Stories of Joy, Kindness and Inspiration – NBC Bay Area

The news cycle is undoubtedly filled with an overwhelming amount of life-changing and heartbreaking stories that dominate the headlines, but there are also stories of hope and happiness that shouldn’t be forgotten.

Take a look at some of the great news from 2021 that made us smile, laugh out loud or even burst into tears of joy.


Have you seen it? A carefree man inside a full teddy bear costume captivated audiences, both in person and on social media, as he walked from Los Angeles to San Francisco, spreading joy to complete strangers every step of the way.

It’s good to see people, first of all. Secondly, it feels good to see them smile, especially after last year, all these unfortunate events that we had to go through.

Bearsun, aka Jesse Larios

Say hello to Bearsun, the human-sized teddy bear walking from Los Angeles to San Francisco.


For San Francisco Police Officer William Ma, policing isn’t just about catching criminals. It’s about keeping an eye on the victims and making sure they feel taken care of. This is exactly what Ma did after meeting a 62-year-old woman who spoke Chinese and who had apparently been abandoned by her family.

I like to think of all the grandmothers in Chinatown as my grandmother. This is one more to the list.

Officer William Ma

San Francisco Police Officer William Ma led efforts to secure housing for a 62-year-old woman abandoned by her family in Chinatown. Garvin Thomas reports.


Despite the challenges and delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a massive forest fire, the nonprofit Clean Up the Lake continues its mission to remove litter from the entire shoreline of Lake Tahoe. The group, having already removed tens of thousands of pounds of trash from the water, hope to complete the cleanup effort in early 2022.

Blown away by their resilience, their hard work would be an absolute understatement.

Clean Up the Lake Founder and Executive Director Colin West talks about his team

The nonprofit Clean Up the Lake, currently in the process of removing trash from the entire 72-mile shoreline of Lake Tahoe, has removed 18,215 pounds of trash with 28 miles to go.


Beloved Bay Area basketball star – Golden State Warriors goalie Steph Curry – is widely regarded as the best shooter in NBA history. He certainly solidified that feeling when he became the all-time leader in all 3 points in league history.

After hitting his 2nd 3 point of the night, Steph Curry became the all-time 3-point leader in the regular season.


In wildfire base camps across California and beyond, exhausted firefighters emerging from the front lines find more and more furry friends waiting to give them a much-needed distraction. Therapy dogs and their handlers are proving to be a valuable resource for crews working entire days in life threatening conditions.

Seeing the dogs at the entrance to base camp is one of the best enthusiastic and positive shots we can have.

Firefighter Kevin Brown

In California wildfire base camps and beyond, therapy dogs and their handlers provide firefighters with a much-needed distraction from the hard work they face on the front lines.


The simple act of handing out bottled water to the homeless in Palo Alto led Scott Kuczmarski to Robert Pineda, a complete stranger who quickly became a close friend.

It was like no other opportunity in the world. Scott saved my life.

Robert pineda

In 2019, Scott Kuczmarski was handing out bottled water to homeless people on University Avenue in Palo Alto when he met Robert Pineda. A year later Robert had a house and Scott had a new best friend. Garvin Thomas reports.


The San Francisco Giants closed a remarkable 107-game regular season winning National League West on the last day of the campaign. The Giants last won the division in 2012.

The San Francisco Giants beat the San Diego Padres 11-4 on Sunday to win the Western Division of the National League. Christie Smith reports.


Need motivation? Look no further than Tom Butts. The almost 60-year-old San Jose triathlete has been hospitalized for more than 100 days to fight COVID-19. The virus wreaked havoc on Butts’ body, but he fought back, eventually released from the hospital and decided to get back to the sport he loves.

I’m very competitive and I don’t want him to win. I will get as close as possible to my normal.

tom’s butt

Tom Butts is defying the odds again. The San Jose triathlete nearly lost his life to COVID-19. He spent over 100 days in hospital, most of them on a ventilator. Today, the 67-year-old is training for a half-triathlon in September. Damian Trujillo reports.


One woman’s little act of kindness inspired a Scotts Valley community to maintain kindness. It all started when 6-year-old Bradley Downing lost his beloved binder full of Pokemon cards and ended with complete strangers helping replace precious possessions.

It’s awesome. Incredible. So blessed.

Kelly, Bradley’s mother

A Scotts Valley boy and his mother are grateful after community members donate hundreds of Pokémon cards to replace ones he lost. Garvin Thomas reports.


The future mother Maria Vang was on the verge of death. While she was 17 weeks pregnant, her heart stopped. Thanks to a specialized machine and a dedicated team at Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara Medical Center, she was able to recover and eventually give birth to her firstborn.

It is a blessing for sure.

Maria Vang talks about her baby

A new mother gave birth to her first child this week, months after her heart failed during pregnancy.


Maggie Steffens of Danville, one of the many local Olympians who represented the U.S. team at the Olympic Games in Toyko, put on a show in the pool, breaking the record for most goals scored in water history. Olympic polo shirt.

Maggie Steffens became the all-time leading scorer in Olympic women’s water polo history as the United States defeated ROC on Thursday.


Saddened by the growing number of people in need of food, Oakley’s Heather Ochoa decided to turn her front porch into a pantry where everyone could come and get the items they needed.

We are always available for everyone.

Heather ochoa

A woman from East Bay helps those in need from her front porch.


It’s small, but it aims to create big smiles. Check out the quirky fire truck that cruises around San Francisco.

A small Japanese fire truck’s mission is to make San Franciscans smile. The biggest fans of her Instagram page, “Teeny Tiny Firetruck” are residents of her hometown in Japan. Car owner and enthusiast Todd Lappin realized the truck is so short it fits in a historically tiny garage in San Francisco. An original speaker is just a bonus.


For more heartwarming stories, check out our Something Good page.

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