10 who made a difference in 2010

Published: Friday, Dec. 31 2010 10:00 p.m. MST

Thanks to Lee's victory, political observers are already looking forward to 2012 and the possibility that Lee's neighbor and friend, Congressman Jasen Chaffetz, might make a run at Orrin Hatch's Senate seat.

Regardless of what happens in that race, Lee promises to bring a new perspective to Washington. The son of the late Rex Lee, a former BYU president, Lee spent much of his youth in Washington, D.C., where his father served as solicitor general under Reagan.

Today, Lee considers Reagan his ideological hero and he pines for the days of lower taxes and smaller government. Despite his naysayers, Lee believes he can bring radical change to D.C. He is opposed to earmarks, he's in favor of term limits for senators and he wants the federal government to balance its budget. Lee's ability to keep these promises just might determine how long he stays in Washington.

—Jesse Hyde

Linda Larsen

When Linda Larsen's son Christian was deployed in Kuwait with the Utah National Guard a few years ago, like many mothers with soldier sons she sent him care packages. After learning of a few soldiers in her son's unit who received next to nothing from home, she added them to her list. Pretty soon she was sending holiday gift bundles to her son's entire 190-member unit. The Ogden woman never imagined the snowball effect her care packages would have.

In 2010, more than 1,000 Utah soldiers received care packages from Linda and her organization, Operation Adopt a Ghost, named after her son's unit, the Ghost Rider Task Force.

"I always thought what I was doing would be so small and temporary, but it's grown exponentially," Larsen said. "This work has been the most faith-building experience of my life."

Operation Adopt a Ghost sends packages to soldiers throughout the year, in the hopes that the soldiers receive some holiday cheer, and feel the support from people back home.

In January, hand warmers and hot cocoa are sent along with heart-shaped cards, to reach soldiers by Valentine's Day. In the springtime, soldiers receive chocolate Easter eggs. At Halloween, candy. For Christmas this year, 668 soldiers received goodie bags with a variety of treats and presents. To newly deployed soldiers, they send toiletry bundles.

Struggling families of soldiers also benefit from the efforts of Larsen and her helpers. This year, Operation Adopt a Ghost did a "soldier Santa" for five families with recently deployed or newly returned soldiers, struggling to make ends meet for Christmas.

And that's not all. Larsen explained that in addition to holiday packages, they try to respond to urgent needs year-round. This work has become a full-time commitment.

Larsen is quick to acknowledge that she couldn't do all of this by herself, and she doesn't: more than 200 people volunteer regularly with Operation Adopt a Ghost.

"Somebody always shows up," Larsen says. "There are whisperings about what we do, and someone will always show up so we have more than enough to cover people's needs."

On the organization's Facebook page, dozens of individuals express their thanks to Linda. "You are my hero," one woman wrote. From a soldier on Larsen's Christmas-list: "I cannot express what you and your family do means to me. You have made sure to give us the best Christmas we could ask for." One woman identifies herself as the mother of three soldiers and writes: "I really appreciate what you are doing. Let me know how I can help!"

— Kelly McConkie Henriod

Spencer P. Eccles

Spencer P. Eccles doesn't want credit for Utah's recent ascent as one of America's most business-friendly cities. Newsweek proclaimed Utah "the New Economic Zion" and Forbes went one better, naming Utah the top state in the country for business and careers.

Try out the new DeseretNews.com design!
try beta learn more
Get The Deseret News Everywhere