A year isn’t just summed up by 365 days. You can measure a year by every positive moment we create for ourselves and for others. It’s our goal to show you those triumphs whenever we bring you a Positively KELOLAND story. It may be a surprise for a student, a man who beat the odds, or a daring rescue that helped a mom and her flock of babies. 2019 had its share of reasons to smile.
After 39 years, and what he guesses to be about 30,000 miles, U.S. Postal Service carrier John Olson reached the end of his walk and beginning of retirement.
“I don’t have a bad patron out here. You just gotta learn to talk to them, just talk to people,” Olson said.
This year, he hoisted his mailbag one last time, and said goodbye. People on his route gave him a special delivery of their own – gratitude.
“We’re all going to miss him. Always on-time, rain or shine. He’s the epitome of the old mailman,” Jeff Sweetman of Sioux Falls said.
“I’m just doing my job; I guess I’m appreciated, somewhat. So, it’s been great,” Olson said.
A local college student felt appreciated this Christmas. A group of friends had a big surprise for waitress Kaitlyn Withee.
“We are all going to leave a $100 bill (for the bill),” Syverson said.
Nobody wanted their change back.
Syverson: Everything leftover is for you.
Withee: Thank you. Thank you.
The tip totaled more than $1,100. Kaitlyn will use it to buy books for college.
“When I opened the book so many emotions went through my head that I didn’t know what to think. Immediate tears went to my eyes,” Withee said.
Firefighters risk their lives to put out flames, and that sparked an idea for Meagan Stratman.
“They’re the first ones on the scene. They do a lot of things that people can’t do. They’re just heroes basically,” Stratman said.
“It means a very nice gesture to us, very appreciative of it. Very thankful they could do that for us,” firefighter, Conner Van Dyke said.
Lunchtime was more than a meal for the Hannon family. Adam Hannon used to put on his uniform and eat lunch with his children at school on Veterans Day. The South Dakota Army National Guard soldier died in a crash about a year ago near Renner. His daughters Norah and Abigail wish they could re-live those moments.
“You want to hear his voice. You want to feel him again,” Adam’s daughter Norah Hannon said.
Their mom Lexi Erickson called Adam’s friend and fellow soldier, and asked if he could visit Norah and her sister Abigail at school.
Brian Slack said yes, and he brought in reinforcements.
Kelli Volk: Do the girls have any idea you’re here?
Slack: They have no idea that we’re here.
Norah and Abigail were both excited when they saw the familiar faces waiting for them in the school library. After catching up, a Veterans Day lunch followed.
“Just seeing all the suits, like Army uniforms it just makes me think of my dad,” Adam’s daughter Abigail Hannon said.
This mother duck and her babies have ruled the roost in the courtyard of Dow Rummel Village. As she was leading her brood through the parking lot, three of her ducklings fell through a grate and into the drain pipe below.
“Mom, she’s walking over the grate herself and she can make it, but the little ones fall in and she doesn’t even realize it and pretty soon she’s back there standing over the grate squawking to try to get them back out,” Johnson said.
The Dow Rummel maintenance staff went after the wayward waddlers.
“I got here this morning and the first thing I heard was there’s ducks in the grate. So, we kind of know what to do about it so I just headed over there and pulled the grate out and we hopped down there and tried to see if we could get them to one end or the other,” Dow Rummel maintenance associate Mike Rinder said.
“Chirp, chirp, chirp, chirp, chirp,” Rinder said.
They set the ducklings free one by one, leading to this reunion.
“Everybody loves that, mom getting reunited with the little ones,” Johnson said.
Every mile can be its own finish line. That’s true for Pat Schwebach. Doctors told him 20 years ago the road ahead would end soon.
“Doctors told me, ‘I hope you have everything in order, because you might not see Christmas,” Pat said to KELOLAND News in 2002.
“I think that was the day the doctor told us his liver looked like swiss cheese, because there was so much cancer,” Jodi Schwebach, his wife, said in 2002.
“The reason for the running and the racing is so I can be here with my family. And it worked out. I’m so thankful. That’s all it’s for. That’s what I enjoy the most is being with my family,” Pat said.
We’ve only just begun 2020, and it won’t be too long before we reach the end of the year. We place a lot of value on beginnings and endings, but as these people have shown us, they mean nothing without every positive moment in between.