Alaska’s 2020 in review: A look at the good things that happened this year

The formline designs show a healing hand on both sides of the ambulance. (09/15/2020)
The formline designs show a healing hand on both sides of the ambulance. (09/15/2020)(KTUU)
Published: Dec. 25, 2020 at 1:32 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - This year has brought no shortage of struggles with the COVID-19 pandemic, lost jobs, closing businesses and devastating flooding in Southeast Alaska. While we spent much of the year following these stories, there were also small bright spots in 2020.

There were moments that gave us hope and connected us to our community; there were Alaskans who did amazing things despite the year — and we want to celebrate that.

As 2020 comes to a close, here’s a look at some of the feel-good stories Alaska’s News Source reporters submitted to bring you a little cheer for the holidays.

Harry and Michiyo Harper: A love story 47 years in the making

 Michiyo with Harry at Itazuki Air Base IN 1966.
Michiyo with Harry at Itazuki Air Base IN 1966. (KTUU)

Morning Edition Anchor Ariane Aramburo called this story from February an “incredible story” about two people who met while they were young and in Japan, lost touch but managed to find each other again and be just as in love as they were from the first day they met.

Watch the full story here.

Double amputee Israel Hale looks to make history on the Iron Dog trail


After a terrifying accident that almost killed him, Israel Hale found a way to reclaim his life while navigating it as a double amputee. This story describes how Hale prepared to become the first amputee to compete in and finish the Iron Dog Race. Sports reporter Patrick Enslow said “it was inspiring to hear Hale’s story and watch him take on an ambitious goal. Despite everything that has gone on in his life he continues to press on positively.”

Watch the full story here.

Newly reopened fabric stores working to supply face mask materials

Multimedia journalist Matt Leseman said this story from April was refreshing as it is the story of a business that pivoted from being primarily a quilting shop to helping people get the supplies they need to make masks. “You could tell she loved what she did and the opportunity to share that with more people was exciting to her,” Leseman said.

Watch the full story here.

For skier with spina bifida, new heights are reached at Challenge Alaska


A young girl with spina bifida has been on the slopes since she was a child but now at age 13, she has proven to be a skilled mono skier. Anna Boltz was able to excel on her mono ski setup, in part, due to the help of instructors and supporters at Challenge Alaska.

Watch the full story here.

Siblings start nonprofit to aid Alaska’s health care workers during the pandemic

Reporter Hank Davis enjoyed working on this storying saying, “It was nice to see two kids spending their own time and money on something that they knew others needed. To me, 11-year-old Jacob and 12-year-old Morris captured the unity that we were all feeling at the start of the pandemic and channeled it into something bigger than themselves.”

Watch the full story here.

Alaska baby born on a plane receives a special name for a surprising birth

Sky was born on Aug. 5 on a plane between Glenallen and Anchorage.
Sky was born on Aug. 5 on a plane between Glenallen and Anchorage.(Chrystal Hicks)

While health officials predict there will be many babies born in a pandemic baby boom, it’s unlikely many of them will be born on a plane. But Glennallen mother Chrystal Hicks found herself on a plane to an Anchorage hospital when her son, Sky Airon Hicks, was born.

Digital reporter Cheyenne Mathews said this story from Anchorage was one the most adorable things she covered this year.

Read the full story here.

Juneau ambulance unveiled with striking Northwest Coast formline designs

A Juneau ambulance with Northwest Coast formline designs. (09/15/2020).
A Juneau ambulance with Northwest Coast formline designs. (09/15/2020).(KTUU)

Juneau-based reporter Sean Maguire said the design on this ambulance was unlike anything he had seen before. “It seemed totally original and was such a striking image to see,” Maguire said. “It also seemed to provoke a lot of goodwill and amazement in Juneau to see how an emergency vehicle could reflect a community’s heritage.”

Read the full story here.

Pet photographer uses his skills to raise money for charity

In December, Anchorage reporter Lauren Maxwell said this story about pet photographer David Jenson stood out as Jenson raises money and awareness for animal-related charities.

Read the full story here.

‘I got them back’: APD gets hosed for Special Olympics fundraising

Every year, Special Olympics Alaska hosts their annual Polar Plunge fundraiser. With the pandemic this year, the fundraiser adapted to go virtual, and groups were more creative in how they got dumped with cold water. Reporter Taylor Clark said this story about Anchorage Police Department officers getting hosed with water to raise funds for the organization was one of his favorites stories this year.

Read the full story here.

Jessica Woo of Anchorage is part of the first wave of female Eagle Scouts

Morning Edition Anchor Charlie Sokaitis said this was the most uplifting story he worked on. Anchorage resident Jessica Woo is not just the first female Eagle Scout from Alaska but she is part of the first wave of female Eagle Scouts in the country.

Watch the full story here.

This year has been hard on everyone, and that’s why Alaska’s News Source dedicated time this holiday season to give back to the community in our End the Year with Cheer series here. We hope you are able to have something to be thankful for this holiday season. Merry Christmas and have a happy new year!

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