Rarely does anyone outdo Bill Gates when it comes to charitable acts — but one can surely try. Popular TV show “Stranger Things” recently set its own record, helping raise $400,000 for the Science Museum of Minnesota. And it was all thanks to a dinosaur hoodie.
Dustin, who is played by Gaten Matarazzo, was seen in the premiere episode of Stranger Things 2 wearing a purple hoodie with a Brontosaurus “Thunder Lizard” logo emblazoned on the front, along with the tagline ‘The Science Museum of Minnesota’.
Selling since the 1980’s, the popular hoodie was so in-demand that fans crashed the museum website for well over a day. Number of hoodies sold? Over 10,000. The proceeds will go to future research, which I’m sure the kids of Stranger Things are all about.
“For us, we’re just relishing this opportunity to be connected to the popular show, especially one that has characters that are interested in science,” [museum public relations officer Kim] Ramsden said.
See, kids? Science is a lot cooler than you think.
For decades, technology has paved the way for treating detrimental illnesses such as HIV and leukemia. While some conditions remain without a cure, therapy and devices have made everyday living more bearable. A Tennessee nature park gave back to its colorblind visitors by installing a special viewfinder.
“To realize, through red/green deficiencies and other forms of colorblindness, there potentially are more than 13 million people in our country alone who cannot fully appreciate the beauty our state has to offer, we wanted to do something about that,” [said Kevin Triplett, the commissioner of the state’s Department of Tourist Development.]
The colorblind-less viewfinders alleviate specific color deficiencies, allowing tourists to marvel at the park. In the fall, trees don an incredible concoction of reds and yellows, a first sight for some.
“I’m glad to have seen it. I just wish I had seen this all my life,” [local Jim] Nichols said through tears. “Kinda like what I would imagine the difference between here and heaven.”
Positive responses from colorblind sightseers had the state installing more viewfinders across other parks. And there you have it — never take your senses for granted. Not everyone can enjoy them the way we do.
I believe it’s in anyone’s nature to be kind — even when it means putting others first. Among our everyday heroes is Clayton Cook, who, on his wedding day, dove into a river to save a drowning boy. (It’s safe to say he was overdressed for the occasion) Alongside him is Kimberly Gager, who gave up her entire coupon collection to donate supplies to hurricane victims. And as if people hadn’t impressed me enough, Cullman resident Eric Gilbreath drove 2 hours out of town to rescue a missing child.
“Your heart just falls out on the floor. My first thought was helping getting out there and looking. I wasn’t going to give up,” Gilbreath explained.
The toddler, 3-year-old Serenity Dawn Sanders, shares a mother with Gilbreath’s son. Despite the presence of a search party, Gilbreath was the first to spot Serenity in the woods of Dekalb County.
“I just walked the ridge top, walked halfway down the ridge and walked the bottom of the ridge and went to the next one,” Gilbreath said.
Serenity was accompanied by her dog. Just as any father would, Gilbreath reminded the unfazed child not to wander without her mother. That’s at least 10 dad points to Gilbreath!
Meaningful gestures are what get people by in difficult times. Domestic abuse victim Kyleigha Scott found solace in her dentist, who repaired a broken tooth for free. For Las Vegas mourners, it was a healing garden that brought people on opposite sides of the spectrum together. For 5-year-old Sophia Chiappalone, it was best friend Hunter who eased the pain of her heart condition. The two “married” before Sophia’s fourth surgery.
“Just seeing Sophia’s smile, he didn’t complain once,” Hunter’s mother said of the photo shoot. “He was genuinely having a fun time. They were laughing together, tickling, swinging and on the slides. I think he really enjoyed it. I think it makes him happy to see her happy.”
Fortunately for Sophia, Hunter’s mother Tracy Laferriere’s own BFF was photographer Marisa Balletti-Lavoie. Wanting in on the charming surprise was Bliss Bridal, who provided a gown and veil. To say the photos are adorable is an understatement. However, reality is also bittersweet.
“I wish that she keeps her fighting spirit. And I hope she never loses her quality of life … no matter what the end result is.” [said Sophia’s mother Kristy.]
All the best, little Sophia!
Without a doubt, dogs are resilient animals. Whether they have been lost for 9 months or trapped in a drain for 3 years, they will often persist. Now, dogs Zeus and Valentine may have set the record for surviving out at sea. Along with their humans Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava, the team remained on their damaged sailboat for nearly five months.
“When I saw the gray boat on the edge of the horizon, my heart leapt because I knew we were about to be saved,” [said Appel.] “Because I honestly believed we were going to die within the next 24 hours.”
On a trip from Hawaii to Tahiti, the pair encountered a storm, which flooded their engine and destroyed their mast. Communication lines also took a hit, and distress signals went unnoticed. Moreover, the four sustained two shark attacks. After 98 days, the US Navy came to their rescue.
“I’m grateful for their service to our country,” Appel said in a Navy statement. “They saved our lives. The pride and smiles we had when we saw [the US Navy] on the horizon was pure relief.”
Who says only cats have nine lives?
It isn’t a cop’s only responsibility to keep neighborhoods safe from crime, but to make citizens feel safe. After the El Segundo police force helped a student replace her stolen college fund, I’d say my faith in law enforcement is making a second appearance. Warming my heart even more is Officer Darryl Robinson of Green Bay in Wisconsin. The kindhearted cop helped an 8-year-old celebrate his birthday when no one picked him up from school.
“It seemed like he was in good spirits. He was playing around,” Robinson said at a press conference… “He was excited. It was his birthday.”
The child, whose parent is incarcerated, enjoyed a ride in Robinson’s patrol car. While trying to get in touch with a relative, Robinson treated the boy to a Happy Meal. After nearly an hour, Robinson reunited the child with his grandfather.
“Officers do this every day — not just police, but different public service jobs as well. All of us do this. It’s not rare,” Robinson said. “I think it doesn’t get recognized enough.”
Naturally, I’m curious to keep up with the anonymous child. Thanks to Robinson’s promise to check in occasionally, perhaps I’ll see this kid turn out to be pretty outstanding.
Some veterans dedicate their retirement to other kinds of service — whether it be therapy or fighting for animal rights. Others, like 95-year-old Harvey Djerf, prefer the quiet. Neighbors surprised the World War II vet by placing chairs in their yards as pit stops on his daily walk.
“It’s kind of snowballed now. I’m up to 12 chairs now,” he said. “They must’ve seen that I was pausing and catching my breath and that’s when they probably took pity on me.”
On occasion, Djerf’s thoughtful neighbors also surprise him with lemonade and cookies. A resident of the Plymouth community for 66 years, Djerf seems to have scored gold with its kind inhabitants.
Because the humble hero dedicates most of his time to his wife in an elderly home, returning to the neighborhood brings him comfort. It may not be Beverly Hills, but I’d say Djerf is living the ideal American Dream.
Since the day we are born, doctors continue to be our heroes throughout bouts of colds and fevers. On occasion, they will stand out, birthing babies (or sometimes gorillas) in the middle of their own deliveries. Santa Rosa doctor Scott Witt defied the odds when he hopped on a motorcycle to rescue eight preemies from a fire.
“I got a call at 2 a.m. basically saying that there was some fire encroaching on the hospital so so we might have to evacuate,” said Dr. Witt.
“In California, you can split lanes so I just kind of went down the middle of lanes and got past everybody,”
Four miles from the center and an additional six from Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, Witt braved a number of treacherous highways. Witt and his family lost their home, but his wife could not have been prouder of his actions.
“If my baby was in the hospital… I mean I’m a little biased but I would totally want them to be in some hands like Scott’s,” said Megan Witt.
Witt also trailed ambulances for three hours on several trips justifying not only his courage, but that a BMW is a pretty sturdy bike.
The steady rise of electric vehicles will soon leave petrol and diesel cars in the dust. BMW is launching electric buses all over Europe, while the London Taxi Company is replacing old cabs. A few months later, the U.K. remains on top of the eco-ladder, with Oxford planning to eliminate non-electric vehicles.
The scheme aims to cut levels of nitrogen dioxide, the majority of which comes from traffic fumes, by three-quarters.
To give distributors leeway, Oxford will be imposing the ban in 2020, increasing the affected zone by 2035. We all know electric vehicles aren’t the most affordable, so locals may have to do some walking. The plan is projected to cost £7 million, but the city council deems the shift will be well worth it.
Oxford city councillor John Tanner said a “step change” is urgently needed as toxic air pollution is “damaging the health” of residents.
It’s a bold move, Oxford, but hopefully a successful one.
Christmas has come early for public schools in New York City. After the entire school system declared cafeteria lunches completely free of charge, a Brooklyn establishment took a step further. As a back-to-school treat, P.S. 276 provided 600 students with free supply-filled backpacks.
“When students have the basic supplies, their attitude, their behavior and even their self-esteem increases,” Dave Smith of KINF (Kids In Need Foundation) said.
Popular pen brand Bic was also in on the action. On average, Americans spend around $78.5 billion on back-to-school supplies annually. That’s literally a ton of notebooks.
“They were so happy and I’ve never seen them this way. They were so excited. I can see the excitement on their faces, they were thrilled!” teacher Alice Whitaker said. “They were so happy and they were looking at stuff that they never saw before.”
Over 22 years, KINF has donated $900 million worth of school supplies to children under the poverty line. Remember — there’s more to a pen than just ink.