• Radio DJ Raises Money for Man Walking Three Hours Each Way to Work
  • Local radio personality Ray “Ramblin’ Ray” Stevens was driving when he passed 20-year-old Braxton Mayes several times, and noticed he was walking for an extended period of time. When Stevens stopped to offer Mayes a ride, he learned the story of the former high school football player.  Mayes said his 2006 GMC truck recently broke down, so he was walking 12 miles and three hours each way to work. He would leave for work at 4 a.m. in order to arrive at work by 7 a.m. “This guy checks all the boxes,” Stevens told WLS-TV. “He’s a good, solid human being. People are having a hard time finding people to work and here’s a guy walking three hours one way just because his truck broke down.” After learning the story, Stevens created a GoFundMe to help fix Mayes’ truck which has already earned more than $10,000. Any additional money made will be donated to local Chicago food banks. Mayes told WLS-TV that he was raised with a strong work ethic and was perfectly fine walking to work each day, but the generosity of others brought him to tears. “I didn’t know when I would come up with the money to fix it or how many times I would have to walk,” said Mayes. The truck repairs will be completed soon, but Mayes’ employer will give him a ride until then. Image source: Ramblin Ray Stevens
  • Family Reunited With Abducted Son After 24-Year Search
  • After 24 years of heartache and a seemingly never-ending search, Guo Gangtang and his wife, Zhang Wenge, were reunited with their son who was abducted at just 2 ½ years old.  The son, Guo Xinzhen, was grabbed by a woman and her boyfriend at the family’s front gate and taken to the Beibei province just outside of Beijing. From there, he was sold to a couple in central China.  Abductions of children for sale are reported often in China, a problem largely due to restrictions that until 2015 only allowed urban couples to have one child. Police said they have arrested two people who confessed to kidnapping and trafficking Xinzhen. Authorities collected blood and DNA samples that ultimately led them to finding Xinzhen. He is now an adult living in Henan province. Xinzhen’s father, Gangtang, never stopped looking for his son. After his son went missing, Gangtang rode a motorbike throughout China, carried a bag of fliers, and even inspired a 2015 movie, “Lost and Love.” While Gangtang was unlucky in finding his own son, he helped reunite more than 100 other abducted children with their families. [caption id="attachment_756" align="alignnone" width="580"]Guo Xinzhen reunited with parents Guo Xinzhen reunited with parents[/caption] The family shared a tearful embrace at a family reunion arranged by the police in Liaocheng, Shandong province on July 11, 2021. Xinzhen will stay in Henan but plans to visit his biological parents regularly. “He is a great father,” Xinzhen was quoted as saying to reporters. “I am proud of him.” Image Source: CNN
  • 70-year-old Yankees Fan Fulfills Dream of Being Bat Girl
  • A 70-year-old woman from Connecticut fulfilled her dream by serving as honorary batgirl at Yankee Stadium, 60 years after she was denied from the dugout because of her gender. At 10 years old, Gwen Goldman wrote a letter to the Yankees asking to serve as their bat girl. The letter from 1961 that the team’s general manager, Roy Hamey, wrote back said that girls did not belong in the dugout. “While we agree with you that girls are certainly as capable as boys, and no doubt would be an attractive addition on the playing field, I am sure you can understand that it is a game dominated by men a young lady such as yourself would feel out of place in a dugout," Hamey wrote in the letter that Goldman has kept all these years. Six decades later, her dream finally came true after her daughter wrote to the team and included the 1961 rejection letter. Goldman wore the classic pinstripes as she walked onto the field at Yankee Stadium for the first time, wiping a tear from her eye. She was even able to throw out the first pitch. “It’s been an amazing opportunity,” Goldman said in a video call with reporters during the game. “A day of a lifetime I can’t put into words. I don’t know where to start on which was the best, which or what did I enjoy the most. Just the whole piece from walking in the front door of the stadium to coming up to a locker with my name on it, Gwen Goldman, and suiting up, and walking out onto the field. It took my breath away.” Goldman, a retired social worker from Newtown, Connecticut, represents another victory for females in an overwhelmingly male industry. The event was part of the Yankees’ annual HOPE week, which stands for “Helping Others Perservere and Excel.”
  • Mailman Uses Social Media to Return Girl’s Heartwarming Father’s Day Letter Sent to “Dad in Heaven”
  • In mid-June, a mailman in Leicestershire, England asked Facebook to help him find the mother of a child who had written a Father’s Day letter addressed to her dad in heaven. The post garnered the attention of thousands, and the mailman was in contact with the child’s mother, Sarah Tully, very quickly. The mailman shared a photo of the letter with a Facebook group called Spotten Braunstone. The post said, "Earlier today I emptied the red pillar box on Bewicke Road (junc. of Folville Avenue) and there was a letter in a child's handwriting addressed to their dad in heaven, cloud 9. I'm trying to find the parents of the child as I would like to reach out to them and with their permission sort out a little something for the child.” He continued, "I myself lost my dad last year and as an adult found it hard so I can only imagine what this child is going through. Please, if anyone has any details then it would be hugely appreciated." In an interview, Tully shared that her daughter, Sianna, lost her father when she was just four months old. As she has gotten older, Sianna has started writing letters to her dad each Christmas, birthday and Father’s Day. "Sianna just came into the room that evening and asked, 'Where does Daddy live?'" Tully told LeicestershireLive. "I told her it was too late to post it at first, but she started crying, so I said, 'Come on then,' and we walked to the post box down the street." Tully does not read the letters that Sianna writes. She said, “I always say that’s between her and her dad.” Over 100 people commented messages of love and support for Tully and her daughter. Tully said that when Sianna is ready, she will show her the letter and tell her the story. For now, Sianna still believes her dad has the letter in heaven.
  • Beauty 2 the Streetz
  • For the past six years, Shirley Raines and her organization, Beauty 2 the Streetz, have been a constant on Los Angeles’ Skid Row. Originally, the group distributed items such as food, clothing, hair and makeup, but now the group provides health and hygiene items to the thousands of people located within the approximately 50-block area. "I would estimate we've got about 8,000 people who are sleeping out on the streets or in some of the shelters," said Raines. "There are more women on the street than before," Raines said, explaining that a women's shelter had closed down during the pandemic. "The resources had dried up." The most recent official count in early 2020 claims there are around 4,500 individuals on Skid Row. Raines estimates there has been an increase of over 40 percent since the pandemic began. Raines visits the area each week, setting up “shop” at the corner of 5th and Townes to help those she refers to as “Kings'' and “Queens.” Her intention is to make the homeless feel more human through haircuts, facials, meals or simply a hug. Before the pandemic, Raines was making 400 meals per week in her own kitchen. Then, as COVID-19 swept through the area, Raines found it challenging to find enough food and water to purchase. She asked her social media followers for help. "We just had to use our best judgment and figure out some ways to still keep them fed, while keeping them safe, and while keeping us safe," Raines said. Raines went through a series of tragic events when she lost her son, grandmother, and her son’s biological father in the 1990s. Helping others is what gives her hope. Now, as vaccination rates continue to rise, Raines is providing food and supplies twice a week and connecting with local groups to help the individuals of Skid Row know that there is hope for them, too.
  • Boy Sells Cherished Pokémon Card Collection to Help Pay for His Dog’s Vet Bills
  • To an 8-year-old boy, a Pokémon card collection can mean the world. But for Bryson Kliemann, his dog means so much more. An avid Pokémon collector since the age of 4, Bryson has quite the assemblage of cards. Knowing that these cards can sell for significant sums of money, when his puppy, Bruce, fell sick, he knew he had to do something to help pay for the increasing medical expenses. On May 4th, Bryson set up a stand in his front yard with a sign reading: “Pokémon 4 Sale.” His intention was to use any earned funds to save his puppy’s life. Bruce, a 4-month-old Labrador mix was diagnosed with parvo, a contagious virus that is often deadly for young pups if left untreated. When Bryson’s mother, Kimberly Woodruff, noticed Bruce not eating or coming out of his crate, she knew he needed medical intervention. It was at this initial vet visit that Woodruff learned the vet bills would amount to at least $655 – more than the family could afford to pay. “He is our first family dog,” Woodruff told The Washington Post. “I really didn’t realize how expensive it could be until this happened.” It was when Bryson overheard his parents having a conversation about the mounting bills that he decided to sell his valuable collection in an effort to help lessen the financial strain. And he did just that. Bryson made over $400 in the first two days alone, selling cards for between $5 to $10 each. Some of his neighbors simply donated money in support of his cause. Neighbors also began sharing their own Pokémon collections with Bryson – replacing the one’s he sold in his own collection. Seeing her son’s determination to help their sick dog, Woodruff started a GoFundMe page to further help him achieve his goal and to help other people as well. The page has raised more than $15,000. That money has so far helped pay three other local families’ veterinary bills for their beloved pets. When asked why he would do such a selfless thing, Bryson simply responded: “I didn’t want to lose my friend” – a testament not only to the bond between a boy and his dog, but the genuine nature behind his determination to save this animal’s life, no matter what the cost.
  • Concert to End COVID
  • The Global Citizen fundraising concert, called “Vax Live: The Concert to Reunite the World” took place on May 2nd. Hosted by Selena Gomez and with special appearances from Prince Harry, Jennifer Lopez, Chrissy Teigen, Ben Affleck, Nomzamo Mbatha, President and First Lady Biden, Olivia Munn, and Sean Penn, this was a star-studded event. All proceeds went to the ACT-Accelerator, whose mission is to provide for “equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, tests, treatments and other medical tools to the world’s most marginalized communities and healthcare workers on the frontlines.” The concert had major donors, including Mastercard, which pledged $25 million. Cisco and Proctor & Gamble each pledged $5 million. Coca-Cola donated $500,000. Countries also got involved. Canada gave $300 million to fund vaccines, tests, and treatments. Spain, the UAE, and New Zealand all offered its surplus doses. Hugh Evans, the CEO of Global Citizen, expressed his deepest gratitude, “We have been overwhelmed by the support for ‘Vax Live,’ from governments, philanthropists, the private sector, our campaign chairs, and Global Citizens from across the world, who have joined forces to mobilize critical COVID-19 vaccines where they are needed urgently.” Evans also put pressure on other major world powers. He continued, “More needs to be done especially from G7 nations that have yet to commit to sharing any doses. The UK alone will have 113 million surplus doses. We need to continue our efforts to urge the chair of the G7, Boris Johnson, the rest of the G7 and G20 nations, and vaccine manufacturers to share additional doses urgently to help ensure equitable vaccine access globally.” The concert itself, held at the SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, was attended by several thousand fully-vaccinated fans. It was possibly the biggest concerts in the country since the pandemic began. The in-person concert, as well as the quantity of donations, gives us hope for a return to normalcy.
  • Flower Power
  • During World War II, the Soviet Union developed rubber from the dandelion plant. Discovering the proper species did not come easily, they tested 1,000 different types of the plant until they found “the one” growing in Kazakhstan. Flash forward a few years, and now a major tire company in Germany, with the help of scientists at the University of Aachen, are developing a way to use dandelions in the production of rubber tires. Utilizing dandelion rubber would cut back on landfill waste, microplastic pollution, and deforestation. Continental Tires is producing dandelion rubber tires called Taraxagum. The bicycle version of their tires won the German Sustainability Award 2021 for sustainable design. The performance of the dandelion tires was better than natural and synthetic rubber. Dandelions are a prime source for rubber because they can grow almost everywhere, in any climate or topography. It could even grow in polluted land and industrial ruins. The rubber extraction process only requires hot water, unlike the traditional synthetic rubber which requires solvents that create extreme pollution on disposal. Dandelions have many powers. They are a food source for bees, can be a super-food for humans, and even turned into coffee. From blowing them into the wind on a warm spring day to becoming the next big source of rubber, this plant truly is special.
  • 35 Circus Elephants Retire to Florida Where They Were Welcomed By Miles of Forest, Grassland, and Waterholes Galore
  • What do you think of when you hear the word "circus?" Clowns? Acrobats? Or does the image of an elephant balancing on a giant striped ball pop into your head? For the past two decades, elephants have been at the forefront of the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus, aligning the entertainment experience with these gentle giants. Over the past few years, when elephants could no longer balance or parade around, they would be sent to central Florida, where they would live on a reserve – though recent reports have claimed that the reserve that received these elephants may in some way abuse the gentle creatures. After these claims were made public the decision was made to move the elephants. In recent weeks, the former circus elephants have begun the process of moving to another reserve where all forms of potential abuse or mistreatment will cease. At the White Oak Preserve, which currently consists of 135-arces of land in Florida, these elephants are welcomed by miles of forest and grassland, and plenty of watering holes to splash around in. Employees of the wildlife sanctuary say it was very emotional to see the first former circus elephants walk out of the barn into their new lush, green home for the first time. “There was more than one wet eye that day,” said Michelle Gadd to The Washington Post, who leads the White Oak preserve for endangered and threatened species such as cheetahs, rhinos, okapi, zebras and condors. “I really loved seeing one of the elephants just flop down in the forest, close her eyes and have a good solid nap for an hour. Just to see her that comfortable that she’d have a snooze under a palm tree was really beautiful.” Amazingly, some of the elephants have already taken to staying in the forest for days at a time – returning to the barn to retrieve treats from handlers, a move that is closely in line with how they would behave in the wild. In 2016, Ringling Bros. retired all of its elephants after push back from the public. These creatures are now as happy as can be on in their lush sanctuary – with plans to further expand the space to 2500-arces over time, according to Nick Newby, 41, who leads the elephant caretaker team and helped plan the habitat. “We wanted it to be as natural as possible, and we wanted to consider the social dynamic as well,” Newby said. “Elephants are very sociable animals, so we like to study them, see what their personalities are like and then try to mix and match them with other elephants they might like to cohabitate with…It’s our duty to make sure that their future is better than their past, and that their tomorrows are better than their yesterdays.”
  • I Scream for (Everything Bagel) Ice Cream
  • Zach Vraa was given an ice cream machine from his mother for his birthday. After he started to work remotely during the pandemic, he found that he had some free time at home. He started experimenting with whipping up different ice cream flavor combinations, one the most bizarrely tasty ones being lucky charms with black cherry frosting. He started posting pictures of his culinary masterpieces online. He was met with a wide demand. People commented below his pictures, asking if they could buy his ice cream. Vraa started out small. He sold about ten pints of each flavor. He must’ve gotten over a thousand requests, many of which he could not fill. Vraa decided to expand. He invested in a commercial kitchen to make his ice cream from scratch. He now makes 300 pints a week. He has two rules, one- he never repeats a flavor and two- nothing is too weird. Seriously, nothing. Not even Everything Bagel ice cream with a garlic cream cheese garnish. Vraa makes one flavor per week and his pints sell out in one minute flat. People line up down the block to pick up their orders. Vraa has turned his hobby into a booming business. When asked about his success, he says seeing the line out the door is a “feeling that never gets old.” Customers can’t wait to see what outlandish combinations he comes up with next. One thing is for sure: they know it will taste good.