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During a tough year, viral video captures spontaneous moments of joy

For many Americans, 2020 has been a long, difficult year. But this holiday season, one video is spreading joy and warming hearts for millions of its viewers. Stephanie Sy explains.

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  • Amna Nawaz:

    Well, 2020 has been a long and difficult year for many, with particular challenges for parents of small children and for front-line workers, including those who deliver mail and packages.

    But, still, we look for moments of delight.

    Here's Stephanie Sy with a story of just that.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    Social distancing may have defined 2020, but it didn't stop spontaneous moments of joy from springing up and making us feel connected.

    One of those moments was captured on video.

    Avalina Whitlow, a toddler in Portland, Oregon, and her neighborhood mailman dance together every day while separated by the window in her family's living room. It's a video that has gotten millions of views, including the 30 times I watched it.

    And Avalina, her father, David, who made the video, and Ian Simon, their mailman, joins us now.

    What a beautiful sight. Thank you all so much for being with us.

    David, let me ask you, because Avalina is 3, and if she's anything like my toddler, she doesn't probably speak much in front of national television.

    What are these daily appearances and dancing, what has that meant to you and your family?

  • David Whitlow:

    I think it's meant everything.

    Even the smallest gesture during these times, any kindness that someone can pay, means everything, because it's been a struggle for everybody. So, I think it means everything. Anybody that does something nice for someone else, it really means a lot. And it meant a lot to me and my family. And it certainly means a lot to Ava.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    Can you tell me a little bit how this year has been, how these last nine months have been for you and your family?

  • David Whitlow:

    It's been an incredible struggle.

    I think, just like everybody else, our whole — all of our daily activities were — kind of came to a halt. I lost the business that I had. I was at the end of some pretty major schooling. I didn't work for five months. And now I'm back to work three-quarter time, and things seem to be looking up a little bit.

    A lot of positivity has come out of this video. And so I'm hoping to keep that going.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    And, Ian, what about you? What's been your personal struggle throughout all of this?

  • Ian Simon:

    I have been pretty lucky that I still get to work every day.

    Yes, I work, work a lot six, sometimes seven days a week. The school is shut down. My wife can't work. Our son's autistic, so she's got to stay home with him and do the laptop schooling, try and keep him focused.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    David, I think any parent would want to capture this on video, but you also put together a whole montage of different days where you saw Avalina dancing with Ian.

    What inspired you to put the video out to the world?

  • David Whitlow:

    Well, throughout the pandemic, I have actually made a lot of videos of my daughter. So, I have a ton of these videos.

    And some of them are pretty sweet. Others are just kind of fun. This one was to sweet not to share. And I kind of thought that this would really make some people cry, because it made us cry when we watched it together, my wife and I.

    And so I thought the world needed something to feel good about. And Ian was a huge part of that, obviously. He — that's how it made me feel, is happy. And I am really glad that everybody else felt so happy when they watched it.

    I think they feel how I feel when I watch her dance.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    Ian, what about you? What kind of reactions have you gotten since this video has been out there? It's gotten millions of views.

  • Ian Simon:

    I'm getting messages from people all over the world thanking me. It's very inspiring.

    One lady started doing Meals on Wheels. And her first week on her route, she started dancing the food up to the door. And a lot of the messages, I tear up. It's just so heartwarming.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    I just wanted to thank you guys for sharing that video and bringing joy to all of us that have been blessed to see it.

    Ian Simon and David and Avalina Whitlow, thank you so much, and happy holidays.

  • David Whitlow:

    Same to you. Thank you so much.

  • Ian Simon:

    Thank you so much, putting it out there.

  • Avalina Whitlow:


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