Good News: Major trip, Faith inspiration and surprise gift

Think there’s nothing good in the news anymore? Think again. This community is packed with the good stuff. Here’s some of what happened this month.

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Faith Westby's sister Haley, mother Jeannie and father Pete Westby, back row-center, post with the team during Pop Tab Donation Night to help raise funds in Faith's name for the RMHC of the Red River Valley. Submitted photo

Goal achieved

Connie and John Wood have completed a major goal: With their December 2018 trip to Antarctica, the Detroit Lakes couple have now visited all seven continents.

“It’s so incredible to be someplace where there’s no towns, no roads, no citizens,” Connie said at a Feb. 25 presentation about the trip at the Detroit Lakes Public Library. “It’s just so unusual. It’s rare to go somewhere where you don’t hear vehicles and people.”

The most memorable parts of the trip were the views. From every angle, Connie said, Antarctica “was just gorgeous, with the ice and the snow.” They described the oceans as a brilliant aqua blue, and the sweeping landscapes as rugged and mostly covered in smooth, untouched snow. Massive icebergs and mountains towered in every direction, as far as the eye could see.

“It really was just a beautiful experience,” Connie said. “We were so far away from everything.”


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Connie and John Wood, in Antarctica. (Submitted Photo)

Beloved doll gets makeover

On Lois Glawe’s 16th birthday, her mother surprised her by gifting her with a new doll.

“I named her Debbie,” Lois said, “because that’s what I always said I would name my first little girl.”

The doll became a cherished possession, carefully tucked away in a hope chest built by her childhood sweetheart (and future husband) Elwood Orner.

Fast forward 65 years, and Lois Orner’s daughter -- yes, Debbie -- decided the doll needed a makeover. In secret, Debbie started the process of restoring mini-Debbie to her former glory, with the plan of surprising her mother.

Lois, now 82, “could scarcely believe it” when she opened the package at the family’s Christmas gathering in December, and saw her old doll looking almost brand new.

“I love her because my mom gave her to me,” the Detroit Lakes woman said, adding that she now tucks her Debbie doll into bed every night, right before she goes to sleep. “I keep her right on the bed.”


A teenage Lois (Glawe) Orner, left, with her doll, Debbie, is seen with Lois' sister, Mickey, and the doll their mother gave her when she turned 16. (Submitted photo)

Forward, with Faith

The Pelican Rapids girls basketball team headed to the state tournament with a motto and a mission that stems from former classmate Faith Westby, who died a year ago.

Faith was a special needs student with a special touch on her fellow students and community. She loved school, sports and each person she met. In the hospital, Ronald McDonald house or at home, Faith loved watching sports and she loved her hometown.

“Being able to follow these girls and seeing how much they care about Faith and bringing her to the games helped ease our pain,” Faith’s father, Pete, said.

At her funeral last year, head coach Brian Korf talked about Faith and the impact of one of the team’s biggest fans who faced challenges with her chin up being a great role model for his team.

The Vikings started wearing shirts with the phrase, “Everything is possible with Faith,” during warm-ups last year and continued this season with the motto “Planting the Seeds of Faith One Game at a Time.”

Faith’s impact and memory are stitched into Pelican’s undefeated 29-0 run to state.


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Faith Westby has been an inspiration to the Pelican Rapids athletic teams, student body and community. Submitted photo

Teacher of the Year

Detroit Lakes Middle School math teacher Steve Zamzo was chosen as Detroit Lakes Public Schools’ Teacher of the Year Wednesday, March 11, at M State’s Detroit Lakes campus.

Zamzo was one of six finalists for the award. Teachers and staff at each of the school district’s six buildings — the high school, middle school, Roosevelt and Rossman elementary schools, the Area Learning Center and Lincoln Education Center — each selected a TOY nominee from their building to represent them at Wednesday’s ceremony.

After each teacher of the year nominee was introduced, he or she would select a large playing card from a deck that was set out on a table at the front of the room, with the teacher who drew the high card being the winner.

“My grandmother was a teacher,” Zamzo said. “It (teaching) was just one of those things I always knew I was going to do.”

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Detroit Lakes Middle School math teacher Steve Zamzo was chosen as the school district's 2020 Teacher of the Year at ceremonies held late Wednesday afternoon on the Detroit Lakes campus of Minnesota State Community & Technical College. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)

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