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The Most Inspiring Moments of 2017

Let's try to focus on the positive.
The Most Inspiring Moments of 2017
Image credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV / Getty Images
14 min read

Sometimes we get so caught up in the bad things, we forget about the good.

The Patriots comeback in Super Bowl 51 was a legendary moment of resilience, reminding the world to never back down. Serena Williams surprising tennis players and challenging them to a match and Bruce Springsteen pulling a fan on stage show us that dreams do come true. And it’s moments like these that inspire us and reignite our faith in humanity.

Related: 8 Inspirational Stories That Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity

From an 81-year-old woman teaching herself to code to a bipartisan roadtrip reminding us that the country doesn’t have to be divided, we’ve seen a number of inspirational moments this year.

These moments from 2017 are bound to make you smile.

The Most Inspiring Moments of 2017

A man who gives haircuts to the homeless is gifted a free barbershop.

A man who gives haircuts to the homeless is gifted a free barbershop.
Image credit: B. Austin | Getty Images

Twenty-nine-year-old Philadelphia man Brennon Jones founded Haircuts 4 Homeless in January to help the city's homeless population.

“It’s none of my business how they got in their situation," he told CBS Philly. "But I make it my business to help them get out."

Jones's efforts then caught the eye of barber shop owner Sean Johnson, who had recently bought space a few doors down from his own shop. He then donated the fully-furnished shop to Jones and Haircut 4 Homeless, which opened in November.

The Most Inspiring Moments of 2017

A victim of the Las Vegas shooting fights through his injuries to stand for the president.

A victim of the Las Vegas shooting fights through his injuries to stand for the president.
Image credit: Thomas Gunderson | Facebook

Thomas Gunderson, 28, was shot in the leg on Oct. 1 during the Last Vegas shooting, one of the deadliest in recent times. Fifty-eight people were killed and more than 500 were injured.

While in the hospital, he was visited by President Donald Trump. Gunderson pushed through his injury to stand up and shake Trump's hand when he entered the room. "I will never lie down when the president of this great country comes to shake my hand!" he wrote on Facebook.

See the video below:

The Most Inspiring Moments of 2017

25-year-old CEO cold emails Mark Cuban a pitch and it works.

25-year-old CEO cold emails Mark Cuban a pitch and it works.
Image credit: Jason LaVeris | Getty Images
While fundraising for his startup that aims to combat fake news, Factmata, co-founder and CEO Dhruv Ghulati decided to cold email billionaire Shark Tank investor Mark Cuban with a pitch. Without any introduction to Cuban beforehand, Ghulati sent an email explaining exactly why he needed Cuban on board and what his strategy was. That was enough to do the trick. The pitch caught Cuban’s eye, and he became an early investor in the company.
The Most Inspiring Moments of 2017

Donnie Wahlberg leaves a $2,000 tip at Waffle House.

Donnie Wahlberg leaves a $2,000 tip at Waffle House.
Image credit: David Kozlowski | Getty Images

After enjoying a meal at a North Carolina Waffle House, New Kids on the Block member and Blue Bloods actor Donnie Wahlberg left a generous tip for its employees. Showing his appreciation for the hard-working waitstaff at the restaurant chain, Wahlberg added a $2,000 tip to his $82.60 bill, and apparently also gave the Waffle House workers backstage passes and front-row tickets to an upcoming New Kids on the Block concert.

He shared the moment on Facebook: “My mom waited tables, and my dad tended bars -- for years. So, when I walk into a Waffle House, and the staff treats me like a king, you better believe I treat them like queens!”

The Most Inspiring Moments of 2017

Beachgoers form human chain to rescue group of stranded swimmers.

Beachgoers form human chain to rescue group of stranded swimmers.
Image credit: Alija | Getty Images

On the evening of July 8 in Panama City Beach, Fla. a group of swimmers, including a family of six and four other ocean swimmers, were pulled out to sea by powerful rip currents. While police attempted to rescue the swimmers, beachgoers took it upon themselves to save their lives by forming a human chain from the sand to the swimmers in the ocean. The chain reached the swimmers and each of the swimmers was brought to safety.

“It was beachgoers and the grace of God’s will,” said Roberta Ursrey, one of the survivors.

The Most Inspiring Moments of 2017

Kevin Durant’s heartwarming moment with his mom after winning his first NBA championship.

Kevin Durant’s heartwarming moment with his mom after winning his first NBA championship.
Image credit: Ezra Shaw | Getty Images

After the Golden State Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA championship on June 12, the first person MVP Kevin Durant ran to celebrate with was his mother.

After the victory, Durant and his mom united at half court, sharing hugs, tears and cheers. Moments later, during an interview with ESPN, Durant’s proud mother interrupted -- “Don’t matter what nobody say, you did it!”

The Most Inspiring Moments of 2017

Student misses his graduation because of a train delay, so subway passengers create one for him.

Student misses his graduation because of a train delay, so subway passengers create one for him.
Image credit: Dorann Weber | Getty Images

Headed to his graduation ceremony from Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing, Jerich Marco Alcantara found himself stuck on the New York City subway for two hours because of a brake malfunction. The train delay caused Alcantara to miss his graduation, but fellow subway passengers helped make up for it.

Alcantara, his friends and others stuck on the train held an impromptu makeshift graduation ceremony for him. With Green Day's "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" playing in the background, one of Alcantara's friends hands him a DIY diploma. Thanks to social media, passengers recorded the ceremony. Check it out below.

The Most Inspiring Moments of 2017

The teen who asked for a year of Wendy’s nuggets breaks a Twitter record.

The teen who asked for a year of Wendy’s nuggets breaks a Twitter record.
Image credit: JIM WATSON | Getty Images

In April, chicken nugget-loving teen Carter Wilkerson tweeted at Wendy's asking, "how many retweets for a free year of chicken nuggets?" The fast food chain responded to Wilkerson with a challenge.

Carter accepted the challenge but little did he know he would soon be on his way to setting a Twitter record for the most retweets. Taking the crown from Ellen Degeneres, whose famous Oscars selfie once held the title for the most retweeted post of all time, Wilkerson broke the record on May 9 with a whopping 3.5 million retweets.

In addition, Wendy's promised to donate $100,000 to The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.

The Most Inspiring Moments of 2017

Peggy Whitson sets record for most days spent in space by a U.S. astronaut.

Peggy Whitson sets record for most days spent in space by a U.S. astronaut.
Image credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV / Getty Images

On Monday, April 24, Peggy Whitson broke the U.S. record for the most cumulative time spent in space by an American astronaut. By the time she returns in September, she’ll have spent a total of 666 days -- surpassing former record-holding U.S. astronaut Jeff Williams.

Whitson is known for her record-breaking achievements. In 2008, she became the first woman to command the International Space Station (ISS) and in March 2017, she won the title for the woman with the most cumulative “extra-vehicular” time -- beating NASA’s Sunita Williams.

The Most Inspiring Moments of 2017

A hashtag unites rival football fans

A hashtag unites rival football fans
Image credit: Matthew Ashton - AMA | Getty Images

A Champions League football game between Borussia Dortmund and AS Monaco was postponed on April 11 after three explosive devices blew up near the Dortmund team’s bus -- injuring one player.

The unfortunate incident, which authorities called a “targeted attack” on the Dortmund team, caused the game to be rescheduled for later in the week, leaving many traveling Monaco fans stranded. Shortly after news circulated about the amount of people stuck without a place to stay, the Twitter hashtag #bedforawayfans began trending, helping connect stranded fans with locals who opened up their homes to them.

The incident wound up uniting fans from both teams, and people took to social media to share the new friends they had made all through the hashtag #bedforawayfans.

The Most Inspiring Moments of 2017

An 11-year-old will soon act as a orchestra conductor.

An 11-year-old will soon act as a orchestra conductor.
Image credit: Tristan Fewings/Stringer | Getty Images

Video games and baseball aren’t enough for this 11-year-old Nottingham, England, native. Instead, Matthew Smith spends his time practicing to become a conductor.

Before jumping to the conclusion that this is some childish pipe dream, Smith has spent years developing his skills -- he already plays five instruments including the violin, the viola, the piano, the drums and the guitar.

Smith was inspired to conduct his own orchestra after watching a video of an Uzbekistani boy leading an orchestra to Johann Strauss II’s Die Fledermaus four years ago. After memorizing the music, Smith now has his own opportunity to show the world his skills. He’ll be heading the 75-piece Nottingham Symphony Orchestra to John Strauss’s music.

At age 11, Smith may become the world’s youngest conductor.

The Most Inspiring Moments of 2017

The Patriots comeback in Super Bowl 51.

The Patriots comeback in Super Bowl 51.
Image credit: Timothy A. Clary | AFP | Getty Images

The Patriots are no strangers to the Super Bowl, but during the big game in February, things weren't looking too great for the team. That is, until the fourth quarter.

During the last half of the game, the team made one of the most epic turnarounds in Super Bowl history. In the latter half of the third quarter, the team lagged far behind the Atlanta Falcons with a score of 28-3. From the looks of it, the team was doomed. But the New England team managed to tie the Falcons at 28-28 in the last minute of the fourth quarter. Going into the first overtime in Super Bowl history, the Patriots won it all.

"We're going to remember this for the rest of our lives," said quarterback Tom Brady.

The Most Inspiring Moments of 2017

Pop band Twenty One Pilots accepts its first Grammy award in their boxer briefs.

Pop band Twenty One Pilots accepts its first Grammy award in their boxer briefs.
Image credit: Kevork Djansezian | Stringer | Getty Images

Pop duo Twenty One Pilots accepted their first GRAMMY award in the most notable way possible -- without pants. But rather than it being some silly prank, their pantless-acceptance has an inspiring backstory.

Before Josh Dun and Tyler Joseph ever made money from their music, they would watch the Grammys at home in their briefs. "As we were watching, we noticed that every single one of us was in our underwear," Joseph said. "Josh turned to me and said, 'If we ever win a Grammy, we should receive it just like this."

And that's exactly what they did. With their boxer brief-clad acceptance for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for their song "Stressed Out," they showed everyone sitting at home that they too could be on that stage one day.

The Most Inspiring Moments of 2017

A 23-year-old rapper with no record label and a streaming-only album won three Grammy awards.

A 23-year-old rapper with no record label and a streaming-only album won three Grammy awards.
Image credit: Kevin Winter | Getty Images

At only 23-years-old, Chance the Rapper not only took home his first Grammy award at this year's ceremony, but he took home three for Best New Artist, Rap Album and Performance.

But if it weren't for a change in the Grammy's rules this year, Chance the Rapper would have been "ineligible" for the prize. The new rules were put in place so unsigned artists and artists with streaming-only albums could be up for awards.

Chance's album, Coloring Book, is the first-ever streaming-only album to win a Grammy, and he is one of the first independent artists to win a big award.

Related: Inspiration From 7 Legendary Business Titans

The Most Inspiring Moments of 2017

A community comes together to rescue a puppy from a well.

A community comes together to rescue a puppy from a well.
Image credit: Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency of Turkey (AFAD) | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

In February 2017, after hearing whimpering from underground, people of Beykoz, Turkey, came together to rescue a small dog that was trapped at the bottom of a well, 200 feet below the surface.

Firefighters and animal rescue teams came to the town and assessed the situation. By lowering a camera down the well, they found that the dog was healthy and unharmed, but the teams still could not figure out a way to reach the animal.

To safeguard the dog, the crews tented the well to make sure no rain water could flood it, and for the next 11 days, they lowered dog food while they devised a way to get it out.

As their efforts increased, the situation eventually made national news and reached the ears of energy minister Berat Albayrak, who offered a helping hand from Turkish Hard Coal Enterprises. Arriving to the scene, the team was able to lasso the puppy and bring it up to safety.

After a checkup with the vet, the dog was found to be healthy and has since been adopted by local firefighters, who named it "Kuyu" -- Turkish for "well."

The Most Inspiring Moments of 2017

Bruce Springsteen invites a fan to play onstage.

Bruce Springsteen invites a fan to play onstage.
Image credit: Sam Tabone | WireImage | Getty Images

During a concert at Australia's Brisbane Entertainment Center, Bruce Springsteen noticed a fan in the audience holding a sign that read, "Missed school, in the s***, now can I play 'Growin' Up' with you?"

"You know it on guitar?" Springsteen asked the fan, a teenage boy by the name of Nathan Testa, who excitedly answered "yes." Springsteen invited Testa onstage, gave him a guitar and the two began rocking out, performing "Growin' Up."

In the middle of the song, Springsteen offered a word of advice to the teen: "When I was your age, I bought my first guitar, and I realized it wasn't how well you played it, but how good you looked doing it."

Springsteen and Testa practiced guitar poses in front of the massive audience and Testa snapped a selfie with Springsteen before hopping offstage.

Sounds like a pretty good reason to miss school.

The Most Inspiring Moments of 2017

Serena Williams challenges two players to a match on a public court.

Serena Williams challenges two players to a match on a public court.
Image credit: Clive Brunskill | Getty Images

During an evening stroll with her fiance, Reddit co-founder Alex Ohanian, and their dog "Chip," tennis star Serena Williams came across a public tennis court where two men were rallying.

Clad in a pair of winter boots, Williams decided to challenge the players to a quick match. Baffled by her appearance, one of the players yelled, "Is this for real?"

Unsurprisingly, Williams won the match and shared the moral of the story, which is: "You never know when I could be coming to a tennis court near you!"

For our enjoyment, Ohanian recorded the event on Williams' Snapchat.

The Most Inspiring Moments of 2017

An 81-year-old woman teaches herself how to code and launches an iPhone app.

An 81-year-old woman teaches herself how to code and launches an iPhone app.
Image credit: Masako Wakamiya

After spending 43 years working at a major Japanese bank, Masako Wakamiya's job didn't require much tech. In fact, she never used a computer until she turned 60. At 81-years-old, Wakamiya taught herself to code and built an iPhone app. The app, "Hinadan," teaches Japanese women the proper way to set up their dolls for Japan's Hinamatsuri festival (Japan's version of "Girl's Day").

Today, Wakamiya travels the world to share her story and teach others how to use technology. In 2014, she spoke at a TedX conference about age's relationship to technology. In her blog, she provides video tutorials such as how to use Excel to create art.

Related: 8 Great Entrepreneurial Success Stories

The Most Inspiring Moments of 2017

A bipartisan roadtrip shows us that the country is not completely divided.

A bipartisan roadtrip shows us that the country is not completely divided.
Image credit: Bill Clark | CQ Roll Call | Getty Images

Texas U.S. Representatives Beta O'Rourke and Will Hurd come from different sides of the aisle -- O'Rourke is a Democrat and Hurd is a Republican. One thing they had in common was being stranded at the airport, on the verge of missing an important vote in D.C.

The two men decided to rent a car and take a cross country roadtrip together. Not only that, but the politicians also Facebook livestreamed their two-day trip, picking up anyone else who needed a ride along the way.

"At a time where so many people wonder whether our institutions still work, whether members of Congress still listen to the people they represent, whether a Republican and a Democrat can get along and work together, I thought, let's try to prove the concept," O'Rourke told the Dallas Morning News.

During the livestream, O'Rourke and Hurd discuss everything from healthcare issues to favorite foods, and answer commenters' questions. Although not very close at the beginning of the trip, by the end the men were making Thanksgiving plans together.

The politicians made it to the vote with 30 minutes to spare.



"I learned something -- this is a guy I can work with," O'Rourke told Fox 5 DC. "It just happens that we're on opposite sides of the aisle."
The Most Inspiring Moments of 2017

An American’s dream to work at Nintendo comes true.

An American’s dream to work at Nintendo comes true.
Image credit: Nintendo

In a 2007 Reddit post, Corey Bunnell asked the community of the Translators Cafe forum how he could study and eventually work in Japan. "My dream is to live in Japan and work for Nintendo as a game designer," he wrote.

Ten years later Bunnell's dream has come true. If you're playing Nintendo's newly released The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, you may notice "Corey Bunnell" in the credits under "Wildlife Programmer."

As it turns out, years after posting on the forum, Bunnell was accepted into Japan's Ritsumeikan University where he studied programming. In an alumni video released by the school, Bunnell shares what he learned at the university, along with his time interning at a game company and his plans to eventually work there full-time. Upon graduating in 2014, he took a job at Nintendo.

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  • The Most Inspiring Moments of 2017
  • A man who gives haircuts to the homeless is gifted a free barbershop.
  • A victim of the Las Vegas shooting fights through his injuries to stand for the president.
  • 25-year-old CEO cold emails Mark Cuban a pitch and it works.
  • Donnie Wahlberg leaves a $2,000 tip at Waffle House.
  • Beachgoers form human chain to rescue group of stranded swimmers.
  • Kevin Durant’s heartwarming moment with his mom after winning his first NBA championship.
  • Student misses his graduation because of a train delay, so subway passengers create one for him.
  • The teen who asked for a year of Wendy’s nuggets breaks a Twitter record.
  • Peggy Whitson sets record for most days spent in space by a U.S. astronaut.
  • A hashtag unites rival football fans
  • An 11-year-old will soon act as a orchestra conductor.
  • The Patriots comeback in Super Bowl 51.
  • Pop band Twenty One Pilots accepts its first Grammy award in their boxer briefs.
  • A 23-year-old rapper with no record label and a streaming-only album won three Grammy awards.
  • A community comes together to rescue a puppy from a well.
  • Bruce Springsteen invites a fan to play onstage.
  • Serena Williams challenges two players to a match on a public court.
  • An 81-year-old woman teaches herself how to code and launches an iPhone app.
  • A bipartisan roadtrip shows us that the country is not completely divided.
  • An American’s dream to work at Nintendo comes true.
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