Every year there are stories of communities coming together in the face of insurmountable challenges or devastating losses only to come out stronger than ever on the other side.
They may not always make it to the larger newspapers or news stations, but these life-changing events define a community even more than a bridge closure or an empty lake.
1. Beau Ward
Ten year old Beau Ward and his friend Carter were burned in a gasoline fire May 22.
More than 60 percent of Beau’s body suffered burns, and he underwent multiple surgeries while he stayed in the hospital until the middle of August.
When he was able to return home, the Enumclaw community (wearing pink, Beau’s favorite color) celebrated alongside the Enumclaw Fire Department and Enumclaw High School with a parade through the city.
The Go Fund Me for Beau raised more than its goal of $30,000, all of which went towards Beau’s recovery.
(Photo: Beau Ward and his parents. Photo by Maryn Otto)
2. Tony Ryan
Enucmlaw police Sgt. Tony Ryan’s cancer fight started out as a small bump on his finger.
In the span of seven months, the small sarcoma turned into cancerous masses in both his left and right wrists, leaving Ryan in constant pain as he began to lose function in his fingers.
He was not expected to survive.
But after three surgeries, the cancer stopped growing, and eventually, he was 100 percent cancer free.
Ryan returned to the force with full use of his hands a few months later, saying he was glad for the support he received from his family and friends and the fact that he’d been given a second chance.
(Photo: Tony Ryan with his wife Kari and daughters Allie, right, and Jessica, left.)
3. Greg Goral
Unfortunately, not all cancer fights end with a good diagnosis.
Black Diamond police Cmdr. Greg Goral died Aug. 16 after a three year battle with appendiceal cancer, or a cancer of the appendix, an extremely rare cancer that accounts for less than 1 percent of all cancer cases.
The Black Diamond and Enumclaw communities gathered to support Goral at the annual Boots and Badges basketball game on April 12, but they weren’t the only ones – Goral’s story resounded all around the state as donations came in from as far as Ocean Shores and Yakima to support his fight.
(Photo: Greg Goral dribbles down the court during the 2010 Boots and Badges game. Courtesy Sgt. Brian Lynch)
Honorable Mention: Black Diamond cops do good deed
Sergeants Brian Martinez and Brian Lynch of the Black Diamond Police Department went above and beyond the call of duty when they responded to a domestic violence call in late September.
The victim, a woman from outside of town, did not have any of her belongings or any money, and all of the nearby shelters were full for the night.
So the officers called the Enumclaw Cedar Inn and booked her a room for the night, with the Inn kicking in half the cost.
The story was sent to the Courier-Herald through Facebook by a reader.
“I can tell you that as the chief this is the stuff that makes you most proud,” Black Diamond Police Chief Jamey Kiblinger said. “It’s what our officers do when nobody is looking that you can see their character and selflessness.”