coldplay shared it on their official page.
9. Waiter feeds man with no hands
— FOX 12 Oregon KPTV (@fox12oregon) April 26, 2016
When waiter Alex Ruiz noticed a customer without hands ordering a meal, he immediately wanted to help him. The customer came into the Georgia restaurant where Ruiz works and asked someone to assistant him with eating. Ruiz didn’t even think twice and went over to feed the man. A heartwarming picture of Ruiz helping the man was captured by another customer who posted it on to social media where it has gone viral. “I saw a man who needed help. I did what I thought was right,” Ruiz said.
10. 5-year-old sets up lemonade stand to raise money for Fort McMurray families
Five-year-old Alexander Tuck of Toronto was busy selling lemonade outside a shopping centre in May. However, he didn’t keep the money. All proceeds of his lemonade sales were donated to the people of Fort McMurray impacted by the wildfire. Tuck was able to raise $2,500 for the Red Cross and all donations will be matched by the federal government.
11. Syrian refugees pitch in to help families fleeing Fort McMurray fires
Rita Khenchet arrived in Calgary a few months ago after fleeing her war-torn homeland of Syria. After seeing the footage of the Fort McMurray fires, Khenchet was determined to help. In May, she created a post on a Facebook group asking Syrians in Canada to try to help families fleeing the fire in any way they could. “(Canadians) gave us everything. And now it’s time to return the favour,” Khenchet wrote in the post.
Another Syrian saw Khenchet’s post, translated it to English, and shared it on the Syrian Refugee Support Group’s Facebook page. Since then, donations for Fort McMurray families have been pouring in from Syrian refugees across Canada.
“It’s amazing. You have to understand how little these guys have… But they understand the idea of an entire city losing their home. That’s something they can easily relate to. They went through that,” Saima Jamal, co-founder of the Syrian Refugee Support Group told the Calgary Herald.
12. Police officer proposes to boyfriend during London Pride parade
In June, a police officer proposed to his boyfriend during London’s Pride parade. The crowd went wild and the perfect, heartwarming, moment was caught on camera.
13. Colourblind brothers burst into tears after seeing colour for the first time
James and Jace Papenhausen are colour blind brothers from San Diego. They have never been able to see a full spectrum of colour, until now. Their dad bought them a special pair of glasses that helps colour blind people see all colours. Immediately after putting the glasses on, the brothers burst into tears and were left speechless because their world was finally full of bright hues they never experienced before.
14. Baby hears mother’s voice for first time
Jordan Blair squealed in excitement when he heard his mother’s voice for the first time in July. The Australian infant was born with bronchiolitis, a condition that causes fluid buildup and blocks the ears. Last week, the little one received hearing aids and was able to hear his mom. The moment was caught on camera and it is heartwarming to watch.
15. Dying girl crowned prom queen
Jerika Bolen is 14 and does not have much time left to live. The 14-year-old suffers from Muscular Atrophy Type 2, an incurable disease which impacts nerves that control muscle movement. Bolen made the decision to stop treatment, meaning she is choosing to die. It was a hard decision to make but Bolen’s family respects her wishes.
In July, Bolen got to take her mind off of her illness when she celebrated at a giant party held in her honour. She was even crowned ‘prom queen.’ For Bolen, this is how she wants to end the last chapter of her life – happy and surrounded by family and friends.
16. 100-year-old completes 100-metre race at Americas Masters Games
— Metro Vancouver (@vancouvermetro) August 29, 2016
For 100-year-old Man Kaur, age is just a number. The centenarian recently ran in the 100-metre race at the Americas Masters Games in Vancouver in August. It took her one minute and a half to complete the race as she was cheered on by a crowd of supporters. Kaur began running at 93 and has won over 20 medals.
17. Duck cheers up heartbroken dog
A dog and a duck have become unlikely friends. Jacquie Litton of Tennessee noticed the mystery duck console her dog George and caught the moment on camera. Litton’s other dog, Blackie, passed away leaving George heartbroken. But somehow, the duck has become a source of comfort for George.
“George has been heartbroken and has grieved with anxiety so bad that he has almost died twice. We have no idea where this duck came from but he sure does love George and since the duck has arrived George has not cried one time,” Litton wrote in a Facebook post.
18. Football player joins boy with autism for lunch after seeing him sit alone
The Florida State University football team was paying a visit to a local middle school last week when a player named Travis Rudolph noticed a boy sitting alone at the cafeteria lunch table. Rudolph decided to join the boy whose name is Bo. What Rudolph didn’t know is that Bo is autistic and usually sits alone at lunch.
Rudolph says he did not even know Bo had autism and just wanted to keep him company. “It’s just heartbreaking that he’s in that situation, but I’m praying for him. He’s a great kid overall. I would love to hang out with him anytime,” he said.
A photo of Rudolph and Bo sitting together has been shared thousands of times on social media. According to Bo’s mother Leah Paske, he no longer sits alone at lunch.
19. Police help clean up elderly woman’s yard
— AL.com Mobile (@ALcomMobile) September 5, 2016
Alabama’s Birmingham Police Department is going above and beyond to help citizens. Three Birmingham police officers were on patrol when they spotted an elderly woman struggling to mow her front lawn. Officers Erik Henderson, Robert Lewis, and Ivy Nicole Jackson decided to help the woman out by cutting her grass for her. “A lot of people don’t like us but we’re here to help,” Henderson said.
20. Woman fighting cancer becomes social media dancing star
Who says cancer and chemo have to get get you down? We’ll have the last laugh!! Having an awesome chemo buddy like @danilax21 who is ALWAYS down for a dance party helps too!! We want to show the world that dancing and laughter is the BEST medicine. We are #AnaStrong !! #JujuOnThatBeat #ICantDance #JustForFun #ChemoSucks #NoHairDontCare #CancerAwareness #Chemo #JujuOnThatChemo #dancing #DanceTherapy @theellenshow @cody_sattler @thefitnessmarshall @su2c @ihadcancer @americancancersociety @stupidcancer @prettygirlswithcancer
Ana-Alecia Ayala is taking social media by storm with her impressive dance moves. Ayala is currently fighting rhabdomyosarcoma, a form of cancer. But she has not let that get her down.
In October, she posted a video of herself and a friend dancing to “Juju on That Beat,” a song that has sparked a social media dance craze. Her choreography is so on point, to the extent that the video has since gone viral.
21. Parents make amazing costume for son with Cerebral Palsy
— ABC13 Houston (@abc13houston) October 24, 2016
Deanna and Tony Alfano want to make sure their seven-year-old son Anthony will have the best Halloween ever.
Anthony has cerebral palsy and fitting into a Halloween costume can be difficult because he has a wheelchair. So, Tony has crafted him a special costume and it is amazing. This year, Anthony was the Lincoln Memorial snow globe.
It sounds like a crazy idea but it is not anything new. Anthony’s family has been doing this for him since he was one-year-old. “He’s not going to be our super star baseball player,” Tony Alfano told ABC. “He’s just going to be the kid on Halloween that people are going to remember… And that’s what I want to do.”
22. Dog gets super excited seeing his owner dressed up as favourite toy
This Golden Retriever nearly lost her mind when her owner dressed up as her favourite toy. For Halloween, Ben Mesches wanted to surprise his dog Jolene who loves her stuffed Gumby toy. So he decided to dress up as Gumby and see how Jolene reacted. Basically, it was the best thing that could ever happen to Jolene and she could not contain her excitement.
23. ‘Spiderman’ scales building to save two-year-old in China
A Chinese man is being hailed as ‘Spiderman’ after he scaled the side of an apartment building to save a toddler hanging from a window in November.
Liang Lee heard the boy crying and sprung into action. He climbed up the building and save the child and the rescue was caught on camera.
24. Group of men rescue 8 stray dogs on bachelor party trip
A Michigan groom’s bachelor party unexpectedly got overrun by puppies. Mitchel Craddock of Vicksburg, Michigan, took his friends to a cabin in Tennesse for his bachelor party. They noticed a stray dog outside and the men quickly befriended the pup. Craddock says that they could tell the dog recently had puppies and she looked dehydrated and malnourished. The men also noticed that she was protecting a certain spot in the woods and they went to investigate. What they found was her littler of puppies. The eight dogs, including the mom, were adopted by Craddock and his groomsmen.
25. Indian software engineer takes in 735 unwanted dogs
Rakesh Shukla is a software engineer who has an amazing side-job. Besides his 9 to 5, Shukla takes care of over 700 unwanted dogs at his farm in the southern Indian state of Karnataka. Shukla, is known as the “Dog Father” and houses all kinds of breeds ranging from Golden Retrievers to Saint Bernards. “I’m the last stop for these dogs. They are no longer cute and cuddly. Many are sick and no longer wanted,” Shukla told BBC News.
26. Vancouver woman and partner with Stage 4 Cancer wed on Aquabus
All it took was a ride on an Aquabus to make Jana Buhlmann and Chris Walters’ wedding dreams to come true.The couple eloped while taking a ride on Vancouver’s False Creek water taxi service on December 17.
“We have been together for about two years and we were talking about getting married anyway,” Buhlmann told Daily Hive. But last month, Walters, 40, was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer, prompting the couple to speed up their wedding plans.
“So we thought ‘you know what, let’s just grab life by the horns… and let’s just do this,’” Buhlmann said. They eloped on the Aquabus and in order to share the ceremony with their loved ones, the also Facebook Lived the event.“That felt really, really amazing, having so much love pouring in from all over the world.” Buhlmann said.