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Real-Life Stories From 2016 That Will Inspire You

Inspirational movies and TV shows have nothing on these.

by Claire Downs

The holidays are the time of year when we struggle to find the perfect gift, often end up buying some overpriced crap, and entertainment becomes more about making us cry with saccharine tales of human achievement and miracles than making us enjoy legitimately good holiday movies and TV. For example, on the Hallmark Channel, you can watch A Wish for Christmas, A Heavenly Christmas, The Heart Calls Christmas, A Rose for Christmas, My Christmas Love, and Journey Back to Christmas, which are all new movies this year. Only four of them star Melissa Joan Hart (JK).

While these TV movies seem super great, I’m sure, the truth is often stranger than fiction. Tales from real life can be inspirational, and what’s even more motivating is that they’re REAL! Just like Santa! Here are five feel-good stories from this year that are better than any Hallmark Channel movie.

Woman Finds Toy Poodle After Nine Years

Sally Butters (real name) lost her dog, Gigi, when her home was burglarized back in 2007. She never thought she’d see Gigi again, but nine years later, her toy poodle was spotted running through a park in Roseville, Calif. Butters received a call regarding Gigi’s whereabouts and the two were reunited. With tears streaming down her face, Butters described the whole ordeal as a “joy” and a “miracle.” Sally also said she never lost hope, even after all those years.

Irish Grandparents Married for 48 Years Graduate With PhDs in Archaeology

It’s never too late to learn something, and learning as a couple is even cuter. Richard and Betty Gray are both now doctors in archaeology after completing a part-time diploma course at St. Angela’s College. What began as a part-time hobby and a way to live out their golden years turned into an incredible shared academic journey. “We embraced student life and...we made many wonderful friendships through our involvement in the student mentoring programme and college societies,” said Betty. This outstanding achievement should be an inspiration to anybody who feels like education is out of their age range.

A Robin Delights a Cathedral in Liverpool

From the city that brought you the Beatles lyrics “Blackbird singing in the dead of night,” comes a robin singing in the dead of winter. This time, his wings aren’t broken and he’s living in the rafters of the Liverpool Cathedral. Church staffers believe this little guy came in when they brought their very real Christmas tree in. He must have been “nesting or sleeping in the tree” said a cathedral spokesman. Now, he’s a welcome addition to services and a new member of the church. Plans for his release are underway, but only after warmer temperatures in the spring.

Oregon Teen Wins $100K for Inventing an Ingestible Battery

Vineet Edupuganti, a senior at Oregon Episcopal School, won the top prize at the prestigious Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology for his invention of an ingestible battery. While the battery hasn’t won any Michelin Stars, and there’s no word from Zagat on its taste, this technology could revolutionize the way doctors monitor heart and health problems within the body. Edupuganti, who basically seems ready for the real world, will use his $100K to study materials science or electrical engineering.

Anonymous Lottery Player Drops Winning Ticket in Salvation Army Kettle

The holiday season is all about giving, and nothing screams the upcoming festivities like the appearance of Salvation Army bell ringers. In Middletown, Pa., a passerby was feeling more generous than usual. He or she dropped a $1,000 winning scratch-off ticket in the donation bucket. The “Fantastic 10s” game was purchased at a Walmart on Dec. 6 but was donated several days later. “We’ve received donations of winning instant tickets in the past, but they’re usually in an amount of $10 or $20—never something of this size,” said Major Leslie Walter, Officer of The Salvation Army in Erie, Pa. Even the Pennsylvania Lottery had to agree: “It’s heartwarming to hear stories such as this one,” said Lottery exec Drew Sitko, “and I applaud this anonymous winner for turning their good fortune into an act of charity that will benefit the community.”


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Claire Downs is a writer and comedian based out of Los Angeles. She's written for Nickelodeon, VH1, Funny or Die, and Hello Giggles. You can follow her on Twitter @clairecdowns. She prefers Indica to Sativa, in case you're wondering.



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