Stories of Mainers that inspired you this year. Credit: BDN composite/file photos

Last year might have been tumultuous at times, but Mainers continued to persevere and bring inspiration to their communities.

In true Maine fashion, residents from across the state showed resilience, camaraderie and tenacity in the face of adversity. Some faced medical challenges, while others celebrated family traditions with the next generation.

From a new, successful hockey team for girls in the Bangor region to a man who carried his friend on one last deer hunt, here are some of the stories that inspired you the most last year.

Maine community steps up to help farmer injured during potato harvest

Fort Kent farmer John Roy of Roy Farms is thankful his family farm will live to see another season thanks to help from the community. Credit: Jessica Potila / St. John Valley Times

When fifth-generation Fort Kent potato farmer John Roy’s arm was crushed in a harvester just before the potato harvest season, it could have brought an end to the family farm.

Instead, the community rallied around him. Although losing any amount of the harvest would have been heartbreaking, losing the 120 acres that were still in the ground when Roy was injured could have broken the farm’s finances.

Luckily, a crew of local farmers, along with support from the Penobscot McCrum potato processing facility,  pitched in to get the remaining tubers to the plant on time.

Bangor region gets its first high school girls’ hockey team

The Penobscot Pioneers, the first-ever high school girls ice hockey team from the Bangor area, won their debut game on Nov. 25, 2022, against Greely/Gray-New Gloucester in a breakaway 12-0 upset. Credit: Courtesy of Dave Utterback

After years of players traveling to other regions for youth hockey leagues, the Bangor region finally established its first girls’ cooperative team.

The team, composed of players from Bangor, Brewer, Old Town, Orono, Hermon, Hampden Academy and John Bapst, is having a breakout inaugural year. After an astonishing 12-0 win during the first game of the season, the team has gone on to win five out of eight games so far.

The team is currently on track to remain third in Class A North Heal Point rankings.

Maine gets its first courthouse dog

Not all of the inspiring Mainers this year were of the bipedal kind.

Holiday, an adorable yellow Labrador retriever, came to the Houlton courthouse in March, and is piloting a program that seeks to offer emotional support to people who are dealing with traumatic experiences.

Holiday works to offer comfort to children and victims of violent crimes throughout the legal process. Dogs and other animals have been used to help alleviate stress in various situations for years.

Father and son work together to catch huge brook trout

There are few things more “Maine” than going out fishing for brook trout. It’s a tradition passed from father to son, from mother to daughter, and it’s fun for the whole family.

As Bill Huot got older, he wanted to spend more time on Maine lakes and ponds to temper the commotion of saltwater fishing. A campsite at Chewonki Big Eddy Campground offered just the right amount of excitement, when Bill and his son Charlie caught a 2.14-pound brook trout in the area in July.

The catch might not have been the catch of a lifetime, but it was a memory that Bill and Charlie will cherish for years.  

Mainer returns from Antarctica to cancer diagnosis

Lucas Graychase, 46, received a terminal stage four colorectal cancer diagnosis in May 2021 after seeing a doctor for back pain. The diagnosis came months after he returned from working in Antarctica for eight months.

When a Bangor man signed up to work as a technician at the primary U.S. research station on Antarctica, he wasn’t expecting the emotional whiplash he experienced when he returned stateside.

After undergoing an MRI that revealed a ruptured disc in his back, Lucas Graychase found out that he had stage 4 colorectal cancer that had spread to his liver. Despite the diagnosis, and the unpleasant side effects of aggressive treatments, Graychase continued to give his all to the Brewer School Department, where he works as the facilities director.

Graychase finds solace in continuing to put his best foot forward in his work, and continues to research new treatments and clinical trials that may be options for him.

Maine hunter takes friend on one final deer hunt

Jerry Galusha carried the cremains of his best friend, Doug Cooke, along with several items of Cooke’s hunting gear, on hunts this fall. Credit: Courtesy of Jerry Galusha

When a Maine man’s best hunting buddy passed away from renal failure weeks before deer hunting season, he wasn’t going to let him miss out.

Instead, Jerry Galusha wrapped up Doug Cooke’s ashes, a few of his most prized belongings, and went to enjoy nature in the way the pair had during their long friendship – on a buck hunt.

Galusha had an overwhelmingly emotional reaction when he saw a spikehorn walking directly toward him and shot it in Cooke’s memory. Galusha said that he cried, recalling that Cooke had been beside him when he shot his very first spikehorn years ago.

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Leela Stockley

Leela Stockley is an alumna of the University of Maine. She was raised in northern Maine, and loves her cat Wesley, her puppy Percy and staying active in the Maine outdoors.