It isn’t easy to find stories of positivity in the news. The events of 2020 have challenged Americans to their limits. Yet even in the midst of so much uncertainty and pain, many have found ways to help others. From students in California to cyclists in Florida, these people are the unsung and unexpected heroes of the year.
Students Support Front Line Hospital Workers
In California, rising high school sophomore Ella Adams was determined to show her support for hard-working and overwhelmed hospital workers during the worst of the COVID-19 outbreak. She enlisted the help of her 10-year-old sister Isabella and friend Claudia to start her own nonprofit called Hospital Helpers 2020.
“I started Hospital Helpers 2020 after schools shut down in March and I realized how serious and devastating the coronavirus pandemic was going to be,” said Ella. “I was inspired to do this because I heard about all the people trying to help those struggling with COVID-19 but not having enough supplies to do so. I wanted to do something to assist in some way, even if it was small.”
To date, Hospital Helpers 2020 has collected nearly $8,000 worth of goods from neighbors, friends, and local athletes. Snacks, drinks, treats, and PPE are all collected and donated to front-line workers in Ella’s community.
“We wanted to help front-line workers with much-needed equipment and special treats since they’re working so hard to keep us safe,” Ella explained.
Biker Pedals Thousands of Miles to Spread Positivity
“You’ve been Flanigrammed!” Billy Flanigan shouts as he visits old friends, neighbors, and complete strangers throughout Florida. Flanigan has worked as a performer and entertainer at Disney World in Orlando, Florida for nearly 40 years. But when COVID-19 forced Disney World to shut down, Flanigan looked for other ways to perform and lift the spirits of others.
A socially-distanced visit with an old friend reminded Flanigan of the importance of face-to-face interactions, so he started riding his bike to visit as many people as possible. He began with simple, brief hellos, but quickly began planning short performances with personal messages for each recipient. Grateful recipients coined them as “Flanigrams.”
“This is my way to be social and be safe at the same time,” Flanigan told the Orlando Sentinel. “I ding-dong the doorbell, back up, and do my song and dance.” He’s biked more than 3,000 miles across Florida to deliver Flanigrams to over 250 of his friends and colleagues.
“It’s just a short visit, a little song, it’s silly,” Flanigan said. “But I love to make people smile. If I can brighten someone’s day, I want to do it.”
7-Year-Old Runs “Backyard Marathon” to Raise Money for Covid-19 Aid
Steven Burgess, a 7-year-old North Carolina boy, decided that a months-long quarantine wasn’t going to stop him from helping others. Steven decided to run for six hours in his backyard to raise money for hospitals, food banks, and missions in his community.
“It started out as something fun to do,” said his mother, Eliza Burgess. “Then, I saw he was serious about it, so I thought, ‘Let’s share this and uplift some people.’ I have been blown away by the amount of people who want to donate.”
Steven has raised nearly $2,000 and ran more than 37,000 steps toward his goal. “I just wanted to raise money for the hospitals and give them help,” he said.