Far too often, there is a tendency to focus on negative or violent events while positive news items take a back seat. That’s not the case here as this list covers only stories that inspire, amuse, and uplift. If weirdness is more your thing, you can also check out the offbeat list right here.
This week is largely about tales of children showing us that you can do plenty of inspiring things, even if you are young. You can raise money for worthy causes, you can organize a restoration project for a historical cemetery, and you can even find new animal species.
A newly described species of treehopper has been named Hebetica sylviae in honor of its discoverer, five-year-old Sylvie Beckers.
Back in summer 2016, then-two-year-old Sylvie was spending some time with her mom, Dr. Laura Sullivan-Beckers, helping her plant some wildflowers in their garden in rural Kentucky. Sylvie was in charge of watering the flower bed, and as she did so, a few dead treehoppers floated to the top.
Sullivan-Beckers is a biologist, and even though she specializes in spiders, she is fascinated with all creepy-crawlies. She thought that the dead insects looked a bit odd. So she took some pictures and sent them to a colleague who put her in touch with the USDA.
Three years of research later, they confirmed that the treehopper was an entirely new species. It was only fitting that they named it after its two-year-old discoverer.
A Comcast representative saved the life of a man suffering a stroke almost 1,300 kilometers (800 mi) away with a timely call to the proper authorities.
Last Tuesday, Kimberly Williams was at her job in Jackson, Mississippi, working in customer service for the telecommunications giant. She was on the line with 65-year-old Dan Magennis from Walker, Michigan, who had some questions about his cable.
He put the phone on speaker while waiting for the call to go through. But when Williams answered, he couldn’t say anything. His right leg wouldn’t move, and all he could muster were a few “ums” and labored breathing.
The representative asked Magennis if he was all right, but there was no reply. Williams believed that the person at the other end of the line was having a stroke, and she trusted her instincts.
She searched for police departments in his area and was put in touch with the Walker Fire Department. She alerted them about the situation and stayed on the line with Magennis while authorities were on the way.
Magennis was rushed to the Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital where he went into surgery to remove a blood clot. He suffered minimal effects from the stroke and was able to leave the hospital two days later. Neurosurgeon Dr. Justin Singer attributed his survival and speedy recovery to the quick-thinking actions of Kimberly Williams.
Speaking of people who went above and beyond at their workplace to save someone’s life, here we have a stilt dancer and a DJ who jumped in the Caribbean Sea to rescue a woman in a wheelchair who had fallen from the dock.
A cruise ship was boarding in St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. One of the passengers was a woman in a wheelchair who was being escorted by a family member when she accidentally rolled off the dock and plunged into the water below.
Two men, Kashief Hamilton and Randolph Donovan, jumped in after her. Both are employed by the Department of Tourism, working as a DJ and stilt walker, respectively, to entertain visiting tourists.
Donovan reached the woman first and unstrapped her from the wheelchair, which sank to the bottom. As Donovan was getting tired, Hamilton jumped in the water and helped Donovan keep the woman afloat as people on the dock dropped a life preserver and a rope so that she could be pulled up.
All three made it out safely, and the cruise line commended the men on their “heroic efforts” to help their guest.
A 12-year-old boy from Huron County, Ohio, made $15,000 from auctioning off his prized pig at the county fair and donated all the money to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Most kids can only dream of making money like Diesel Pippert when they are in the seventh grade. However, even at his young age, Diesel has learned the value of helping others and decided to give his profits to charity instead of spending them.
Last Saturday’s Huron County Fair had a large animal auction which saw Diesel’s hog go on sale. The bidding started at $500 but ended at a staggering $15,000 for just one premium porker. Diesel did announce his plans to donate the money before the start of the auction, possibly prompting bidders to dig a little deeper in their wallets.
His charitable act was spurred on by a little friendly competition. Diesel got the idea after hearing about another teenager who did the same thing in nearby Medina County. The seventh grader was hoping to best the other kid’s donation of $11,000.
Diesel’s generosity did not come as a surprise to those who know him. His school’s superintendent called him an “upstanding young man,” while his mother is hoping that Diesel will turn this into a yearly tradition. Moreover, his kindness has inspired others to start a fundraiser for the hospital in his name and keep the money coming.
A shelter dog that was once in danger of being euthanized is now starring as the Tramp in Disney’s live-action remake of Lady and the Tramp.
Monte is a two-year-old terrier mix that was initially adopted by HALO Animal Rescue from a shelter in Las Cruces, New Mexico. HALO is an organization that takes in animals that may otherwise be euthanized and then tries to find them forever homes. Monte was part of a group of 50 dogs that had been relocated to Phoenix. There, animal trainers visited the HALO shelter, looking for pooches with star quality.
Monte immediately caught their eye, and he was quickly adopted by one of the trainers. He now lives in California where he is said to be a “very good boy” who is loving life.
Moreover, he is soon to become a star on the silver screen. The movie project turned out to be a remake of the Disney classic Lady and the Tramp. Monte will be voiced by actor Justin Theroux and will play one of the leading roles.
A one-legged man from Venezuela completed a walk from the top to the bottom tip of South America in an effort to inspire other people to follow their dreams through adversity.
Back in 2013, bus driver Yeslie Aranda was involved in a car crash. A truck coming from the opposite direction lost control and smashed into his vehicle. Yeslie was in a coma for 15 days and lost a leg. His daughter, Paola, was also in the car and lost a leg as well.
After recuperating, the two began visiting shrines throughout the country. There, they saw other people being uplifted by their determination to make such journeys. This inspired Yeslie to go bigger. He wanted to show people, particularly his daughter, that hardships should not prevent us from chasing our dreams.
Last year, with nothing but a backpack, an aluminum prosthesis, a new pair of shoes, and $30 in cash, Yeslie set off on a 14,500-kilometer (9,000 mi) journey from his Venezuelan hometown of San Cristobal to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world.
Last Saturday, the 57-year-old smiled as he looked upon the entrance sign to Ushuaia, welcoming him “to the end of the world.” Yeslie completed his trek with the help of kind farmers, monks, and truckers who aided him along the way.
In Patagonia, he even slept in a lavish mansion courtesy of a businessman who heard about his trip and wanted to help. Occasionally, Yeslie would travel by car to get through the more treacherous parts of his journey, such as the mountain passes in the Andes. Now starts the trip back home which Yeslie plans to make the same way.
Ava Lewis from Durham, North Carolina, might only be three years old, but she is already hard at work selling lemonade to help her local community.
Little Ava has set up shop in front of her mom’s hair salon called “The Lather Lounge.” Her lemonade stand has proven to be wildly popular and has sold gallons of the refreshing drink. Now her mom, Maggie, says that people are starting to recognize Ava around town, and some are showing up at the hair salon just to have a drink.
All the work is for a good cause. Ava and her mom decided to use the money to buy supplies, such as diapers and baby wipes, for mothers in need. They made a delivery on Monday to the Good Samaritan Inn, a homeless shelter for women operated by the Durham Rescue Mission.
A Stop & Shop in Edison, New Jersey, organized a surprise birthday party for its favorite “bag boy”: 98-year-old World War II veteran Bennie Ficeto.
Bennie has always been a hard worker. He enlisted in the Air Force when he was 19 years old and flew a B-25 Mitchell bomber during the war. Afterward, he held down numerous jobs and retired in his eighties. That didn’t last long, though, as Ficeto soon got bored and wanted to work again. Since then, he has been a part-time employee with the Stop & Shop, working two shifts a week.
Normally, Bennie never takes a break while on the job, but on Tuesday, his manager told him to make an exception. They went to the other end of the store where all the employees were waiting to shout “Surprise!” and sing “Happy Birthday.” There was cake, balloons, and even three ladies from a USO Show Troupe dressed in red, white, and blue. They were there to sing some of Bennie’s favorite songs from his time in the military.
Bennie was touched by the gesture and enjoyed his party, but he made sure not to stand around too long. He was on a break after all.
Last week, the Douglass Memorial Cemetery in Alexandria, Virginia, was home to the inauguration of a new historical marker. It also symbolized the end of a months-long effort to restore the cemetery that had fallen into disrepair after decades of neglect. The entire project was spearheaded by one Boy Scout who enlisted the help of his scout troop to rehabilitate the historic black cemetery.
Three years ago, Griffin Burchard and Boy Scout Troop 4077 visited the Alexandria National Cemetery to do some light cleanup work. While there, Griffin spotted a nearby plot which was completely dilapidated: Tree limbs were hanging low to the ground, leaves were everywhere, and there were signs of flooding.
A bit of research led Burchard to discover that the run-down plot was the Douglass Memorial Cemetery, converted from a park in 1895 and named after abolitionist Frederick Douglass.
Griffin and the rest of the scouts cleared the leaves, removed the debris, and cut the low-hanging branches. He even raised $200 through recycling to pay for the new sign which includes a quote by Douglass: “Without a struggle, there can be no progress.”
Spurred on by Burchard’s efforts, city officials obtained a $10,000 grant from the state to survey the plot and install a new drainage system.
This week, seven-year-old Duncan MacMaster received great news when he heard that his beloved teddy bear, thought lost forever, was found and will be returned to him. But this is no ordinary stuffed toy: It contains a recorded voice message from his birth mother who passed away years ago.
The MacMasters took a family vacation to Airdrie in Alberta, Canada. When they returned home to Nova Scotia, they realized that Duncan was missing his precious teddy. His stepmom, Ranelle, took to social media to ask Airdrie residents to keep a lookout for the toy.
That message reached Heidi Erickson. On Monday night, she dropped off her son and his friend at a park in Airdrie and saw a backpack by the entrance. She looked inside and saw the teddy bear. She thought it was familiar but couldn’t place it at first. It wasn’t one of her son’s toys, but she had definitely seen it someplace else before.
A light bulb moment happened, and Heidi remembered the post she had seen online. She reached out and confirmed that the toy was Duncan’s beloved Momma Bear. It is now on an express ride home to Nova Scotia.