2015: A Year Of Giving And Gratitude
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Politics and Activism

2015: A Year Of Giving And Gratitude

2015 wasn't *all* violence, terror, and tragedy.

2015: A Year Of Giving And Gratitude

When reflecting on the year that has passed, we tend to automatically think of more negative events than positive. 2015 was a year marked by violence, terror, and tragedy, all of which began on January 7 with the Charlie Hebdo attacks. With the refugee crisis, mass shootings, and the terrifying existence of ISIS, our world has become increasingly overwhelmed with fear. However, positive events, such as the following 13, help remind us that 2015 was also a year of gratitude and giving back.

January 2015: Holocaust Survivor Reunites With One Of His Liberators

On April 29, 1945, Daniel Gillespie rescued Joshua Kaufman from the Dachau death camp located near Munich, Germany. In early January of 2015, the two were reunited for what was an extremely emotional and loving moment.

The meeting was arranged by Emanuel Rostein.

February 2015: 15 Year-Old Invents "Safe Wander" To Help Alzheimer's Patients

Kenneth Shinouzuka, a 15 year-old, has a pretty big goal -- to someday cure Alzheimer's Disease. He invented a sensor called "Safe Wander" that alerts the caregiver via a wireless signal when the Alzheimer's patient puts pressure on the sensor (which is worn on the bottom of the foot). His invention aims to prevent Alzheimer's patients from wandering and becoming lost.

The idea for "Safe Wander" came from personal experience with his grandfather. View the TedTalk to learn more.

March 2015: Last Wishes Of Terminally Ill Patients Fulfilled, Free Of Charge

"Stichting Ambulance Wens" (Ambulance Wish), a Dutch Charity, helps terminally ill patients visit their favorite destinations before they pass. Some excursions include visiting a favorite art museum, the beach, and even visiting close friends who are also no longer mobile. So many terminally ill patients never get the chance to achieve desires. Ambulance Wens is determined to help patients visit places where they had special memories, completely free of charge.

However, Ambulance Wens is not the only organization fulfilling last wishes. A hospice in Seattle, WA fulfilled the wish of an old forest rangers -- to commune with nature one last time.

April 2015: Nine-Week-Old Baby Hears For The First Time

Ahahah Cook gave birth to Elijah Cook on January 2, 2015. Elijah failed the "new-born hearing screening" about 12 hours after birth. After failing the hearing screening three times, the Cooks were referred to a specialist for another exam. Elijah was then diagnosed with severe-profound sensorineural hearing loss. Specialist Lori Johnson, AuD, fitted nine-week-old Elijah with tiny hearing aids, which gave his parents an emotional moment they had been waiting for.

May 2015: Sandals That Grow Five Sizes In Five Years

Kenton Lee invented "The Shoe That Grows," which is a sandal that can grow five sizes and can last for up to five years. Lee's invention allows children who are living in poverty to never have to go barefoot. The invention of this shoe is beneficial in many ways, starting with the fact that "over 300 million children do not have shoes, and countless more with shoes that do not fit."

To learn more, visit The Shoe That Grows.

And here's another one for May, just because it's one of my absolute favorites.

May 2015: Fulfillment Of An Elementary School Promise

High school quarterback Ben Moser met Mary Lapkowicz in fourth grade. Mary has Downs Syndrome, for which some grade-school kids may have thought she was weird, leave her out of activities, or even avoid her. He looked out for her and even promised to take her to prom. Fast forward seven years later to his prom. Despite going to different high schools, Ben Moser lived up to his promise and asked Mary Lapkowicz to prom.

June 2015: Firefighter Attends Graduation Of Girl He Rescued As A Baby

Mike Hughes was a captain at the Wenatchee, WA. Fire Department 17 years ago. He responded to an emergency call about a house fire. Hughes rescued then 9-month-old Dawnielle Davison, who was in her crib. The rescue was important to Hughes, that he kept in contact with Dawnielle and her family. In June of 2015, Hughes received a shocking letter - an invitation to Dawnielle's highs school graduation. It was an emotional moment for Dawnielle and Hughes, one that would have never happened if it weren't for Hughes risking his life as a firefighter to save then 9-month-old Dawnielle.

July 2015: UW Marching Band Surprises Cancer Patient

Ann Trachtenberg jokingly said she would like to be escorted out of her final chemotherapy treatment by a marching band. Her niece surprised her with the Badger Band: The University of Wisconsin Marching Band.

A few months later, Ann Trachtenberg posted an update to share information about her health and life after treatment.

An imaginative act of compassion transformed this experience into one full of love and hope for the future.

August 2015: Turkish Couple Spent Their Wedding Day Feeding Syrian Refugees

A Turkish couple shared the joy of their wedding day with a lot of people - 4,000 Syrian refugees, to be exact. The couple invited some of the refugees who have fled the country since the beginning of the civil war. The couple began their married life with such a selfless action by sharing their wedding meal with those in need.

September 2015: A Moving Company For Domestic Abuse Victims

A moving company in CA aims to help those leaving an abusive home situation by providing free moving services. The company, Meathead Movers, is partnered with the domestic abuse non-profit organization Good Shepherd, with the end goal of helping victims leave abusive situations. The moving company was founded by student athletes back in 1997.

Leaving an abusive living situation can be difficult, but Meathead Movers aims to help make leaving a little bit easier in the aspect of moving through monthly donations of their services to Good Shepherd.

To learn more, visit http://www.meatheadmovers.com

October 2015: Cancelled Wedding Turns Into A Meal For Homeless

Kari Duane's fiancé had second thoughts about his marriage and decided to call it off. The $35,000 event was nonrefundable and already paid for. The family then decided to use this as an opportunity to share with the less fortunate. The already paid for reception turned into a grand meal with homeless single people, families, and grandparents. All enjoyed appetizers, salmon, tri-tip, salad, and much more.

A great example of how a heartbreaking situation was turned into an act of kindness and compassion.

November 2015: Going The Extra Mile For A Simple Haircut

Barber James Williams was recommended to Jamie Lewis and Denine Davies when their son Mason was diagnosed with ASD. Williams has been attempting over several months to find a way to successfully cut Mason's hair, as he would sometimes not feel up to it. Eventually Williams was successful when he and Mason both played on the floor. Mason was occupied with his parents' cell phone, allowing Williams to give him his first proper haircut.

December 2015: Paying It Forward

One Florida woman started a chain reaction of paying it forward. A total of 250 people paid for the meal of the car behind them, leaving every single person stunned and happy. This small act of kindness began with one woman who wanted to try and brighten someone's day, but it ended with brightening the days of more than just one.

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