As 2020 comes to a close and we reflect back on the year, it might be difficult to find the bright spots.
While we spent a lot of our time here at the Coloradoan writing stories about the bad, we also found moments of good in our community.
As we look hopefully toward a better 2021, here’s a look back at some of the bright spots we covered in 2020:
Fort Collins Safeway clerk brings joy with collection of matching bow ties, face masks
Decked out in a crisp blue-and-white pinstripe dress shirt, one of his signature bow ties and a matching fabric face mask, Safeway front-end clerk Tony Espinoza slid a thin manila file folder over to me.
Inside, he explained, was an array of quotes from his customers and printed emails from higher-ups at the grocery chain, where Espinoza has worked part-time for 44 years.
The comments relayed to him from the chain’s Denver division detail Espinoza as “dapper” — the Harmony Road store’s “Mr. GQ.”
On almost every page, Espinoza dutifully highlighted the comments that specifically complimented his new hobby of matching fabric face masks with his signature bow ties — a change that has been turning shoppers’ heads since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic this spring.
Virtual storytime brings ‘shafts of sunlight’ to Fort Collins kids during pandemic
Once upon a time, in the distant land of south Fort Collins, a fairy godmother dropped a box of corn dogs and LaCroix on the Skalicky family’s doorstep.
The snacks meant it was time for the three younger Skalicky kids — 14-year-old Hannah, 13-year-old Paul and 11-year-old Kate — to head to the basement, where they gathered around a cellphone and waited for their neighbor, Sheri Carmon, to start on Chapter One.
“In a city called Stonetown, near a port called Stonetown Harbor, a boy named Reynie Muldoon was preparing to take an important test …”
Sheri, the reader, is a retired Realtor and lifelong creative with a soft voice and a tinkling laugh. It’s altogether plausible that woodland creatures help her get dressed in the morning.
Fort Collins stroke survivor welcomed home with car parade
With horns honking and the occasional blaring of music, a parade of over two dozen cars, decorated with balloons, homemade signs and colorful party decorations circled a block of Remington Street on Thursday afternoon: A social distancing order did not stop people from safely welcoming home John Runkles.
Runkles, 38, suffered a severe stroke on March 11. After being airlifted to University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, he underwent surgery to remove a blot clot from the left side of his brain. After nearly a week in intensive care and two weeks of rehab at Craig Hospital, Runkles was discharged.
Fort Collins crafters sew wraps for baby bats affected by the Australia wildfires
Cooper Home transitional learning program honors graduates with drive-by celebration
Tears of joy flowed down Kaeda MacMillan’s face Friday as she smiled and waved to a caravan of vehicles passing by her home in southwest Fort Collins while drivers honked horns, and passengers waved signs and shouted out congratulations.
MacMillan, who was seated in a chair on her front lawn alongside her grandparents, parents, siblings and a few other friends and neighbors, was overcome with emotion during the drive-by parade for her and four graduates of the Cooper Home. The program, run by the Poudre School District, helps 18- to 21-year-olds with mild to moderate developmental disabilities transition into everyday life by teaching independent living and career skills.
Virtual reality program helps Fort Collins seniors battle social isolation amid COVID-19
Last Thursday, Juel Burr went skydiving in the Swiss alps.
Well, kind of.
With a virtual reality headset securely strapped to her face, Burr — a resident at Fort Collins memory care facility Aspyre Rock Creek — skydived virtually with images of the alps whirling around her.
“It looks like your parachute just opened,” said Carina Vargas, Aspyre Rock Creek’s life enrichment coordinator, as she sat — iPad in hand — next to a beaming Burr. On the tablet, images of the alps sped by, showing Vargas what Burr was experiencing.
The skydiving scenario is just one of 200 virtual travel, recreation, music and arts experiences Vargas can take Aspyre Rock Creek residents through thanks to a newly-formed partnership between the Fort Collins facility and MyndVR, a virtual reality company that provides virtual reality services for older adults.
‘A lot to be thankful for’: 3 siblings from Fort Collins adopted, thriving after neglect
Like they do most days, Brandi Valdez and her three children gathered around a computer screen late Friday morning.
But unlike most mornings, when the children’s teachers greet them for another day of pandemic-friendly online learning, this time 8th Judicial District Judge Susan Blanco stared back at them from her Larimer County courtroom.
Blanco complimented 6-year-old Matthew on his spiky mohawk hairstyle. She asked 8-year-old Dominaya what she wanted for Christmas — a new camera and pet lizard top her list — and wished the oldest of the three siblings, Leianna, a happy 11th birthday.
Larimer County caseworkers and Department of Human Services staff joined the virtual hearing, their smiling faces tiled on the computer screen as the kids detailed the long road it took to get to this very moment.
You see, after 3½ years, it was finally adoption day.
Fort Collins veteran honored for 75-year membership in the American Legion
At 96 years of age, Curt Cameron has a lot of stories to tell.
And as member of the American Legion for 75 years, the longtime Fort Collins resident has many tales to share about the venerable organization.
Cameron acknowledged as much during a ceremony Wednesday at the Legion’s George Beach Post No. 4 near Laporte honoring him for reaching the 75-year membership milestone.
“At my age you can tell quite a few,” he said. “What you don’t know you can make up.”
Family cleans Edora Veteran Memorial, a tradition to honor loved ones who served
See the photo gallery.
UCHealth celebrates release of nurse who was hospitalized for 47 days with COVID-19
Doctors, nurses and other staff at Poudre Valley Hospital lined the halls and applauded loudly to celebrate the release of one of their own after 47 days of hospitalization.
A staff member pushing Deb Hoffman’s wheelchair down the hallway was carrying a portable speaker, playing the Survivor song “Eye of the Tiger.”
As she was wheeled down the hallway and through the front doors of Poudre Valley Hospital, Hoffman made sure everyone knew how much she appreciated their efforts to help her recover from the new coronavirus, or COVID-19.
“Thank you, thank you,” Hoffman said over and over, smiling as she passed by.
Fort Collins Holocaust survivor Joe Rubinstein honored with proclamation as he turns 100
Good news in the coronavirus era: How Northern Colorado is supporting others, spreading joy
Since the first coronavirus case in Colorado was announced March 5, many have experienced fear about the virus or sadness about missing or losing loved ones.
But the community has also seen support and kindness — from people finding ways to thank first responders and health care workers to people making face masks or getting groceries to others in need.