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There’s a long list of contenders for the year’s top viral videos.  But you can always count on anything with kids and animals to be near the top.

There was Tara the hero cat, whose brave assault on a dog who mauled its four-year old owner was captured by a surveillance camera.  The startled dog relinquished its hold on the child and ran, the video was released on YouTube and Tara got her own Facebook page and share of the national spotlight.

Five-year-old Noah Ritter’s adult manner and regular use of the word “apparently” in a short interview for a local TV station at the Wayne County Fair in Pennsylvania charmed 18 million viewers on YouTube.  It also landed Noah an appearance on Ellen.

Dogs are always a safe bet, particularly if they’re dressed like mutant spiders.  This video topped YouTube capturing 123 million views.

But the most astounding viral sensation of 2014 was the ice bucket challenge, a fundraising gimmick for ALS.  Sparked by former Boston College baseball player Peter Frates, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2012, the challenge caught fire and gave the unheralded disease the kind of attention reserved for breast cancer in Pinktober.

Celebrities from Katy Perry, Tom Cruise, Cristiano Ronaldo, Oprah Winfrey, Ben Affleck, Bill Gates, Tim Cook and millions of regular folks took the challenge and it paid off.  Since July 29, the ALS Association has received $115 million in donations.

This is the power of a contagious idea. Contagious ideas, according to an article by Rick Smith in Forbes, have three common ingredients: they are big, selfless, and simple.  In concert, they attract, inspire, and involve others, and create a multiplier effect that can result in broad achievement beyond what any person could hope to accomplish alone.

At Barnhart, we think that’s a pretty positive message to end on as 2014 comes to a close.  We wish you a Happy New Year!