MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Let’s face it, for much of 2018, it seemed like Americans focused on the headlines that made them feel worse for having read them. A sense of pessimism seemed to hang in the air so much so that even indefatigably chipper Minnesotans seemed weighted down by the gravity of the news of the day.

But beyond the shock of breaking news, the drone of political discord, and the uncertainty of the world’s future, there remained those little jewels of hope, the stories that reminded us all of the importance of humanity, love and affection.

Here is a look back at some of the most heartwarming, tear-jerking, and otherwise inspirational stories from 2018.


January 15: 99-Year-Old Vikings Fan Gets Tickets To The Super Bowl

You might say the Vikings had a good luck charm at the game last night, and you probably saw that charm in a few of the cutaway shots during the broadcast. Millie Wall, at 99 years old, could be seen having a screwdriver at the game with her granddaughter Ashley. The Vikings surprised her with two tickets to Sunday night’s playoff game to honor her 100th birthday this July. Then NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell took time during the end of the game to visit with her. WCCO found out that Goodell gave her tickets to the Super Bowl.


January 24: Hundreds Play For ‘Quinn’s Cup,’ Celebrating 8-Year-Old’s Life, Love Of Hockey

Quinn Kirsch passed away in 2013 from a heart condition called myocarditis. He was just 8-years-old. Five years ago, one of Quinn’s hockey coaches came up with the idea for Quinn’s Cup. It’s a January pond hockey event at Centennial Lakes. They had 20 teams the first year and about 150 kids. Little did they know that that would be the start of many puck drops.


March 15: Video Of Mayo Surgeons Performing Song Goes Viral

An uplifting song performed by two Mayo Clinic surgeons in Rochester caught on video has struck a chord with the internet. On Monday, Dr. Elvis Francois shared a video of him and fellow orthopedic surgery resident Dr. William Robinson performing a cover of Mike Yung’s debut single, “Alright”. Francois sings in the video, while Robinson plays piano. The video quickly went viral and it now has over 2 million views.


March 20: Make-A-Wish Kid Now A Doctor In The Hospital That Treated Her

Make-A-Wish kids like Ella grow up to change lives, like Jen Pratt. Doctors diagnosed her with bone cancer more than 20 years ago, and now she’s back in the very place that saved her life. “I wanted to give back and support other families the way that I felt so supported, from that point on I knew that I wanted to go into medicine,” she said.


April 20: Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson Responds To Stillwater Student’s Promposal

If your promposal’s going to get rejected, you could do a lot worse than getting turned down by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Katie Kelzenberg, a Stillwater High School student, asked the “Fast & Furious” and “Rampage” star to prom. While he turned her down, he recorded a special message for Kelzenberg, which played over her school’s intercom system. Plus, a special screening of “Rampage,” with tickets and snacks for her and the rest of the theater paid for by Johnson.


April 26: Shakopee ‘Saber Nation Station’ Store Helps Students With Financial Challenges

There are teenagers who struggle to have their basic needs met, due to their family’s financial challenges. Parents and teachers at Shakopee High School have found a way to help solve that problem. It’s a store that is stocked with clothes, toiletries and shoes. It’s called Saber Nation Station. And everything there is free.


May 7: Buffalo Menards Worker Needing Bike Grateful For Flood Of Donations

Menards worker Paul Pykonnen can’t drive, and his bike was broken. So a customer started a GoFundMe page to replace it. Fellow shoppers in Buffalo and WCCO viewers pitched in, collecting more than $25,000. He took his first spin on his new wheels and he smiled ear to ear, in awe of his new ride.


May 28: Minnesota Veterans Journey To War Memorial, Pay Tribute To Fallen Friends

Healing and closure for a group of Minnesota heroes who served in Korea and Vietnam as 166 Vietnam and Korean veterans made the trip. It was organized by the Waconia Lions, who wanted them to get the homecoming they never had when they returned from battle. WCCO’s Reg Chapman documented this life-changing and tearful journey to Washington, D.C.


June 1: Tiny Lynx Fan Meets Big-Time Basketball Star After Viral Photo

A young Lynx fan who posed below the iconic Maya Moore billboard in downtown Minneapolis got to meet her hero. Her dad, Justice, had taken the photo of Liliana Sikakane standing in front of Moore’s billboard, arms spread wide. Moore taught her the fundamentals, like passing, shooting and learning how to fly with your own wings.


June 11: Mounds View Pitcher Embraces Totino-Grace Batter After Striking Him Out

A spontaneous display of friendship and sportsmanship thrust a Mounds View High School baseball player in the national spotlight. Ty Koehn was on the mound against Totino-Grace High School. With a 4-0 lead and one out to go, he struck out the final batter for the win. The batter was his childhood friend Jack Kocon. The two were teammates going back to little league. Koehn hugged a dejected Kocon, rattling off words of encouragement, while his Mounds View teammates celebrated in the background.


July 24: Wyoming PD Launches Program For Young Adults With Disabilities

The Wyoming Police Department launched a first-of-its kind program in the state of Minnesota. The program allows young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to volunteer with their police department for 16 weeks, gaining social experiences and job skills.


October 5: After Son’s Suicide, Dad Promises To Finish His Race

Sometimes, legacy means finishing someone else’s race. That’s what one dad did when he decided to run the Twin Cities Marathon. Mike Donley ran in honor of his son, Lewis, who killed himself in December 2016. Donley says Lew wanted to finish a marathon and change people’s lives through fundraising to bring clean water to kids in Africa.


November 4: 100-Year-Old New London Man Finds Fountain Of Youth Through Music

Born at the very end of World War I, Burt Lundberg played in the Army band in World War II. He performed on the front lines playing trumpet, accordion, and whatever else he could get his hands on. The music didn’t stop when the war did. He played in a number of bands, and for his day job he became the band director at New London-Spicer High School. A few years ago, Lundberg’s beloved wife, Toots, passed away. And then he encountered health problems of his own. But music helped him get back into the swing of things.


December 11: St. Paul Community Pays Its Respects To Mike ‘Bones’ Hartzell

Hundreds poured in to honor an unsuspecting St. Paul hero Tuesday. Mike “Bones” Hartzell was known as the steward of Rice Street. The Vietnam vet chose to live on the streets. His impact was large — and so was his funeral.


December 17: Santa Delivers Special Letter To 9-Year-Old Hinckley Girl

Arianna Sam’s grandparents adopted her when she was little. They’re the only parents she’s ever known. So when her dad died in September, it deeply affected the 9-year-old. Her Christmas wish was to hear from him just one more time. And Santa delivered.


December 19: Military Dad Surprises Daughters By Coming Home

Two sisters from Eagan had their Christmas wish granted early. They asked Santa to bring their dad home from Kuwait. Capt. Steve Guptill, with the Army National Guard, surprised his daughters, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.


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