In a year filled with news of war and other woes in the world, there was still lots of joy to be found.
From awe-inspiring, world-record feats to incredible acts of kindness to quirky stories that just make you smile, there’s no shortage of good to see.
As we look back at 2023, here are 23 inspiring stories that warmed our hearts.
A pod of dolphins led a lost mother humpback whale and her calf back to their migration route.
Researchers filmed the incredible act of kindness on Oct. 18 near Bunbury Back Beach, Australia.
The Dolphin Discovery Centre Bunbury said drone footage showed the whale, initially mistaken for an orca due to her dramatic black and white markings, swimming with her calf behind the dolphins.
When a Florida animal rescue first met Loretta, they said she was so matted she was "struggling to walk."
A before and after photo of Loretta. (Poodle and Pooch Rescue of Florida.)
After posting for help on social media in the Orlando area, the rescue received an "incredible response."
It took less than 24 hours before a local groomer answered the call and changed Loretta’s life.
A California firefighter went above and beyond to help children after their mother was sent to the hospital.
A California firefighter made breakfast for children after their mother was transported to a hospital. (Credit: Los Banos Fire Department)
The Los Banos fire captain not only made a "gourmet" meal consisting of cinnamon-sugar toast and orange juice, he also helped the children get ready for school until other relatives arrived.
Good deed on the run: Good Samaritan's shoe swap propels marathoner whose sneaker broke to finish race
When Jesús Villanueva attended the Mexico City marathon as a bystander late last month, he didn't expect to help out a runner in the most unusual yet gratifying way.
Jesús Villanueva and Jerry Manzano. (Credit: Jesús Villanueva)
The 36-year-old gave one of his shoes to one of the marathoners, identified as Jerry Manzano, after his shoe had broken. Manzano was able to not only complete the race but qualified for the upcoming Boston Marathon.
"I did it spontaneously without really thinking about the magnitude of what I was doing. Another part of me thinks that it was out of empathy," Villanueva added. "Having run several marathons, I put myself in their shoes, and it would have been a tragedy not to be able to finish the marathon."
Dreams really did come true at Disneyland for one couple who got down on one knee and proposed to one another simultaneously.
Samuel Bishop Macias and Javier López were caught on camera presenting each other with engagement rings outside Sleeping Beauty’s castle at Disneyland in Anaheim, California.
"I already had it planned but I never knew he [Macias] was planning the same thing!," López shared. "When he pulled out the ring, I started crying and laughing at the same time. It was a beautiful moment."
A boy who is legally blind saw his parents clearly for the very first time, and it was precious.
Theo Zgoda, 11 months old, of Buffalo, New York, was given a pair of glasses that would allow him to see the world around him clearly for the first time in his life.
In the video, after the glasses were placed on his face, Theo looked around him and burst into a huge smile.
'Good people left in the world': Strangers rally around 2 boys after no one showed to their birthday party
It was one of the most crushing moments Lacey Meyer experienced for her two young sons: no one showed up to their birthday party.
But after word got out on Facebook about the disappointment, the Defiance, Ohio, community stepped up in a big way.
Dozens of strangers and their families showed up to celebrate the little boys, including the town's fire department. Some also brought presents.
Alfredo Aliaga (Julian Coiner)
On Oct. 14, Alfredo Aliaga, a delightful 92-year-old man who splits his time between Germany and Spain, joined his daughter, son-in-law and two witnesses on a hike through one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
After two days and more than 21 hours of hiking, Alfredo surpassed the previous record-holder and became the oldest to complete the 24-mile journey from the North Rim to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
"You cannot say, ‘I am too old’ to do things," the 92-year-old offered. "I am healthy and happy."
Mother of the bride forgets to change photo captions in daughter’s wedding album, leaving family in hysterics
The mother of a Texas bride missed a major step in completing her daughter’s wedding album, but the glaring mistake made the memories all the sweeter.
After the wedding, Sherry Noblett, went online to create a wedding album as a gift for the couple.
A bride was left in hysterics after her mother forgot to change the autofilled captions on her wedding album. (Mandi Roach Photography)
But when the bride opened the finished album, she began to see her mother had forgotten one key detail: changing the autofilled captions.
Some of the captions, which she featured in her viral TikTok video, include various seasons, activities and more, such as "a walk in the park" and "spring," for pictures of the groom and his groomsmen.
"I told her this is our favorite gift — and we will NEVER replace it on the coffee table."
In a heartwarming tale of compassion, a Florida firefighter opened his heart and home to a newborn baby girl he discovered in the station’s Safe Haven drop box.
(Credit: Zoey's parents, FOX News Digital, Ocala Fire Rescue)
Both he and his wife had reportedly been trying for a child for years, and after a few long and stressful days, Zoey was in her new loving home with the firefighter and wife – her new parents.
Jorge Martinez and Gerardo Sanchez, two contractors who were working in Bakersfield, California on August 23, were captured on video chasing down a would-be thief.
In the video, Martinez and Sanchez are going about their commissioned work when suddenly a man is seen walking up to the home of Stephanie Perez, the homeowner.
Perez is then seen in the video running out her front door and yelling, "Hey! Get back here!" at the bike thief as both Martinez and Sanchez spring into action.
Martinez and Sanchez immediately dropped everything they were doing and got into their respective vehicles and drove after the bike thief.
A curious orangutan captured the hearts of zoo-goers in Louisville, Kentucky, when it knocked on its enclosure to further inspect a baby who was visiting the zoo.
Video taken by Kayla Jaylen Natsis shows her 3-month-old son Jordan being carried by his grandmother at the Louisville Zoo when the orangutan knocks and motions for someone to bring the baby closer.
"We brought him over so she could see him and she kissed the glass two times," Natsis told Storyful. "Everyone there, including us, thought it was the cutest thing ever!"
A homeless woman in Maine who used what little money she had left to donate a bike to a 3-year-old boy after his was stolen was given over $11,000 in donations following her selfless act.
Pictured from left to right: Rockland Police Chief Tim Carroll; Ian Kirkham, director of operations for the Mid-Coast Recovery Coalition; Alexis Fuller-Wright; Darlene Plasse-Young; Liz Fuller-Wright; Lura Robinson who serves on the Board of the Reco (Lura Robinson/Mid-Coast Recovery Coalition)
Mid-Coast Recovery Coalition partnered with the Rockland Police Department to raise funds to help Darlene Plasse-Young, affectionately nicknamed "bike lady," who was going through some financially difficult times.
The non-profit organization hoped to raise enough funds to help pay off Plasse-Young’s car, which was her home, so she could eventually afford rent at an apartment.
"Her own struggles did not deter the woman, however, and she selflessly purchased a new bike, helmet and lock at a local Wal-Mart and made the drive to Rockland. The woman’s generosity was contagious," police said.
Eric Kilburn Jr., a high school freshman in Michigan, has long suffered from painful blisters and sores on his feet because of ill-fitting shoes.
That’s because the 14-year-old student-athlete, who stands 6 feet, 10 inches tall, wears size 23 shoes – which his mother said are impossible to find.
But after a local reporter at Hometown Life published a story about Eric’s woes, his story went viral – and celebrity Shaquille O’Neal stepped in to help.
The former basketball star donated five pairs of sneakers from Reebok that were originally made for O’Neal. He also called Eric to discuss sports, basketball and O’Neal’s own struggles finding shoes that fit as a teenager.
Companies including Armor and Puma sent out representatives to scan Eric’s feet and make him custom shoes and cleats. Reebok also reached out and sent shoes to their entire family.
A traffic stop in South Carolina took a turn when the elderly man who was pulled over ended up giving the officer a clog dancing lesson.
Body-worn and dashcam footage shows Officer Woodmansee speaking to the man outside his vehicle shortly after midnight on Sunday morning, May 7, and asking him about his night of dancing.
"Do you dance?" the man asks Woodmansee, after showing her the dancing clogs he was wearing.
The man offers to teach her a "two-step" on the road. "Right here?" Woodmansee asks. "Right there," he replies.
Watch below for the pure joy that ensued.
When William Sumiel Jr. called for an Uber ride in 2021, little did he know that it would be life-saving. The 73-year-old New Jersey man said he received a kidney donation from his driver, 33-year-old Tim Letts.
Tim Letts poses with William Sumiel, Jr. (Credit: William Sumiel, Jr.)
Sumiel said he told Letts that he was on the transplant list for a kidney after being diagnosed with type II diabetes about 30 years ago. That’s when Letts said something to Sumiel he would never forget.
"He told me, ‘God must have put you in my car!’" Sumiel continued. "When he pulled in front of my home, he said, ‘If you’ll take my name and number, I’d like to donate a kidney to you.’"
A New Hampshire woman and her beloved horse made the most out of an abundance of snow in the most adorable way.
Sandy Hodskins, owner of West Meadow Farm in Bradford, New Hampshire, took time from shoveling to enjoy the snow with her horse, West Wind.
The 17-year-old Kiger mustang mare was born in Bend, Oregon, said Hodskins, who got her as a yearling. The two have been a team ever since. While her husband was out plowing, Hodskins said she brought her horse to a new paddock with fresh snow, and they started making snow angels.
"We were just having fun like we did as kids," Hodskins said. "Something we often forget to do when we turn into an adult."
Imagine climbing 9,000-plus feet up, across glaciers, deep crevasses and unstable rocks – all in weather that can change in an instant – to reach the peak of your state’s tallest mountain.
Now picture doing it at 78 years old.
Rose Vanderhoof stands atop the 14,400-foot peak of Mount Rainier in Washington (Rose and Ted Vanderhoof)
On July 10, Rose Vanderhoof of Ashford, Washington, became the oldest woman to summit Mount Rainier, the 14,400-foot volcano that towers over the western part of the state. It was a four-day, extremely arduous climb. Hundreds of people have died while attempting to summit.
"I could just see the faces of the people who had encouraged me and prayed for me," she told FOX TV Stations. "And I thought, ‘I can’t stop.’ And so I just pushed myself harder than I’ve ever pushed in my life."
Angela Boisseau thought she’d never get another dog after losing her beloved pooch to cancer. Then she met Happy.
Happy's first week at home with new family (Credit: Angela Boisseau)
Happy, a 14-year-old husky who had spent nearly 11 of his 14 years at Sunny Meadows Safe Haven for Pets outside of Memphis, Tennessee.
"Happy is finally home now. He went from a 6-foot x 3-foot kennel to a real house to call his own. He went from a concrete floor to a carpet. He has not just one but two pillows. And, most of all, Happy has love - real love," Boisseau said.
Rehan Staton first made headlines when he was accepted into the prestigious university after working as a sanitation worker to fund his undergraduate studies.
This year, he’s getting even more recognition for giving back to the industry that propelled him through those younger years.
Staton helped start a non-profit that raises money to support janitors and other support staff. In April, he held an awards ceremony to recognize those who may be overlooked, and raised $70,000 to give them various financial support.
"They act like our counselors. They’re like our surrogate parents. They go above and beyond," Staton said. "We’re just trying different ways to see how can we increase visibility and quality of life for our support staff."
"If you do good, good will follow you," Delivontae Johnson believes. "There is never a limit on a good thing you can do for this world."
Dee Harkrider attends a baby shower for Delivontae Johnson's cousin. (Credit: Dee Harkrider)
And after the 19-year-old spotted a lost wallet at an Arkansas Walmart, he put those words into action. Johnson visited the store to get money for a tire when he spotted a black wallet in a shopping cart. Johnson said the wallet belonged to 61-year-old Dee Harkrider.
The two eventually met up and became fast friends. Harkrider has met Johnson's mother, grandmother, and some of his aunts. She even went to a baby shower for Johnson’s cousin.
"I truly believe that God brought this all about and put us all in each other’s lives," she continued. "I thank God for all of this."
Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night – nor snake venom – would keep one USPS worker from going above and beyond for a Georgia family.
Holle Prigmore was delivering mail on Sept. 22 in Buchanan, Georgia, when she happened to be in the right place at the right time.
Video shared by Kelsey Proctor showed Prigmore holding up her phone with a typed message facing the camera that read, "Little beagle bit by copperhead." Prigmore proceeded to take Proctor’s dog, Ginger, to a local vet to be treated for the bite.
"The Postal Service is part of the fabric of the nation with employees making a difference in every community across the country. We are very proud of Holle Prigmore and her quick action which saved the life of a customer’s beloved pet," the USPS said in a statement to FOX TV Stations.
Master Deputy Harold ‘Hal’ Davis was injured a year ago after a freak accident left him temporarily paralyzed, but the Florida deputy refused to give up on his goal to walk his daughter down the aisle.
After a year of intense therapy, he regained enough movement to walk his daughter down the aisle with some assistance. Video of the touching moment was filmed by Davis' colleagues at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.
"We are so happy for Hal and his entire family," the sheriff’s office wrote on Facebook.