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Looking Back At 2016: Fairfield County's Top Good News Stories Of The Year

Yankees legend Bernie Williams jams with students at Tisdale School on March 7.
Yankees legend Bernie Williams jams with students at Tisdale School on March 7. Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- While many people will remember 2016 as a year dominated by a divisive presidential election, celebrity deaths and national tragedies, there were a lot of positive stories coming out of Fairfield County as well.

From people finding inspiration and hope from tragedy, to entrepreneurs opening their own businesses, to angels reaching out to help their fellow human beings, here are some of the top feature stories of the year.

Ron Campbell, famed animator of the Beatles' cartoons, made a rare appearance this year at the C. Parker Gallery in Greenwich .

A Stamford veteran was named the new commander of Fairfield County's Branch of Connecticut Veterans of Foreign Wars.

New York Yankees legend and Latin Grammy nominee Bernie Williams visited Tisdale School in Bridgeport , jamming with students in the music room and helping to donate $8,000 to enhance arts instruction.

With a Warrior's Heart, Luke Whitbeck, a 2-year-old boy from Ridgefield, is battling a rare genetic disorder.

Stratford Library's new director, Sheri Szymanski, had served as assistant director since 2007. This year she replaced Barbara Blosveren, who retired.

A group of Greenwich Boy Scouts came to the aid of a family that had gotten lost while hiking.

A Fairfield woman started an art therapy program after being diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. She has expanded that program, helping cancer survivors work with underprivileged youths, coaching people on starting their own businesses and teaching kids about beekeeping.

The Vicki Soto Memorial Fund, which honors a teacher killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy in Newtown in 2012, has supported many causes in Stratford . In addition to creating a public school literacy project, the fund also donates to the Stratford Public Library and has created a substantial scholarship program for high schoolers.

The successful swim coach at Weston High took an indirect path to becoming the leader of the Class S championship team.

A Westport couple founded a camp to help children who are coping with the loss of loved ones.

David Brant, executive director of the 50-year-old Aspetuck Land Trust, is responsible for protecting over 120 open spaces and 40 miles of hiking trails on more than 1,700 acres in Westport, Weston, Fairfield, Easton, Wilton, Redding and Bridgeport.

A Bethel woman who crochets scarves to offer as gifts to victims of terrorism received accolades for her efforts after one of her scarves took the spotlight at a reunion of victims from the Paris nightclub bombing last fall.

Norwalk's Marvin School dedicated its softball field in May in honor of a girl who died of brain cancer in September 2012 at the age of 9.

Everyone who knew him was shocked that Westport police Sgt. Bob Myer of Newtown killed himself. Now his wife, Beth, is working to bring suicide into the spotlight.

A diverse Danbury family, which includes four children ranging in age from 2 to 10, was brought together by tragedy and has become one of love.

Patty Lewis was a teacher at Westport’s Greens Farms Academy when she decided to open a top quality preschool in her memory of her husband, who died on Sept. 11, to help prepare children for entrance to the prestigious private school.

The cross country team at Danbury High honored their late captain by naming a part of their home course at Tarrywile Park in his honor.

Al DiGuido of Westport is famous for his Saugatuck Sweets candy shops and for his charitable group, Al's Angels.

Fairfield's Meghan Lucey, an Easton native and Wilton High grad, has carved out her niche in the world of dance . First as a member of the touring cast of "Riverdance" and now as the owner of The Brennan-Lucey Irish Dance Academy.

When longtime teacher Donelle Toner opened Grandma Josie's candy shop in Monroe , she wanted to harken back to a simpler time while offering up a "sweet" destination. She sells homemade treats, Lake Champlain chocolates from Vermont, fudge from Mill Fudge Factory in New Hampshire. and a host of sugar-, lactose- and gluten-free candy.

Nicky Valluzzo celebrated his more than 50 years as a barber at Zoel's Barber Shop in Bethel. Today, he owns the place and has renamed it Nicky's Haircutters.

Twin brothers from Darien who suffer from serious seizures found comfort with their new service dog.

New Canaan's Jeanette Chen, a married mother of four, has found in her calling in helping people with cancer by cooking healthy dishes, driving to doctor and chemotherapy appointments, and keeping them company in their homes.

Jon Nowinski, a Westport resident who works at the Shoreline Veterinary Referral and Emergency Center in Shelton, has started the state’s first and only ambulance for animals.

A Fairfield mom who volunteers at a Bridgeport school was inspired to start a nonprofit foundation after she found that many of the children there lacked basic supplies and could not go on field trips.

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