In February, Muslim activists Linda Sarsour and Tarek El-Messidi launched a crowdfunding campaign to help repair a vandalized Jewish cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri. They aimed to raise $20,000—but hit $162,468. “Through this campaign, we hope to send a united message from the Jewish and Muslim communities that there is no place for this type of hate, desecration, and violence in America,” they wrote.
Denis Estimon immigrated to the U.S. from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, when he was in the first grade. “There was a language barrier,” he told ABC News, “and my mom was always working and my father was still in Haiti at the time so I wasn’t able to talk to anybody. I felt isolated. I felt lonely.” Now a senior at Boca Raton Community High School, Estimon launched a student group called “We Dine Together” so that no student has to eat alone at lunch.
America saw a wave of hate crimes this year. But we also saw people try to stop them. In May, two men were killed (and one injured) defending two black teenagers from a white supremacist on a Portland, Oregon, commuter train. “I just want to say thank you to the people who put their life on the line for me, because they didn’t even know me and they lost their lives because of me and my friend and the way we look,” said Destinee Mangum, 16. “And I just want to say thank you to them and their family and that I appreciate them because without them, we probably would be dead right now.”
In July, “dozens of beachgoers formed a human chain stretching almost 100 yards into the Gulf of Mexico to rescue a group of swimmers in danger of drowning after they were caught in a powerful riptide,” reports the Guardian. “Six members of the same family, including a grandmother who suffered a heart attack, were among nine people passed along the chain to safety at Florida’s Panama City beach.”
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping,’” said Fred Rogers. That was certainly true when tropical storm Harvey hit Texas in late August, and again when Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck Florida and the Caribbean.
---Excerpted from The Most Inspiring Moments from 2017