Good News of 2021: Local Stories of Joy, Kindness and Inspiration

The news cycle is undoubtedly filled with an overwhelming amount of upsetting and gut-wrenching stories that dominate the headlines, but there are also stories of hope and happiness that shouldn't be forgotten.

Take a look back at some of the good news stories from 2021 that made us smile, laugh out loud or even burst into happy tears.

Bearsun's Journey: Man in Teddy Bear Costume Traveling on Foot From LA to SF

Did you see him? A happy-go-lucky man inside a full-body teddy bear costume captivated audiences, both in person and on social media, as he walked from Los Angeles to San Francisco, spreading joy to complete strangers every step of the way.

It's good to see people, first of all. Second of all, it's good to see them smiling, especially after last year, all these unfortunate events that we had to go through.

Bearsun, aka Jesse Larios
Say hello to Bearsun, the human-size teddy bear character making his way on foot from Los Angeles to San Francisco.

62-Year-Old Woman, Abandoned By Family in Chinatown, Gets Helping Hand From SF Police Officers

For San Francisco police Officer William Ma, policing isn't just about catching criminals. It's about keeping an eye on victims and making sure they feel taken care of. Ma did just that after coming across a 62-year-old Chinese-speaking woman who was apparently abandoned by her family.

I like to think of all the Chinatown grandmothers as my grandma. This is one more to the list.

Officer William Ma
San Francisco police Officer William Ma spearheaded the effort to get housing for a 62-year-old woman abandoned by her family in Chinatown. Garvin Thomas reports.

Nonprofit Pulls 18,215 Pounds of Trash Out of Lake Tahoe – And It's Not Done Yet

Despite challenges and delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a massive wildfire, nonprofit Clean Up the Lake is pushing ahead with its mission to remove trash from Lake Tahoe's entire shoreline. The group, having already pulled out tens of thousands of pounds of waste from the water, hopes to finish the cleanup effort in early 2022.

Blown away by their resilience, their hard work would just be an absolute understatement.

Clean Up the Lake founder and executive director Colin West speaking about his team
Nonprofit Clean Up the Lake, currently in the process of removing trash from Lake Tahoe's entire 72-mile-long shoreline, has pulled out 18,215 pounds of garbage with 28 miles to go.

Warriors Star Steph Curry Makes History, Breaks NBA's All-Time Record for 3-Pointers

The Bay Area's beloved basketball star – Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry – is widely regarded as the best shooter in NBA history. He certainly solidified that sentiment when he became the all-time leader in 3-pointers made in league history.

After hitting his 2nd 3-pointer of the night, Steph Curry became the all-time leader in regular season 3-pointers.

Firefighter's Best Friend: Therapy Dogs Serve as Welcome Distraction for Wildfire Crews

At wildfire basecamps in California and beyond, exhausted firefighters coming off the front lines are increasingly finding furry friends waiting to give them a much-needed distraction. Therapy dogs and their handlers are proving to be a valuable resource for crews working days on end in life-threatening conditions.

Seeing the dogs at the entryway of base camp is one of the best, enthusiastic, positive shots in the arm we could have.

Firefighter Kevin Brown
At wildfire base camps in California and beyond, therapy dogs and their handlers are providing firefighters with a much-needed distraction from the taxing work they face on the front lines.

Friendship Between Retiree and Palo Alto Homeless Man Changes Both Lives for the Better

The simple act of handing out water bottles to homeless people in Palo Alto led Scott Kuczmarski to Robert Pineda, a complete stranger who quickly became a close friend.

It was like no other opportunity in the world. Scott saved my life.

Robert Pineda
In 2019, Scott Kuczmarski was handing out water bottles to homeless people on University Avenue in Palo Alto when he encountered Robert Pineda. One year later, Robert had a home and Scott had a new best friend. Garvin Thomas reports.

Giants Win Division for First Time Since 2012, Clinch Top Playoff Seed in National League

The San Francisco Giants capped off a remarkable 107-win regular season by winning the National League West on the final day of the campaign. The Giants last won the division in 2012.

The San Francisco Giants beat the San Diego Padres, 11-4 on Sunday to win the National League West division. Christie Smith reports.

Man in Hospital for Over 100 Days Fighting COVID-19 Now Training for Half Triathlon

Need some motivation? Look no further than Tom Butts. The triathlete from San Jose, who's in his late 60s, was in the hospital for over 100 days fighting COVID-19. The virus took its toll on Butts' body, but he battled back, eventually got released from the hospital, and decided to jump back into the sport he loves.

I’m very competitive and I don’t want it to win. I'm going to get myself back to as close to my normal as I can.

Tom Butts
Tom Butts is defying the odds again. The triathlete from San Jose almost lost his life to COVID-19. He spent more than 100 days in the hospital — most of it on a ventilator. Now, the 67-year-old is training for a half triathlon in September. Damian Trujillo reports.

Community Helps Replace 6-Year-Old's Lost Collection of Prized Pokemon Cards

One woman's small act of kindness inspired a community in Scotts Valley to keep the graciousness going. It all started when 6-year-old Bradley Downing lost his beloved binder full of Pokemon cards and ended with complete strangers helping to replace the prized possessions.

It's awesome. Unbelievable. So blessed.

Kelly, Bradley's mother
A Scotts Valley boy and his mother are grateful after community members donate hundreds of Pokemon cards to replace ones he lost. Garvin Thomas reports.

Her Heart Failed During Pregnancy. Months Later, She Gave Birth

Expecting mother Maria Vang was at death's door. When she was 17 weeks pregnant, her heart failed. Thanks to a specialized machine and a dedicated team at Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara Medical Center, she was able to recover and eventually deliver her first born.

He's a blessing for sure.

Maria Vang talking about her baby
A new mother gave birth to her first child this week months after her heart failed during pregnancy.

Maggie Steffens Tops All-Time List in USA Water Polo's Big Bounceback Win

Danville's Maggie Steffens, one of the many local Olympians who represented Team USA at the Toyko Olympics, put on a show in the pool, breaking the record for most goals scored in Olympic water polo history.

Maggie Steffens became the all-time scoring leader in Olympic women’s water polo history as the U.S. beat the ROC on Thursday.

Porch Pantry in Oakley Provides Food for Those in Need

Saddened by the growing number of people in need of food, Heather Ochoa of Oakley decided to turn her front porch into a pantry where anyone and everyone could come and pick up items they needed.

We're always available for everyone.

Heather Ochoa
An East Bay woman is helping those in need right from her front porch.

Teeny Tiny Truck on a Mission to Make San Franciscans Smile

It's tiny, but it aims to create big smiles. Check out the quirky firetruck cruising around San Francisco.

A tiny Japanese fire truck is on a mission to make San Franciscans smile. The biggest fans of its Instagram page, "Teeny Tiny Firetruck” are residents of its hometown in Japan. Owner and car hobbyist Todd Lappin realized the truck is so short, it fits in a historically tiny San Francisco garage. A quirky loud-speaker is just a bonus.

For more heartwarming stories, check out our Something Good page.

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