Someone You Should Know: Looking Back at 2019

Someone You Should Know

What makes North Dakota great?

It’s the people who persevere.

People like April Lund, who overcame alcoholism to become an Olympic hopeful marathon runner.

Or John Ndabuguye, a refugee from the Republic of Congo who found a home—and a dream—in Bismarck. He wants to work for the United Nations. “I know I haven’t reached my dreams yet — but I can see them getting closer,” Ndabuguye says.

North Dakota is great because of its innovators.

People like Rissa Williams, who helps foreign transfer students learn English with ukuleles.

And Egyptologist Mark Lehner: “What we’re finding is a very ancient ancestor to cities! Cities like Minot. Cities like New York,” he says. “It all started with civilizations like this.”

Our state has some amazing kids.

Like 11-year-old entrepreneur Sophia Snustad, who’s making money, one quarter at a time, with vending machines.

And like the young bareback champ Hayes Weinberger. “They were cheering really loud, so that made me really happy,” he says.

North Dakota is full of dedicated people.

Like Don Brandt, who’s worked the drive-thru at Big Boy in Bismarck for 35 years. “I’ve seen teenage girls come through the line when I first started, who are now grandmothers. It’s quite the thing,” Brandt says.

Or Dawn Packard, who spends her summers blazing nature trails in beautiful places. “When it’s all said and done, it’s kind of a work of art.”

North Dakotans also know the importance of connecting with others.

Like the nurse with a sense of humor, Audrey Herman. “When [patients] laugh, they take deeper breaths. They get more oxygen in their lungs.”

And the crew at On the Water Inc., which pairs veterans with volunteers for free fishing trips on Lake Sakakawea. “These guys are leaving and saying, ‘We don’t deserve this.’ Well if you don’t, who does?” says Jeff Willock.

And North Dakota has its fair share of heroes, too.

Like Eddie Schmidt, who flew on secret air missions behind enemy lines in World War II, before coming home to Hazelton. “We tried to surprise the enemy. Always keep them guessing.”

And Hazel Miner, who, 100 years ago, used her body to cover up her two siblings in a brutal North Dakota blizzard—saving their lives, while sacrificing her own. “She was just about to turn 16,” says songwriter Chuck Suchy, “and yet here she was, doing this enormous, adult, womanly, motherly thing.”

So why is North Dakota a great state? It’s all these people—and so many more—and the countless stories they have to tell.

With Someone You Should Know, for KX News, I’m Tim Olson.

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