Cult TV Show Helps Raise $400,000 For Museum

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.

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Mali Brigade Is Protecting African Elephants

People like Lt. Col Faye Cuevas, a war-veteran-turned-conservationist, are exactly what wildlife warriors need. Africa, teeming with poachers and bearing the brunt of climate change, was especially up for change. To make up for Africa’s lack of resources, a Canadian team put up a brigade in Mali to protect its dwindling elephant population.

The brigade combines rangers and army forces, a necessary pairing for protecting wildlife in this hostile territory, regularly crisscrossed by offshoots of Al Qaeda and bandits.

Since launching the brigade in February, there have been no run-ins with poachers. Mali, normally plagued by other traffickers and petty bandits, has come a long way.

“The work,” Sergeant Sangare [of the brigade] said, “it is love.”

The brigade, led by the Wild Foundation and International Conservation Fund of Canada, is the first foreign helping hand Mali has received in some time. With locals expressing their dire need for basic necessities, the groups have also stepped in as community lifelines. It seems to me this act of selflessness is rarer than any ivory on the market.

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Man Drives Out Of Town To Search For Missing Girl

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!

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Kid “Marries” Best Friend Before Open Heart Surgery

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!

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Women And Dogs Survive Five Months In Open Water

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?

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Officer Treats Student On 8th Birthday

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.

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Neighborhood Provides Chairs For Exercising Veteran

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.

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Mented Produces Vegan Makeup For Colored Women

With cruelty-free cosmetics flying off shelves, going completely vegan seems the logical next step. The Ocean Frontier Institute in Canada has since developed fish waste nail polish — maybe too adventurous for some. On the tamer end, beauty brand Mented has raised $1 million to create vegan products for women of color.

“Our end goal is that women of color feel prioritized in the world of beauty,” said [co-founder K.J.] Miller. “Women of color were used to being treated as an afterthought. It’s not every day that you’re a priority.”

Mented, short for “pigmented”, is first launching non-toxic nude lippies, then an entire range of eye makeup. The remainder of the fundraised sum will go to hiring personnel and marketing the business.

“We really think we’re onto something here at Mented,” [co-founder Amanda] Johnson said. “Even though women of color have a difficult time raising money, if there’s an underserved market, investors attack it.”

Whether we like to think so or not, racial inequality remains present in many communities. Mented is not only bringing color onto lips, but into a society that may still be stuck in black and white.

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Hero Doctor Evacuates Preemies From Fire

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.

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Family Dog Protects Owners From Rattlesnake

Without words to express themselves, dogs rely on actions to demonstrate loyalty to their humans. A London dog rescued his entire family from a house fire and was awarded a PSDA Gold Medal. While there are no official honors for Nala the Boxer, she is still a hero to her family, whom she protected from a rattlesnake.

“She waited until we were safe. She stood her ground. She didn’t like whimper or anything when she got bit,” [said 10-year-old owner] Cole [Lewis.]

The perpetrating snake was a Mojave green, a highly poisonous reptile. Thanks to Lewis’ stepdad, the Boxer made it to the nearest veterinary clinic in time to fully recover. Nala’s skyrocketing medical bill did little to faze the family, who are eternally grateful for her sacrifice.

“She saved my life, and I just want to hang out with her now because she’s my hero,” Cole said.

Dogs and snakebites are nothing new, but it’s Fido’s continued heroism that never fails to warm my heart.

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