The Most Heartwarming Stories of 2014

A look back at the ones that brought you to (happy) tears.

ByABC News
December 22, 2014, 9:32 AM

— -- Batkid may have won 2013, but this year saw no shortage of stories that warmed our hearts, and left readers feeling inspired and encouraged.

Sure, some may have made us weep, but they left us smiling in the end. Here's a look back at some of the most heartwarming stories we covered in 2014:

1. Boston Marathon Bombing Survivor Weds Nurse

One of this year's most heartwarming stories comes from one of the most tragic events from 2013: The Boston Marathon bombing.

But in April, one of the survivors married the nurse who helped treat him after the attack, proving that for at least one victim, there is a happy ending. James Costello and his nurse, Krista D'Agostino, married in August in Boston.

"It was the most rewarding event I've ever been a part of," the couple's wedding planner told ABC News.

2. Bengals Keep Devon Still to Help His Sick Daughter

Devon Still, defensive tackle for the Cincinnati Bengals, has a tea party with his daughter Leah, 4, in this photo posted to his Twitter, Nov. 6, 2014.

In a year when the NFL had plenty of bad press -- Ray Rice and Adrian Petersen, for starters -- the Cincinnati Bengals managed to bring some class back to the league. After cutting defensive tackle Devon Still, the Bengals re-signed him in September so that he could continue to pay for his daughter's cancer treatments.

Keeping Still on the practice squad meant he gets to keep his weekly salary and medical insurance.

"They could have washed their hands with me and said they didn't care about what I was going through off the field," he told ABC News at the time. "It's like a blessing in disguise for me."

3. Aunt Saves Baby on Miami Expressway

Pamela Rauseo, 37, performs CPR on her nephew, five-month-old Sebastian de la Cruz, after pulling her SUV over on the side of the road along the west bound lane on Florida state road 836 just east of 57th Avenue around 2:30pm, Feb. 20, 2014.

It was the photo seen around the world.

A Miami woman jumped to action when she saw her nephew turn blue in the back of her SUV, frantically stopping the car on the Dolphin Expressway, screaming for help and attempting CPR -- something she hadn't practiced in years.

Luckily, it worked.

"I don't know how I remembered what to do. ... I just knew I couldn't let him die," she told ABC News in February.

4. Dying Dad Walks Daughter Down 'Aisle'

Photographer Lindsay Villatoro staged a mock wedding for Jim Zetz and his daughter, Josie, after hearing about Jim's terminal illness.

This one really tugged on our heart strings. An 11-year-old girl from California walked down the aisle with her dying dad in a tear-jerking ceremony that pronounced the pair "daddy and daughter."

The mock wedding was a surprise so that Jim Zetz could celebrate a milestone with his daughter that he will miss in real life: his daughter's wedding.

"In twenty years, when she really gets married, she's going to be happy that happened," he told ABC News in April. Zetz died three months later.

5. Birthday Wish Comes True for Boy With Cancer

After word spread that Danny wanted cards for his birthday, cards and mail kept pouring in.

A Massachusetts boy battling cancer got exactly what he wanted this year for his sixth birthday: tens of thousands of birthday cards, sent from kind strangers across the country.

Wouldn't the world be a better place if that's all everyone wanted?

6. Dying Husband Leaves Secret Letters for Family

Shortly after her husband passed away, Ashley Whisenhunt found a stash of letters that he left behind for his family and members of the community.

This sad story had a happy ending that landed it on our list. A Texas man suffering from a rare genetic disorder left behind a secret trove of letters for his wife and infant daughter, to be opened after he died.

Mitchell Whisenhunt's stack of notes, discovered by his wife, included a letter for every year until his 18-month-old daughter turns 18, ensuring her dad's memory will live on long after he's gone.

Whisenhunt lost his battle with Marfan syndrome in October. He was 26.

7. Couple Welcomes Terminal Bucket List Baby

Jenna and Dan Haley posted this photo of their newborn, Shane Haley, to their "Prayers for Shane" Facebook page, Oct. 9, 2014.

A Pennsylvania couple made the most of sad news and turned it into a positive message. When Jenna and Dan Haley found out their first child would be born with a terminal illness, they carried baby Shane to term anyway, and created a bucket list of adventures for him to experience while in his mother's womb.

Shane was born in October and died a few minutes later, but the couple said the short time they had with their baby was still precious.

"We are so grateful for the time that we were blessed to hold and hug our son," they wrote in a Facebook message.

8. Boy With Cancer Sent to World Series

Scott Wilson and his son Noah at the World Series on Oct. 21, 2014.

Our readers loved this feel-good story about a 6-year-old boy with cancer whose neighbor helped send him to the World Series in October.

The Kansas City Royals happen to be Noah Wilson's favorite team, and they hadn't played in the series since 1985. So it was a dream come true for Wilson, who suffers from a cancerous tumor in his spine, to see the team play this year -- even if the Royals didn't win.

9. Toddler Teaches a Lesson in Kindness

Three-year-old Ariana Smith voluntarily donated her hair to Locks of Love.

It's amazing when kids as young as 3 years old understand the power of charity. Case in point: Ariana Smith of Winterport, Maine, whose selfless decision to chop off her hair to donate it to Locks of Love went viral this month.

It doesn't hurt that she's adorable, and gleefully offered up her own hair when she saw an image of a young cancer patient who was bald.

10. Photo Found in 9/11 Rubble Finally Returned to Owner

Woman posts 9/11 wedding photo found at Ground Zero on Twitter each year hoping to find its owner.

For thirteen years, a woman had been trying to return a wedding photo she found in the rubble of the World Trade Center after the 9/11 attacks.

And this year, she finally found its owner. Elizabeth Stringer Keefe, a college professor in Connecticut, tweeted the photo and it caught the attention of someone who recognized a face from the photo.

"On 9/11 I saw the worst of humanity, [but] on 9/12 I saw the best of humanity," said Fred Mahe, who had the photo at his desk in the second World Trade Center. "Elizabeth is 100 percent 9/12."