Ryan Mayer

The end of 2017 is drawing near which means it’s a good time to take stock of the year in sports. As always, there were stories that made us laugh, cry, and shake our fists with rage. But let’s head into 2018 with positive thoughts by taking a look back on the five stories that made us feel all warm and fuzzy inside. In no particular order.

JJ Watt Raises $37 Million For Houston Flood Relief

The Texans defensive end didn’t make the impact he wanted to on the field this season, but he made a massive impact off of it. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey’s devastation of the Houston area, Watt took to his Twitter account and began posting a series of videos encouraging people to donate money to flood relief. The fans delivered. Over $37 million was donated, as Watt continuously posted new videos upping the goal amount. The story quickly went viral. Since then, Watt has announced his plans for how the money would be spent, and it was another example of just how powerful the reach of an athlete can be for his community.

Hailey Dawson throws out the ceremonial first pitch before game four of the 2017 World Series between the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Minute Maid Park on October 28, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Credit: Bob Levey/Getty Images

Hailey Dawson Throws Out First Pitch At Multiple Ballparks

If you’re unfamiliar with Hailey’s story, the 7-year-old has a 3-D-printed hand, and she’s determined not to let if affect her. Already, she has thrown out the first pitch for both the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles. But her larger goal is to throw out a first pitch at every ballpark in the major leagues, and immediately after this goal was announced on Twitter, MLB teams started lining up to bring her in. Love to see teams stepping up to make a kid’s dream come true, including the Astros doing it during one of the biggest moments of the baseball season. Speaking of which.

Houston Astros Win World Series

Yes, a Houston story is on here twice. But they deserve it. First it was J.J. Watt helping the city with flood relief through use of his social media. Then the Astros lifted the city’s spirits in a different way, by going on an unforgettable run to the World Series. After dominating the Red Sox in the ALDS, the ‘Stros provided us back-to-back seven-game classic series in the ALCS against the Yankees and the World Series against the Dodgers. And, in the end, they won the World Series, giving the city something to celebrate in the midst of a tough fall for so many people in the Houston area.

University Of Iowa Football Fans Start New Tradition

Kinnick Stadium, on the University of Iowa’s campus, has a pretty unique set-up, in that a children’s hospital is built right next to the stadium, and the upper floors of the hospital overlook the stadium. With that set-up, kids being treated in the hospital can see into the stadium on game days and watch the football team play. This year, the fans in Kinnick Stadium began a new tradition. After the first quarter of the team’s first game of the season against the University of Wyoming, all the fans in the stadium turned around to wave to the kids watching from the hospital in a moment that made the kids feel truly special.

I’m not crying… you’re crying.

Brian Boyle Beats Leukemia Diagnosis, Comes Back To Play For Devils

When the New Jersey Devils signed forward Brian Boyle to a two-year contract in July of this year, the team was looking for the veteran forward to provide some leadership to an otherwise fairly young team. Then, in September of this year, Boyle was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia. The good news is, the cancer was treatable and just about a month later, Boyle returned to practice. A week later, he appeared in his first game for the team. Since then, Boyle has gone on to post some of the best totals of his career to this point of the season. Through December 21st, Boyle has eight goals and six assists in 23 games with the team, leading the Devils to second place in the Metro division.