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In a year starving for hope & kindness, the Land of 10,000 Stories offered plenty

They are the people who brightened a dark year.

MINNEAPOLIS — In a year we desperately needed kindness and hope, both were found in abundance in the Land of 10,000 Stories.

These are the people who inspired us in 2020.

KINDNESS

  • Darwin Bonn lit up all 72 balconies and patios at his senior apartment complex to honor his Christmas-loving late wife Rose.

WATCH: 'Humbug' lights 72 apartments at his senior home to honor late wife who loved Christmas

  • Seven-year-old Addie Fenster shared letters and artwork with her 73-year-old COVID pen pal Gary Melquist. 

WATCH: 7-year-old finds cure for COVID loneliness in unlikely pen pal

  • Five-year-old Haiden Hildre gave up her “R” engraved bedroom closet door when her family learned of Rudy, the boy who it belonged to in the 1940s. The Hildres surprised Rudy, now 77, the with the wrapped door. 

WATCH: Mystery solved: Child's one-of-a-kind bedroom door returned, 75 years later

  • An elf named “Mr. Little Guy” spent his 25th summer answering notes left in his tree at Lake Harriet, assuring children and adults at a frightening time, “I believe in you.” 

WATCH: Lake Harriet elf reflects on 25 years answering notes left in his tree

HEROES

  • Erika Rucks, a nurse with incurable cancer, is living her best life - helping kids with cancer.

PART 1: Nurse with incurable cancer stays at bedsides of her young cancer patients

PART 2: Twin Cities nurse with incurable cancer surprised with new SUV by TODAY Show

  • St. Cloud teacher Mike Mathiason created “Dress for Success” Tuesdays, an opportunity for his fourth graders to wear business attire and become more confident learners.

WATCH: 4th grade teacher dresses his class for success

  • WWII veteran Mickey Nelson walked 100 miles the summer of his 100th birthday and raised more than $100,000 for the Salvation Army.

PART 1: Minnesota WWII vet walking 100 miles for his 100th birthday

PART 2: WWII veteran turns 100, continues 100 mile walk for charity

PART 3: 100-year-old MN WWII vet crosses finish line on 100-mile walk for charity

  • Woodbury police officer Bryan Wagner cited Sarah Lindgren for shoplifting, recognized a single parent in crisis with an otherwise clean record, then arrived at her home with a squad car loaded with food.

WATCH: Officer cites widow for shoplifting, then delivers food to her home

Credit: KARE

RELATIONSHIPS

  • Neighbors lined the streets cheering as Jason DeShaw completed the cancelled Grandma’s Marathon in 39 laps past his house.

WATCH: With Grandma's Marathon canceled, preacher runs 39 laps around his neighborhood

  • At 84, two former schoolmates, Vic Martinson and Lowell Petersen, continued their tradition of painted the numbers and lines on the Somerset High School football field, before meeting again to attend the games.

WATCH: At 84, two former high school athletes still paint the football field

  • Master luthier Will Bartruff shared his knowledge of violin making with Ben Milne, a 13-year-old boy, already four years into his apprenticeship.

WATCH: Master violin-maker is gifting his craft to 7th grade boy

  • In a North Minneapolis corner barbershop, Houston White created a gathering place for conversation and culture, as he mentors the neighborhood’s kids.

WATCH: North Minneapolis barber is a catalyst on his corner

FAMILIES

  • Five-year-old Wynn Radke achieved her goal of visiting 67 waterfalls with her mom, after COVID-19 closed Wynn’s pre-school and furloughed her mom.

WATCH: 5-year-old reaches goal: visits 67 waterfalls after COVID-19 shuts down her preschool

  • Bob Sportal paid $75 for a beat up ‘57 Chevy pickup, drove it 43 years, then sold it to the grandson of the original owner for $75.

WATCH: Man who paid $75 for Chevy truck 44 years ago, just sold it to prior owner's grandson for $75

  • Larry Backlund finished the job his great grandfather started 127 years earlier, when Larry donated a steeple for the previously steeple-less Lake Eunice Evangelical Free Church.

WATCH: 127-year-old church finally gets its steeple, thanks to great grandson of founder

  • Kristina & Michael Landin rented a movie theater marquee, then captured on video a priceless reaction when Kristina’s mother learned she would soon be a grandmother:

WATCH: Catch Minnesotan's priceless reaction upon learning she will be a grandma

CREATURES

  • A Rosemount neighborhood found a pup-side to the pandemic: 18 new puppies in a three-block area.

WATCH: 'Pup-side' to the pandemic: 18 new puppies in three-block neighborhood

  • A dog named Zelda decided she wasn’t keen on her a new adopted home in the suburbs. So, the German Shepherd mix took a winding 97-day walk back to her foster mom in St. Paul.

WATCH: Adopted dog takes 97-day walk back to foster mom

  • Holly Jorgenson has formed a five-year friendship with Greenie, a sunfish at the end of her dock, who swims with Holly and jumps out of the water take foot from her hand.

WATCH: Woman and sunfish form five-year friendship on Minnesota lake

  • A mysterious chicken took up residence on the grave of 16-year-old Aiden Miller a year after his death. Aiden loved animals, especially chickens. His family named the chicken Angel.

WATCH: Mystery chicken takes up residence at teen's grave

PASSION

  • Doug Kafka is the Hudson YMCA’s resident crooner, serenading members during their workouts with songs from the golden age of Frank Sinatra.

WATCH: YMCA crooner touches hearts and high notes

  • Members of the Twin Cities Model A Ford Club continued their leap year tradition, pulling their antique cars out of winter storage, regardless of weather, for a February 29th ride.

WATCH: Model A Fords greet winter once every four years

  • College student Dylan Dierking parlayed his love for White Bear Lake into a business, delivering food to boats and docks on his Jet Ski. He called his company Foodski.

WATCH: Young entrepreneur jet skis restaurant meals to boats & docks

  • Jessica Montenegro took sidewalk chalk to new levels, creating elaborate designs on her driveway that wowed her neighbors.

WATCH: Stuck at home, Minnesota mom takes sidewalk chalk to infinity & beyond

Revisit your favorite moments from Boyd Huppert’s Land of 10,000 Stories by subscribing to Land of 10,000 Stories: The Complete Collection on YouTube.