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The Seven Most Inspiring Stories in Southern California in 2013

From an abused foster child headed to UC Berkeley, to health tips from the world's oldest person, to a 9-year-old computer whiz, these were Patch's most-read stories over the past year about inspiring people in Southern California.

Clockwise from left are Jamie Martinez, Kevin Cordasco, Pranav Kalyan, Jiroemon Kimura, Kathy Amaya and Stan Bent.
Clockwise from left are Jamie Martinez, Kevin Cordasco, Pranav Kalyan, Jiroemon Kimura, Kathy Amaya and Stan Bent.
Patch editors see too much bad news every week – from crime to fire to government corruption – so we go out of our way to highlight the inspiring stories we find.  

Here are the seven most-read stories over the past year about inspiring people in Southern California:

1. From Foster Kid to Honors Student: Failure Not an Option for Jamie Martinez

The 20-year-old from rural Alpine outside San Diego overcame tragedy and abuse, and is now bound for UC Berkeley.

2. Mission Viejo Man Cracked the Claw Machine

Stan Bent of Mission Viejo has grabbed – and given away to charity – thousands of stuffed animals, one claw drop at a time. 

3. 10 Tips For a Healthy Life From The World's Oldest Person

Deep in the heart of Japan’s countryside lived the oldest person in the world. Jiroemon Kimura died in June at the age of 116. Here are ten things he told a Patch blogger about living long and living well.

4. 'Breaking Bad' Episode Dedicated to Kevin Cordasco

Viewers of the season 5 premiere episode of Breaking Bad in August may have noted in the closing credits that the show was dedicated to Kevin Cordasco, the Calabasas resident who lost his battle with neuroblastoma at the age of 16 in March.

5. Rocky Dennis: Teaching the Boy Behind the Mask

A former teacher remembers Rocky Dennis, a horribly disfigured Glendora boy whose life was portrayed in the 1985 film "Mask." It was Rocky who continues to teach Barbara Silva the most important lessons in life.

6. Boy, 9, Becomes World's Youngest Microsoft Tech Specialist

Pranav Kalyan, a fourth-grader in Agoura Hills, unseated former record holder Babar Iqbal, 12, of Dubai, India. Pranav became interested in computers at the age of 2 and started doing simple HTML programming at 6.

7. Mother, Son Reconnect After 35 Years Apart

Kathy Amaya came home from work on Nov. 1, received a call from the Border Patrol, and spoke to a son she had not heard from in 35 years.

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