When I look back on 2012, it will be one of the best years of my life.
Despite the terrible mass shootings, the most vapid and nauseating presidential and gubernatorial campaigns I have ever seen and the Great K-Pop Invasion that conquered the entire internet with an oddly charismatic horsey dance that sent most people to the brink, the year was actually quite good for me personally as I got engaged and married and was able to mostly avoid the ongoing train wreck that is Honey Boo Boo.
It was a similar situation at the paper this year.
A few weeks ago, we put together our top stories of the year and the top few were a bit grim. News-wise, this year will go down as the deadliest ever on Lake Tapps, with the drowning deaths this past summer of three young people.
Also this year, a local resident allegedly massacred 16 civilians in Afghanistan.
For a small town beat like Bonney Lake, those are two heavy hitters at the top of the year.
But again, when I look back on my favorite stories of 2012, the ones I will most remember will not be the downers, but mostly the uplifting and inspirational stories.
For example, my favorite work-related moment of 2012 came in August when I had the distinct honor of escorting Bonney Lake’s Joan Rupp to a Seattle Storm game where she, along with dozens of other female athletes, were honored for their accomplishments as part of the team’s Title IX celebration.
Rupp played basketball in the 1950s on a barnstorming team called “Dempsey’s Texas Cowgirls,” traveling around the country in a station wagon and playing local basketball teams or even the Harlem Globetrotters, who made Rupp an honorary member on one tour.
I did a story about Joan in 2011 when I discovered she lived in town. It was easily one of my favorites of that year and it made its way to the Storm, who invited Joan to be part of their event.
I was honored to be Joan’s date that night and watched with pride as the crowd in attendance cheered for her at halftime. She’s a heck of a lady and it’s good to see someone as pioneering as her get a little recognition for her accomplishments.
Another moment I will never forget from this year was the Plunge Against Domestic Violence at the end of October.
The event is designed to raise money and awareness for Exodus House in Sumner, an organization that houses families fleeing abuse at home. On the last weekend of October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, dozens of us jumped into Lake Tapps. The cold, glacier-fed waters of the lake are supposed to remind us of the shock felt by victims of domestic violence, who never know when or where the next abuse may come from.
And yes, it was quite shocking.
But it was all for a good cause as I raised nearly $400 for Exodus House, which while no small potatoes paled in comparison to the money brought in by Police Chief Dana Powers, who collected donations from city employees.
It was a good event though and made for funny, funny pictures.
Also this year, I met a man named Daryl Shaw while doing a story about homelessness in Pierce County. He and his situation is one i will also remember for a long time.
Shaw was well known among the homeless of the Plateau and until the spring lived at a camp he and some friends built in a corner of the former WSU demonstration forest.
Shaw had been there long enough to amass a large amount of things and to build a fairly elaborate stove, as well as a few other things like stairs with a bannister that led to his camp.
I was there when Bonney Lake’s public works employees and the police went into the forest and Shaw was forced to move from the area he called home. I was able to spend some time talking to him and several of the other folks who lived in the forests around Bonney Lake, learning a bit about what it was like to not have a constant place to go home to.
It was a part of the Plateau community I hadn’t really seen before, despite spending the better part of 10 years reporting on this area. It gave me a slightly new perspective and I hope their stories stay with readers as long as they stay with me.
Believe it or not, I heard from Shaw toward the end of the year. I received a very nice hand-written letter from Daryl in late December. For those wondering, he is receiving treatment for his addictions and is intent on staying clean and returning home to Alaska to see his children.
He seems to be doing well, though we all know the road to recovery is a difficult one, fraught with peril and dangers that make it a difficult, if rewarding path.
I wish Daryl – and the others I met – the very best of luck. He seemed like a very nice guy whose life took a difficult turn.
So here’s to the people and stories that made 2012 so memorable and here’s hoping all your news from 2013 is good news.