From working to prevent bullying to restoring historic Long Island landmarks and even creating a song about a beloved hometown, these folks made us proud to be Long Islanders this year.
Joyce Coletti and Tyler Ostrander embrace at Jimmy Hays in Island Park on April 13, 2017, days after he saved her life by performing the Heimlich maneuver on her. Ostrander, a food runner with EMT training, noticed that Coletti was choking during her meal and was able to help dislodge the food from her windpipe.
Jasmin Moghbeli, of Baldwin, is one of 12 applicants NASA chose from more than 18,300 for its new astronaut class in 2017. Moghbeli, a major with the Marines who holds a degree in aerospace engineering from MIT, said she has dreamed of going to space since she was a young girl.
Army Sergeant Shenasiah Lowe, who has been stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany, received a hug from Jai'Liyah Gaines, 4, left, and Ja'Mell Jones, 8, after surprising them at East Elementary School in Long Beach on April 28, 2017. The two children had not seen their mother since Thanksgiving 2016, when she deployed for Europe.
Michael Ehrlich, with daughter Rachael, 13, near their home in South Setauket, Oct. 14, 2017. Ehrlich raised more than $20,000 walking from Manhattan to Montauk starting Oct. 16, 2017, to support type 1 diabetes research. Rachael was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes, in 2016.
Sgt. Regina Rutigliano, left, and Senior Court Officer Greg Rains, in the lobby of the Cohalan Court Complex in Central Islip, on Thursday, March 2, 2017. Earlier this year, Rutigliano revived a man who was believed to have overdosed on heroin in the courthouse lobby thanks to knowledge she gained from a Narcan training course she completed on her own time.
Robert Rodriguez with the award he received for his work helping people with disabilities, seen here on Oct. 31, 2017. Rodriguez, a Bay Shore amputee, donated some of the $3,000 prize money he won to Camp No Limits, a nonprofit that stages therapeutic camps for children with limb loss.
Richard Baer, a co-owner of Albert's Pizza in Ronkonkoma, started a program to let customers "pay it forward" to members of the community by purchasing a pizza for someone else. He said he began the operation in January after the presidential inauguration as a way to bring people together. In this photo, Baer and his fellow co-owner stand beside Taylor Grimm, a coach at Sachem East High School, as she received a free pizza on Feb. 15, 2017.
Jeffrey Hudson, 57, and his son Isaiah Bright, 22, both of Amityville, at a football game in 2016. The father and son graduated together from Suffolk County Community College in 2017. Jeffrey Hudson, a Navy veteran, received his degree in chemical dependency counseling after overcoming a yearslong struggle with alcohol and substance abuse.
Jimmy Pannullo of Malverne built a "dream" playroom for Victoria Monteforte, 5, of Westbury, for free after finding out she suffers from a rare blood condition called ITP. Pannullo, who is a home contractor, chooses a family with a sick child each year and renovates part of their home for free. He is seen here with Victoria and her mom, Lisa Monteforte, on June 7, 2017.
Alicia and Jim Bulger, of Levittown, point to photos of 90 of their 99 foster children on March 18, 2017. The couple took in their 100th foster child earlier this year.
Guardians of Rescue volunteer John Marshall rescues a dog in Puerto Rico in this October photo. Members of the Smithtown-based group volunteered in Texas following Hurricane Harvey and later in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria to take in dogs and cats affected by natural disasters and transport them to shelters in Florida and Long Island.
Sanford H. Calhoun High School senior Zahrah Ibrahim saved her grandmother by performing CPR while attending a basketball game at the school on March 19, 2017. After finding 78-year-old Graciela Perlaza unconscious, Ibrahim began performing CPR and revived her grandmother, who was then taken to the hospital, where she made a full recovery.
Eagle Scout John Ninia, 17, of Setauket's Troop 70, at home in East Setauket on Oct. 9, 2017. Ninia recently finished earning all 137 available merit badges, a goal he had set out to complete since joining the Boy Scouts of America in 2011.
Eleventh-grader Ben Catalfo, 16, of Setauket, seen here on July 18, 2017, discovered a flaw in a question on the Regents Geometry exam. The state's education department has since said it will give all students credit for the question since it did not have "one clear and correct answer" due to a "discrepancy in the wording," according to a note from the state.
Tim Kramer and Christina Tisi-Kramer, of Long Beach, stand with donated items they collected for Hurricane Harvey survivors at St. Mary of the Isle Church in Long Beach on Sept. 3, 2017. The Kramers, who were victims of Hurricane Sandy, were responsible for rallying an army of volunteers to send toiletries, gift cards, food and other items to those affected by the storm in August.
Christina Gasiewski with her son, Mason, 3, prepared a donated bike for transport as part of a program to refurbish and ship the bikes to communities in developing countries. The pair were part of a group of more than a dozen volunteers who collected old bikes and sewing machines to be sent to poor communities in Latin America, Eastern Europe and Africa. The donation event on Saturday, April 1, 2017 took place at the Ethical Humanist Society in Garden City.
George W. Hewlett School senior Alec Fischthal was one of 150 students nationwide chosen to receive a $20,000 college scholarship in the Coca-Cola Scholars Program. Fischthal and three other Long Island students were named 2017 Coca-Cola Scholars in March, based on academic excellence, leadership and community service.
From left to right: Jillian Parker, of Half Hollow Hills High School West, and Arooba Ahmed and Jiachen Lee, both of Half Hollow Hills High School East, react as they are announced $100,000 grand prize winners of the 2017 Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017. The trio won the contest's team category.
Alexandra Miller-Henson, a freshman at Walt Whitman High School in Huntington Station, created the nonprofit S(care) to give youngsters an opportunity to trick-or-treat for a cause. To spread the word, Miller-Henson created a website and social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter to promote the nonprofit.
St. Anthony's High School students raised $5,000 to bring 6-year-old Erblin Sllamniku to the U.S. to receive lifesaving heart surgery at St. Francis Hospital in March 2017. The photo shows students meeting with Erlbin on March 22, 2017.
LI comedian and "Kevin Can Wait" cast member Chris Roach made a video parody of The Beach Boys' "Kokomo" called "Ronkokomo" in September 2017. Roach called it a tribute to his hometown of Lake Ronkonkoma.
The Nassau County Firefighters Pipes and Drums Band, seen marching in a 2014 Huntington parade, was among 40 bands that marched in the Presidential Inaugural Parade in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20, 2017.
Grace Crema, a senior at Our Lady of Mercy Academy in Syosset, recently started Clean Water Wishes in an effort to help purchase bio-sand water filters for homes and villages in Cambodia. Crema got the idea after spending 2 1⁄2 weeks on service trips in Cambodia and Vietnam during the summer with 16 other teens.
Kathleen Tumminello, 13, and her twin sister, Erin, from Girl Scout Troop 2407 in Massapequa helped plant grass in a dune with fellow scouts at Tobay Beach on Saturday, March 25, 2017. Hundreds of volunteers came to fortify the dunes that help keep sand on Long Island's beaches and protect shoreline properties from flooding.
Firefighters from across Nassau County gathered to present a new passenger van to a disabled veterans organization at the Firefighters Museum in Garden City on Saturday, March 25, 2017. The nonprofit, called Nassau County Firefighters Operation Wounded Warrior, consists of firefighters from 35 Nassau departments.
Northport's Alexa Valentino, 13, is an advocate for the anti-bullying nonprofit Free2Luv. She wrote and has performed an original song, called "Free 2 Love," at events while also serving as a motivational speaker, teaching kids to be upstanders, not bystanders, with regard to bullying.
Sisters Emmy and Rae Specht, of Bellport, helped raise $280,000 to build a school and provide clean water for thousands of rural villagers in Cambodia. The sisters, who received help from two of their friends, were inspired to help the less fortunate after taking a family trip to Cambodia in 2010.
Third-graders from Dayton Avenue Elementary School in Manorville wear their "Kindness Begins With Me" T-shirts on Friday, April 21, 2017. The students' kindness campaign has attracted attention locally and internationally. School officials said Dayton Avenue started receiving letters about the campaign from as far away as Asia, Africa, Europe and South America. Many included photos of people holding signs encouraging kindness.
Lydia Pacheco of Copiague distributes KFC to the needy on the streets of Wyandanch on Sunday, March 19, 2017. She started giving out the meals using money she received on her 11th birthday instead of spending it on herself, and turned it into a weekly act of kindness.
Richard Baylis, the father of Army Spc. Matthew E. Baylis, runs his hand over a sign during a ceremony marking the renaming of an Oakdale bridge bearing his son's name on July 8, 2017. Spc. Baylis, who was inspired to join the Army after the events of Sept. 11, 2001, died on May 31, 2007, after being shot when his platoon came under enemy fire on patrol in Baghdad.
Principal Tami McElwee of Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School in Oyster Bay took on a wacky challenge: kissing a bearded dragon. McElwee motivated her students to log their time spent reading every day for a month as part of the statewide program PARP, or Pick a Reading Partner. To reward her students for reaching their goal, McElwee smooched Lukey the Dragon at an assembly on April 21, 2017.
Mitsue Salador, 93, currently lives in West Islip. During World War II, she and her family were some of the 120,000 Japanese-Americans sent to internment camps across the United States. She would eventually go on to study at nursing school and fulfill her dream of becoming a schoolteacher. Salador worked in the Brentwood and West Islip districts before retiring after two decades of teaching elementary-level reading.
Denzel Honore of Hempstead's Boy Scout Troop 300 stands with parents Diann Anthony and Fritznel Honore at the schoolhouse he took up as a cause for his Eagle Scout project. After hearing Hempstead Town Councilwoman Dorothy L. Goosby's story about a decrepit Hempstead Village schoolhouse in need of repair, Honore, 17, decided to pursue the project and was able to confirm the school's history so it could be designated an official historical landmark.
Best friends LaKesha Jackson-Gordon, left, and Ganesa Taylor, of Amityville, founded the non-profit Pink S.H.O.E.S., Inc. to financially assist young women diagnosed with breast cancer. In June, the pair's non-profit sponsored a scholarship to help children of cancer victims purchase new prom dresses and shoes.
Quetcy-Jacobs Williams, 19, from Bohemia, won the 2017 LGBT Network talent show and received the opportunity to perform at the organization's annual prom. She crooned Adele's rendition of her parents' wedding song: "To Make You Feel My Love." That evening, she was also elected to the "Rainbow Court" and recognized for her ability to look on the bright side.
FDNY firefighter Raymond J. Pfeifer, who died cancer linked to his work at Ground Zero, had a Hicksville street dedicated in his honor on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017. His widow, Caryn Pfeifer, son Terence, also in white, and daughter Taylor attended the street dedication ceremony near his former home.
Julia O'Rourke graduated from Sacred Heart Academy in Hempstead in 2017 while simultaneously celebrating her fourth World Irish Dancing Championship title. She's also won six national titles, and appeared in the 2011 documentary "Jig." O'Rourke retired from competitive dancing and now attends University of Delaware.