who inspires you?

Readers replied with the family members, friends and pets who boost our spirits in tough times, strengthen our communities and remind us that even small gestures can grow exponentially.

Cassius, my adopted puppy

Nominated by Sadie Botine • 28 • Minneapolis

Six months ago, I adopted Cassius from Ruff Start Rescue – just a few months after I was diagnosed with cancer. I had been wanting to adopt a dog for a long time, but never felt like it was the "right time." After my diagnosis, I realized there are no guarantees in life, so I decided to just take the leap and start looking for a dog that needed a home. I found Cassius and immediately fell in love. I couldn't wait to start our life together. But a couple weeks after his adoption, we discovered Cassius was battling his own illness: Auto-immune meningitis. In our 6 months together, I honestly feel like Cassius and I have helped each other heal. He has been there for me on some pretty low days while I have gone through my cancer treatment, and I have comforted and loved him on days when he could barely move. It feels like we're two peas in a pod, always exactly what the other needs in these moments. I am incredibly grateful to have him in my life.

Ron and Joyce Murphy, 87

Nominated by Harriet Horwitz • 79 • Minneapolis

On a cold November afternoon, Ron and Joyce spotted two women huddled on a median in south Minneapolis. One of the women was sleeping, wrapped in a blanket; the other was standing. They were without jackets and obviously without housing. Ron went over to his car and opened the trunk. For over 50 years, he and Joyce have made a habit — or perhaps a hobby — of shopping thrift stores for apparel that they regularly deliver to Listening House shelter in St. Paul. In addition, for his 87th birthday, Ron requested that guests forgo extravagant gifts and instead explore their closets for shareable outerwear. On that cold afternoon, he told one of the women to take her first pick among coats and vests, scarves, mittens, shoes and winter boots. She also picked out a coat for her friend. The Murphys spend hundreds of dollars each month on their purchases, not because they are rich but because they believe they should.

Sophia Benrud, 29

Nominated by Ann Benrud • 58 • St. Paul

As a Black, multiracial, queer community organizer and street medic, Sophia has been on the streets, in homes, and in the lives of those most impacted by the events of the last several years, building connections between the Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) communities around climate, the environment, food and healing justice. Sophia believes that being present and visible is a necessity, not a luxury. She serves as Midwest field organizer for the climate action nonprofit MN350 and is a co-founder of Divine Natural Ancestry, a project providing tools, supplies and knowledge for growing food in BIPOC communities. Sophia is also a board member at Community Power, an organization creating community-based solutions to energy systems, and is a founding member of Black Visions. Sophia's philosophy of showing up for people is evident in the way they work, the way they live, and the way they show up for friends, family and community members. If Sophia represents the future, it will be a brighter, safer, more welcoming and inclusive future.
To nominate your special person, please fill out the form below. We plan to run "Who Inspires You" stories throughout the year.
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