Good News of 2020: Stories That Made Us Smile, Laugh and Shed Happy Tears

Take a look back at some of the news that brought us joy and inspiration during an especially trying year

This year has been incredibly tough on so many levels. From the devastating coronavirus pandemic to historic wildfires, people in the Bay Area have faced hardship after hardship.

But, as difficult as it may be to believe, 2020 wasn't all bad. Take some time to look back and cherish these good news stories that made us laugh out loud, crack a smile, feel inspired or cry some happy tears.

Silicon Valley Superhero: Meet the Teen Who's Shining the Bat-Signal on Homelessness

There was a superhero patrolling the streets of San Jose this year, but he wasn't fighting crime. He was delivering food and clothes to his unhoused neighbors. This is the story of Batman of San Jose, an anonymous teenager doing his best to help those in need.

People ignore people out on the street. So I figured I'd draw as much attention as possible to the issue — and, well, this is pretty attention-grabbing.

Batman of San Jose
The anonymous 19-year-old dons a Batman costume to bring food and clothes to his unhoused neighbors — and he's already inspiring others to follow suit.

6-Year-Old Girl Leads Fundraising Effort to Save the Oakland Zoo

Age is just a number. Take Andy Soulard for example. Back in July when she was 6, the East Bay girl led a fundraising campaign to help save the cash-strapped Oakland Zoo as it teetered on the brink of shutting down permanently. Read about the inspiring story here.

It's really inspiring to see how much good can come when we all come together for a good cause.

Kelly Soulard, Andy's mom
Heartbroken to hear that the Oakland Zoo could shut down permanently, a 6-year-old girl from the East Bay is doing everything she can to keep that from happening. Melissa Colorado reports.

San Jose Man Donates Collection of 25,000 Baseball Cards to 9-Year-Old Who Lost All Hers in Wildfire

Kevin Ashford of San Jose had a massive baseball card collection — about 25,000 cards at least, he guessed. He said he was planning on selling the cards, but then he heard about 9-year-old Reese Osterberg. She lost her home and her precious baseball card collection in a wildfire. That's when Kevin decided to make a monumental donation. Read about the uplifting act of generosity here.

I thought, you know what, instead of selling them on eBay, I'm going to donate them. I'm gonna donate them all and put a smile on a little girl's face.

Kevin Ashford
During the Creek Fire, a little girl lost all of her baseball cards. A San Jose man heard about her loss and decided to donate his approximately 25,000-card collection to her. Garvin Thomas reports.

About 200 Goats Escape, Roam the Streets of East San Jose

Goats on the loose! Back in May, a massive tribe of goats busted through a fence and scampered through a San Jose neighborhood, much to the surprise of neighbors. Check out the hilarious video here.

This is the craziest thing to happen all quarantine.

Zach Roelands
Even goats get tired of being quarantined. More than a 100 of them broke through a fence in the Silver Creek area of San Jose and went stampeding past multimillion dollar homes. Marianne Favro spoke to the neighbors and got a look at the aftermath.

More Than 100 Days Later, Coronavirus Patient Released From Hospital

Want to see perseverance in action? Look no further than Tom Butts. He spent more than 100 days in the hospital fighting COVID-19. At times, doctors didn't think he would make it. But he kept fighting. And then he won. Check out his moving story here.

The fight of this man, he’ll never give up.

Cindy Loque, Tom's sister
Tom Butts spent more than 100 days in the hospital fighting the coronavirus. On Friday, he got to go home. Damian Trujillo reports.

Keanu Reeves Eating Ice Cream in Alameda?

Keanu, is that you? Looks like the beloved actor decided to stop for a sweet treat in Alameda at the beginning of the year. His ordinary act, of course, sent social media into a frenzy. Check out the reaction here.

Super chill dude.

Yahoska Martinez
The famous actor was apparently spotted Monday afternoon outside a Baskin-Robbins in Alameda savoring a sweet treat.

Nonprofit Pulls 8,000-Plus Pounds of Trash From Lake Tahoe, Donner Lake

Lake Tahoe and nearby Donner Lake are beloved treasures in Northern California. But the trash left behind at these popular destinations, not so much. That's where Clean Up the Lake comes in. The nonprofit spent months removing a whopping 8,000-plus pounds of garbage from the two alpine lakes. And the group is just getting started. Here's the story on their massive cleanup efforts.

I think every visitor and every person that comes here should try and take action to protect what we have.

Colin West, Clean Up the Lake founder and executive director
Clean Up the Lake spent the past year pulling a whopping 8,000-plus pounds of trash, ranging from plastic bottles to a decades-old tape player, from the depths of Lake Tahoe and nearby Donner Lake in Northern California.

San Francisco Woman Reunites With Her Dog Who Was Stolen Months Ago

After her beloved pup Jackson was stolen from outside a San Francisco grocery store, Emilie Talermo did just about everything to get him back. She offered a $7,000 reward, distributed thousands of flyers and even hired a plane to fly a banner that displayed the name of the website she was using to spread the word about the search effort. Months later, Jackson turned up in Southern California and was eventually taken back home. Check out the happy reunion here.

I feel like everything is brighter again.

Emilie Talermo
A San Francisco woman who went so far as to hire a plane to fly a banner in hopes of finding her stolen dog has been reunited with her beloved pet following a months-long search.

‘Masked Bandits': 2 Raccoons Break Into Peninsula Bank

This was not your ordinary bank robbery. Two raccoons — yes, you read that right — managed to bust into a bank in Redwood City. See them caught red-handed here.

It’s not every day an animal organization gets called to deal with a bank break in, but since the bank robbers were masked bandits of the wildlife kind, we were indeed the appropriate responder.

Buffy Martin Tarbox, Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA’s Communications Manager
Two raccoons busted into a bank in Redwood City Tuesday morning, according to the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA.

12-Year-Old Piano Prodigy Plays for Neighborhood Seniors

At times, it's the simple things in life that can go a long way. Take piano playing for instance. Every other week, 12-year-old Christopher Nguyen ventured to an assisted living facility in the East Bay to play for the residents. Check out the Bay Area Proud story here.

I enjoy making people happy.

Christopher Nguyen
Christopher Nguyen, 12, featured in the book "Unselfish Kids," started playing piano for seniors at an assisted living facility in Alameda when he was just 6 years old.

Kamala Harris Calls Bay Area Teen to Thank Him for Painted Portrait

Tyler Gordon, a San Jose teenager, has some serious artistic ability. He showcased those skills in a stunning painting of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Hoping she'd see it, he posted the work of art on social media. The post quickly went viral and made it all the way to Harris, who hopped on a phone call with the teen to thank him for the portrait. Take a look at the painting and listen to the call here.

You really have a gift, my goodness, such a gift. I was so touched to see it.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris called 14-year-old Tyler Gordon of San Jose to thank him for a portrait of her he painted. Raj Mathai reports.

SF Post-it Hearts Become Contagious as People Reach Out to One Another

Trapped inside during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, Nick Munro of San Francisco covered his window with a heart made out of Post-it Notes. The small but uplifting gesture turned out to be contagious. Soon, Post-it hearts were popping up in windows across the city. Click here to read more about the messages spreading from window to window.

I thought it was heartwarming. And I thought it was something nice to cheer up the neighbors.

Vincent Wibowo, Nick Munro's neighbor
In San Francisco people are posting hearts made of post-its in their windows as a kind of emotional SOS, a simple way to connect in these trying times. Lili Tan reports.

Coyote and Badger Spotted Traveling Together Under Bay Area Highway

Ready for a heartwarming animal video? This viral clip shows a playful coyote and their badger buddy traveling together under a South Bay highway. While it seems like a normal interaction in the wild, it was actually pretty significant. Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) said the moment marked "the first time this type of behavior has been captured" in the Bay Area. For more on the special caught-on-camera moment, click here.

This blew us away. This is the kind of footage folks [who] study these things, work on these issues, we dream of this, this kind of an interaction.

Neal Sharma, Wildlife Linkages Program Manager for POST
An apparently playful coyote and their supposed badger buddy were captured on camera traveling together under a highway in the Bay Area.

East Bay Teen Continues to Recover From Spinal Cord Injury

Roughly three years ago, Ryan Joseph was wrestling when he suffered a devastating spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed from the neck down. Back in January when we caught up with him, he was able to walk on crutches. Read about his remarkable recovery here.

I mean, it sounds cheesy, but you can't give up on yourself.

Ryan Joseph
An East Bay high school wrestler who suffered a serious injury that left him paralyzed has made a remarkable recovery. Melissa Colorado reports.

4 Sets of Twins Born at Children's Hospital Stanford in 32 Hours

Wow! What are the odds? During a 32-hour stretch this past summer, doctors at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford delivered four sets of twins. Read more about the rare occurrence here.

I cannot recall so many twin births within that short of a time frame.

Lou Filoteo, nurse manager
Over the course of a 32-hour stretch, doctors at one Bay Area hospital delivered four sets of twins.

A worst nightmare situation came to life for Jenna Madrid of Livermore. Back in September, she was in the bathroom of her home when her wedding ring slipped out of her hand and landed in the toilet just as it was flushing. She thought it was gone for good. Thanks to a Livermore Public Works crew, that wasn’t the case. More on the miraculous find here.

They didn’t have to do any of that. I think they are amazing. They deserve a gold medal.

Jenna Madrid
When Jenna Madrid accidentally flushed her wedding ring down the toilet she thought she'd never see it again. Thanks to a Livermore Public Works crew, that wasn't the case.
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