heartwarming stories 2012
Photo: Getty Images
The Strangers Who Banded Together for Tornado Victims
Many of the 300 residents of Harveyville, Kansas, found themselves living the great American nightmare in February, when they lost their homes and worldly possessions, thanks to a tornado. But within days the town's population had nearly tripled, as volunteers from the area arrived in droves to help people pick up the pieces of their destroyed homes. Get the volunteers' version of the story in this video. It's a dramatic reminder of the happy things that can happen in otherwise sad times—and sometimes, this is the news we need most.

A Bankrupt Store's Reincarnation
Kentucky businessman Rankin Paynter was shopping at his local Kmart, which was going out of business. He happened to ask where the unsold goods would go. In a spur-of-the-moment act of generosity, he decided to buy up every last item—and donated all $200,000 of it to charity. Read Paynter's description of his action here.

The Maroon Wall
After Army Lt. Col. Roy Lin Tisdale was killed in the shooting at Fort Bragg this summer, the extremist group Westboro Baptist Church announced plans to protest his funeral. (For more on the group and why they frequently picket funerals, read the whole story at KBTX.) In response, hundreds of community members showed up to form a peaceful human wall around the perimeter, protecting the ceremony and giving us all, in the words of one of Tisdale's colleagues, "goose bumps on top of goose bumps."

The Most Triumphant Olympic Loss
The London Olympics this summer were chock-full of inspiring feats and uplifting moments. That's the Olympics' job, after all. Then there was Liu Xiang, the Chinese hurdler. When he injured his Achilles tendon during a race, he started to limp off the field—but soon, struggling through the pain, he hopped back and forced himself to complete the race. The images of fellow athletes rushing to help him are the kind of thing that make even non–sports fans see the magic of sportsmanship. There's only one way to participate in the delicious, poignant, vicarious back-bone-vibration of a moment like this, and that is, of course, animated gifs.

Next: The wounded-soldier love story


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