Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Today's Good Newsz Quote of the Day...

Baseball legend Jim Abbott, who was born with only one hand, recounts how his third grade teacher Don Clarkson was his greatest inspiration...

Jim Abbott won an Olympic gold medal, played professional baseball, pitched a no-hitter, wrote a bestselling memoir and has positively impacted the lives of thousands of people through his inspirational talks.
With all of that success, Jim still enthusiastically recounts how one of his greatest inspirations was one of his earliest — Don Clarkson, his third grade teacher.
Jim Abbott was born with only one hand. Like most young kids, when Jim was in elementary school he desperately wanted to fit in, but it wasn’t easy. Jim recalls being singled out as different. Kids would sneer at him on the baseball field, classmates would tell him they didn’t like his prosthetic arm and classmates would even cry because Jim’s arm scared them.
Jim kept his prosthetic hand in his pocket as much as he could so people wouldn’t notice it.
Even the seemingly little things were a big deal. One of those things was that Jim couldn’t tie his shoes. Each morning Jim’s mom would tie his shoes in a jumble of knots to give his shoes the best chance of not coming untied all day. The knots were a painful reminder to Jim that he wasn’t like everyone else. And, if his shoes came untied he was embarrassed that he couldn’t tie them again.

Dream Racer - making life a little bit more comfortable for kids at the pediatric cancer clinic at UNC Children's Hospital

A generous gift is making life more enjoyable for children at UNC Children's Hospital. It's a video game built with the same materials as real race cars.
Dylan Price, 15, of Greensboro, was the first in a pediatric cancer clinic at UNC to take the Dream Racer for a spin. 
Dylan's leukemia is in remission, but he's hooked up to a drug to fight graft-versus-host disease, a side effect of his bone marrow transplant. In the Dream Racer driver's seat, he's not thinking about side effects, needles or IV lines. 
"It's kind of cool because it's like an actual driving car and everything," he said. "It feels like you're actually in a car."
The special ride won't be found in any arcade; Mark Smith designed it specifically with patients like Dylan in mind.
"We built 31 of these that are in hospitals all the way to Redondo Beach, California," Smith said.
The racers are hand-built and adjustable to children of all sizes. They cost $10,000.
"(I've heard a lot) of stories about how these take the anxiety and stress level from kids taking treatments," Smith said. 
Restart Life, a South Carolina dietary supplements company, raised the money to make the car at UNC Children's Hospital possible.
"I don't know where efforts could be better placed in trying to share with the community," said company spokesman A.J. Lanigan.
Smith said the Dream Racers are popular.
"I've been in hospitals where you couldn't see the car for the kids," he said. 
"I know that there are so many kids I've met here that are going to love this thing," Dylan added.

Make-a-Wish Foundation's World Wish Day - WWE champion wrestler surprises 8 year old Nick Santillo an eight year old with a rare heart defect who has been in and out of hospitals since he was an infant

Eight-year-old Nick Santillo got quite the surprise on Monday when Kathie Lee and Hoda arranged for him to meet his hero, WWE champion wrestler John Cena.
Nick has a rare heart defect that has kept him in and out of hospitals since he was an infant, and he will have to work daily to overcome lifelong complications.
Monday was the Make-a-Wish Foundation's World Wish Day, and Nick got his wish granted when he shook hands with John and got to hold the wrestler's awesome championship belt.
Not only that, but John invited Nick and his family to be his special guest at Monday Night Raw.
"Can we come?" said Hoda, who may have gotten a little misty. Nick, for his part, was adorably speechless.
John encouraged everybody to visit wish.org and get involved by donating air miles, which he'll be doing himself. You can check it out here.

Checkout this gymnast's amazing floor exercise routine...

This gymnast's eye-popping routine has gone viral for good reason, and must be seen to be believed.
The incredible sports sequence involves a ball, some major contortions and a whole lot of grace. We're not quite sure where this young lady comes from or who she is, but we do know this much: her amazing video has become popular enough to hit the front page of YouTubewith more than 6.7 million views since being uploaded on Saturday.

Under new program U.S. Military Veterans will receive training for civilian technology jobs

First lady Michelle Obama will unveil Monday a public-private program to help military veterans with information technology experience to get the certifications and additional training they need to succeed in the civilian IT world.
The IT Training and Certification Partnership will help up to 161,000 returning early-to-mid-career military veterans qualify for a dozen civilian technology positions, including computer programming, quality assurance and information security, according to the White House. The Obama administration estimates there will be 1.8 million openings in the targeted fields through the end of the decade. It also believes the jobs will provide an average salary of more than $81,000.
Members of the military serving in a technology role often have the same or nearly the same level of training and skill as their civilian counterparts, but often lack the certifications required of job applicants in the civilian world. The program will also offer returning military members the chance to identify and fill any gaps in their training required for employment in civilian positions.
Obama will announce the program at a White House event Monday morning. The first lady has spearheaded for two years Joining Forces, a wide-reaching program designed to help returning veterans find employment in the civilian world. There are approximately 800,000 unemployed veterans in the United States.
Cisco, Microsoft, Oracle and other top technology companies are involved in the partnership. Cisco has identified civilian career paths that match well with the skills acquired by working in specific military positions, Microsoft is donating certification exam vouchers and underwriting the cost of Microsoft-specific training programs and Oracle is assisting with training in Database Design, SQL, and Java-related skills. Several of the companies involved will also be encouraging their business partners to hire veterans.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Today's Good Newsz Quote of the Day...

Fourth grader visits a homeless shelter and writes a little note to the people she met at the Rescue Mission in Raleigh, North Carolina

Title: "I Feel Bad For Homeless People"
Author: A fourth-grade student in Heather Leah's class
The field trip: Leah took her students to a rescue mission in Raleigh, N.C. She was worried that the children would judge homeless people, but instead, one student "cemented [her] faith in humanity’s future."
Words of wisdom: The people they visited gave advice to the kids including stay in school, don't do drugs and be good to one another.
What the world needs more of: People like this kid.

A moment caught in time - couple married 70 years....

"70 years together" read the photo caption on Reddit.
"He went through the brutal Mao suppression," Reddit user and the couple's grandson Justin Wijaya wrote on the site. "He survived the Japanese occupation. Survived the bombing of the British army in World War 2. Raised 5 children in full discrimination against communist Chinese. Even when he is sick, he refused hospital treatment because nobody will take care of my ill grandmother."
"In a land where relationships can barely last 70 weeks... Simply amazing!" responded Reddit user Rule_13.
We couldn't agree more. We asked Wijaya to share his grandparents' love story:

Jeri Cox Chastain of South Carolina gets her stolen wallet back after 23 years...

NBC News
A wallet stolen from a single mom working two jobs was returned this week in mint condition -- 23 years and a "whole lifetime of changes" since it was taken from her.
Jeri Cox Chastain, 52, still lives in Reidville, S.C., where she resided when the wallet was stolen in 1990, but not much else is the same: The hospital where she did medical transcription has closed down, and she now has her own business; her son, then 5 years old, is now 28; and she's remarried, which means she now has a different last name.
"There's been a whole lifetime of changes. My son's grown up. I've grown up, and out," Chastain said, laughing.
The wallet, and her old life, had become a distant memory -- until Wednesday afternoon, when a police officer from the neighboring city of Spartanburg called her.
"He said he had some property of mine that had been recovered, and I could not imagine what had been lost," Chastain said. "He said, 'I have a blast from your past. I'm holding your navy blue--' and I said, 'My wallet.' And he said, 'Yes, ma'am, your wallet.'"
The next day, she went to the police station to claim her wallet. Inside were photos of Chastain's then-5-year-old son, his birth certificate, their social security cards, her driver's license -- all  items she had replaced, except for the pictures.

"It's in perfect condition. The pictures are perfect," she said. "There was one in there of him and I when he was three months old. I don't have any other copies of that one. I had forgotten I had those. Or forgotten that I didn't have them, as the case would be."
The wallet was found in the ceiling of a women's restroom in a building a couple miles from where the hospital had been, reported WYFF.com, an NBC affiliate. The hospital, Doctors' Memorial, closed in 1994.

5 year old boy genius Gus Dorman is inducted into Mensa, the International High IQ Society, with an IQ of 147!

Gus Dorman may just be one of the world's smartest 5-year-olds.
According to St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the boy genius has been inducted into the world's preeminent smart club, Mensa, after scoring a very impressive 147 on a recent IQ test.
“He started reading when he was 18-months-old,” said Gus' dad, Rob. “He was sitting on the porta-potty reading a newspaper. I noticed that he liked to look at maps so I put one up. In about a week's time, he had memorized everything on it. He's just always been very clever.”
While his fellow kindergartners work on perfecting their ABCs and learning to count, 5-year-old Gus, who lives in Colinsville, Ill., with his family, is reading books like "Charlotte's Web," doing multiplication in his head, memorizing the periodic table and learning more about things like black holes and astrophysics from his parents.
Gus' dad also said that his son is so bright that the youngster even challenges hisknowledge sometimes.
“He got into an argument with me because I told him that the capital of Alaska is Anchorage,” he told ABC News. “But it’s not, it’s Juneau.”
Though being gifted with superior intelligence has its advantages, Gus' relatives admit that there are challenges, too.
“He's so far advanced, he is bored and he gets into trouble,” Gus' dad told the Post-Dispatch about his son's kindergarten experience. “He thinks he's a bad kid but he just needs to be challenged.”
The Dormans added that they are pushing the Collinsville School District to provide Gus, and other kids like him, with specialized education.
While Gus' story is undoubtedly spectacular, the boy isn't the only child aged 5 or younger who has wowed the world with his cleverness. Earlier this year, 3-year-old Sherwyn Sarabi made headlines after he was inducted into Mensa with an IQ score of 136. As the Atlantic Wire points out, there are also a number of Mensa members who are under the age of 3.
Still, young geniuses are without question a relatively rare breed. According to American Mensa's website, there are about 2,800 members under the age of 18 in the United States, out of 57,000 total members in the country.

Xena the Warrior Puppy and Jonny Hickey an 8 year old boy with autism - a match made in heaven.

For most of Jonny Hickey’s eight years of life, solitude has suited him just fine.
He adores his mom and dad, of course, and he loves his older brother. He also views some special ed teachers as rare, trusted allies. Still, none of those people could get many words out of him.
It’s not that Jonny can’t talk. He knows how to speak, and he can read with proficiency. But autism left him closed off and isolated. Most of his social interactions result in painful awkwardness; unfamiliar situations can trigger terror, tantrums or both. Seeking comfort and predictability, he’d embrace solitary activities; on a typical day after school, he’d spend hours playing with marbles in silence.
Then, about two months ago, everything changed. Jonny forged a connection so unlikely that people familiar with it describe it as a miracle. His new confidante brings out the best in him — his playfulness, his cute singing voice, his verbal assessments of everything he sees and experiences.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Today's Good Newsz Quote of the Day...

Army Captain and Boxer Boyd Melson donates all of his prize earnings to help find a cure for paralysis...

Boxer Boyd Melson graduated from West Point and later earned an MBA. That alone makes him stand out in his sport. But his campaign to knock out paralysis has perhaps attracted the most attention. Melson (10-1-1) donates all of his prize-fight winnings to fund spinal cord research.
The 31-year-old New Yorker will fight Edgar Perez of Chicago in an undercard middleweight bout at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., Saturday night. Christan Zaccagnino, whom Melson met during his senior year at West Point, will be cheering him on from her wheelchair.
Zaccagnino was paralyzed in a 1993 pool-diving accident. The two struck up a romance, and Melson pledged to help Zaccagnino walk again.
"That's my happiness -- finding this cure," he told The Huffington Post.
Although they are no longer a couple, they remain best friends, he said. They foundedTeamFightToWalk, through which people can donate money to benefit clinical trials supervised by Dr. Wise Young, the director of Rutgers' W.M. Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience.

Jeff Bauman, Boston Marathon Victim Who Lost Both Legs, Has a Private Meeting with Carlos Arredondo, Cowboy Hat Hero Who Saved His Life at the Boston Marathon

A week after the iconic image of a hero in a cowboy hat saving a severely injured bomb victim made its way around the world, the two had a private emotional reunion.
The gruesome AP photo of Carlos Arredondo pinching closed a severed artery from Jeff Bauman’s thigh after the explosions on April 15 tells most of the inspiring story. Arredondo unhesitatingly bolted from the bleachers to help Bauman, a spectator who lost both of his legs in the aftermath of the bombings.
Just one image captured both the magnitude of the atrocity and the boundless goodwill that unfolded during the attacks.
But the two, selfless hero and grateful victim, say their bond will extend far beyond the horrors that they witnessed on that spring afternoon. Arredondo visited Bauman at Boston Medical Center a week after the attacks and the two talked about how appreciative each one is of the other. The two speak every day, Bauman told WEEI. (Listen)
“When we first saw each other we hugged each other and I gave him a kiss on the cheek because it was very beautiful to see him doing very well,” Arredondo told WHDH of the moment they reunited on Monday. “He was so happy to see me and he was so thankful. Tears were coming out of his eyes.”

Brother and sister Dan and Kate Suski survive by swimming 14 hour to shore after Caribbean shipwreck

(CNN) -- One moment they were reeling in a fish, and the next they were shipwrecked .
Two American siblings, Dan and Kate Suski, are recovering on the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia after a weekend fishing trip turned into a harrowing experience.
Their charter boat sank Sunday, and the pair endured many hours in the water before reaching a beach, a Saint Lucia police detective said.
Four people were on the boat -- the two Americans, a captain and one crew member.
A Saint Lucia resident found the Suski siblings on the beach and called police, the detective said. The captain and crew member were found hours later.
"We are feeling stronger each day and looking forward to reuniting with family and friends," Dan Suski told CNN via e-mail. He and his sister expect to return to the United States by Sunday.
"They told me they had a fish on the line, and were fighting the fish, then heard a noise," said David Suski, an older brother who was not on the trip but was briefed by his siblings.
The captain checked out the engine room, which was filling up with water, David Suski said. It was only about "three to five minutes from the time they heard the noise to when they had to abandon the boat and it sank," he said.
The sea was very rough, and it soon became dark, David Suski said. Officials later told them their boat sank about 12 miles off the coast.
"They are feeling lucky to be alive -- it was quite an ordeal -- both my brother and sister were treated for dehydration and when they made it shore, they drank from a stream, so they also were given antibiotics in case the water wasn't clean," David Suski said.
Both Dan and Kate Suski can swim and had life jackets on, but that didn't make it any less scary.
The pair spent two days in a hospital after reaching land.

Sophie de Oliveira Barata's Alternative Limb Project reinvents the way we look at prosthetics

London (CNN) -- With her flaming red hair, Marilyn Monroe figure, and lurid green snake casually coiled around the arm, Jo-Jo Cranfield looks like a real-life muse emerging from a Salvador Dali painting.
It's impossible not to stare at the neon python on her left wrist. But take a closer look and you'll discover that the reptile slithers in and out of the flesh like a psychedelic needle and thread.
Cranfield is an amputee. And her fantastical arm -- described as everything from cool to creepy, and erotic -- is the work of a London designer reinventing the way we see prosthetic limbs.
From stereo legs to feather arms, Sophie de Oliveira Barata's Alternative Limb Project crosses into the realm of surrealist art, yet with a very important function.
"It's drawing attention to their disability in a positive way," said de Oliveira Barata. "Rather than people seeing what's missing, it's about what they've got.
"Having an alternative limb is about claiming control and saying 'I'm an individual and this reflects who I am.'"
De Oliveira Barata's remarkable work was thrust into the international spotlight last year when model and singer Viktoria Modesta wore her Swarovski crystal leg at the London Paralympics closing ceremony.

One World Trade Center to be topped off on Monday and become the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere at 1776 feet

New York (CNN) -- Construction crews at the 16-acre World Trade Center site will raise the final two sections of a 408-foot spire to the top of One World Trade Center on Monday morning, making the building the tallest in the Western Hemisphere, according to the site's management.
A stainless steel beacon weighing almost six tons will be the final piece put in place to give the building an iconic height of 1,776 feet, according to a news release from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Once the architectural structure is complete, it will be comprised of 18 separate sections of steel and three communication rings. The first -- and heaviest -- steel section was installed in January, weighing more than 67 tons, the news release said.
Port Authority Assistant Director of Media Anthony Hayes said the original design included a radome -- short for radar dome --but that was rejected because of anticipated servicing and maintenance difficulties. The radome would not have impacted the height, but would have provided an additional design element, which ultimately proved impractical, Hayes told CNN.
The spire will serve a television broadcast facility housed in One World Trade Center, the press release said.
While under construction, One World Trade Center became New York City's tallest building a year ago, standing 1,271 feet above street-level. The building then was 21 feet higher than the Empire State Building's observation deck.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Today's Good Newsz Quote of the Day...

6 year old Jake June raises money and donates 1,800 coloring books to the kids at Stony Brook Long Island Children's Hospital

Jake June donated 1,800 coloring books to the Stony Brook Long Island Children's Hospital. The 6 year-old wanted to pay it forward after the hospital treated him for a stomach flu this past winter.
According to Jake's parents, it was all his idea.
"We're just so proud of him. It came out of nowhere on his own. He just wanted to repay the favor that was done for him," Jake's father, Scott June, said.
Jake and his family raised the money with home-brewed iced tea and home-baked cookies. They sold them at All Pro Sports Academy, Jake's father's business.
Jake and his family were able to raise $275, which purchased 1,800 childrens' coloring books. The books were donated to sick kids at the hospital's pediatric emergency department.

Rusty Loiselle is grateful for his warm bed, the roof over his head and dinner he has on the table - so he gives back by planting vegetable gardens to help the homeless live off the land

Rusty Loiselle is thankful for having a warm bed to sleep in, a roof over his head, and dinner on the table every night of the week. It wasn't until recently he discovered there were so many homeless people living nearby without any of these common luxuries.
"I didn't even realize that we had homeless, but now I know there's way too many of them, and I'm trying to do something," explained Loiselle. "Maybe we can get them out of this situation, maybe get them in housing or get them the help that they need."
Loiselle began planting vegetable gardens to help the homeless live off the land. He not only wants to help feed them but educate them on being independent and not relying on others for food.
"I can go home. I can have a hot meal. I can take a hot shower, I can get in a warm bed. A lot of these folks out here can't do that," said Louiselle.
It's wonderful to see one man stepping out of his comfort zone and helping the less fortunate live a better life. 

OneFundBoston.org donations now exceed more than $26,000,000!

Sandwich Art - David LaFerriere has drawn different art on his kids' lunch bags everyday since 2008

David LaFerriere has illustrated his kids' lunch bags with a Sharpie marker since 2008. And during those five years, none of his drawings have been the same.
"I used to work nights at a newspaper, and I'd be up early in the morning making my kids sandwiches," LaFerriere, a graphic designer at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, toldMashable. "I started drawing on the baggies, sort of as a way to channel my creative juices in the morning, and it just ended up sticking."
His kids, Evan, 16, and Kenny, 14, were both in elementary school when it started. Now that they're older, LaFerriere said, they and their friends still look forward to the drawings every day.
"I'd like to keep doing this for as long as possible. Of course, things will change once they go to college — but I can still send illustrated care packages," he said.
Take a look at some of our favorites in the gallery above. You can stay up to date with LaFerriere's newest illustrations on his Flickr page.

Sydney Corcoran gets some special guests at her room in the Boston Medical Center as members of her favorite bands Mayday Parade and All Time Low stop in to visit the Boston Marathon victim

Lowell High School senior Sydney Corcoran was supposed to be going to a fun punk rock show with her friends last night at the Tsongas Arena.
But like so many in Boston, her plans drastically changed on April 15, when terrorists bombed the Boston Marathon.
She and her mother were standing near the first blast, and the 18-year-old suffered shrapnel injuries that nearly killed her, while her mother, Celeste, lost both legs.
Last night, instead of going to the concert with three of her best friends, she was recovering with her mother at Boston Medical Center. But she got a special surprise yesterday when members of two of the bands on the bill — Mayday Parade and All Time Low — dropped in to visit her in the hospital.
“It’s the absolute most sweetest thing anyone could do for anyone,” Sydney’s friend, Sarah Cassella, told the Herald. “She loves them. I’m just so happy she met them. She deserved this. She’s been so excited about this concert. This is like the best thing. She’s so happy that they even did this. It’s unbelievable.”
Derek Sanders, vocalist for Florida-based Mayday Parade, said meeting the teen — who just turned 18 last week — was extremely emotional and touching.
“It was an incredible experience,” the singer told the Herald. “She’s a wonderful person, and her family just showed incredible spirit.
“To see a family that’s been through a life-changing thing like that, you imagine just how devastating it can be,” he continued. “But to see them laughing, smiling, joking and just having hope was so inspiring.”

Friday, April 26, 2013

Today's Good Newsz Quote of the day...

Linda Golden wins $1 million dollar lottery prize and shares it with her co-workers. "Character is what you do when no one is looking" she says.

Friendship and integrity are the real winners in this lottery story.
Fifteen co-workers from Quad Graphics in Pennsylvania started an office lottery pool last month, according to ABC. During the March 23 drawing, they won just $4.
The next week, one of the pool members took those winnings to buy more tickets and was much luckier the second time around. Unbeknownst to her co-workers, Linda Golden of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, had purchased a prize-winning Powerball ticket worth $1 million.
Although the 14 other members of the so-called "Quad 15" office pool were unaware of her second purchase, the 63-year-old printing plant employee never once thought of keeping the winnings for herself, ABC reported.
"It would have been just as easy for her to claim that winning ticket as her own," Liz Pavelchak, one of the "Quad 15" pool members, told WGAL. "She's our angel."
Instead of keeping her purchase a secret, Golden gave her coworkers the surprise of a lifetime. "I came in and acted like I was upset about something," she told the Evening Sun. "I said, 'We just won $1 million' and they just stood there and looked at me."
After the 15-way split, each co-worker stands to walk away with approximately $66,666 before taxes.
According to a CBS affiliate, most of the winners planned to use the money to pay off loans or save for retirement. But the winnings would make a remarkable difference for pool member Cindy Smit, who has been unable to work since January due to medical needs. She may now be able to afford the necessary treatment.

Homeless men raise money to help Payton Adams a 4 year old fighting cancer

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - For some homeless men in Kansas City, their spare change went to help a 4-year-old girl with cancer.
The parents of Payton Adams, 4, have struggled with the medical payments to treat her cancer, a story that the homeless men at City Union Mission heard about thanks to the evening manager at the shelter, Johnny Evans, who doubles as a security officer at Payton’s preschool.
The men were able to collect three water jugs full of spare change and donated the third jar to Payton and his parents Friday night.
“It takes a lot, she has to eat a certain way, medical bills, transportation to the emergency room, and it’s amazing how these guys who have very little, how the pennies add up,” Payton’s mom, LeiLani Adams said. “Sometimes we come out of here with $500. Whatever they have, it has really been a blessing.”
The other two jugs full of change were delivered to the family in the last two years.
“Payton’s parents write a thank you note back to the men and tell us how much was in the bottle,” Evans said. “For these men who are often separated or estranged from their families or have no family at all, it brings joy to their hearts to play a part in bringing joy to the life of this little girl.”

Family joins HealthyWage weight loss challenge - loses 255 pounds and wins the $10,000 prize.

(CNN) -- The $10,000 prize caught Jordan Teuscher's attention.
He read the rules carefully. Teams of five would compete against others from around the country to have the highest percentage of weight loss after 12 weeks. To prevent unhealthy dieting, no one person could lose more than 16.6% of their total body weight.
Teuscher wasn't extremely obese, but he had put on more than a few pounds since getting married and starting law school. His family was naturally competitive. If he could persuade them to participate, he thought, they had a good chance of winning the HealthyWage challenge.
He talked to his uncle, Jon Whicker, and his sister, who had auditioned for "The Biggest Loser" but were not accepted. They agreed to join his team. His mom and dad also hopped on board. The family decided on a name -- "Will Work for Less Food" -- and paid their $75 entry fees.
Game on.
For three months, they cut out sugar and refined carbohydrates; they avoided eating late at night and added exercise to their schedules. They vied for first place with a team named Bravo5A, winning and losing small challenges along the way that only pushed them harder.
"In general, I'm a warrior," Whicker says. And as a warrior, "you're never quite happy with just being ahead -- you want to be way ahead."
In the end, they emerged victorious -- dropping a combined 255 pounds (16% of their total body weight) to win the competition and the $10,000 prize.

Weight loss and healthy diet help mom Melissa Schaaf through her battle with cancer...

(CNN) -- The hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon -- and out again -- was symbolic for Melissa Schaaf. It was a sign of how far she had come, a sign that the middle-aged mom of two was active, adventurous and alive.
She had lost 80 pounds over the last year and a half through regular exercise and a healthy diet. She was in the best shape of her life, and the trip to Arizona's natural wonder was a chance to celebrate.
It was a grueling hike, about 15 miles down and up the steep trail with hundreds of switchbacks.
But on that day in summer 2011, Schaaf had no idea her biggest battle was yet to come.
A healthy habit
Four years ago, the 5-foot-4 Schaaf weighed close to 250 pounds. "When I turned 40, I looked down at the scale and thought, 'Oh my, I must really do something about this,' " the Herndon, Virginia, woman says.

9 year old "JD" from Colorado sings his original song "The Runner" dedicated to the victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon tragedy...

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Today's Good Newsz Quote of the Day...

Inspiration: Severely injured Boston Marathon victim Jeff Bauman delivers an 18th birthday gift to fellow victim Sydney Corcoran

You're looking at Jeff Bauman delivering an 18th birthday present to fellow Boston bombing victim and amputee, Sydney Corcoran. Do you have goose bumps yet? The heart-warming scene happened at the Boston Medical Center, where both are recovering from their horrific injuries. Corcoran's no stranger to pain, having only recently recovered from cracking her skull in a 2011 car accident. And Bauman? Yup, he's the hero who ID-ed the bombers after getting rushed to the hospital by cowboy hat-wearing Carlos Arredondo. Folks on Twitter are calling this incredible image the definition of "Boston Strong" and elevating this emotional photo to "best picture on the Internet."  Corcoran’s mom Celeste also lost her two legs in the bombing.
Fundraising pages set up for both Bauman and the Corcorans have each raised more than $600,000.
"He is in great spirits, wheeling himself around, and appreciates all that has been done," writes Brooke Gibbs, the founder of the "Bucks for Bauman!" website. "We never imagined to be bringing our goal to 1 million, and now it is in reach!" 
"It was another day of momentum and healing as the incredible Jeff Bauman visited today and gave Sydney a birthday gift -- what a sweetheart! Very emotional and awesome experience for all involved," wrote Sydney's family on the fundraising page set up for the teen and her mother, Celeste.

Stolen bike returned with a note of apology and a Domino's Pizza Coupon...

The owner of a recently stolen bicycle posted a photo of the bike thief's priceless apology, explaining: "3 nights ago my bike was stolen. It just turned up back in my yard this morning with this note... Ain't even mad." Did we mention the apology included a coupon for a free chocolate lava crunch cake from Domino's Pizza? Sounds like a fair trade to us.

Lofty goal for a 15 year old girl - Abigail Harrison wants to be the first astronaut to go to Mars.

It was nothing short of fate when Abigail Harrison spotted her hero, astronaut Luca Parmitano, in an airport security line.
At just 15 years old, Harrison knows what she wants to do with her life: become the first astronaut on Mars in 2030. And the ever-so-keen Harrison — a well-spoken Minnesota high school student who has a confidence that doesn't come naturally to most teenagers — knew picking Parmitano's brain would bring her one step closer.
"He had an hour before flight, and we talked for the whole time," she tells Mashable. "He was really interested in my dream and wanted to stay in touch."
Parmitano lived up to his promise, and now the two are undertaking an unprecedented project. When Parmitano travels to the International Space Station on board a Russian Soyuz spacecraft this May, Harrison will serve as his Earth-based liaison.
Each day, Parmitano will correspond via email with Harrison, who will in turn distribute his photos, video and research to the world on her blog. Their hope is to continue the buzz thatTwitter's favorite astronaut Chris Hadfield, who returns to Earth in May, has generated while on the ISS.
"Commander Hadfield has done such amazing job of getting the public interested in the ISS, and we don't want that to go away when he comes back down," she says. "Luca is going to carry on the flag."

Good news on the way for the blind and visually impaired - the first Braille Smartphone.

AHMEDABAD: The world's first smartphone for blind people is here. Soon, they will be able to read SMSes and emails on this phone, which converts all text into Braille patterns.

"We have created the world's first Braille smartphone," says its innovator, Sumit Dagar, whose company is being incubated at the Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship, located in IIM Ahmedabad campus. "This product is based on an innovative 'touch screen' which is capable of elevating and depressing the contents it receives to transform them into 'touchable' patterns," he says.

Dagar, who is a post-graduate from the National Institute of Design (NID), says he was motivated to develop the device when he realised that so far, technology was only serving the mainstream and ignoring the marginalised. He is collaborating with IIT Delhi on making the prototype, which is currently being tested at L V Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad.

"The response during the test has been immense. It comes out as a companion more than a phone to the user. We plan to do more advanced versions of the phone in the future," Dagar adds.

Neil Diamond, who showed up unannounced at Boston's Fenway Park to see "Sweet Caroline" is donating the sales of the song to charity...

NEW YORK (AP) — Neil Diamond is donating this week’s sales from ‘‘Sweet Caroline’’ after the tune became a source of comfort following the explosions at the Boston Marathon.
Sales from Diamond’s song are up by 597 percent, Nielsen SoundScan said Wednesday. Diamond’s representative said the singer will donate the recent sales to marathon bombing victims.
‘‘Sweet Caroline’’ sold 19,000 tracks this week. It sold 2,800 tracks the previous week and 1.75 million tracks to date.
The crowd-pleasing song is a staple of Boston Red Sox games. It makes no specific mention of Boston or the Red Sox, but the team started playing it regularly at Fenway Park more than a decade ago and fans took to it.
The New York Yankees, Toronto Raptors and other professional sports teams also have played the song at games in the days after the deadly blasts April 15.
Diamond released ‘‘Sweet Caroline’’ in 1969. The song was inspired by Caroline Kennedy’s name.