IN REVIEW: five stories that melted Gympie's hearts in 2017
LIKE any year, 2017 was once again full of warmth and heartbreak.
We've listed below five stories involving the people who make our region such an amazing and heartwarming place.
1. Love triumphs in the most difficult year of their lives.
WHILE most of the past year was one to forget for Scott Hoare, his marriage to Angie Minucos was one shining moment to ensure that the dark cloud will always have a silver lining.
On December 2, 2016, the popular former St Patrick's student was left a quadriplegic when he hit his head on a sandbank while swimming at Sydney's Coogee Beach and broke his neck.
"It's like we lost a year of our lives, basically,” Mr Hoare said.
"Our hands were not on the steering wheel, we were passengers for so much time.”
Two days after Mr Hoare came out of intensive care, Ms Minucos proposed; a few days later they had set the date - December 2 - the anniversary of the injury.
"I couldn't move anything from my neck down,” he said.
"With that knowledge, she still proposed.
"She was so committed to me. She basically threw her life, her normal life, away to live with me.”
And when the day finally arrived, it was amazing on a number of levels.
"We streamed the wedding live, about 1000 people watched from around the world,” Mr Hoare said.
2. 'It's eating away at her': the fight to help Tilly
THE past year has been one of unimaginable pain and grief for the parents and siblings of five-year-old Tilly Elson, who suffers daily from a severe form of epilepsy.
But despite setbacks that would send most reeling, this Gympie family is remaining resilient in the face of hardship.
"She was walking up until January or February this year,” Tilly's mother Tiffany said.
Tilly is now confined to a wheelchair, with constant monitoring of her oxygen flow and a myriad of medications that must be administered to her constantly. With the high and on-going expenses of helping Tilly, the Elsons have set up a GoFundMe page, with more than $2000 already donated in just one month.
3. Blazing a new start at One Mile
THE fire which destroyed a block of classrooms did not hold One Mile State School down for long, with classes almost back to normal just weeks after the blaze.
Community support for the school was vital in helping it get back on its feet in time for the start of 2017's second semester.
One building arrived in five prefabricated sections during the school holidays, while other sections turned up on trucks to be literally lifted into place. Railings and stairs were added and, in just two weeks, the students had new facilities.
Students were also supported by others in the community, including a callout for stationery and exercise books to help replace those which were lost.
4. Hayes claims first career win on Endless Puzzle
PILOTING beasts weighing a couple of hundred kilos at 60km/h might sound like enough of a challenge for some, but for first year apprentice jockey Greg Hayes it is the cherry on top compared to what he has faced.
In 2000, while working for acclaimed country trainer Pat Duff, the Curra jockey was involved in a serious car accident. After recovering from his injuries, he left the industry, not returning for 10 years.
Fast forward to 2016 and not long after he started his apprenticeship Mr Hayes suffered a severely broken leg after an horrific race fall on the Sunshine Coast. Such was the severity of the injury, he doubted if racing was the career for him.
"It has been a really long road,” Mr Hayes said.
The end of the long road is just the start of another, though, with Mr Hayes' late November ride bringing home the $10,000 Diggers Cup.
5. It's a Christmas puppy miracle
FRENCH bulldog breeder Samantha Maher thought she had seen and handled everything possible in her career. At least until this Christmas, that was.
One of Australia's most respected breeders, Ms Maher was surprised when her prized dog Gloria gave birth to a puppy - eight days after delivering a healthy litter of four puppies. Ms Maher said she has not experienced anything like it in her career and she is calling it a Christmas miracle. "Last time Gloria had pups they were five days early,” she said.