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The worst of times can bring out the best in people.

That's certainly been the case in York County over the past few weeks.

The area sports scene has been pummeled by a trio of body blows.

The old adage that bad news comes in threes has tragically held true.

First, former Dallastown High School field hockey standout Amanda Strous was the victim of a homicide in North Carolina at just 27 years old.

Then Louis Appell, a legendary local business figure who was instrumental in bringing pro baseball back to York, died at the age of 92.

Finally came the news that former Dover High School girls' soccer player Maddie Hill lost her 11-year battle with cancer at the age of 19.

The three deaths were painful reminders that sports — which are supposed to be an entertaining diversion from life's day-to-day difficulties — are not immune from our daily tribulations.

Still, in the midst of such intense sorrow, the good folks here in York County have displayed an uncommon ability to offer comfort and support to the Strous, Appell and Hill families.

In each instance, hundreds of people turned out for emotional candlelight vigils that were held to mourn their deaths, but also to celebrate their lives.

Yes, tears were shed and hugs were exchanged, but happier memories were also shared and more than a few smiles could be seen under watery eyes.

That is how it should be.

The vigils proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Strous, Appell and Hill made lasting and positive impacts on thousands of residents in York County and far beyond.

They will most definitely be missed and they will most definitely be remembered.

In fact, the York Revolution has already announced it will wear a uniform patch for the rest of this season to honor Appell for his long support of that franchise. More tributes to Appell will almost certainly be forthcoming.

It would also be surprising if the Dallastown and Dover sports communities didn't come up with their own plans to commemorate the young lives of Strous and Hill, that were unfortunately cut much too short.

That's just the nature of folks in these parts. They may have political and cultural differences, but on the issues that are truly important, such as life and death, they display a unified front of compassion and warmth.

That has been proven again and again and again over the past few weeks.

The worst of times has once more brought out the best in the big-hearted folks of York County.

Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com.

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