The Year's Best 'Good News'

A look at the happier stories of 2007.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

ALISON STEWART, host:

2007 saw its share of really tough stories: Virginia Tech, lead paint on toys, the mortgage crisis, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. But to every Ying, there's a Yang. So let's take a moment to reflect of some of the A-okay stories from the year, the ones that restore your faith or at least make you smile. Now, the editors of MSNBC.com, those cockeyed optimists - not really, I know them. Well, anyway, they have compiled the top 10 happy news stories of 2007.

JOHN FUGELSANG, host:

They're clear-eyed optimists. And they pointed out that 2007 started off on a very good note with the story that inspired the world and could have easily gone wrong. Just three days into 2007, New York City construction worker Wesley Autrey - remember him? He saved the life of a total stranger who had collapse in a subway platform and fell on to the tracks and into the path of an oncoming train.

Mr. WESLEY AUTREY (Construction Worker, New York City): I had to make a split-second decision. I hopped down here. One feet there. One feet there. I looked. I see an oncoming train. I'm trying to get him up but he did fell in both his hands away. And I'm like trying to get him and flip him. Each time I go, I look, the train getting closer, train getting closer.

(Soundbite of train passing)

Mr. AUTREY: Train is about right there. And I'm like, you can't get him up. Go for the gutter.

FUGELSANG: Now, he did this with his two daughters watching. And although he insists he is not a hero, the subway superman has been handsomely rewarded with lavish gifts. You might remember Donald Trump heroically left in front of some publicist to give Autrey $10,000. And he's been honored by Mike Bloomberg, Eliot Spitzer, Hillary Clinton, even President Bush singled him out during the State of the Union Address. And you know, in a year dominated by celebrity addicts and the media that loves them, this tale of bravery did rate number one on MSNBC's list.

STEWART: My favorite thing ever - during the State of the Union Address, Wesley Autrey pounding his chest and giving President Bush a you're-my-man sign. Wesley Autrey I got to meet him a couple of weeks ago. He's the man.

FUGELSANG: Yeah?

STEWART: All right. Next, a different kind of story that makes you go, ah. Pizza Hut waitress, Jessica Osborne, was just doing her job last July. She gave some of the regulars their usual - two Mountain Dews, a cup of hot water for tea and a large Meat Lovers Stuffed Crust pizza. They left her a nice tip - a really nice tip - a $10,000 tip.

Ms. JESSICA OSBORNE (Waitress, Pizza Hut): Right here and I knew they were coming in. And they told me the previous week they were going to come into me one last time before they left. And they sit down and had dinner and I took their order and she handed me the check and when I opened it up, I just - I thought maybe I read too many zeroes and I - oh no, I lost by breath. And it was amazing.

STEWART: Where they got the money was - the family had decided to use some settlement money from a death in their family to give Osborne what she told them she always wanted - a chance to go to college.

FUGELSANG: Wow. Well, speaking of family and needing a lot of college money, two identical twin sisters in Indiana gave their families a double dose of joy this year when they unexpectedly both gave birth both to boys, both on the same day, both within hours of each other, both in the same hospital.

STEWART: Next stop, a message in a bottle with a very special meaning for two couples who tied the knot on opposite sides of Lake Michigan 28 years apart. Melody Kloska and Matt Behrs wrote off their wedding vows, put them into a glass bottle, tossed it into the lake this summer, never imagining it would wash up on the path of another couple - Fred and Lynnette Dubendorf, who married on the beach across the lake exactly 28 years before.

Mr. FRED DUBENDORF (Resident, Michigan): You know, what's the chances - one in million - of finding somebody married on the same day?

Mr. MATT BEHRS (Resident, Wisconsin): Yeah.

Mr. DUBENDORF: And Lake Michigan.

Mr. BEHRS: Yeah.

Mr. DUBENDORF: I told her that she should return it to him.

Mr. BEHRS: Right.

Mr. DUBENDORF: And let them know that you found it and the coincidence.

FUGELSANG: This is some happy news. But rounding out the list, some inspiring K-9 Americans. Bucky the dog pulled a classic Lassie move in Carmel, New York when he swam 400 yards to shore to fetch help for his owner whose boat had overturned.

STEWART: Hey, don't forget Thumper, the Lab from Maine who woke up his owners just in time to save the family from a fire that had been started by none other than the family cat.

FUGELSANG: Well, you can't be a cat hater because not to be outdone, a Golden Retriever in Virginia has become a mother to a stray kitten when she began nursing the little creature after hearing its cries.

STEWART: All right. So let's hope for good things in 2008 as well.

(Soundbite of music)

FUGELSANG: Movie review with Daniel Holloway is just on the other side of the glass.

STEWART: I see him.

FUGELSANG: He is going to come in here and talk with us about the "There Will Be Blood."

STEWART: He's waving.

FUGELSANG: There he is. "The Great Debaters" and "Persepolis," all in theaters all this weekend. Stay tuned. This is the THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT from NPR News.

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