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In a tough year, these were the Denver7 stories that made you smile

Posted at 11:24 AM, Dec 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-31 19:40:41-05

The year of 2020 will go down in history as one that challenged almost every person in Colorado and beyond. Between the stories on politics, unrest, crime and the novel coronavirus's impacts, Denver7 shared dozens of stories that helped bring some light into an otherwise dark and uncertain time.

From stories that renewed your faith in the good of humanity to ones that unveil just how quirky Coloradans can be, Denver7 wanted to make sure that despite the hardships of 2020, we remember all the positive things — big and small — that happened in our state this year, too.

Heartwarming stories

"He was like the Holy Grail": The life and legend of America's most famous wild horse
Over the last decade, a horse named Picasso has become an object of devotion to a legion of fans and followers, though few have seen the tri-color pinto in person.

Go outside and howl at 8 pm: Coloradans come together to howl as they practice social distancing
Italians sang from their balconies and the Spanish took to exercising as a way to come together at a time where people have been asked to break away from one another. But this past spring and summer, hundreds – if not thousands – of Coloradans took to howling as a way to reconnect with the rest of their pack.

'It’s going to be OK:' Colorado couple shares daughter’s story of hope for Spina Bifida Awareness Month
For months, Derrick and Mallory Leiting experienced a normal pregnancy. But on Jan. 3, a nurse practitioner said something didn’t look right on Mallory's ultrasound. Less than two weeks later, specialists diagnosed their baby with Spina Bifida. The couple shared their daughter's story of hope.

Life in focus: The hope and resilience of a Colorado photographer’s fight with stage 4 cancer
Stage 4 colorectal cancer disrupted his pursuits of shooting landscape photography across Colorado. But despite the odds, it hardly stopped this professional photographer. This is Scott Wilson's story of recovery, resilience and a life in focus.

‘Will you be my pen pal?’: Littleton memory care facility seeking people to connect with residents
In July, residents of a memory care facility in Littleton asked for new friends to write to them as pen pals during the coronavirus pandemic.

WATCH: Thunderbirds fly over Colorado's Front Range Saturday to thank frontline workers
In mid-April, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds performed a flyover, crisscrossing the Front Range to honor and salute Colorado's frontline workers fighting the coronavirus pandemic. Watch the flight live in our story.

COVID canine: Dog helping mental health patients in Aurora as cases surge in era of coronavirus
Inside the HealthONE Behavioral Health and Wellness Center in Aurora, doctors and other staff members are dealing with a surge of patients. And one staff member, in particular, is bringing a level of care most others cannot — A.J., a 3-year-old Labrador and golden retriever mix

Quirky stories

Discover Colorado: Best of 2020
Even in the throes of a pandemic, Colorado culture is strong, steady, and worth celebrating. In the video below, you'll find some of our favorite spots we visited this year – the kind of places that make Coloradans fall in love with our state time and time again.

Discover Colorado: Best of 2020

After years of calling Barr Camp up Pikes Peak home, this elite ultrarunner is coming down for good
Zach Miller, a world-class professional ultrarunner, has lived at Barr Camp — a tiny cabin six and a half miles up Pikes Peak's Barr Trail — for four and a half years. And this year, he came down for good.

'This big, crazy thing': A Colorado man's mission to save his town's century-old caboose
Travis Ramos' past handiwork could only prepare him so much for his latest undertaking: Saving a century-old, 45,000-pound train caboose from impending doom in downtown Louisville.

'I'm so glad to be here': Woman finds renewed gratitude while aiming for record on Colorado Trail
It’s an incredible feat to complete the 500 miles of the Colorado Trail. But an Aurora woman took it one step further and completed the trek from Denver to Durango completely unsupported — meaning no outside help or restocking of supplies — for the first time on record.

How a Colorado boulder broke off from a mountainside and broke the Twitter machines
A tweet about a boulder in San Miguel County went viral online for a humorous reason. Let's just say it created a large internet sensation the size of a small internet sensation.

Bone appétit: The story of Alferd Packer, Colorado’s most infamous, yet beloved, cannibal
As the first fingers of spring started to peel back winter’s hold in 1874, a man staggered out of the mountains and into Lake City, ready to spill a story — or two, or three — that few would believe. On the eve of a Halloween unlike any other, we published this in-depth look at Alferd Packer, the Colorado Cannibal.

Light on his feet: The unexpected reason a Colorado man is climbing the state's 14ers barefoot
When Jonathan Mather, 27, stands on the summit of Colorado's highest peaks, he feels not only gratitude, but the cool rocks under his bare feet. He has summited almost half of the state's fourteeners — peaks above 14,000 feet — barefoot. But before calling it reckless, walk a mile in his shoes.

The world's largest single firework just lit up the night sky in Steamboat Springs
The night sky turned to daylight briefly as an epic boom echoed throughout the valley in Steamboat Springs in February. The world’s largest single firework had just exploded.

A dive into the most popular, wildest conspiracies surrounding the Denver International Airport
Are they foolish rumors taken one step too far, or is there some truth to the conspiracies at the Denver International Airport? That depends on how far you’re willing to let your imagination run wild.

Shooting the stars: Colorado astrophotographer builds backyard dome observatory
It only took one month of practicing astrophotography — the photography of the night sky — for this Loveland man to decide he wanted to construct a dome observatory in his backyard to capture even more stunning photos. After a year of work, the finished product is, well, stellar.

Unexpected surprise stories

Father dies on Thanksgiving Day, community rallies around children and mother
For a family in Denver, the loss of their father and husband been extremely difficult and a huge adjustment. To the children, their dad was nothing short of heroic. But their community rallied to ensure the kids still had a special Christmas, including a virtual visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

'Catfish' host leaves $926 tip to pregnant server in Denver after realizing his birthday is her due date
A mom-to-be is counting her blessings after receiving a generous tip from “Catfish” host Nev Schulman, who has the same birthday as her due date. "It means the world to my baby and my family," the woman said. "We never expected this to happen to us.”

Denver coffee shop has started paying employees $50k a year in order to give them a living wage
Amethyst Coffee Company has increased its prices to pay their employees a living wage of $50,000 per year.

'You saved one, and that's me': Man battling COVID-19 grateful for medical staff who saved his life
A father, who had been in the middle of marathon training when he began a new fight against the novel, coronavirus said his prayers were answered after spending nearly two weeks at a Loveland hospital and several days in a coma.

Denver man tips stylist $2,500 for haircut, $3,300 more to barbershop employees
Employees working at Floyd's 99 Barbershop on University Boulevard were shocked in May when a complete stranger tipped the barbershop a total of $5,800.

Denver7 viewers step up to buy headstone for JBS employee who died after contracting COVID-19
A Colorado family struggled to find a way to honor a loving wife and mother as they couldn't afford a final resting place after she passed away. That's when Denver7 viewers came to help.

Stories on the goodness of people

2020 Tribute to Denver7 Everyday Heroes
Denver7's Molly Hendrickson introduces us to some of the extraordinary people who have gone above and beyond in helping others during the year in the video below.

2020 Tribute to Denver7 Everyday Heroes

What did you do on COVID lockdown? Wheat Ridge woman, 78, personalizes 40K Christmas cards for troops
For the past three years, one woman transformed her Wheat Ridge home into a smaller version of Santa’s workshop for a cause near and dear to her heart. This year, she sent 40,000 Christmas cards to troops overseas.

Denver couple thankful for community support after premature twins born to COVID-19-positive mother
A Denver couple welcomed twins into the world in April, but under circumstances beyond their wildest nightmares. The mother and father had both tested positive for COVID-19 and the twins came early. And the family was in the middle of moving to a new home.

House fire in Aurora proves heroics, grace and kindness are alive and well in some neighborhoods
For most of us, a fire ripping through part of our home, even if there were no injuries, would be enough to knock us down and out for a couple days. But Pastor Gonzalo Estrada, his wife, his daughter and his granddaughter were back to the business of taking care of their community less than 24 hours later.

Aurora woman hopes acts of kindness this holiday season will inspire others during the pandemic
More than three dozen families now have their Thanksgiving fixings after an Aurora woman took to Facebook to show gratitude for her community.

Coloradans come together to help Navajo Nation in New Mexico
In May, Lucas Garcia put out a call for donations to lend a hand to the Navajo Nation. Shortly after, he saw an outpour of support.

Vietnam War veteran with deteriorating health gets much needed support from neighbors
Often, those who fight for our freedom suffer in silence. And sometimes all it takes is a neighborly conversation to understand their troubles. That exact situation led to a bunch of volunteers in Lone Tree gathering together to help a disabled veteran who needed help fixing up his home.

Best of Denver7 Gives

Denver7 Gives: Your generosity
The goal of the Denver7 Gives Fund is to help people in our community – and 100% of contributions to the fund go to that purpose. See the good Denver7 viewers helped create this year in the video below.

Denver7 Gives: Your Generosity

Denver7 Gives surprises young woman who had scooter stolen with brand new one
A Denver woman's life was changed when a thief stole her only mode of transportation — her scooter. Thanks to the generosity of Denver7 viewers, her life was once again changed in October, this time for the better.

Denver7 Gives donates supplies to family who lost home in Cameron Peak Fire
When the Cameron Peak Fire ripped into communities this summer, many residents lost everything they had. But thanks to public donations to Denver7 Gives, they were able to find some relief. This is one story of how one family is rebuilding, with your help.

Denver7 Gives donates thousands of dollars to victims of the Cameron Peak Fire
Thanks to hundreds of viewers who donated more than $275,000 to Denver7 Gives, we did some shopping at a local hardware store and Walmart to help families who lost their homes to the Cameron Peak Fire.

Denver7 Gives surprises family with check to purchase adaptive bicycle for son with disability
Through generous donations, Denver7 viewers were able to raise enough money through Denver7 Gives to help purchase an adaptive bicycle for a young man named Harrison with a rare genetic disability.

Wyoming family receives new van and restored hope after contacting Denver7 Gives
It might have been hard to convince Ira and Yvonne Fischer on the day their family's van was stolen that everything happens for a reason. But it was precisely that event, in early July, that sparked a chain of reactions even they could not have imagined.

Denver hero gets new prosthetic eye and much more thanks to Denver7 viewers
Fifteen years after a Denver hero lost his left eye while rushing to save his neighbor, he was the one who needed help. His story struck a chord with Denver7 Gives viewers, who donated generously to help him get his life back.