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You may not have met this Moorhead man, but you've probably waved to him

John Cunningham, known for waving at drivers along Eight Street South in Moorhead and near Elim in south Fargo before that, was given the Moorheart award.

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John Cunningham greets drivers with a smile and an occasional wave Tuesday, July 12, 2022, on Eighth Street South, Moorhead. He was presented with the MoorHeart award by the Moorhead City Council on Monday for his putting smiles on the faces of many drivers.
Michael Vosburg/The Forum
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MOORHEAD — Honk if you like John Cunningham.

Lots of people do.

And Cunningham likes them right back.

That includes city officials in Moorhead, who recently presented Cunningham with the MoorHeart award for July 2022.

A team of volunteers from city boards and commissions bestows the award on those deemed to have gone above and beyond to demonstrate a strong sense of community.

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"I love it and appreciate it so much," Cunningham said of the award as he sat in his motorized scooter on the sidewalk next to Eighth Street South in Moorhead, just outside of the Eventide senior living center where he lives.

As Cunningham chatted on a recent morning, drivers passing by would wave to him and, in many cases, honk their horns for good measure.

Every time, he would smile and wave back.

Winter or summer, such exchanges are something of a daily occurrence outside Eventide, just as they were outside the Elim Rehab and Care Center in south Fargo, where Cunningham lived before that structure burned down in January 2020 .

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Firefighters battle a blaze Jan. 23, 2020, at Elim Rehab & Care Center, 3534 University Drive S. in Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

Cunningham moved to Eventide after the fire and says he hopes to move back to a newly rebuilt Elim, which he said is expected to reopen in a few months.

In the meantime, he said, he's content where he is and happy to maintain his daily regimen of providing smiles and waves to people passing by.

The waves and honks that come his way are payment enough, Cunningham said, but sometimes people give him additional gifts, like the $2 bill that a driver handed to him after stopping and pulling over to the curb.

For proof, Cunningham pulled the bill from his pocket, where he had stashed it.

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In 2019, Cunningham received an electric scooter from Lance Volk, a Fargo city worker who Cunningham would often wave to when Volk was in the area of Elim doing his job.

Cunningham was given the MoorHeart award on July 11 from Moorhead Mayor Shelly Carlson.

Read more on past MoorHeart award winners:
Moorhead honored Destiny “Grandmamma” Holiday, who died in February, with the award for her efforts to make Juneteenth an official holiday in the city.

According to the city, the person who nominated Cunningham had this to say about him:

"Nearly every day, John makes my day better. He is the man who sits in his motorized scooter on Eighth Street South in Moorhead by Eventide and waves to passersby. He never initiates the wave, but if someone waves or honks, he gives a big, heartfelt wave and often a smile.

"And every time, he brightens someone’s day. ... Wouldn’t it be amazing if everyone in Moorhead decided to try to make all the people around them feel happier?"

Cunningham, 56, is originally from Grand Forks and has lived in the Fargo area for about 30 years.

He said jobs he had over the years included managing hockey arenas and swimming pools.

Cunningham said he became disabled following a stroke that left him largely paralyzed on his right size.

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However, he said, he has regained some use of his right arm and right leg, which he credits to the care he received at Elim and continues to receive at Eventide.

More information on nominating individuals or organizations for the MoorHeart award can be found at cityofmoorhead.com/about-the-city/moorhead-more-heart-award . Contributions large and small are worthy of nomination, according to Moorhead city officials.

Related Topics: MOORHEADPEOPLE
I'm a reporter and a photographer and sometimes I create videos to go with my stories.

I graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead and in my time with The Forum I have covered a number of beats, from cops and courts to business and education.

I've also written about UFOs, ghosts, dinosaur bones and the planet Pluto.

You may reach me by phone at 701-241-5555, or by email at dolson@forumcomm.com
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