Newsmakers ’09: Good Samaritans

The Good guys of the year, like Capt. Sully and Kate Winslet

The citizens of Charlottetown
When a P.E.I. landlord dropped an unzipped bag of cash on a windy day, money began swirling through the air. Passersby pitched in, reaching under parked cars and chasing down fluttering bills. When it was all over, Ian Walker had every one of the 10,300 dollars he started with.

Faron Hall
Seven years of living homeless along Winnipeg’s Red River hasn’t blunted Hall’s humanity. In May, when a teenager fell into the freezing water 40 m away, Hall, a self-described “chronic alcoholic,” jumped in and brought him safely to shore. In August, Hall plunged in again, this time saving a drowning woman.

Chesley Sullenberger III

He may have a name better suited to a trust-fund brat, but Capt. “Sully” works for a living. He’s very, very good at his job. In January, he piloted his crippled Airbus A-320 to a near-impossible smooth landing on New York’s frigid Hudson River. All 155 on board escaped alive. Last man off the rapidly sinking jet, after searching it twice: Sully.

Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet and James Cameron

If the Titanic trio weren’t rich before, the 1997 film took care of that. In May they gave some back, contributing $30,000 to the nursing-home fees of the ship’s last survivor. Millvina Dean, 97, died soon after, her final days free of financial concerns.

J.P. Neufeld
The Concordia University student spotted an Internet posting in which a British teen claimed he would burn down his high school within the hour. Neufeld alerted police in Norfolk, England, who arrested the suspect at the school.

Ian Cartwright
The retired Ontario Superior Court judge knows that there are innocent people in prison and that those who would free them are woefully underfunded in comparison with the Ministry of Justice. So in January he gave $1 million of his own money to the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted. Cartwright won’t even get a tax break for his generosity.

David and Penny Chapman
After their ice cream plant in Markdale, Ont., burned down, the Chapmans told their 350 workers they would rebuild in town. Salaried staff would receive full pay for a year, hourly employees for four months—and, if necessary, the Chapmans would “take care of them” beyond that. One worker told a reporter she didn’t know exactly what that meant, but the Chapmans’ word meant “we’re going to be fine.”

Lisa Campbell
The University of California at Berkeley police specialist knew there was something not right about the man in her office seeking permission for a campus event. Rather than ignore the feeling, she set in motion the inquiry that saw Phillip Garrido arrested and Jaycee Dugard, the woman he had kidnapped 18 years before, set free.

Jack Windolf
When the Bollinger Insurance CEO sold half of his New Jersey firm, he picked up a US$500,000 bonus. Instead of keeping it, he gave each of his 434 employees US$1,000. His only request? “I like it when they spend it on themselves rather than pay bills.”

Unknown benefactor

Someone is determined to see women succeed in higher education, and not just students. This year, an anonymous donor gave US$100 million to at least 15 U.S. post-secondary schools, with a portion earmarked for scholarships for women and minorities. The only link between the institutions: large or small, they all have female presidents.

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