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Year in Review 2020: The top feel-good stories of the year

a nurse holds a vial of one of the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Spectrum Health

2020 has been a challenging year for many. But even with all that has happened, there were still stories of hope and inspiration, leading to some feel-good moments that we may have forgotten amid all the turmoil.

Today we'll take a look back at some of Michigan Radio's top "feel-good" stories of 2020. This list started as a compilation of five stories, but as we worked on it, we realized there was a lot of good that came out of this year, and that readers like you might appreciate an abundance of good and hopeful news. So, take a look back with us at 12 stories that gave us a bit more hope this year.  

Spectrum Health and Michigan Medicine administer the state’s first COVID-19 vaccine doses

Dr. Darryl Elmouchi got the notice Sunday night that the package was on the way. The cardiologist, who serves as president of West Michigan’s largest hospital system, got an alert through Spectrum Health’s command center, saying the initial shipment of 975 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine was on the way.

“It literally felt like we were receiving a package from Amazon or Best Buy,” Elmouchi said during a Zoom call with media on Monday.

Writer and Dearborn native Saladin Ahmed on creating Marvel’s first Arab American superhero

a cover of Ms. Marvel
Credit Penciler: Minkyu Jung, Cover Artist: Eduard Petrovich / Marvel Comics
Marvel Comics

If writer Saladin Ahmed never typed another word, he'd already have introduced us to so many interesting people. From fantasy novels, to Westerns, to supernatural sleuth stories, Ahmed’s writing spans both genre and form.

Right now, he's the author of two major titles for Marvel Comics: The Magnificent Ms. Marvel, and Miles Morales: Spider-Man. Ahmed took over the character of Miles Morales from creator Brian Bendis, and is putting his own stamp on the story.

Dearborn families put on Ramadan light displays to brighten spirits during coronavirus shutdown

two people sit on a porch decorated with lights
Credit Razi Jafri

The stay at home order means Muslims in Michigan are having to limit their festivities to immediate family. But that isn't stopping people in Dearborn from spreading a little light during the holy month. We talked to documentary filmmaker Razi Jafri about a contest to find the best Ramadan light displays in the city.

Potter Park Zoo announces birth of two cotton-top tamarins

Potter Park Zoo announced the recent birth of two critically endangered cotton-top tamarins to parents Yuri and LG. This is the pair’s third litter at the zoo since 2018. Their first pair was born October 2018 and another pair in June 2019.

Grand Rapids resident Minnie Forbes is part of Negro Leagues baseball history

Minnie Forbes sitting on a couch
Credit Doug Tribou / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio

Grand Rapids isn't a big-league baseball town, but a living part of baseball history calls it home.

Minnie Forbes is the last surviving owner of a Negro Leagues baseball team. She owned the Detroit Stars from 1956 to 1958. She was also one of just a handful of female owners.

Big day, small plans: Detroit couple gets creative for wedding downsized by COVID-19

married couple smiling with sign
Credit Bryce Huffman

Big weddings are out during the coronavirus pandemic shutdown in Michigan. So, one bride and groom scaled down their plans when they got married earlier this year in Detroit. 

With all of those plans on hold, the couple planned a smaller – much smaller – wedding at the house where the groom's parents live in Detroit. But they still wanted to find a way to include all of their guests.

Detroit teacher posts nightly bedtime stories to connect with students during quarantine

Thousands of Michigan students have been cut adrift from their school communities as the coronavirus pandemic has shuttered school buildings. Their academic paths suddenly depend on their family’s ability to obtain electronic devices or pay for internet service. But teachers are working to find new ways to stay connected with their students—like virtual bedtime stories.

New Black-owned brewery brings fresh perspective to Grand Rapids craft beer scene

Jamaal Ewing and Terry Rostic
Credit Black Calder Brewing

It’s no secret that Michigan has an incredible wealth of craft beer and breweries. But while the microbrew industry might be booming, it’s obvious that it is lacking in diversity— from brewmasters to brewery owners. While we do know some part owners and brewers who are Black, the state’s first fully-Black-owned brewery is set to release its debut beer next week.

Entomologist says “murder hornet” not anything to worry about in Michigan anytime soon

One Michigan entomologist says the state won’t have to worry about “murder hornets” for many years, if ever. So-called “murder hornets” - a giant Asian hornet so named because of its habit of massacring and even decapitating entire honey bee hives - have been spotted in Washington state.

Set in the UP, comedian Joe Pera's show is an odd and charming tribute to small-town life

Comedian Joe Pera is not from Marquette. But the version of himself he plays in the television series Joe Pera Talks With You is recognizable to anyone familiar with the Upper Peninsula. The show has become a runaway hit on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim nighttime block. Pera's oddball observations on subjects like beans and grocery stores are weirdly hilarious.

54 miles, 21 hours, 6 friends, and an “epic swim” across Lake Michigan

Six swimmers on the boat during their swim across Lake Michigan
Credit Michael Dillon / Pilot Field
Pilot Field

On August 12, six swimmers emerged from Lake Michigan in Ludington in wetsuits, goggles, and swim caps — the whole shebang. As onlookers cheered, they walked up onto shore, arm-in-arm, after swimming through the night and day to make it across the lake. Jon Ornée, his brother Dave Ornée, and friends Nick Hobson, Matt Smith, Todd Suttor, and Jeremy Sall had departed from Two Rivers, Wisconsin the day before. They completed the 54-mile swim relay-style and in record time with the entire journey clocked in at 20 hours and 50 minutes.

Few Indigenous people see themselves represented in the news. A new project hopes to change that.

Despite all the shifts in national consciousness, we can still say that people of color are deeply underrepresented in traditional media and in newsrooms. That may be especially true for Indigenous communities. Less than 0.5% of journalists at the country's leading newspapers and online publications are Native American.

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Jodi is Michigan Public's Director of Digital Audiences, leading and developing the station’s overall digital strategy.