It was an incredible year for us at Purpose2Play. In April, we became a proud affiliate of FanSided, the fastest-growing digital content network in sports. With the move, the powerful and often under-the-radar sports stories we provide have flourished, and we cannot wait for 2018 and another year of telling the sports stories that deserve to be told.

But first, as 2017 comes to a close, we’re giving you a look at 17 of the most inspiring sports stories from the year as measured by the number of readers they attracted. Without further ado:

17. Man with special needs receives new bike from ‘enemy’ cyclists after his is stolen

Andy Engert had been at odds with a group of cyclists for a while. They would ride and park their bikes in the fire lane down the road from where he works at Tiajana Flats in Florida. It drove him up the wall to the point where he would yell in anger as they passed by and complain to his boss.

However, that all changed when his bike was stolen and the cyclists chipped in to buy him a new and better bike. [Read more]

16. A Momentous Success Story from the AT&T Byron Nelson

It’s impossible to think about the AT&T Byron Nelson without also celebrating Momentous Institute; a nonprofit, school-like-no-other, operated by the Salesmanship Club of Dallas. This amazing organization builds and repairs social emotional health through education, therapeutic services, research and training.  It’s the sole beneficiary of the Nelson, one of the most financially successful events on the PGA TOUR. And, it’s an organization that’s ripe with real-life success stories—kids who learned the mindfulness and gained the confidence they needed to realize their full potential.

One of those Momentous alumni is Luis Cardozo. [Read more]

15. Air Force Sgt. Israel Del Toro to receive Pat Tillman Award for Service at 2017 ESPYs

LOS ANGELES, CA – JULY 12: U.S. Air Force Technical Sgt. Israel Del Toro accepts the Pat Tillman Award for Service onstage at The 2017 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

There will be many heartwarming moments at the 2017 ESPY Awards Wednesday night, and sure to top the list will be when Air Force Sgt. Israel Del Toro steps on stage to receive the Pat Tillman Award for Service.

Del Toro was serving in Afghanistan in 2005 when his Humvee rolled over a bomb. He was in a coma for three months, and with burns covering most of his body, he was given just a 15% chance to live. Upon waking up, he discovered he lost most of his fingers and looked unrecognizable even to his own 3-year-old son. [Read more]

14. Blind man runs New York City Marathon without a guide

Simon Wheatcroft made history Sunday when he crossed the finish line of the 2017 New York City Marathon. That’s because relying on the very technology he helped develop, he became the first blind person to run a marathon with ‘touch’ technology, meaning no one was leading him along the course.

The 35-year-old British man ran the race in 5 hours, 17 minutes and 40 seconds thanks to using a system which helped warn him of obstacles along the way. [Read more]

13. Defying gravity: Meet 5’5″ professional dunker Porter Maberry

If Porter Maberry could sit down and have a conversation with gravity, he might say, “I’m sorry, but I respectfully disagree.” That’s because at 5’5″ and 145 pounds, he can dunk a basketball on a regulation size hoop.

Okay, let’s get real. He can’t just dunk. He can jump over Shaquille O’Neal who stands 7’2″ and throw down a reverse with authority. He can whip a 360 around and outshine most NBA players above the rim. He can fly over a convertible with ease, his feet nearly kicking the rim. [Read more]

Beth French and her son, Dylan. Photo c/o Beth French

12. Swimmer Beth French ends Ocean’s 7 Challenge for her autistic son

Beth French entered the water to show her 8-year-old son, Dylan, what was possible. She got out to show him he’s more important than anything else.

The 39-year-old single mother from England, had her sights set on being the first person to complete the Ocean’s 7 Challenge in one year. [Read more]

11. Catching up with Isaiah Lamb, the former homeless high school basketball player

Isaiah Lamb received national attention when he was profiled by Sports Illustrated as part of their “Homeless Athletes” cover story. Then a 6-foot-5-inch basketball prospect who was drawing eyes from division I schools, Lamb landed squarely on the cover of the nation’s top sports magazine because he and his parents were homeless for three years.

Lamb’s father lost his job in 2011 when he suffered a heart attack. His mom came down with pneumonia and missed out on paychecks. Eventually, the family lost their home and were forced to live in their car and find shelter in laundromats. [Read more]

10. Get a Sneak Peek of the 2018 AT&T Byron Nelson: New Venue, New Excitement, and Same Great Cause

For most of us, golf season is winding down. But, for the AT&T Byron Nelson staff and volunteers, it’s go time—as they prep this Texas tour-de-force for one of the biggest changes the event has seen in decades.

Next year’s Nelson will be held at Trinity Forest Golf Course on May 14-20, 2018. It’s a new course, with a very different look, and a relocation from the suburb of Irving to the southern sector of Dallas. [Read more]

9. Chris Bombardier becomes first person with hemophilia to summit Mt. Everest

A big congratulations goes out to Chris Bombardier, the first person with hemophilia to summit Mt. Everest.

According to his Facebook page, Adventures of a Hemophiliac, Bombardier reached the world’s tallest mountain at 9:59 a.m. [Read more]

8. LPGA Tour Pro Paula Creamer has military ties that run deep

Memorial Day is a time for all of us to pause and remember those who died for our country; and to think about what they sacrificed for our freedom. For LPGA Tour veteran Paula Creamer, giving back to the people who serve—and their families—is something she thinks about almost every day.

AUGUSTA, GA – APRIL 05: Stewart Cink of the United States and his wife Lisa attend the Golf Writers Association of America dinner prior to the start of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 5, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Creamer comes from and married into a military family. Her father served 22 years as a naval pilot. Her husband, Derek, served and was deployed with the U.S. Air Force. She also has a cousin who’s a Marine. But, Creamer’s passion for supporting the military goes beyond her own family experience. [Read more]

7. Stewart and Lisa Cink navigate golf, breast cancer together

Stewart Cink has 14 professional wins under his belt, including a 2009 victory at The Open Championship. But for him, no win in golf can compare to having Lisa, his wife of 24 years, by his side while he’s on the road.

In April of 2016, the Cinks were leveled by Lisa’s diagnosis of stage IV breast cancer. The disease had spread to her lymph nodes and required aggressive treatment consisting of nine rounds of chemotherapy administered through a port in her chest. [Read more]

6. Man learns wife is a kidney match for him from baseball card

Steve Winfree enjoys opening new packs of baseball cards, so when his wife, Heather, found out she was a kidney match for him, she went above-and-beyond to deliver the news.

According to, Steve went on dialysis and the national transplant list in November. It’s been a stressful time for the couple, but the simple act of opening a pack of cards has eased their minds. [Read more]

5. Meet the San Diego Splash, the 80-and-older women’s basketball team

Just because most NBA and WNBA players retire in their 30s and 40s, don’t think it’s ever too late to play basketball. Case in point: The San Diego Splash, an 80-and-older women’s basketball team. [Read more]

4. Runner carries another runner to the finish line in good sportsmanship

Even in the heat of competition, there are acts that go beyond good sportsmanship.

Look no further than what Robert Gomez, 34, did for 23-year-old Jesse Orach during Saturday’s Beach to Beacon 10K in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.

Orach, who was leading his division, ran one helluva race until he collapsed from heat stroke about 100 yards from the finish line.

That’s when Gomez sacrificed his own time and the win to pick Orach up and help him across the finish line. [Read more]

Homicide detective Chris Schaefer flipping a tire. Photo c/o Chris Schaefer

3. Denver homicide detective loses leg, finds hope at the Adaptive Training Foundation

As a homicide detective for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, Chris Schaefer has seen his fair share of the grisly side of society.

The 46-year-old Colorado native is keenly aware of how intense life can get, but when he lost his left leg to a severe infection after several knee replacements, he felt like he was thrown directly into hell. [Read more]

2. Meet Johanna Quaas, The 91-Year-Old Gymnast

At an age when simply stepping off a curb can present challenges, 91-year-old Johanna Quaas is doing cartwheels, headstands, and working the parallel bars better than someone half her age.

That’s because Quaas is the oldest competitive gymnast in the world. [Read more]

1. Running brings life, first place finishes to nonverbal twins with autism

Why worry about speaking when your running can do the talking for you? Identical twins Alex and Jamie Schneider, 27, have a severe form of autism that requires 24-hour per day care. They may not be able to cross the street by themselves, but out on the roads, they’re distance runners who are turning heads and doing more than holding their own.

Alex just ran his 17th marathon on Sunday when he swooped through New York City’s five boroughs in 2 hours, 50 minutes and 5 seconds. [Read more]

Cheers to 2017. Bring on 2018 and more great stories from the world of sports.