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The San Antonio stories we loved this year

Coach Pop reached a milestone, a pastor went all-out for his community and an all-female barbershop carved its own path.
Credit: AP

SAN ANTONIO — While the first stories South Texans are likely to remember from 2022 are events defined by tragedy and loss, the KENS team was also hard at work telling stories about people lifting up their communities, the innovations pushing our city forward and the culture that defines puro San Antonio. 

Now in the homestretch of 2022, we've rounded up some of our favorite stories from the last 12 months that ticks off those boxes—from the growing reputation of a young Mariachi icon to recognition of Spurs legends and neighbors helping neighbors amid heartbreak. 

Read on below for our picks. 

A long-awaited automotive revival in the Alamo City

In the eyes of movie fans, car enthusiasts and DeLorean Motor Company’s new CEO, the stainless-steel coupe made famous by the "Back to the Future" movies is among the most iconic cars of all time, if not the most iconic.

DeLorean will be rolling out an all-new electric vehicle soon, and San Antonio is playing a significant role in engineering, testing and validating the new car. In this report from April, we talked to DeLorean's CEO about why the Alamo City was picked and how they're reviving a legendary vehicle. 

Ever wanted to bike to Austin?

Within the next 15 or so years, you might be able to. Last spring, plans were announced for ambitious Great Springs Project that seeks to connect San Antonio and our neighbors to the north via more than 100 miles of hiking and biking trails. 

The expectation is the network will run through various natural areas along the corridor, including Comal Springs and San Marcos Springs. Once construction breaks ground, it will likely be build in sections. Read more about it in our April report.

Going the extra mile... literally

It's a major accomplishment to complete seven marathons in your lifetime, but one San Antonio pastor ran more than 180 miles over just seven days, propelled by goodwill for his community. 

In our December report, David Cameron explains his faith-filled effort to raise tens of thousands of dollars for hungry families by tearing up his sneakers. 

The curtains were raised on new educational opportunities

An east-side pilot program is introducing the basics of filmmaking to high school students, in the process fostering new passions in minority communities that have long been underrepresented in Hollywood. 

The program is free for participants, and allows them to connect with film industry mainstays to learn about everything from writing the script to shooting their original short films. 

This holy undergarment drew Catholics from all over the world

San Antonio's World Heritage Mission churches draw visitors from all around the globe. But one is increasingly attracting Catholics arriving for a saint's blessing.

Inside that smallest of San Antonio's historic mission churches is a holy object of great importance—an everyday object left behind decades ago when then-Pope John Paul II led mass in the Alamo City. 

A teen turned in hundreds in mysterious cash she found

They say money doesn't grow on trees, but it seemed to be sprouting out of the ground for Cast Med High School student Honor Smith earlier this year. 

After finding hundreds of dollars on the ground outside her school, she became suspicious. It wasn't the first time she would make such a discovery that day, before going on to live up to her name. Marvin talked to Honor for a November Kids Who Makes SA Great segment. 

On top of the United Soccer League world

Cementing the best season in program history, San Antonio FC defeated Louisville City FC 3-1 in front of a raucous Toyota Field crowd to win the USL Championship in November. SAFC had won 24 of its 34 games to secure the top seed. 

A pilot program built to save lives took to the skies

Drone "superhighways" may be the way of the future, allowing us humans to transport goods a lot faster. The technology, it turns out, can also be lifesaving

Over the course of one November day the Texas Organ Sharing Alliance, in partnership with Texas Tech and local nonprofits, delivered organs to rural cities hundreds of miles apart by drone, offering a glimpse at a potentially revolutionary new path in medical care. 

A stolen teddy bear, a wave of kindness

A family turned their child's loss into a gain for the region's youth after a treasured toy was stolen from a 5-year-old boy. The community responded by gifting him more than two dozen teddy bears, most of which were eventually passed on to the Children's Bereavement Center of South Texas to bring a smile on other kids' faces. 

The Vatican lent support to Uvalde children

Kids in the South Texas community rocked by a mass shooting in May sent letters describing their feelings and hopes to the holy city. And the pope responded.

YOSA tuned up for a historic season

This season isn't like any other for the decades-old Youth Orchestras of San Antonio. In 2022, the network of musical groups welcomed its biggest-ever class of new performers, more than half of which are kids of color. 

Credit: YOSA

A server with autism embraced a bigger role at the restaurant he's called home for years

 He's been entrusted with tasks like answering the phone, running the register, serving tables and greeting guests over two decades. Now Evan Padilla has been named part-owner of Cha Cha's New Gen Cafe, with owner Bania Ruiz saying, "I don't think anyone deserves it more than him."

San Antonio made headway in combatting homelessness

The city in October became the first of 70 aligned with a national pledge to meet and even exceed its goal of giving 1,500 people a roof over their heads.  

A barbershop challenged the status quo

In an industry dominated by men, the north-side Prospect Parlor – San Antonio's first all-female barbershop – is carving its own path, lifting up Hispanics in the process.

A Spurs icon was immortalized

Manu Ginobili officially became a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in September, following a career marked by the highest levels of success from the AT&T Center to the Olympic stage. 

In his induction speech, he focused on the people who helped him achieve his dream, and became emotional speaking about his family. 

And Pop reached a milestone of his own

With a comeback win over the visiting Jazz in March, Gregg Popovich completed his march towards becoming the winningest coach in NBA history. In typical Pop fashion, he marked the occasion with humility. 

“It’s just a testament to a whole lot of people," Popovich said after that game. "Basketball is a team sport, and you preach to your players that they have to do it together, and that’s certainly been the case in my life.

A local teen was V-I-C-T-O-R-I-O-U-S

San Antonio welcomed home a champion in June when 14-year-old Harini Logan returned from her triumph at the Scripps National Spelling Bee. 

One of the contest's best-known spellers who emerged as a fan favorite for her poise and positivity, Logan correctly spelled 22 words in 90 seconds during the final spell-off to clinch the win. 

We found 10 meals for under $10 you can't miss

Practically everything got more expensive in 2022. But if there's one thing you can count on in the Alamo City, it's getting some amazing food at a great rate. 

Neighborhood Eats host Lexi Hazlett sought out some of the best budget meals around town to satiate any appetite, from delicious mini taquitos to a mouth-watering chicken-fried steak platter. 

Tejano music returned to San Antonio airwaves

We talked to the man bringing the tunes at Tejano 95.7, a new radio station that's emerged as an oasis of nostalgia for fans of polkas, cumbias and conjunto beats. 

The February return happened as many folks were returning to their regular commutes—striking a golden note with fans. 

And over at one H-E-B, customers danced while they shopped

H-E-B is known for its groceries and top-notch customer service. One San Antonio location build on its reputation in a surprising, musical way... and the customers here loved it

A San Antonio artist landed a dream gig at the Mouse House

The next time you stream anything by Disney, it may just carry a dose of the Alamo City.

In February, a San Francisco agency scouted San Antonian Chris Calderon to be part of their Disney team doing animation and design. The freelance senior motion designer shared his story of how he overcame struggles to fulfill his dream.

The legend of the "Mariachi Kid" grew

In February, when he flew to Italy, San Antonio's own Mateo Lopez had no idea that a world record awaited him. At 7 years old, he was officially named the Guinness Book of World Record's youngest professional mariachi singer.

"I've been working so much to get here, and I'm so happy and so excited that I finally got to reach here," Mateo told KENS 5. 

A Spurs team photographer shared his storytelling journey

Shooting whatever he could on campus in college – as well as learning to connect with people with the instrument in hand, watching YouTube sessions, diving into pictorial history and utilizing peer guidance – gave Reginald Thomas a useful lens. He's since honed his skills and his mission of documenting history, setting him on a path to the Silver & Black.

A man reunited with his siblings after decades

Dennis Smith's journey began through an application for dual citizenship with Ireland, tracing family roots to the old country. Then chance helped him take the next step... along with a message from a relative who was searching for him, too.

We explored the history of America's Black cowboys

The history of horsemanship in Texas is rich with details that have been hidden for nearly two centuries. Historians say the stories of the first Black cowboys were whitewashed. 

For this February report, we talked to local rodeo legends and Texas trailblazers who are shedding new light on the truth about these stories and putting them on display.

San Antonians stepped up to help a country at war

When Russia invaded Ukraine in early 2022, it compelled millions around the world to help. That includes here in San Antonio, where Ukrainian-owned businesses received huge boosts of support, flag-makers created banners with Ukrainian colors and salons donated portions of their sales to humanitarian efforts. 

And San Antonio's favorite annual tradition returned in full force

This year brought Fiesta back in all its cascarones-cracking, chicken-on-a-stick-munching, NIOSA-reveling glory for the first time since 2019. The event had been pushed back, limited or cancelled altogether during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Needless to say, it's a day San Antonians had eagerly been waiting for. 

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