CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. - The Capital Region has had a bountiful year, teeming with both joy and sorrow.
Compiled below is a list and slideshow of some men and women around the Capital area who have shown great amounts of courage and compassion in 2012.
Victoria Soto was a first-grade teacher who died shielding her students from bullets during the Newtown, Connecticut tragic massacre.
Dawn Hochsprung, principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, was killed while lunging at the gunman, as she tried to overtake him during the massacre.
Lane, a sixth-grade student at O'Rourke Middle School, was attempting to stop a vehicle filled with his siblings from entering a busy roadway, by getting behind the vehicle to stop it, when he was pinned beneath it and killed.
Willie White is the executive director of AVillage and an avid community organizer of the Capital Region in times of strife. "We're all Willie's disciples," said a fellow volunteer of Willie's at a fundraiser toward funeral costs that he co-organized, as she looked over her shoulder in his direction. "He really gathers people together when it matters."
Lance Corporal Anthony Denier was a Mechanicville High School graduate and member of the Marines. Denier was shot and killed while in action in Fallujah, a city in Afghanistan. He had been serving in Afghanistan for just one month at the time of his death. He was out on foot patrol with a dozen other Marines when he was shot down by enemy fire.
Shontal Gaymon, 29, sustained serious burns after saving a one-year-old baby from an apartment fire in Troy. Gaymon was a neighbor of the apartment that caught fire. She said she saw smoke coming from the burning home and realized that there might be a child inside.
Chip's farm, ‘Ellms Family Farm' in Ballston Spa, collects Christmas trees for military members all over the world. The program the farm is involved with, called ‘Trees for Troops,' delivers donated trees to around 50 military bases all over the world, including many in the United States. Chip says that many military members have stopped into Ellms Family Farm over the years to recount their fond personal memories after having received a tree while stationed away from home for the holidays. "This really brings home to where they are," said Chip, smiling.
Farley, 24, an Explosive Ordinance Disposal Technician, was killed in Bala Boluk, Farah, Afghanistan when a roadside bomb he was attempting to disarm detonated. A 2004 graduate of Columbia High School in East Greenbush, Farley was also a veteran of the war in Iraq. He was awarded with a Purple Heart in 2007 for being wounded during his service there.
In Schenectady, SAFE Inc., a non-profit organization, serves youth who are at risk of, or have already been, sexually exploited. One of the programs SAFE offers is outreach. A group of three "hit the streets" every Friday and Saturday night as the sun sets to offer hope and help to at risk children. Khalik, Josephine and Marcus are three such outreach volunteers.
The family that adopted Pearl, one of the railroad puppies found in Schenectady. Three puppies, one of whom died from her severe condition, were found by railroad workers, nailed by their paws to railroad tracks at North Pearl Street in Albany on September 8th. Pearl was missing two digits from her paw.
The family that adopted Hudson, one of the railroad puppies found in Schenectady. Three puppies, one of whom died from her severe condition, were found by railroad workers, nailed by their paws to railroad tracks at North Pearl Street in Albany on September 8th. Hudson was entirely missing his back left paw, and he was fitted with a new prosthetic paw at the Hudson Humane Society.
Michael DeMarsico, 24, was a soldier who died while serving his country in Afghanistan. He was on his first tour of duty, scheduled to return in four months, when he was killed by an improvised explosive device. DeMarisco was from North Adams, and he graduated from Drury High School.
Ron Fonda created a makeshift memorial for the community to reflect and pay their respects for the twenty child victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. Each pine tree has its own bell and angel ornament. On every tree also hangs a sign, each with the hand-written name of one of the child victims.
*If we have missed anyone you would like to see added to this list, please honor that person in the comments section and we will add them.*