The season of lights.

What better time to recognize the people who lit the Land of 10,000 stories in 2018 as brightly as Jerry Lageson’s I-35 oak tree:


Stacey Achterhoff - as Mrs. Delicious - gives Dulutians the privilege of treating strangers to pay-it-forward ice cream:

Lucy Elliot, a retired educator, converted an old South Minneapolis auto repair shop into play space for neighborhood kids:

Mark Coen, a former Catholic priest working out of a former Lutheran church in Hibbing, is on a new mission to make caskets affordable:

Bob Knutson collected 17,000 old record albums in a Red Wing storefront, he now shares - via monthly deliveries - with seniors:

Dennis Frandsen offered free technical college to the entire Rush City High School senior class:
Jack Carlson fixed up bikes for children with disabilities. Then, a viewer touched by his story fixed Jack's teeth:

Paul Schulz provided free ice time for hundreds of children in the farm shed his family still converts each winter to a hockey arena, 13 years after Paul's untimely death:


Franklin Middle School students reminded Super Bowl visitors to pack their “coats, hats and gloves.”

Ruby Minder, a shy 10-year-old from Monticello, asked for, and got, her Land of 10,000 Stories singing debut:

Seventeen-year-old Ryley Pollock learned CPR and saved a life:

Eight-year-old Cameron Mack learned concertina and is helping save a New Ulm tradition:

Fourteen-year-old Sydney Dutton hands out hundreds of flags each year to honor her police officer father, who died on flag day:

The daily hugs with which Birchwood, Wisconsin’s kindergartners greet each other inspired a viral video:

Stillwater High School students Trey Kruse and Adam Potter first taught their classmates – then the world - friendship knows no bounds.  In 2018, their story was viewed more than 14 million times:

Monarch butterflies have a true friend in Kay Hamilton.  The Eagan woman has been “mom” to thousands of them:

Cassie, a yellow lab from Sartell, hasn't taken a walk without her stick in eleven years:

George, a gopher tortoise, became the pet of 10-year-old Jeanna Smith.  Fifty-six years later, Jeanna and George are still best friends:


Jim Spinler, a former garbage hauler from Medford, has spent three decades amassing a collection of more than three-million pop tabs:

RJ Smith has collected 70,000 golf balls he stores floor to ceiling in a Rochester garage:

Whalen hosts Minnesota’s only Stand Still Parade.  On the two-block Main Street of the Fillmore County community, the parade stands still, while spectators walk around it:

Ely hosts the nation’s only canoe marathon.  Participants run 26.2 miles while portaging canoes.  Some of them actually finish:


2018 marked the 100th anniversary of the Cloquet-Moose Lake fire, the deadliest natural disaster in Minnesota history.  More than 450 people lost their lives, including 14 members of the Soderburg family, asphyxiated in a root cellar where they had sought shelter:

John Donaldson lost to racism a major league career.  Pete Gordon works every day to make sure Donaldson isn’t also lost to history:


Ray “Bubba” Sorenson has painted more than 70 “Freedom Rocks” across Iowa.  In 2018, he brought his first to Minnesota:

Bordered by an international airport, an interstate highway, and a light rail line, Fort Snelling National Cemetery offers a respite to 228,000 souls and the families who visit them:

The sisters of Skip Schmidt – a casualty of the Vietnam War - welcomed to Minnesota, the son, neither they, nor Skip, knew he had:


After three generations, The Huppert Dairy Farm in River Falls, Wisconsin, was among hundreds forced out of business by consolidation and a collapse in milk prices:

St. Paul Park Firefighter Jeremy Bourasa and his wife Krista had their fire station wedding interrupted when Jeremy left to fight a fire:

Gene Ertel and Janet Skillingstad broke off their engagement as teenagers. Sixty-four years later, 81-year-old Gene, newly diagnosed with cancer, found 82-year-old Janet, and they married:

Twenty-two years ago, Danny Givens shot, and nearly killed, lawman Art Blakey.  Blakey not only forgave his shooter, he befriended and mentored him:

Bob Husby purchased an ’85 VW Cabriolet convertible, into which he lifts his wife Kathy, who has Multiple Sclerosis, for summer rides:

Forty-six years after her young son was hit and killed by a car, Maggie Kron found healing through an adopt-a-highway sign:

At 72, Denice Juneski and Linda Jourdeans learned they were accidentally switched at birth at the St. Paul hospital where they were born 31 minutes apart – leading Linda and Denice to an unlikely friendship:

Land of 10,000 Stories will resume with a new segment on Sunday, January 6 at 10 pm, and continue on Sunday nights thereafter. Thanks to everyone the past year who's kept the Land of 10,000 stories shining bright!