Saturday, June 28, 2014
Thursday, June 26, 2014
at 9:51 PM
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Pope Francis once again demonstrated his love for the “common man” by stopping his car to get out and bless a disabled woman brought on a gurney to the side of the road.
The family in Calabria, Italy had hung large banners on roadside buildings saying, “Francesco Stop! Here is an angel”, and “Dear Papa, Bless our young Roberta.”
Pamela Mauro, the young woman’s sister, had little hope that her signs would cause the Pontiff to stop, but this is Francis.
Traveling in a motorcade in the back seat of a blue Ford Focus that slowed to a stop, he quickly emerged and began to bless the lady as well as two children in the small group. To shouts of “Bravo” and “Grazie,” he waved to everyone, shook hands and got back in the car.
The whole scene was caught on video and posted on YouTube by Ivan parfenie.
at 9:35 PM
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
This is Kathy Holick. She's a dance-aholic; and if you saw her boogie, you'd be sure to crack a smile.
Holick is a crossing guard in the Newtown, Connecticut, village of Sandy Hook. But directing traffic is just one of the ways she's is making an impact in her community.
According to the Hartford Courant, Holick -- who dances while directing traffic near Newtown High School -- has become a symbol of hope and positivity in Sandy Hook.
"She takes her responsibility seriously but has fun in the process," longtime Newtown resident John Bergquist told the Courant. "Everyone seems to love her and she has put smiles on many faces. If she was directing traffic in any town across the country she would deserve praise and attention for the unique approach to her job. But someone who stands out for her kindness is especially meaningful in a community that is still healing from a massive trauma."
In 2012, the country mourned with Sandy Hook after a 20-year-old man went on a shooting rampage in the local elementary school, killing 20 children and 6 adults.
"It is just so inspiring to see someone who is a point of light that reminds us to be positive, to treat each other with love and compassion, and that there's still a lot of good in our community and elsewhere. She gives us hope and leaves us with a smile every day," Bergquist said of the cheerful crossing guard.
Holick, a 47-year-old grandmother, hasn't limited her campaign of positivity to the roads. She's even taken to social media to spread cheer, sharing funny photographs and inspiring words through a public Facebook page.
As for what keeps that smile on her face and the bounce in her step, Holick told Newtown Patch: "I think of my family and friends to start me off. Upcoming events to get the extra burst and them I think of the children who wave to me with such joy, from buses and cars. Then I throw some music on from my phone that's in my shirt pocket, and groove to the beat."
at 9:32 PM
When Simon Cowell Saw These Kids Walk On Stage, He Had No Idea What Their Inspiring Message was Going to be...
Two adorable kids turn a musical performance into gold. Almost literally ... that chant from the audience at about 5:30? “Push that gold!” — which sends one act (and one act only) directly to the semifinals. So will Simon do it? Lets see … we’re Upworthy, right? So go ahead, push that PLAY button!
at 9:19 PM
Monday, June 23, 2014
While most kids end up at camp during the summer, canoeing and rock climbing during the warmest months of the year, the campers of Camp Painless But Hopeful, which kicks off Friday, have to wait until there is a chill in the air before packing up and heading to the lake.
That is because the kids who attend Camp Painless but Hopeful all suffer from an extremely rare genetic disorder called congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis (CIPA). The disorder disrupts signals sent in the nervous system and results in both the inability to feel pain and to sweat, which makes people with CIPA extremely vulnerable to becoming overheated.
The camp was founded by Tara Blocker, whose teenage daughter Ashlyn suffers from CIPA.
"She's been wanting to pack for the last month," said Blocker of Ashlyn. "She's definitely ready to go."
Blocker was inspired to start the camp, based in rural Georgia, after her daughter told her about a dream she had of going to a camp with other kids like her.
"It was a very, very vivid dream," said Blocker. "I was floored. I said 'O.K., let's do it.' From that point on, it was my mission to make her dream come true."
Tara Blocker and her husband, John, had met in person only one other family with a child who had CIPA, before starting the camp. In fact when Ashlyn was first diagnosed, Blocker said she became despondent because even online she couldn't find other families who had children with the disorder.
It wasn't until the family went to the press with their story, when Ashlyn was a toddler, that they started to hear from other families. Although the Blockers were featured on multiple television shows and in newspapers, they were still usually contacted by other families in similar situations online or over the phone.
When the camp first started in 2011, it was the first time Tara Blocker was able to meet families she had been corresponding with in person.
"To know there are other people out there walking in your shoes every day, to come in contact with them every day [during camp] is a special experience," said Blocker.
The first year of the camp there were 11 campers, who came with their families, this year there will be 15 families for a total of 56 people. The 15 campers range in age from 4 to 17.
While 15 campers may not seem like a lot, it is a huge number for people with CIPA. The genetic mutation is incredibly rare, and there is little information on how many people are afflicted worldwide. Experts say they estimate about 50 to 100 families could carry the mutation worldwide. The disease often results in patients' accidentally self-mutilating because they don't feel the pain that might stop them from scratching their skin raw or biting through their tongue when teething.
Blocker said one key part of the camp is making time for parents to swap stories and advice about how to safely raise their children.
"We're able to talk about things that happen throughout the year. There's such a huge sense of comfort [discussing] things that have worked and things that don't work," said Blocker.
Ashlyn at age 14 is one of the older campers, and Tara Blocker said one key bit of information they have passed along was how important regular eye check-ups are for children with CIPA. As an 8-month-old, Ashlyn had a severe corneal abrasion that doctors had no idea occurred until they caught it during a routine eye visit.
"We're able to pass that information along [to other parents]," said Blocker. "That's something you rely on pain to tell you that 'my eyes are hurting.' They don't have that luxury."
The day-to-day schedule of Camp Painless But Hopeful, which is held at a campsite designed for sick children, features plenty of activities from zip lining to canoeing and crafts. Although there is a medical lodge onsite, Blocker said the goal for the three-day long camp is to have as normal an experience as possible without excluding kids from activities just because they could possibly get hurt.
"Several of the parents are registered nurses so we are covered," said Blocker, who points out that the camper's parents will be the most familiar with keeping them safe anyway.
Blocker said founding the camp and running it for two years has been a great experience, but she says she will be happy to hand off duties eventually.
"Ashlyn said she wants to take my job as camp director [when she's older], and that's just fine," said Blocker.
When the family first drove to the site, Blockers said she remembered watching Ashlyn from her side-view mirror, looking for her reaction. As they entered the camp site, Ashlyn gasped, "This is exactly what my dream looks like!"
at 9:40 PM
Mike Carey, of Dallas, Georgia, never imagined that he would be participating in pageants. But as dancing partner to his 12-year-old daughter McKenzie, Carey has spent a good amount of time on stage.
McKenzie has mitochondrial disease, which affects the 12-year-old’s ability to speak and move and has left her in a wheelchair.
The disease results from the failure of mitochondria, which are responsible for 90 percent of the body’s energy. As the mitochondria fail, so do the cells. According to the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation, mitochondrial disease usually damages cells in heart, liver and skeletal muscles and respiratory systems, as well as the brain.
McKenzie’s mother, Tammy Carey, started putting her daughter into pageants at age 5 as a way to bond with her daughter and to help McKenzie meet new friends.
“We’re trying to figure out ways to help our daughter and help her enjoy life, and pageants give her an opportunity to be like other children,” said Tammy Carey, who noted that McKenzie can’t speak but understands those around her.
However, McKenzie’s condition confined her to a wheelchair, creating a problems for the competition.
Since Tammy Carey refused to enter her daughter only in pageants for special needs children, she had to figure out a plan for McKenzie when she was needed to perform onstage. Eventually during a particularly hectic pageant day, Mike Carey had an idea.
“You leave it up to me,” Mick Carey told his wife before taking the stage with his daughter. “I wheeled her up on the stage and I did a wheelie across the stage and I picked her up [to dance]. ... I made up a dance in my head. The crowd went crazy.”
The pair has been performing together in pageants ever since and Mike Carey estimates he’s planned out seven dances for his daughter. McKenzie has won about 20 pageants, according to her mom.
At a recent pageant, Carey’s son taped the pair’s latest performance and put it online to raise awareness about the disease as the family raises money online to fund medical treatments for McKenzie. In just two days the video has already gotten more than 220,000 views with people as far as New Zealand chiming in.
“I’m like ‘Holy cow where did this come from?’” said Mike Carey.
The pair aren’t stopping now. They’re already planning to attend a national pageant in Nebraska. McKenzie’s mom is working on the outfits and make-up and her dad is already choreographing his next dance.
“If I get one person [inspired], it made the whole song and whole thing worthwhile,” said Carey. “It’s like an unspoken message. This dance is alike an unspoken testimony and shows bond and love between a father and daughter.”
Sunday, June 22, 2014
Retired Police Officer Gordon Cameron Reunites With Terri Ward a Baby He Helped Deliver 52 Years Ago...
A nurse in Edmonton repaid a decades-old kindness this month. Terri Ward rushed to the bedside of the man who helped deliver her on the side of a road 52 years ago.
As a young cop out for the first time on patrol car duty, Gordon Cameron was trained to keep his eyes open. A car speeding toward the local hospital, however, was not exactly difficult to spot.
The driver, Glenn Ward, told Cameron that his wife was having a baby in the back seat and immediately left for the hospital to get help.
Cameron stayed behind as the woman gave birth to a baby girl. Recalling the incident to CBC News, Cameron remembered: "I opened up the back door and I heard this lady, laying on her back and saying, ‘Don’t just stand there, hand me my baby.'"
After the roadside delivery, both mother and child were admitted to the hospital. But Cameron did not stick around long enough to find out more about them.
Over the next 50 years, he often wondered what had become of the newborn and where she was now. Hoping to learn about the family in the 1956 Ford Meteor, Cameron contacted the Edmonton Journal and reporter Brent Wittmeier started "fishing."
"This is what I do. I dig for people, and I try to find them," said Wittmeier. He mined the archive, searched online directories and called every "Ward" in Alberta, but none were related. Using a "pre-Internet version of 'reverse look-up,'" he sifted through the residents that had lived at the address Cameron provided. Among them were "C. Glen Ward" and his wife, Pauline.
When further investigation led nowhere, Wittmeier made up his mind. He resolved to make a "last-ditch effort" to locate the family. He would dial one more number. Glenn and Pauline Ward--now retired in Sackville, New Brunswick--picked up the phone. "When it panned out, I couldn't believe it," Wittmeier remembered.
Wittmeier connected the Wards and Cameron in 2012. Cameron has been in touch with them ever since. Still, it was not until two weeks ago that the retired police officer laid eyes on the now-grown woman once more.
Cameron had returned to Moncton, in New Brunswick, to attend the funeral of three Royal Canadian Mountain Police gunned down on duty on June 4. The somber visit took its emotional and physical toll on the 81-year-old. After collapsing in the crowd due to dehydration, he was rushed into an ambulance.
When she heard of the crisis, Terri Ward, 52, did not hesitate.
"I was on a day off, but I went right up," she said.
She and her parents met Cameron at the hospital and assured him that he was in good hands. They would know. Ward is a nurse at the hospital.
"My wife and I and our daughter were up to see him every day until he left to go home to fly back to Alberta," says Glenn Ward, 77. "For my daughter, it meant an awful lot. Terri and him hit it right off."
Cameron has recovered and has since returned to Edmonton, but Glenn Ward is confident that the two will stay in touch. "Maybe she'll get out West to see him," muses Ward. "I think she'd like that."
Despite the alarming circumstances, Terri Ward is grateful for the unexpected quality time together: "He was only supposed to be in town for a little while, but I guess things have a funny way of turning around."
at 6:56 AM
Saturday, June 21, 2014
Leukemia drug has unexpected side effect of boosting immune responses against many different cancers...
A class of drug currently being used to treat leukemia has the unexpected side-effect of boosting immune responses against many different cancers, reports a new study.
The drugs, called p110δ inhibitors, have shown such remarkable efficacy against certain leukemias in recent clinical trials that patients on the placebo were switched to the real drug. Until now, however, they have not been tested in other types of cancer.
The new study, led by scientists at University College London and the Babraham Institute, Cambridge and published in Nature, provides the first evidence that such drugs can significantly restrict tumor growth and spread and reduce the chances of relapse for a broad range of cancers. The researchers at UCL, the Babraham Institute and Queen Mary University of London, together with scientists from Genentech, South San Francisco, showed that inhibition of the p110δ enzyme helps to boost the body’s immune system to kill tumor cells. The research was funded by Cancer Research UK, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the Wellcome Trust.
“Our study shows that p110δ inhibitors have the potential to offer effective immunity to many types of cancer by unleashing the body’s own immune response,” says study co-leader Professor Bart Vanhaesebroeck of the UCL Cancer Institute, who first discovered the p110δ enzyme in 1997. “p110δ is highly expressed and important in white blood cells, called ‘leukocytes’. Given that leukemias are the result of leukocytes becoming cancerous, they are a natural target for p110δ inhibitors. Now, we have shown that blocking p110δ also has the remarkable effect of boosting the body’s immune response against leukemias as well as other cancers.”
The team showed that inhibiting p110δ in mice significantly increased cancer survival rates across a broad range of tumor types, both solid and hematological cancers. For example, mice in which p110δ was blocked survived breast cancer for almost twice as long as mice with active p110δ. Their cancers also spread significantly less, with far fewer and smaller tumors developing. Survival after surgical removal of primary breast cancer tumors was also vastly improved, which has important clinical implications for stopping breast cancer from returning following surgery. The team’s data further show that following p110δ inhibition, the immune system could develop an effective memory response to completely fight off the cancer.
Lead author Dr Khaled Ali, who is now based at Amgen, San Francisco, says: “When we first introduced tumors in p110δ-deficient mice, we expected them to grow faster because p110δ is important for the immune system. Instead, some tumors started shrinking. When we investigated this unexpected effect, we found that p110δ is especially important in so-called regulatory T cells which are suppressive immune cells that the tumors engage to protect themselves against immune attack.”
The p110δ enzyme is a member of the PI3-kinase family, and is sometimes called PI3Kδ. p110δ and the other PI3Ks are hot drug targets for the pharmaceutical industry as they are implicated in many cancers and are readily treatable.
“Our work shows that p110δ inhibitors can shift the balance from the cancer becoming immune to our body’s defenses towards the body becoming immune to the cancer, by disabling regulatory T cells,” says study co-leader Dr Klaus Okkenhaug of the Babraham Institute, which receives strategic funding from the BBSRC. “This provides a rationale for using these drugs against both solid and blood cancers, possibly alongside cancer vaccines, cell therapies and other treatments that further promote tumor-specific immune responses.”
Professor Nic Jones, Cancer Research UK’s chief scientist and director of the Manchester Cancer Research Centre, said: “Treatments that train the immune system to recognize and kill cancer cells are showing huge promise in several types of cancer. This new finding, although only at an early stage, offers the potential to develop more treatments that can do this in many more cancers, including ones that have real need for more effective treatments such as pancreatic cancer.
“If the findings hold true in cancer patients this could make a big difference to many of them. The good news is that because the drugs used in this study are already being used in the clinic, we could see rapid translation of this research into patient benefit.”
at 3:22 PM