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20 stories in Central Indiana that touched our hearts in 2020

Even in a year like 2020, kindness and community still prevailed.
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Posted at 12:36 PM, Dec 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-24 12:37:34-05

INDIANAPOLIS — It goes without saying, but 2020 has been a long and rough year.

Getting through a year of so much turmoil meant working together, valuing the good news, being grateful for what we do have, and letting the little things have big meanings.

But, even in a year like 2020, kindness still prevailed.

Here are the stories of inspiration and community that have touched our hearts this year:

1. Couple reunites at Indianapolis airport after four years apart

Husband and wife reunite at Indy Airport after 4 years apart

A refugee from Syria had waited four years for her husband to be able to follow her to the United States for resettlement. Finally, in October, his case was approved and the couple was reunited at the Indianapolis International Airport.

2. Ale Emporium owner helping employees amid COVID-19 closures

Despite forced closure amid the coronavirus outbreak, the owner of Ale Emporium plans to continue paying kitchen, salaried and tipped staff their regular or average weekly rate — that's about 300 employees!

Posted by WRTV on Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Business owners everywhere were struggling to figure out how they were going to keep their doors open, second to that was their employee's paychecks.

Well, the owner of Ale Emporium, Scott Baun, promised to continue paying his kitchen and salaried staff their regular wages and paying tipped employees their average weekly rate. He also provided staff and their families with one free meal per day. Baun employs about 300 people.

3. Ceremony honoring fallen IMPD officer Brean Leath

Officer Breann Leath was remembered as a mother, daughter, sister, friend, veteran, officer, and hero at her funeral on April 16 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Leath was shot and killed in the line of duty during a domestic disturbance call. Her funeral began with Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Chief Randal Taylor honoring her with an American flag.

Leath was an officer with the department for two years, in which she helped and touched hundreds of lives. The Indianapolis and public safety community pulled together in remembering Leath's life and legacy from all corners.

4. Restaurants, donors provide food for frontline workers

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A group of nurses in a labor and delivery room at Community Hospital South.

If there was anything central Indiana communities could and did do during the pandemic, it was showing their unending support for medical staff working the front lines of the coronavirus crisis.

Restaurants like Mimi Blue, Harry & Izzy's, City BBQ, Uptown Cafe and so many more sent out hundreds to thousands of meals to hospitals for the staff throughout the ongoing pandemic.

5. Franklin restaurant serves over 100 free meals to people in need every day

Franklin restaurant serves over 100 free meals to people in need every day

Richard's Brick Oven Pizza, a family-owned restaurant in Franklin, served free meals to more than 100 people in need every day starting in March.

6. Central Indiana quilters and sewers make 5.2K masks in less than 7 days for Indy hospital workers

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More than 140 quilters and sewers across central Indiana pulled together to make 5,200 face masks for Indianapolis hospital workers in less than a week. When the owner of Crimson Tate, Heather Givans, received word that hospitals were running out of masks for their staff, she and countless others took action.

7. Johnson County woman helps kids with COVID-19 anxiety by reading bedtime stories

Johnson County woman helps kids with covid-19 anxiety with bed time stories

Mickey Deputy decided she would record bedtime stories on her Facebook page after a social media post from a mother concerned her child was not sleeping over concerns with the pandemic.

8. Pet fostering surges at IndyHumane during COVID-19 pandemic

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In less than three months, over 425 animals found foster homes through IndyHumane. Foster, adoption, and volunteer programs at humane societies across the nation skyrocketed at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

9. Federal loan helps Downtown Olly's owners pay employees during pandemic

Hiring Hoosiers: Downtown Olly's keeping their employees paid

Because a lot of their employees' unemployment benefits hadn't gone through, it was important to the owners of Olly's to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program on the first day the applications opened. The loan was enough for the owners to pay all of their employees for ten weeks while they waited for their unemployment benefits to come through.

10. Dave Furst's sign off from WRTV-6

Dave Furst says farewell to WRTV

WRTV's now-former Sports Director Dave Furst's legacy is unprecedented.

After 23 years at the station, Furst signed off the air at WRTV in September before joining IndyCar as vice president of communications.

11. Police and protesters have moment of unity during protest near Governor's Residence

Emotional moments outside Indiana Governor's residence

Although it came with mixed reactions from the community, this moment of unity was a much-needed release of tension in Indianapolis.

For weeks, tens of thousands of protesters descended on the Indiana statehouse after the deaths of Dreasjon Reed, McHale Rose, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others, to make their voices heard. Indianapolis was one of several metropolitans that saw protests for weeks. Religious, elected, and community leaders were also joined by hundreds who were, and still are, fighting for policing reform and racial justice.

12. The passing of Chris Beaty

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Protesters marched down Vermont Street, the road that held the mural of Chris Beaty, on Jun. 6. Demonstrators raised fists, linked arm-in-arm, and listened to stories from loved ones. It was perhaps the longest stop during that day of protesting racial injustice in Indianapolis.

Beloved Indianapolis business owner and Indiana University football player Chris Beaty was shot and killed after violence erupted during demonstrations against police brutality in Downtown Indianapolis.

Hundreds continue to honor Beaty's life. A mural was created outside of his apartment building this summer, and his alma mater, Cathedral High School, changed the name of its entrepreneurship course to "Chris Beaty Entrepreneurship Class."

His legacy continues to live on in the community he loved so dearly.

13. Kokomo garage helps widows, single moms and veterans with auto repairs

Kokomo's 'God's Garage' helps with auto repairs

WRTV spoke to a group behind acts of love and charity at "God's Garage" in Kokomo in January. Volunteers on behalf of Crossroads Community Church help widows, single moms, and veterans who are unable to afford vehicle repairs.

14. Lord's Pantry at Anna's House helping community and reflecting on special relationship that started the place

The Rebound Indiana: West side food pantry working to meet growing need and inspire a community

Service to the community and the poor was the foundation of Lucious Newsom and Anna Molloy's friendship. Their legacy continues on the west side of Indianapolis.

15. 'None of these are bad kids': Parents explain why student outbursts, teacher injuries are happening

'None of these are bad kids;' Parents explain why student outbursts, teacher injuries are happening

Parents whose children have assaulted teachers and school administrators shared their stories with Call 6 Investigates in February to share with people that they are not bad parents and their kids are not bad children.

WRTV's Kara Kenney had a series of stories in this special investigation that gripped the hearts of viewers in the face of this reality.

16. DJ Indiana Jones, an Indianapolis radio icon, dies at 50

Ron Miner: 1970-2020

Ron Miner's untimely death shook not only an entire industry but the Indy community as a whole. Miner, known to most as DJ Indiana Jones, was an icon to students, a celebrity to local music-goers, and a friend to those who crossed his path.

17. 'Bold, Bald and Beautiful'

Bold, Bald and Beautiful, helping kids adjust to the changes that cancer brings

The program, "Bold, Bald, and Beautiful" gives kids at Riley Hospital for Children battling cancer a chance to do something crazy with their hair and an overall better experience adjusting to everyday life without it.

The program was started because a young woman named Lauren McGlaughlin wanted kids going through the same thing she did to realize they are bold and beautiful even if they are bald.

18. 'I'm going to get you out': Good Samaritan discusses rescuing tanker truck driver

A remarkable story in February in which three good Samaritans rescued the driver of a tanker truck hauling 4,000 gallons of jet fuel that exploded.

After the tanker truck flipped on the ramp to I-465 southbound off of Interstate 70, Mitch Navarre helped get the tank truck driver Jeffrey Denman out of the semi. Holly McNally helped Nacarre carry Denman down the ramp to more help and safety.

19. Neighbor, passerby help save woman from burning house in Indianapolis

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Alex Kline and Richard Loredo helped save a 92-year-old woman from a burning house on Saturday, November 21, 2020. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

In late November, Alex Kline and Richard Loredo helped save a 92-year-old woman from a burning house on the southwest side of Indianapolis.

"Sprinting toward the back of the house, Alex kicked in the door and was presented with heavy black smoke and high heat. She couldn't see a thing," Indianapolis Fire Department Battalion Chief Rita Reith said in a press release. "Without hesitation and staying low to the ground, Alex made her way toward the glow of a light and the sound of the woman's voice - yelling for help."

20. IMPD officers rescue teens trapped in car submerged in pond

IMPD officers rescue teens trapped in car submerged in pond

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department honored five of its officers for their heroics in a June water rescue.

Officer Jared Allen responded quickly to a 911 call of a car submerged in a retention pond on the city's southeast side. Allen dove into the water and rescued two teenagers who were trapped inside the vehicle. One of the teens later died. Two other young people in the car managed to get out on their own.