Raise a glass and toast these heartwarming stories this holiday season. (Photo: Reuters Pictures)
We write about some pretty depressing topics here at TakePart HQ. But we're also fortunate enough to meet a lot of uplifting folks as we report on the worlds of climate change, food, health, education and our other areas of interest.
In honor of Thanksgiving, here are five stories from the past year that make us thankful, and which we think you might share with your loved ones as you dig into that (hopefully organic, heritage, free-range) Turkey.
Reason We're Thankful #1: The Human Spirit and the Desire to Help Others Can Triumph Over Disease and Disability
Steve Wampler has cerebral palsy, a chronic condition that affects his body movement and muscle coordination. That didn't stop him from climbing Yosemite's famed El Capitan, and being the first person with cerebral palsy to do so. Oh, and he did it all to raise money to send children with cerebral palsy to the free summer camp he founded for them in the gorgeous California High Sierras.
Cerebral Palsy Champion Steve Wampler Tackles El Capitan
Cerebral Palsy Champion Steve Wampler Begins Epic Climb of El Capitan (VIDEO)
Reason We're Thankful #2: 2010 Has Been the Most Hopeful Year Yet in the Fight Against HIV/AIDS
(Photo: Reuters Pictures).
This year produced more breakthroughs in the fight to end the global HIV/AIDS epidemic than any other since the disease was detected in the 1980s.
On Tuesday, researchers unveiled a new study showing that gay men who took a daily pill already on pharmacy shelves could reduce their risk of contracting HIV by up to 90 percent. The news came on the same day that the U.N. announced it had "broken the trajectory" of the AIDS epidemic, with new infections dropping by 20 percent. Earlier this year, researchers announced that a vaginal microbicide gel helped cut women's risk of infection by 39 percent. Another bit of good news? Scientists found that a naturally occurring substance in bananas helps prevent the virus from mutating and rendering drugs ineffective.
Can a Miracle Pill Cut the Risk of HIV and AIDS?
Microbicides Offer Hope Against AIDS
Chemical in Bananas the Newest Weapon Against HIV?
Reason We're Thankful #3: In an Age of Kardashians, Real Housewives and Punk'd, Hollywood Still Honors Important Films That Move People to Change the World
The Cove, a thriller-documentary that unmasked the secret annual killing of hundreds of dolphins in a small Japanese fishing village, took home the Academy Award for Best Documentary this year.
The film, which utilized cloak-and-dagger storytelling akin to a spy thriller, has won numerous film festival awards, and has been screened in 15 countries.
We're damn proud of the movie here at TakePart HQ. After all, Participant Media—the parent company of TakePart—was responsible for the social action campaign for The Cove.
And the movie inspired so many of you to take action and speak out against the brutal dolphin slaughter: 1.7 million people from 155 countries signed the petition to demand that Japan end the dolphin hunt.
"The Cove" Wins Academy Award for Best Documentary
Hollywood Said It: You Do It
Demonstrations Highlight 'The Cove' as Dolphin Hunt Resumes
Reason We're Thankful #4: In an Age of Kardashians, Real Housewives and Punk'd, Teens Are Still Stepping Up to Make This World a Greener, Cleaner, and More Sustainable Place
He's overseen the recycling of 300,000 pounds of e-waste. He's successfully lobbied the Rhode Island state legislature to ban the dumping of electronics. He's used refurbished computers to create media centers in developing countries like Cameroon and Sri Lanka to foster computer literacy. He’s Alex Lin, and he’s just 16 years old. We're thankful kids like him are around. They make us feel a lot better about our future.
Alex Lin, Teenage Activist
Reason We're Thankful #5: There Are Still People Who Are Willing to Travel Halfway Around the World—for Free—to Help a Child Smile
To heal a child’s arm may take a cast, to heal an infection may take medicine, but to heal a child's smile? That takes Operation Smile’s team of medical mission volunteers. For the past 28 years, thousands of Operation Smile medical mission volunteers have helped more than 150,000 children and adults from more than 50 countries with cleft lips (an opening in the lip) and cleft palates (a hole in the roof of the mouth), as well as other facial deformities.
Operation Smile Volunteers Heal Children, One Smile at a Time