Happy New Year! I’ve got 2020 vision this morning and I’m not even wearing my glasses (ba-da-bum. Sorry, yeah, I know that was bad.)
I hope you all had a safe and joyous New Year’s Eve; we took the kids to two middle of the day “balloon drop” New Year’s Eve parties for little ones so we were pretty wiped out by 7 p.m. Which means I didn’t even stay up for our annual NYE tradition of being grossed out when Jenny McCarthy sticks her tongue down boyfriend Donnie Wahlberg’s throat in Times Square just after midnight (Dick Clark, we miss you).
Anyway, let’s continue with the Best of Good News Friday, 2019, as we take a last look at some of the stories that made me happiest over the past year.
First up, NBA superstar and three-time world champion Dwyane Wade finished his illustrious career in June, and what a career it was. Besides Wade’s impact on the court, he was a true hero off the court, impacting millions of lives with good works large and small.
Budweiser did maybe the best tribute commercial I’ve ever seen in Wade’s honor, bringing Wade to an empty basketball court and surprising him with people whose lives he touched and changed.
It’s a truly beautiful ad, showing us what one athlete can do with the platform they’re given.
**Next up, I’m not a regular viewer of “America’s Got Talent” but when someone or something on the show goes so viral it’s impossible to ignore, I generally notice.
That happened this past May, when a blind, autistic young man named Kodi Lee came out for his first appearance before the judges and absolutely blew them away.
Walking onstage with his Mom, Kodi calmly sat down and changed his life, wowing judges like Julianne Hough and Gabrielle Union, and even the previously cold-hearted Simon Cowell.
This is an absolutely beautiful moment, that ended up being the catapult to Lee winning the entire “AGT” championship a few months later.
Just sensational. My favorite part of this video is his Mom, Tina, watching with pride from the side of the stage. NO one knows just what she’s gone through raising Kodi, and just seeing her beam at watching this moment, it’s just the best.
**And finally today, maybe my favorite story of the year, from the world of hockey. This, from June, about an 11-year-old sick girl named Laila Anderson…
The St. Louis Blues, the worst team in the NHL in early January, won the first Stanley Cup in franchise history in June, beating the Boston Bruins in Game 7, 4-1.
But that’s not the part of the story I want to feature in Good News Friday. No, I want to talk about an 11-year-old girl, who’s been “adopted” by the team in an absolutely beautiful way.
From a St. Louis Post Dispatch story on Laila: “Laila is a Missouri kid who suffers from a rare disease called HLH, a systemic inflammatory syndrome that can be fatal. Last Halloween, Laila attended a trick-or-treat event with the Blues and Children’s Hospital. She met Colton Parayko, one of her favorite players on her favorite team.
“He was 100-percent committed to her, took her around trick-or-treating,” Heather Anderson, Laila’s Mom, said. “I said, ‘It’s OK,’ and he said, ‘I’ve got her – I’m going to hold her bag, I’m going to hold her drink, I’m going to do everything.’ He’s all in with her – they just have this bond. Ever since then, he’s come to visit her in the hospital. Stayed a ridiculously long time. They actually communicate once or twice a week. He just checks on her. It’s a genuine friendship.”
Through the organization Be The Match, a donor was found — Laila had a bone marrow transplant in January. She’s battled through ensuing chemotherapy. She’s fought and fought … and then had more fights to fight.”
Laila has been an inspiration to the team and its fans the last few months, and in Boston for Game 7 of the Finals, she saw her team win the championship, then get to go on the ice and touch the Cup.
An unbelievable moment for an incredible kid. And oh yeah, the Blues gave her her own Stanley Cup ring, too.
So much good in the world. So much more good than bad.