One-year-old baby Aryan Singh Deol with his father Gaganpreet Singh Deol and mother Harpreet Kaur Deol outside the family’s home in Newton in August. Aryan, who has a rare genetic disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), will get the treatment he needs thanks to the $2.8 million collected during an online fundraising effort during the spring and summer months. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

One-year-old baby Aryan Singh Deol with his father Gaganpreet Singh Deol and mother Harpreet Kaur Deol outside the family’s home in Newton in August. Aryan, who has a rare genetic disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), will get the treatment he needs thanks to the $2.8 million collected during an online fundraising effort during the spring and summer months. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

Despite the pandemic, it wasn’t all sad stories in Surrey

Here is some of Surrey’s most heartwarming news

In a year full of COVID-19, and seemingly bad news, there were still a few bright spots.

Early on in the pandemic a couple of Surrey teens created an initiative to connect seniors and teens in the Lower Mainland.

Classmates Tina Yong and Jasmine Chahal created “Quaranteens” and began recruiting students to write to seniors isolated in long-term care homes during the first wave of the pandemic in May.

By June, a Whalley church was about to hit a milestone.

City Centre Church expected to bag its 10,000th lunch for people in need since starting on April 1.

Then in August, a Surrey family learned that an online fundraiser had collected the millions needed for medical treatment to help their son, Aryan Singh Deol, live a normal life.

Aryan’s parents, father Gaganpreet and mother Harpreet, said it had been a seven-month struggle for the family since their son was diagnosed with a type of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), a rare genetic disease that affects the central nervous system and voluntary muscle movement.

In March, just as the COVID-19 pandemic hit, friends and family rallied around the Deols to launch a GoFundMe campaign that aimed to raise a whopping $2.8 million to pay for a treatment called Zolgensma. The goal was reached the day after Aryan’s first birthday.

In September, Surrey resident Ken Smith celebrated a very different birthday – his 100th.

The Second World War veteran now lives at Fleetwood Villa, where balloon-festooned vehicles paraded and bagpipes played as the happy birthday boy sat on a bench outside the retirement home and waved to family and friends.

As Halloween rolled around, and many events were cancelled, City Dream Centre volunteers planned to set up pumpkin patches in the fields of four of Surrey’s inner-city schools.

The pumpkins were placed in the early morning, and classes took turns visiting their very own pumpkin patch in the afternoon, with COVID-19 precautions in place.

And while we know about the bad side of Facebook, which can be a pit of political put-downs and shadowy behaviour, but the social-media hub can also do some good.

For example, consider the recent food drive organized on Surrey Community Corner, a private group of 2,300 Facebook-ers. “We ended up collecting 2,734 items in six weeks,” said drive organizer Manav Bhardwaj.

The last of the donations were dropped off at Surrey Food Bank’s Newton warehouse on Nov. 2.

Meantime, a group of men at Phoenix Society having been knitting toques for other women in recovery, the homeless and babies.

Nelson Mendonca learned how to knit toques while in jail, and when he arrived at Phoenix about four months ago, he took up knitting once again to keep his mind busy. From there, he taught other men in recovery how to knit.

The group has now made more than 200 toques and raised thousands to continue making them.

CoronavirusSurreyYear in Review