While 2012 had its share of tragedies, there were a few inspiring and heartwarming stories that stuck with us.
Here is a countdown of the top 12 most inspiring local stories of the year.
12. In July, the San Diego Zoo welcomed its sixth Giant Panda cub, later named Xiao Liwu. Since then, we’ve watched him grow from a tiny image on the zoo’s panda cam to his first steps during a veterinary exam.
11. The Deputy Sheriff’s Association hosted a benefit motorcycle ride for Detective Ali Perez, who, along with Sgt. Craig Johnson, was shot and seriously injured in a Lakeside shootout. Hundreds of Perez's colleagues and friends took to their motorcycles for the “Ride for Ali” benefit, raising donations for the wounded deputy’s family.
10. After his war medals were stolen from his Vista home, 88-year-old Clyde Kellogg was given replacement medals by a fellow veteran who heard about the theft. Kellogg said the replacement medals will fill a void he has felt since his medals were stolen.
9. Former Mayor Jerry Sanders proclaimed June ‘Craft Beer Month’ in honor of the many craft breweries that popped up over the year. Sanders often professed his love for beer, and has urged San Diegans to support the ever-growing craft beer industry in the region.
8. For the first time in their lives, a group of beagles stepped out into the sunshine.The dogs had been living in animal testing labs for seven years and were rescued by a San Diego rescue center.
7. Two sailors were visiting the San Diego Zoo when a man collapsed near one of the exhibits. They stepped up and performed CPR on the man, who turned out to be a Navy veteran. Now, that veteran is home and on his way to recovery.
6. Three puppies were rescued from a Logan Heights house fire in April. The 5-day-old puppies were in the attic of the house, and firefighters battled the blaze to rescue them. Afterward, neighbors held the puppies in a cereal bowl.
5. After being separated from his family for nearly a year, Major Randy Walsh surprised his two children at Kelly Elementary School in Carlsbad with a Christmas homecoming.
4. Cuyamaca College student Cedrice Webber suffers from a disease that makes those affected by it lose their hair. She took off her wig for the first time in front of a public speaking class to demonstrate the obstacles she has overcome. She said when she took off her wig, she felt cleansed and more beautiful than she had ever felt before.
3. San Diego lost football legend Junior Seau this year, but came together as a community to remember his impact. At a celebration of life at Qualcomm stadium, former Charger LaDanian Tomlinson shared some of his memories of Seau, including Seau’s advice on where to propose to his wife.
2. Ivan Mendoza, a Crawford High School student with Downs Syndrome, was crowned Homecoming King after his classmates elected him by a landslide.
1. Escondido-native Sarah Attar finished last and more than a half-minute slower than her nearest competitor in the women's 800 meters at the 2012 Olympic Summer Games. Yet hundreds rose to give her a standing ovation as she crossed the finish line.She was the first Saudi woman to compete in track and field and one of the first two Saudi women ever selected for the Olympics.