While it has been a difficult year for our nation, particularly over the past few weeks -- the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy and the horrific school shooting on Friday -- there have been a few stories in Snellville that have exemplified courage under fire and the determination of the human spirit.
1. The Schulz Duo Doing Good
The Schulz' helped found a great thing in Snellville. Joy Woodson's story on this couple, Kurt and Gretchen Schulz, featured two people who inspired the Snellville Farmers Market and founded the Snellville Community Garden, all while remaining humble and attempting to stay out of the spotlight.
2. Wednesday's Woman: Emily Good
Emily Good was featured a number of times in Snellville Patch for her work in fighting childhood cancer. After her best friend, Daniela Joel, passed away from the disease in 2010, she poured herself into raising funds and awareness.
3. Harlem Legends Dribble Into Snellville
The Harlem Legends swept through Snellville in support of the Amanda Riley Foundation back in March. There were more than 600 spectators and nearly 60 participants at the special clinic at Brookwood High put on by an energetic group of notable athletes, including former Harlem Globetrotters, NBA and NFL players.
The charity itself is enough to restore your faith in humanity. Founded by Barbara Riley after her daughter passed away from cancer in 2010, she brings meals, toys and companionship to children in the ICU and those undergoing chemo, as well as raising funds for research. You can peruse a number of stories on Riley here.
4. Snellville Celebrates First City-Sponsored Flag Day
If you were there that day, you know how moving the ceremony was. The look on the faces of Snellville veterans was unforgettable.
Robert (Bob) Spidel served in the army for 30 years (and 24 days). He served in Vietnam and Desert Storm.
“It means an awful lot,” Spidel said of the city's official celebration.
The American Legion Post 232, Disabled American Veterans Chapter 90, Knights of Columbus, VFW Post 4180 and Boy Scout Troop 553 were all in attendance.
5. Sizzlin' Summer Weekend Honors Aimee Copeland
Aimee's story doesn't just belong to Snellville; it's an international story of hope, survival and determination. This year's Sizzling Summer Weekend was in honor of the young Snellville woman who contracted a flesh-eating bacteria after a zip-line accident.
These days, Aimee is traveling, speaking and finishing up her graduate level thesis. Click here for more stories on Aimee's remarkable journey.
Good people doing good things.
7. Family of Five Displaced by Fire Embraced by Community
This was incredible. The home of Sharita and Duvall Braxton was destroyed the night of July 20. It was the night of her twins' birthday, of all nights, but luckily no one was hurt. Although the Braxtons weren't close to their neighbors -- like so many people these days -- Megan Goodman and Jamee Bedingfield, who lived down the street, created an online donation page for the family.
The community not only raised funds, but collected toys and clothes to replace the ones lost in the fire.
8. Gwinnett Special Olympics Bring Home the Gold
Students at Parkwood Farms brought home the gold, and lots of it, from August's Special Olympics Georgia Horse Show. The team, coached by Dr. Marilyn Peterson of Parkwood Farms Therapy Center in Snellville, medaled in all the categories it entered. The three-day annual competition for children and adults with disabilities brings together teams from across the state at the Georgia National Fairgrounds in Perry, just south of Macon.
The therapy center recently faced eviction, but due to the community's support, that eviction has been stalled until February. By that time, they will have to raise a large sum of money, or lose the home. This story is still developing.
9. Sgt. Justin Lansford Honored During the 'Battle of Snellville'
In a scene that could have been straight out of a movie, former Brookwood Bronco football player Sgt. Justin Lansford returned home to Snellville Friday evening and was given the keys to the city during the "Battle of Snellville."
Sgt. Lansford, who graduated from Brookwood in '07, was serving in Afghanistan when his vehicle was struck by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). His injuries resulted in one of his legs being amputated, along with a punctured lung and broken ribs.
From what I've heard, he just finished up some snow-skiing lessons and is doing very well.
10. Snellville Gives Back at Blood Drive for Burn Victim
Dozens of people turned out to donate blood to the American Red Cross at City Hall on the afternoon of Dec. 7. The event was held in honor of Torrie Williamson, a single mother of two who was severely burned during a bonfire over the weekend. Snellville city officials, family, friends and strangers donated their blood in her name.