If the news of the week has got you down, this list will do its best to cheer you up. Here we only talk about stories that will lift your spirits because they are positive, amusing, or inspirational. If you prefer to learn about the stranger goings-on of the week, click here to read the offbeat list.
This week, we look at some normal people who went above and beyond the call of duty in their day-to-day jobs. There’s a shoeshiner who lived a frugal life just so he could raise money for sick kids, a pizza delivery guy who went out of his way to fulfill a dying man’s wish, and two political candidates who showed that you can compete against each other and still be civil, even friendly.
We’re also inspired by the brave actions of a dog, impressed by the resourcefulness of a Girl Guide, and amused by the antics of the worst criminals in Belgium.
10 A Shoeshiner With A Heart Of Gold
Seventy-six-year-old Albert Lexie died last week after over three decades spent working as a shoeshiner at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Children’s Hospital. In that time, he donated all the tips he ever made from shining shoes, raising over $200,000.
Two times a week, Albert would take three buses from his home in Monessen to the hospital where he made around $3 for each pair of shoes he shined. Although he only earned approximately $10,000 a year, all the tips Albert made went to the Free Care Fund, a service which provided health care for underinsured and uninsured children. According to the hospital, this amounted to $202,000 by the time Albert retired in 2013.
UPMC Children’s Hospital president Christopher Gessner hailed Lexie’s kindness and generosity as “an inspiration for all of us.” Former Monessen Mayor Louis Mavrakis had known the shoeshiner since he was a kid and said that he was “one of a kind.”
9 Know Your Audience
Work smarter, not harder. That is the lesson taught by nine-year-old Girl Guide Elina Childs who quickly sold her entire supply of cookies by setting up shop in front of a newly opened cannabis store in Edmonton.
Last Wednesday, Elina and her father, Seann Childs, showed up at Nova Cannabis with a wagonload of 30 boxes of cookies. Less than 45 minutes later, the cookies were gone and Elina had raised $120 for Girl Guides.
Dad had come up with the idea, realizing that many people would be looking for a munchies fix. Plus he saw it as a good opportunity for Elina to learn about marijuana now that Canada has legalized it. He described the experience as positive, with everyone they encountered being respectful and “incredibly friendly.”
8 A Political Duet
Two political rivals decided to put aside their party affiliations and surprise their voters with a concert.
Lucy Rogers is the Democrat candidate for a seat in the state House of Representatives representing Lamoille County, Vermont. Zac Mayo is the Republican candidate for the same seat. Although they are aggressively competing against each other for the same position, the duo shared an unexpected moment together.
After a debate at a local library, the candidates asked people to stick around for a few more minutes as they began moving furniture around and making some room. Rogers then took out her cello and Mayo his guitar, and they performed a duet of Jerry Hannan’s “Society.”
These kinds of cross-party collaborations have become exceedingly rare events. That’s why Mayo believes that there is a need for “these sorts of stories” because he feels Americans are losing their sense of a shared identity. At the same time, Rogers says this wasn’t some grand political stunt and was never intended to garner national attention. It was more about showing their constituents that they can work together on a local level.
7 One Last Slice
Steve’s Pizza in Battle Creek, Michigan, doesn’t deliver. But store manager Dalton Shaffer made an exception and went on a seven-hour trip to Indianapolis to bring one last pizza to a couple fighting cancer.
Twenty-five years ago, Rich and Julie Morgan lived in Battle Creek and considered Steve’s Pizza the best food in town. They would have dinner there every payday. They had moved around a lot since then, but this year, they intended to visit Steve’s Pizza for Julie’s birthday. Their plans got derailed when Rich’s cancer got worse and he had to go into hospice care.
Julie’s father, David Dalke, called up the pizzeria and told them the story. He was hoping they might send a text message saying, “Sorry, you couldn’t make it,” to Rich and Julie to lift their spirits. Instead, Dalton simply asked what their favorite pizza was. He then announced he was heading to their house with two pepperoni-and-mushroom pies even though the Morgans lived 360 kilometers (225 mi) away.
Three-and-a-half hours later, Shaffer reached their home in Indianapolis. He dropped off the pizzas, refused to take any money, and went on another three-and-a-half-hour journey home. His spontaneous act of kindness became quite popular after Julie shared it on Facebook, with David Dalke simply concluding that the world needs “more Daltons.”
6 The Worst Robbers In Belgium
This act of criminal ineptitude is sure to give anyone a good chuckle. Six would-be thieves walk into an e-cigarette shop in Belgium to rob it. Owner tells them he doesn’t have money yet and to come back later. Bizarrely, they do . . . and get promptly arrested.
It was business as usual when Didier opened his store in Charleroi. However, six men walked into the shop in broad daylight and demanded money. They spent 14 minutes inside the shop, time during which the owner tried to befriend them. Didier must be one hell of a salesman because he actually convinced the criminals that he would have €2,000 to €3,000 ready if they would just return at closing time.
Obviously, as soon as the thieves left, Didier called the police, who were very skeptical that the criminals would actually return. However, at 5:30 PM, one of the robbers showed up at Didier’s door. The owner actually told him that there was still an hour left until closing and to come back even later.
At 6:30 PM, five thieves returned and were arrested by police waiting in the back of the shop. Didier later compared the events to a comedy movie and called the criminals the “worst robbers in Belgium.”
5 NASA Does IT
It was good news for NASA this week as it seems that the Hubble Space Telescope is close to normal operations after several weeks of glitches and failures.
Few devices have helped us better understand the universe around us than the Hubble telescope, but it’s getting on in years. On October 5, one of its gyros used to turn and lock onto targets failed. Fortunately, the telescope was put in “safe mode” and a backup gyro was activated. Unfortunately, the new one was faulty as well, producing rotation rates far higher than the norm.
NASA scientists took several steps to repair the defective gyro. First, they tried the favored solution of every IT guy in the world—they turned it off and on again. They thought that maybe the fault occurred during start-up as the gyro hadn’t been operational in seven-and-a-half years. This didn’t work.
Next up was the tried-and-true “jiggle method” where NASA operators wanted to shake the gyro to dislodge any possible blockages. To do this, they had the Hubble perform a series of maneuvers in opposite directions as the gyro alternated between its high and low modes. This seemed to make things better, so another round of “maneuvers” was performed on October 19.
Now it looks like the gyro is behaving normally. But it still has to go through some tests before the Hubble resumes its science operations. Momentarily, NASA is still unsure of what caused the initial problem. They are hopeful that the Hubble can operate until 2030–2040, but its replacement, the James Webb Space Telescope, is scheduled to launch in 2021.
4 Dance Like Nobody’s Watching
A man was able to dance for the first time in 10 years following new treatment for the multiple sclerosis (MS) which had confined him to a wheelchair.
For a decade, Roy Palmer from Gloucester, England, had no feeling in his legs due to his MS. However, last year, he heard of a relatively new treatment called hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT).
A bit of research revealed that it is still considered an experimental procedure. HSCT is grueling and risky. It can result in several serious side effects and won’t work on everybody. Even so, Palmer thought it was worth a shot.
HSCT basically involves taking out your stem cells. They are stored on ice while you undergo chemotherapy to completely destroy what’s left of your immune system. Afterward, the stem cells are transplanted back into your body.
When it works, this acts as a reboot of your immune system. Fortunately for Roy, the process was successful for him. Within two days of treatment, he had regained feeling in his left leg. Soon after that, he took his first walk in over a decade.
Eventually, Roy could even enjoy dancing again. He wanted to take full advantage of his second chance and filmed himself for posterity. Videos of Palmer engaging in the latest crazes such as “flossing” or doing the “Kiki challenge” have gone viral.
3 Company Turns Cannabis Plastic Waste Into Prostheses
With the legalization of cannabis in Canada, there were bound to be some growing pains. This new industry is going to come with its fair share of opportunities (as evidenced above) and problems. Recently, Nova Scotians have complained about the excessive amount of packaging used for their weed.
Health Canada set the rules that marijuana packaging must be tamper- and child-resistant, prevent contamination, and keep the product dry. However, each province is free to work out the specifics. The Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation (NSLC), the only legal seller of cannabis in the province, has been criticized for the wasteful quantities of plastic and cardboard used to package its products.
Where some see problems, others see opportunity. Jacob Boudreau, founder of Kindness3D, wants to collect the plastic caps and make prosthetic limbs out of them.
Kindness3D is a nonprofit organization that uses 3-D printing to make free prostheses for those in need. They were already recycling bottle caps to use as material and have now started to collect plastic lids from cannabis containers. The company has also launched a petition to convince the NSLC to collect and donate used cannabis packaging from all over the province.
2 Top Honors For Military Dog
For the first time since World War II, an Australian animal has been awarded the Dickin Medal for gallantry or devotion to duty. Kuga the Belgian Malinois was posthumously honored for his bravery under fire and saving his squad from an ambush in Afghanistan.
Named after Maria Dickin, the founder of the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA), the Dickin Medal was created to honor the efforts of animals in World War II. To that end, 54 medals were awarded between 1943 and 1949. Afterward, it went on a 51-year hiatus before being reinstituted in 2000 and awarded sporadically to various courageous animals.
Kuga was the only recipient this year. He was a military dog assigned to the Australian Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) in 2008. In August 2011, Kuga and his handler, Sergeant J, were on patrol with a squad in the Khas Uruzgan district of Afghanistan. J let the dog go on ahead to scout. Kuga detected something and rushed down a bank, where an insurgent was lying in wait. Despite gunfire, Kuga pounced on the rebel and forced him to retreat—but not before the dog was shot five times.
An emergency medical evacuation was ordered, and Kuga actually survived the initial attack. However, his injuries and the stress of rehab proved too much and Kuga died almost a year later. He was honored with the Dickin Medal this week. It will go on display at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra next year.
1 Mother Helps Prevent School Shooting
School shootings are all too common in the headlines these days and, almost always, bring with them tremendous heartbreak. This story ends on a happier note, however, as one New Jersey woman potentially helped foil a school shooting by having good instincts.
One day, mother-of-three Koeberle Bull received abusive, racist Facebook messages from a stranger who lived hundreds of kilometers away in Kentucky. He made threatening references to the fact that Bull had biracial children. Looking at the stranger’s account, she saw that his profile picture showed a man posing with a machine gun. Going with her gut, Bull tipped off Kentucky police to her harassment.
They identified the man as Dylan Jarrell of Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. Authorities went to his house just as Jarrell was backing out of his driveway. He had a firearm, a bulletproof vest, and over 200 rounds of ammo. Both his computer and his phone had a search history related to school shootings and information pertaining to “threats of bodily harm against multiple persons at a school.”
Police made no mention of which school Jarrell had targeted.