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Dec 31, 2009 8:05 PM by Andy Koen

Inspirations of '09

As we countdown the remaining hours of 2009, we wanted to take a look back at some of the year's most inspiring stories from Southern Colorado.

We call them Positively Colorado, and you may just find them positively inspiring.

The first happened just last week.  Tracy Hermanstorfer was giving birth to her son Coltyn at Memorial Hospital on Christmas Eve when something went terribly wrong.  Both of their hearts stopped beating and all looked lost. 

The doctors perform and emergency caesarian to deliver Coltyn, and as soon as he was born Tracy's heart began to beat again.  After another four to five minutes of CPR Coltyn was revived as well.

"Someone upstairs was looking after me and saying it wasn't time for me to be gone," Hermanstorfer said.

The doctors at Memorial said there was no explanation for why the two recovered.

"It's just an absolute miracle," said husband and father Mike Hermanstorfer.

Nathan Pittman was a freshman trying out for the football team at Sand Creek High School in 2003 when, on the first day of practice, he unexpectedly collapsed on the field.  A deadly combination of sickle cell trait and dehydration left him paralyzed.

But Nathan defied the odds and learned to walk again. He now shares his experience as a youth pastor at his father's church.

"I didn't want to sit there.  I didn't want to stay there and live the rest of my life in a bed. I was going to beat this," Pittman said.

Miko, a Portuguese water dog, was specially training in Monument to sniff out peanuts.  Ethan Rines is deathly allergic of the nuts and he and his mother drove from Maine to come pick up the pup.

Ethan hadn't been able to attend school for fear of encountering the slightest hint of peanuts, but he returned to class with confidence now that Miko is by his side.

The bond between another boy and his service dog was strengthened as they both faced physical adversities together.  Veren Betzen, 14, has cerebral palsy.  For the past seven years his yellow lab "Comet" has helped him with everyday life.

But as Comet aged, he developed a tumor on his front leg that required amputation.

"This came up. I would just say okay we just have to deal with this and we can get by," Veren said.

With Veren's help, Comet learned to get around on three legs just as easily as he had before.  The canine's strength and determination seemed to rub off on Veren as he made greater strides than ever in his physical therapy sessions during Comet's recovery.

During the month of November, the Good Thyme Café in downtown Cañon City served customers the Kayla wrap.  Kayla Kammrad worked at the café for a time and remains friends with the family.

She came down with a severe case of H1N1 flu this fall and spent weeks in intensive care.  Other restaurants and shops on Main Street join Good Thyme in raising money for the family during her recovery.

And earlier this month, American Idol contestant Jason Castro personally serenaded Megan Phelan, a nine year old lukemia patient from Colorado Springs.  Castro and the DJ's 98.9 KKMG "Magic-FM" hosted a benefit concert for the Phelan family to help them afford a bone marrow transplant for Megan.

When Castro heard that Phelan was too sick to come to the concert, he showed up at her house to personally perform for her.

"It's cool to get to sit down sometimes and hang-out with people," the singer-songwriter said.  "I don't get to do that too much so this is a special time for me too."

From volleyball playing grannies to a lemonade stand set up to help a classmate with cancer, there are dozens of positive stories taking place in our community everyday. 

Send us your story suggestions here.

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