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Sacramento Man Lost for 5 Days in Woods; Rescued by Spelling ‘Help’ with Pine Needles

Man attracts rescue worker attenion by speklling HELP with pine needles

Mike Vilhauer lost in wilderness, rescued by spelling HELP with pine needles. Photo courtesy YouTube Screen Capture

A man from West Sacramento, California went fishing in the wilderness and got lost. He spent a terrifying and grueling days alone wondering if he would make it alive and ever see his wife again.

Mike Vilhauer went fishing on Aug. 6. Since his luck was running low, he decided to try changing the bait he was using and set out to catch some grasshoppers. He had no GPS instrumentation and only had a topographical map to work with. Ultimately he discovered he was lost in the wilderness.

The 58-year-old man could not reach police or anyone else by cell phone as the signal was too weak. Though he repeatedly tried to find his way back, all of his attempts were unsuccessful. He resorted to drinking water from puddles and a few streambeds he stumbled upon. Willow branches and pine needles were used to build a makeshift shelter to help him stay warm.

Five days into his ordeal, Mike’s certainty that he would survive was beginning to wane. Unwilling to give up, he kept doing his best to stay alive. He could hear the search helicopters in the area. Using pine needles, he quickly cobbled together an 8-foot tall message that read “HELP” on the ground.

When Vilhauer appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America, he thanked the rescue workers for all their efforts. He talked about how he began to lose hope toward the end and even wrote his wife a goodbye note on a piece of driftwood.
In spite of the difficulties he faced, Vilhauer says he would return to the area in the future. This time, he joked, he would bring a marching band. Perhaps so the rescue workers could hear him if he got lost again.

Posted in Environment0 Comments

97-Year-Old Grandmother Drives a Big Rig to Cross Off Bucket List Item

97 year old woman crosses goal off bucket list

97-year-old grandmother drives big rig. Photo from YouTube Screen Capture

Many people have dreams they never realize. One woman, a 97-year-old great-grandmother from New Jersey, has a bucket list of goals she still wants to complete. This past week, she notched one of those goals off her list when she drove a semi-truck, a dream she’s had for most of her life.

Vera Abruzzi has wanted to drive one of the big rigs for about 80 years. Last Wednesday, with the help of her grandson, Gary Kadi, she saw that dream come true.

Kadi arranged for his beloved grandmother to take semi-truck driving lessons with Winsor’s Tractor Trailer Driving School. The instructor spent the day with her as Abruzzi learned to drive the 70-foot long rig. At the end of the day, she got to drive it around in a Linden, New Jersey parking lot.

Prior to her big day behind the wheel, the grandmother of 4 said she was looking forward to the experience probably as much as she’d looked forward to anything in all her 97 years. She explained that the 18-wheelers have always intrigued her and she’s longed to experience driving one firsthand.

Her instructor said she did just fine and handled the truck’s gear system well up to 20 mph. The great-grandmother of 7 told a WABV-TV reporter after the momentous drive that given the opportunity to take the rig on the highway, she would have gone 90 mph. She said she isn’t afraid of trying anything.

So what’s next for Abruzzi? She said she’d love to fly an airplane. Kadi said whatever she wants to do, the family is on it.


Posted in Health0 Comments

Fallen Marine’s Tribute Flag Found at Flea Market, Returned to his Mom

Fallen Marine’s Tribute Flag Found at Flea Market, Returned to his Mom

Marine's tribute flag

Fallen Marine’s tribute flag found at flea market and returned to his mom. Photo courtesy YouTube (Screen capture)

The mother of a fallen Marine received an unexpected gift from two strangers. They returned her son’s tribute flag almost ten years after his death.
Patsy Maciel of Houston, Texas, got a strange message on Facebook from a couple she didn’t know. They claimed they had something of her son’s and wanted to return it to her. It was the flag, inscribed with handwritten messages for her son, Fred, expressing remembrance and gratefulness. Patsy was stunned.
Fred had died in 2005 along with 30 other of his fellow soldiers when a helicopter crashed near Fallujah, Iraq. Patsy had been shipped Fred’s personal affects including his dress blue uniforms, combat boots and some souvenir spoons he had been collecting. She’d never heard of or seen a tribute flag.
Lanie and Walter Brown were out doing a little shopping at a flea market in Hemphill, Texas, roughly 170 miles from where Patsy lived. Tucked away in a vendor’s corner was the flag. Though they had no idea who Fred Maciel was, they realized the flag was a special find. Lanie knew that it was a flag meant for a fallen Marine and she just couldn’t leave it there. They scooped it up for $5, a deal because the flag had writing on it, they were told.
Once home, the couple started searching for the family of the fallen soldier. They felt compelled to act because they had an appreciation for what it stood for. Walter had himself been a Marine and the couple’s son and son-in-law are both currently Marines.
Lanie said as a Marine mom or dad, you feel a bond with all the other Marine parents out there. She understood what Fred’s mom must be feeling.
The couple connected with Patsy and the three have planned to meet this Saturday at Fred’s grave site. There, the Brown’s will return the tribute flag to Fred’s mom. Maciel is looking forward to reading the messages left for her son, who was just 20 when he was killed. She expressed deep gratitude at the gift the Browns are giving her. She described it as getting a small piece of her son back.

Posted in Charity0 Comments

Man Paralyzed on Hawaii Vacation Gets Help to Get Flight Home

Man injured oin vacation in Hawaii gets flight home

Paralyzed vacationer gets financial help getting home from Hawaii. Photo Courtesy Facebook

Todd Duitsman was enjoying a vacation in Hawaii when the unthinkable happened. Duitsman was body surfing at Big Beach on Maui along the shore break. A large wave picked him up, swept him inward and slammed him, head first in the sand. The incident left him paralyzed from the neck down and stranded for weeks with no way home.
It has been two weeks since the accident that left the Stanwood, Washington man paralyzed from the severe spinal injury he suffered in the accident. He has been recovering at Queens Medical Center on Oahu while he and his family tried to figure how to get him home. His condition requires that be transported by air ambulance. The cost of $50,000 is not covered by his insurance provider, Premera Blue Cross, and his family couldn’t come up with the funds.
A local new station shared the story of Duitsman’s situation. People from all points across the country were moved to contribute to help pay to bring the father of three back home. He could be leaving Hawaii as soon as this coming Saturday.
The surfer remains in a positive mood despite the painful injuries which will present challenges for him and his family for months and years to come. On a Facebook page dedicated to his recovery, a post on Thursday thanked those helping in “large ways and small” for their contributions, support and prayers.
With friends and family to help, Duitsman has shared videos of himself on the page. His spirit is inspirational. In one clip, he talks about how eager he is to get into rehab so he can walk again. He also says he will return to Hawaii some day because he loves it.

Posted in Charity0 Comments

A Brooklyn ‘Wedding Watcher’ Has Watched Wedding Parties Celebrate in the Same Spot for 40+ Years

Bailey Fountain

Bailey Fountain is where the ‘Wedding Watchers” have been gathering for 4 decades.

Few things in life bring the kind of joy that a wedding does. It’s a happy occasion. Most everyone involved is filled with love and hope. That’s why Rhoda Hill is one of the ‘Wedding Watchers”, a group of people who congregate on Saturdays in a Brooklyn park to watch and share the joy.

Hill has been visiting Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn since the 1970s. She and a group of others gather every Saturday for the sole purpose of watching the wedding parties gather at the park’s fountain, known as Bailey Fountain.

Bailey Fountain is named for Frank Bailey and his wife Mary Louise Bailey. The original fountain was erected in the early 1870s. It was later replaced by an electric fountain in 1897. That was dismantled in 1915 to allow for construction of the city’s subway. The version that stands today was completed in 1932. The bronze sculpture depicts “male and female figures on the prow of a ship, representing Wisdom and Felicity, surrounded by Neptune, his attendant Triton, and a boy holding a cornucopia” according to New York Parks.

Hill says she keeps coming back because it’s something nice to watch. Everyone there is friendly and she enjoys it. She looks forward to Saturdays so she can watch the wedding groups arrive, set up for their photo shoots with the fountain and the nearby Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch and then climb back into their limousines.

When the group first started meeting, there were upwards of 25 members. Some have moved away. Many have passed on. Only a few still come to watch the beauty and pageantry of the wedding parties. As for Hill, she intends to keep coming as long as she’s physically able. Why? Because, she says, there is nothing like the beauty of watching two people start their journey in life together.

Posted in Featured News0 Comments

Cute Puppy Gets Stuck in a Not-So-Cute Situation

Puppy stuck in tire is rescued by firefighters. Photo by Kern County Fire Department/Facebook

Puppy stuck in tire gets help from firefighters.

We all have the impression of firefighters as heroes and they certainly deserve that honor. Even in their downtime, when they aren’t fighting fires and rescuing people from mangled cars involved in traffic accidents, they are rescuing kittens from trees. That is our impression anyway.

Recently, the men of the Kern County Fire Department demonstrated that that is exactly the kind of thing they do. IN this situation, however it wasn’t a kitten and it wasn’t stuck in a tree. And they didn’t have to go to the site. The victim and the site was brought to them.

The owner of “Junior,” a little pit bull puppy, brought the animal to the fire house. It seems in his inquisitive explorations, Junior had somehow managed to get his head stuck in the center opening of an automobile tore.
The owner was unable to extricate the dog alone and sought help from the local heroes, the fire department.

Brandon Hill, the fire department spokesperson said after a couple of photos were taken, firefighters liberally applied some vegetable oil to the pup and slid him through the greased up hole. Their quick thinking and calm reactions helped free the poor little guy. The curious pup is now safely back home with his owner and his 7 siblings.

Posted in Featured News0 Comments

Shelter Dogs Used to ‘Rescue’ and Enhance the Lives of Office Workers During Lunch Breaks

Rescued dogs help rescue office workers

Shelter dogs rescue office workers and find homes. Photo courtesy The Lost Dogs Home

Shelter dogs are those that are housed and cared for in some sort of animal rescue center. Often they are abandoned or neglected pups that have been taken in by the center in hopes of finding new, loving homes for the dogs. Towards that end, the shelters often hold events designed to raise interest in the animals and hopefully place them with new families will love and care for them. One such shelter found a new, innovative way to do just that and at the same time, help “rescue” some humans, too.

The Lost Dogs Home in Melbourne, Australia came up with the groundbreaking adoption campaign. They offered to “rescue” some office workers from the tight quarters and solitude of their lonely cubicles. All the workers had to do was give up a small part of their lunch time to walk a dog or two.

Kate Hoelter, the general Manager of The Lost Dogs Home says that dogs are widely accepted for their stress-reducing capabilities. Locked away in cubicles for hours on end, away from fresh air, sunshine and contact with others, it is possible to overlook the importance of taking a break and getting away from the stress-inducing environments our jobs often hold. She advocates taking a lunch break and getting outside with a friend who will help you forget about your stress, even for a few minutes.

The shelter’s website claims the campaign was a huge success. They claim to have “rescued” more than 5,000 office workers. In addition to that and even better news, all the dogs in the program were adopted.

Posted in Charity0 Comments

Autistic Boy Confronts Bullies In Front Of The Gym Class

Jake Confronts Bullies

Autistic boy confronts bullies during gym class. Photo from YouTube screen capture

Bullying has reached epic proportions but never before have schools and communities come together to combat it like they are doing today. So many organizations and school administrations are working to eliminate bullying. Schools and school buses are the primary places where bullying occurs because children who are a little bit different stick out more in big groups, making them easy to target.

Since the film, “Bully” came out, it has inspired many to take action. As part of The Bully Project, one courageous boy with autism did just that by confronting his tormentors.
In the video filmed at Jake’s school, Jake is seen in gym class trying to participate and be part of a team. He is often seen by himself and being ignored. The video clip was made as part of The Bully Project, a social campaign created to help end bullying.

Jake stammers a little through his speech to the rest of his gym class but what he has to say is poignant and meaningful. He calls the other kids out for not seeing him for who he is but rather as a target. He tells them that they always leave him out and don’t him or what he says any attention. He tells them that he tries to be their friend but he doesn’t think they want to be his friend. Jake says it hurts that they don’t want to get to know him.

At about this point in his speech, the camera pans to some of the kids. A few are listening with somber expressions. Other giggle and laugh. Jake sees it and calls them out, ‘I see you guys laughing.’ The giggles stop.

After making the video, Jake told the filmmaker that things have gotten better. He explains that bullying has made a major impact on his life but since making the movie, he’s been able to make a lot of friends. He advises other kids with autism to stand up to the bullies and to try not to give a reaction to the bullying. If they can’t get results on their own, he suggests bringing an adult into the situation. He knows it’s hard because kids with autism don’t handle stress as well as other kids. That’s okay, he says because they can get through it and they’ll be awesome. Actually, Jake says they are already awesome.

Posted in Society & Entertainment0 Comments

A Memphis Church Hosts a Prom for People with Disabilities

Joy Prom in Memphis

Churches hosts special needs prom for community. Photo by Huffington Post

While some had attended a prom in the past, for others, it was the first and probably only time they’d ever have the experience. Whether it was the first time or not, the event was a reason to be catered to and pampered and the cause of much joy and celebration.

The Memphis Joy Prom was the brain child of Ashley Parks and Ginna Rauls. The two conceived of the idea nearly a year ago as they sat in a local Starbucks in Memphis, Tenn.

Parks is no stranger to those with special needs. She has been in industry for more than 20 years. She currently serves as the director of the Christ United Methodist Church’s special needs ministry. Rauls has been involved with the special needs community for some time. As they sipped their coffee, the two women came up with the idea to host a prom fore people aged 16 and up with special needs. Their little shindig would ultimately include 110 guests.

The prom, which was held on April 25, was sponsored by several local churches. A couple in their 60s with disabilities attended the event, having never gone to their own high school prom. Parks said that most people age out of certain things like proms. She and Rauls decided to open the event up to people who were past the normal age of proms and may not have been able to attend proms in their youth.

It took the efforts of 350 volunteers and donations from the community to pull it off. Everyone attending was treated to every aspect of a traditional prom. Guests were delivered to the venue in limousines. They stepped out of the limos and walked down a red carpet accompanied by their volunteer hosts. Rick Trotter, the team announcer for the Memphis Grizzlies basketball team was there to greet them.

The volunteer hosts were given cards with allergy information for their prom date along with a list of things the individual wanted to experience that night. Those who wanted it were able to have their nails done, their shoes shined and their makeup done. An ice sculpture adorned the room and a candy bar stocked with treats was open to everyone.

Parks and Rauls’ goal was to make the guests feel special, to give them their night. The event was such a success, planning is already underway for next year’s Joy Prom.

Posted in Charity0 Comments

A Boston Marathon Runner with Lupus Crosses Finish Line with Help from Her Brother

Jeffrey and Jessie Russell

A brother helps his sister battle sysymptoms of Lupus to finish Boston Marathon. Photo courtesy CBS News

It was only a year ago that the world was rocked by news of the horrendous bombing at the Boston Marathon. So many tragedies came out of that event but so many stories of heroism and personal resolve came from it too. This year, a new, unrelated but equally powerful story of love, support and triumph comes out of the first race since the blast devastated do many lives.

Jessie Russell, 26, had a lifelong dream of running the full 26.2-mile Boston Marathon would be the year she would give it her all. The only obstacle could come from the lupus she had been coping with since her diagnosis during her junior year of high school. Sunlight aggravates the symptoms of lupus which can include joint pain, fatigue and skin rashes.

Her supportive brother, Jeffrey, went on her journey with her. He followed her route and snapped photos of her successes along the way. He was her biggest cheerleader. Jessie was doing great until about the 14th mile. That’s when the sun’s UV rays got the better of her. She spotted a medical tent up ahead and was considering throwing in the towel. That’s when her brother sprang into action.

He spotted a toy store nearby and dashed off to find something that would help Jessie finish the race. The object her returned with was a child-sized umbrella, blue and adorned with sharks. He said they symbolized her tenacity.

Jeffrey told his sister that if she truly believed the sun was the only thing keeping her from finishing the race and seeing her dream through, then he would be her medical tent, her water station.
Jessie’s sibling accompanied her on the remaining 12 miles, giving her the shade and the support she needed to cross the finish line and show the world what it really means to be #BostonStrong.

Jessie later told CBS News she could not have made it to the finish line without Jeffrey. “I just love him,” she said.

Posted in Society & Entertainment0 Comments

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