Unfortunately, 2012 had more than its share of bad news. From the crisis in Syria to Hurricane Sandy, the Aurora shooting to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, news coverage seemed to be an unending cycle of sadness.
Yet, buried beneath the partisanship and bloodshed were stories that gave us hope — stories that turned out to be some of the greatest moments of the year. Here are 18 of 2012’s most inspiring stories that are testaments to the human spirit and make us hopeful when embarking on 2013.
1. The first person (“The Berlin Patient”) is cured of AIDS.
2. NASA’s Mars Rover Curiousity lands on the Red Planet.
3. The beloved iPad used to help people communicate who once couldn’t.
4. Scientists believe they have proven the existence of the Higgs boson particle.
5. We now have the most detailed map of the human genome to date.
6. Russia, the U.S., France, Mexico, and South Korea all held peaceful elections.
7. Tammy Baldwin made history by becoming the first openly gay senator elected to office (and the first woman senator from Wisconsin).
8. Aung San Suu Kyi, a political prisoner who spent two decades silenced by the government, was elected to Burma’s Parliament in April.
9. Obamacare survives, saving many American families from sickness and bankruptcy.
10. Hillary Clinton breaks the Secretary of State travel record, ensuring that countries from Brunei to Belgium are heard.
11. Nate Silver singlehandedly rebrands statisticians as hip when he predicts the results of the 2012 election and becomes a celebrity.
12. Gymnast Gabrielle Douglas made history when she became the first African American to win the all-around gold medal in London.
13. So did Oscar Pistorius, the South African double-amputee runner, who made it to the Olympic semi-finals.
14. Mark Herzlich, Ewing’s Sarcoma survivor and Giants’ linebacker, plays in the Super Bowl after being told he might never walk again.
15. Seattle Children’s Hospital “Stronger” video goes viral, raising awareness for child cancer and showing how tough these warriors are.
16. And Justin Bieber took time out to meet his biggest fan.
17. Neighbors took care of each other in the days following Hurricane Sandy.
18. And long after the water receded, many of the storm’s youngest victims were visited by “Sandy Claus.”