Year in review: north country’s people and places of 2021

Published: Dec. 29, 2021 at 3:14 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - As another year of uncertainty comes to a close, one thing is for sure: people in the north country still made the best of it. We take a look back at the people and places that made 2021 so special.

2021 was the year of returns. The return of the fairs, the return of the festivals and the return of the people.

When we all needed some positive news, children reminded us it’s not hard to do good.

Ben Bryant donated his luscious locks to kids with hair loss.

“You can always grow it back,” he said.

Kayden Kraeger sold his drawings to raise money for the Lewis County Humane Society.

“I like to help out animals so they can be healthy when people want to get them,” he said.

And six-year-old Noah Lowe saved his great-grandfather’s life by calling 911.

“A firetruck came. Two ambulances came,” he said.

The north country’s young people also inspired us to try something new!

Matthew Breyette showed us the joys of taxidermy, Indian River students found a creative way to collect 5,000 cereal box donations for food pantries, and the Pearson family became Adirondack 46ers.

“I think people need to get out of their comfort zone and lean into something and try it,” said John Pearson.

We also met people who’ve been doing good long before 2021.

Emilie Cuppernell, an election pollster in her 80s, reminded us to do our civic duties.

“I think it’s important that you are involved in your community and your elections and such,” she said.

And Bob Schweitzer, a long-time volunteer for the Salvation Army, brought in $1,800 by selling newspapers.

“I enjoy doing it and people look forward to seeing me. They really do,” he said.

There were also many shows of compassion these past 12 months.

When a woman with cancer needed her teeth removed so she could get treatment, Dr. Reed Attisha at Oral Surgery and Periodontics NNY offered to do the procedure for free.

“Every day I wake up, I thank the lord that I’m able to get up, provide for my family, and be healthy. So giving back to the community is a must,” said Dr. Attisha.

And when Joanne Nugent-Ward got hurt while bicycling to raise money for cancer research, her neighbor stepped up to the pedals to finish her miles.

Some just hoped to make people smile this year. Sometimes, that’s the biggest help of all.

In their own unique ways, the people and places of the north country gave back what the pandemic has taken from so many: smiles; inspiration, and the hope that even in tough times, our community finds the good.

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