stories we loved 2020

6 People Who Lifted Our Spirits in 2020

The people who inspired us this year included actress and activist Laverne Cox, college football kicker Sarah Fuller and teen gospel singer Keedron Bryant

Their names might not be household fixtures, but in a time when we were all looking for a little inspiration, these six people lifted us up when we were at our lowest with their stories of determination. Some broke long-standing barriers, others spoke out against injustice, while others simply found a way to give back to those in desperate need. These are their stories.

Sarah Fuller

Some people make waves. Sarah Fuller doesn't have time for that. She's too busy making history. Two weeks after becoming the first woman to play in a Power Five conference football game, Fuller made college football history again when she scored for Vanderbilt during its game against Tennessee. The senior kicker joined NBCLX to talk about the honor of “playing like a girl” and how she became an unlikely member of the team.

"It's not always going to be easy. There's going to be ups and downs. The willingness to fight through the downs and cherish the ups I think is really important," Fuller said. "So, just keep fighting."

Keedron Bryant

13-year old Keedron Bryant drops by to speak about his debut EP "I Just Wanna Live" which was inspired by his viral tribute to George Floyd.

Bryant was a teen gospel singer whose song protesting the death of George Floyd went viral, catching the attention of everyone from NBA superstar LeBron James to former President Barack Obama. His song "I Just Wanna Live" was posted on social media shortly after Floyd's death while in the custody of Minnesota police. Warner Records released the single on Friday in honor of Juneteenth and announced 100% of the single's net profits would be donated to the NAACP. Amazon Music also announced it would donate $1 for every stream of the song on Amazon Music to the NAACP, up to $50,000.

"My family and I sat down and watched the George Floyd video," Bryant told NBCLX host Ashley Holt. "It was a hard, heartbreaking video. My mom went into prayer and she asked God to give her something and God gave her (the lyrics) to the song. I asked God to give me power and strength to deliver the message right in a hopeful and faithful manner."

Chris Nikic

Chris Nikic made history this week when he became the first person with Down syndrome to complete an Ironman triathlon. The 21-year-old joined LX News with his trainer Dan Grieb to talk about his training program and what (and who) motivated him to complete what is considered one of the most difficult one-day races in the world, with 14 minutes to spare.

Nikic made history in 2020 when he became the first person with Down syndrome to complete an Ironman triathlon. The 21-year-old joined LX News hosts Ashley Holt and Nik Z with his trainer Dan Grieb to talk about his training program and what (and who) motivated him to complete what is considered one of the most difficult one-day races in the world, with 14 minutes to spare.

"My dad said to me whenever I do free swim or the bike I just get on and keep going," Nikic said. "The gyms have been closed during the pandemic, but I've found ways to train and get back to doing what I expected."

Dan and Madison Presser

Connecticut father Dan Presser and his four-year-old daughter Madison are recreating famous movie scenes from iconic films such as “The Wizard of Oz” and “Titanic” to raise money for Feeding America.

In an effort to keep their spirits up and their kids entertained during the pandemic the Presser family from Connecticut began recreating some of the most iconic movie scenes—from A League of Their Own to Ace Ventura and Braveheart—casting their 4-year-old Madison and 1-year-old Barton in the lead roles. The clips were a hit. But soon, they realized the clips could also serve to raise money for families in need.

The family partnered with Feeding America, a domestic hunger relief organization that manages 200 food banks, and since posting their first movie scene back in the spring, they've created 43 clips and raised over $32K for Feeding America by attaching a link to the videos, Presser says. "Once we made a couple of these things just to kill the time we thought we could teach the kids a lesson about giving back," Presser said. "You're watching the news and you see all these lines at food banks, so we attached a link and people have been donating. People have been very kind."

Laverne Cox

Laverne Cox is using her time during the pandemic to “let go of some stuff," adding, “There’s some effs that I’m not giving right now.” Cox offers Ashley Holt some real talk about letting go and loving yourself during this tough year.

Cox used her time during the pandemic to offer encouragment to others struggling with depression. She spoke NBCLX host Ashley Holt about letting go and loving yourself during this tough year.

"Some people just love themselves and it's a done deal. But for me its been a struggle and a process every single day. Because there's always going to be those voices that say, 'You're not good enough," said Cox. "It's always important to be able to confront those voices and say 'No, not today.'"