Heroes Of The Week!

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Another week, another cold front on the old news cycle . . bringing with it more (im)peach pie recipes, Antonio Brown police visits, sports brawls, royal fallouts, celebrity Instagram idolatry, pandemic panics, Putin power grabs, Catholic church abuse crises and Super Bowl coverage which proves we are living in a modern day “bread and circuses” empire.

Good thing we have some heroes, and here they go . . .

Imma start things off by giving you two heroes for the price of one aaawww with this story about a very special dog named Eddie and Carin Brown; the Benton County animal control officer who rescued him. When Carin found this beautiful boy, she feared he had been hit by a car because he was listing to one side. The prognosis for Eddie came back differently, but every bit as heart wrenching. It turned out Eddie has an inoperable tumor and doctors surmise he has anywhere from six to twelve months to live.

So Carin created a bucket list for Eddie, teaming up with the Pasco PD to get him sworn in as a K-9 officer. He got his swag on and spent the day on patrol. Well, other peeps in town caught wind of this bucket list and decided to toss their ideas in. So far Eddie’s gotten pictures with Santa as well as a pool filled to the brim with stuffed animals. Next up? Being the star of a kissing booth at an adoption event. Oh . . in case you were wondering, Eddie’s favorite snack is donuts. Of course.

Six-year-old Owen Colley has made about 55 clay koalas so far.

Owen Colley knew he had to do something after talking to his mom about the Australian bush fires. But really, when you’re six years old and all you’ve got is a wish and a dream . . how much of a difference can you make? Welp, this little artist from Hingham, Massachusetts can do plenty.

So far, Owen has made fifty five clay koalas. In conjunction with the Wildlife Rescue South Coast, a wildlife rescue group in New South Wales, the Colley family sends a koala to every person who donates $50 or more to the relief efforts. And if you’re asking how much wallop a wish can pack, consider that in a week’s time the kid has raised more than $20,000. Proving once again that the skies are full of wishes, but it’s the work we put into these wishes that provide the light.

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Good plumbers are hard to find, so Imma hit you with the gold standard. His name is James Anderson and he hails from the UK. He decided to start a non-profit company in his hometown of Burnley a while back, offering free or low cost service to those in need. Of course, every good deed usually comes with debt. Not that it keeps him up at night. “To me, debt is debt. I would rather owe some money to somebody and another person be alive and happy and safe,” he says.

He’d been doing this beautiful thing without fanfare, until he provided service to a 91 year old woman with acute leukemia. When he presented her with a bill totaling zero dollars, her daughter made sure his deed went viral. And thanks to his heart and thanks to her appreciation, his non-profit is no longer operating in the red. Far from it. Which is a good thing, because Anderson plans on keeping at it until “the day God calls me”.  Let’s hope heaven can wait. (Big thank U to that Canadian beauty Dale over at A Dalectable Life for this get).

Another week, another cinematic superhero gone real life superstar. This time it’s that stud of the sea, Jason Momoa of Aquaman fame getting all righteous on us. The star of land and sea took time out from filming to stop by UPMC Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh to say aloha to some very special kids. The dude is filming a Netflix thriller called Sweet Girl and I know I’ll be tuning in. Because the world needs more peeps like him, whose heart is mightier than his brawn. Mahalo, Jason.

If you ask me how I figure out this weekly lineup of good and better, Imma tell you the truth. I have no blessed idea. Because I never really know what I’m looking for until I come upon it. And the stories do not have to involve donating a million dollars or preventing a school bus from going over a cliff (okay, the latter is probably gonna score with me). I don’t know the story when I see it, I know it when I feel it.

So it goes with Kevin Lindke of Port Huron, Michigan. Because it was inside the quiet of just another evening when his actions spoke louder than any words I could muster. He was driving home when a car passed him going in the wrong direction, so Lindke did what most of us would’ve done in the same situation; he dialed up 911.

But see, Lindke’s heroism ain’t content with retail when it can provide a wholesale change. So he followed the driver, who sideswiped another car before ditching the ride and making a run for it. And of course, Lindke followed, running after the driver until he caught up with her. Turns out, the girl was suffering from a mental breakdown and had stolen the car, but Lindke was undeterred and he got her to stay put until police arrived.

did mention how Lindke provides dollars on the pennies he finds, right? Good. Because when he learned that the car this girl had totaled belonged to a pizza delivery driver who had parked it outside of a school whilst dropping off some pies . . he gave the kid his minivan.

“I’m not going to lie, I about burst into tears because who does that?” Jones told WDIV TV. “It’s a godsend—that this man, out of nowhere, who I’ve never met, would do this. It’s mind blowing.”

So yanno, I don’t find these stories. They find me.

 

Heroes Of The Week!

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So this new old fashioned way of doing Heroes, it works so well that I feel as if the very idea of incorporating a buzzkill into the proceedings is anathema. Now. But I must confess it took me a while to get to here, and I trashed a ton of James Dolan stories in the process. Sooooo, it turns out that using this WP force for good rather than evil has cut down on redundancy by twenty eight percent!

And now your heroes . . .

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This kid got left in my green room for a couple weeks, but that’s alright because he’s still doing his thing and making people’s days just a little bit better. Jeremiah Murrill goes to work every day, doing the thing he was born to do; connecting with people. He is the official drive-thru greeter at a Wilmington, North Carolina Chick-fil-A, and to his way of thinking, there are no numbers . . . only people. Over the last couple years, the twenty year old has learned the names and favorite meals of the thousands of customers that roll on through. Not to mention the fact he’s been deputized and video of him making someone’s day has gone viral as well. Leaping tall buildings and out-locoing locomotives is all well and good, but sometimes heroism comes in the prosperity you gift others with a quaint little thing called human kindness.

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Charles Barkley was the ‘Round Mound of Rebound’ in his playing days, and he has been the mouth that roars as a sports commentator since then. But in his personal life, he refrains from all that high profile jazz. Charles is a philanthropist who recently made a one million dollar donation to Miles College; the largest donation in the school’s 122 year history. He has made it his mission to donate to historically black colleges and universities since his playing days came to an end. And it’s not something you hear much about, because Charles is content to put his money where his mouth usually is.

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Until recently, Latonya Young was trying to keep her dream of scoring a college degree alive- working as hairstylist by day and Uber driver by night. A high school dropout, the forty three year old was determined to not just get back, but to get ahead. But times are tough and an outstanding seven hundred dollar balance was proving even tougher. Until Kevin Esch stepped into her Uber one night and changed that. When he learned that Young wasn’t returning to school because she owed that money? Yep, he paid it. This past December, Latonya graduated with an associate degree in criminal justice. Kevin was in the audience, cheering her on.

To Molly, a two year old Labrador Retriever, life really is a beach. And since she was nine weeks old, this beautiful lady has been making certain that her beach in Scarborough, North Yorkshire is a clean one. Her dog mama, Fliss Cater, combs the beach with Molly on the daily to lose all the litter they come across.

“I taught her different commands to keep her safe, because there’ll be things on the beach that could harm her,” says Cater. “There are needles and sharp objects or just things you wouldn’t expect, so I wouldn’t let her go and pick anything up on her own.”

Except for the sense to know right from wrong, and the ability to do something about it.

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Firstly comes a hat tip to the lovely Dale over at A Dalectable Life for this capper. . . .

Linda Herring of Johnson County, Iowa is a Guiness Book of World Records superstar. Even if you’ll never read of her accomplishments in this year’s edition, or last year’s . . or the year before that. Because what Herring does so very well, it doesn’t tend to make the kind of headlines that OBJ gets just for handing out cash. Even though, what Herring does would make Wonder Woman have to take a year long holiday in some remote locale that specializes in sun and sand.

This mother of eight (five biological as well as three adopted kids) has been a foster mother for more than five decades. She did all that on top of running a home daycare and working nights as a custodian. And because I need you to try and wrap your head around this, because I still haven’t . . . she has fostered more than six hundred children over the last five decades. Tell me when you’ve caught your breath and I’ll continue.

“Linda mostly fostered young children and children with special medical needs and kept bins of clothes in her garage, stacked to the ceiling, labeled by size and gender,” read a statement from Johnson County officials. “No one had to worry about a child going without clothes at Linda’s, even if they arrived with nothing but what they were wearing.”

Health concerns led to her decision to step away from her role as a foster mother in October. To honor Herring for an amazing life’s work, the Johnson County Board of Supervisors and Department of Human Services commemorated her with a resolution of appreciation this week. And hopefully their next order of business is dialing up that remote locale and finding her a bungalow right next to Wonder Woman.

 

 

 

Heroes Of The Week!

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In this week’s episode, I delved into great catches, life changing tips, Hollywood giving and, get this . .  the federal government doing some good for a change. I know, it sounds like a work of fiction but it’s true. I mean, I wouldn’t get used to that kind of behavior in Washington. But it’s nice to know that our elected officials have it in them.

And now, your heroes . . .

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A purple haze hung over the New Orleans Superdome last Sunday after Kyle Rudolph came down with a rainbow pass from Kirk Cousins in the back of the end zone that ended the Saints season while keeping his team’s hopes very much alive. After catching the OT game winner, Rudolph gave his game worn gloves to a ‘media member’, autographing them first. So when the dude turned around and sold the gloves on eBay for a few hundred bucks, Rudolph was a little bummed out. Until Jason King tweeted the Vikings wide receiver, informing him he was the purchaser of the gloves and that he would donate them to the charity of Rudolph’s choice. That’s called putting your money where your heart is.

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Danielle Franzoni is a recovering addict who wakes up every day with three reasons to stay clean. The mother of three is a server at Thunder Bay River Restaurant in Alpena, Michigan, and as the new year approached, she received a message letting her know she’s doing things the right way. This message came in the form of a tip from a couple she’d been serving. In keeping with the year to come, they left her a $2,020.00 tip. She says “Things like this don’t happen to people like me,”. But lemme tell you, when people like Danielle happen to things like this? It’s like the world is singing in perfect harmony.

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Chris Hemsworth ain’t just another pretty face. The actor known as Thor to Marvel fans just so happens to be a superhero in real life as well. After watching fires sweep through Australia, Hemsworth and his family have announced they will be donating one million dollars to their native country. Other celebs have taken note of what’s happening on his Instagram page. Elton John will also be donating a million dollars, while Margot Robbie, Selena Gomez, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban and Pink are doing their part as well. Hollywood can be so much more than a Ricky Gervais monologue when it wants to be.

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And another lampooned entity- our very own federal government- is getting involved in the relief efforts in Australia as well. More than one hundred American firefighters have already been deployed, with a few dozen more volunteer firefighters set to head down under. And to show they are about way more than just NBA titles, Canada has sent eighty seven of its own volunteers to assist in the relief efforts as well. Isn’t it kind of refreshing to see our federal government putting out fires rather than starting them?

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In a perfect world, Ryan Smith would be the starting power forward for the East Stroudsburg University Warriors. A sophomore, he would be improving on a star that has been shining brightly since his days at Lampeter Strasburg High School in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

But there are no perfect worlds where cancer is concerned as Smith came to learn last summer. He noticed he was getting more fatigued during his workout regimen, which led to a battery of tests. A full blood panel at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Pocono revealed the sum of all fears: Acute Myeloid Leukemia. So far he’s undergone a few rounds of chemo while taking up residence at University of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia.

This past Monday, Millersville University teamed up with East Stroudsburg during a PSAC Mens/Womens doubleheader. All proceeds from tickets sales of the games to be donated to the Smith family through a fund established by East Stroudsburg. And for the first time in almost a year, Ryan Smith stepped foot inside Pucillo Gymnasium on the campus of Millersville to watch the game he has been in love with his entire life. He received a hero’s welcome as he sat in the stands of a rival arena that was intent on giving him a home court advantage as he battles on.

Ryan has a much bigger victory in mind.

 

 

 

Heroes Of The Week! (2020 Edition)

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With a new year comes a new meme. We are already three days into a new decade, so trash that crash diet, ditch the money pit matchmaking sites and make sustainable resolutions that actually pay you back instead. A top five list from yours truly? Sure why not . . .

My 2020 . . . Umm . . . Resolutions

-Swear smarter
-No Speedos
-Sign any petitions involving the dissolution of the Hallmark Channel
-No kale
-No Chick-fil-A

That’s how you resolution, kids. And now your heroes . . .

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputies who made Christmas possible for a little boy and his mother when they learned the two have been going through some hard times. The deputies showed up with lights flashing. They gifted mother and son a Christmas tree, shoes, clothes, toys and some gift cards. They were delivered straight from the North Pole, of course. Straight from the heart? Absolutely.

US Army veteran Jamie Willis has been raising cane since 2016 when he started Canes For Veterans Central TexasThe dude served eight years before becoming permanently disabled and unable to work. The cane Veterans Affairs gave him wasn’t doing the job, so he reached out to the Florida organization Free Canes For VeteransThe founder- Oscar Morris- told Willis they had run out of canes, but he taught him how to make his own. An idea was born.

“I do this so I don’t sit home all day feeling sorry for myself,” Willis says. “This is all out of kindness. I do everything out of pocket and from donations.”

Willis recycles donated Christmas trees, and so far he’s delivered more than two hundred canes to veterans around the world. Home Depot donated more than four hundred trees to his effort, with another hundred coming from the community at large. It really is the gift that keeps on giving.

Needless to say, incarceration isn’t exactly a resume builder. So what to do if you’re a former felon who wants a job and a normal life but can’t find it? Greg Boylea Jesuit priest out of Los Angeles, set out to provide an answer to that question. In 1988, with the help of his parish as well as community members, Boyle started Jobs For A Future. The hope was to provide a bridge to a better life for young people who had gotten caught up in the gang culture that dominated the landscape.

Thirty years later, Homeboy Industries is a global force; hailed as the most successful gang rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world. It provides help for more than ten thousand men and women looking to pick up the pieces and start anew. Jacques Deval once wrote of how man’s love of birds led him to build cages. Whereas God’s love of birds led to the invention of trees. (Thank you to Frank for this story).

The restaurant biz is crazy enough without being left to run the place yourself. Especially if your gig is at Waffle House . . at some time past midnight . . with a restaurant full of hungry patrons looking to get their waffle on. Which is what happened recently to a kid we’ll call Ben- because that’s his name.

Thanks to a scheduling gaffe, Ben was left to run the place all by his lonesome. Now, I don’t know about you but if you ask me to make a waffle, Imma be preoccupied with doing that and only that. Which doesn’t include waiting tables, making coffee or running register. So the kid was in a panic, and can you blame him?

And then a customer grabbed an apron and began helping with orders. And then another customer began making coffee and waiting tables. And before you know it, the place was fully staffed. A crisis was averted and Ben was gifted a moment he’ll not soon forget. The moral of the story is that when your patience is wearing thin, make waffles. (Thank you to the lovely Q for this story).

Pixie Adams believes in healthy competition; the kind to which you bust it every day in a race to win the day. But ‘healthy’ means mindful . . as per the context of real life issues that transcend bottom lines. Adams runs the Moonlight Coffee Cafe in Oak Grove Portland, and when she learned the plight of one of her competitors, she went to work. For them.

Dave McAdams runs The Local Coffee Company with his wife Tina. At least until he was diagnosed with cancer for the third time. It’s inoperable and it’s terminal and now he will be put into hospice to live out the remainder of his days. So Pixie donned an apron and kept the place going while Tina tends to her husband, because she didn’t want her to lose the business.

“It’s supposed to be friendship over business, community over competition,” Pixie Adams says. “I am here supporting them, trying to generate attention for their business to help make sure that after Dave is gone, they still have the ability to keep the coffee place open.”

For some people, winning doesn’t preclude humanity. It welcomes it.

Plus vs Minus

On my old blog, I used to dish up an annoyances post. It was a Molotov cocktail of inelegance aimed at all the many things that tend to piss me off. And if you didn’t know better, you’d have thought I was some kind of misanthrope who had an issue with every single thing. And you’d have been half right.

For this rebooted “Annoyances”, the sunny side of the street gets the primo parking space. Because my therapist thought it was a good idea if I stress the positives and minimize the negatives. Here then, is the pilot episode of something I’d liked to call “Plus vs Minus”.

Plus- Homemade Mac and Cheese takes some time, and more butter than I’m comfortable admitting, but it’s so damned worth it. I do mine up with butter (never margarine), milk, heavy cream, cheddar and one other cheese (I used Jarlsberg this time). To make the roux, you need to grate your cheeses . . . no shortcuts. I top it off with thinly sliced tomatoes and then sprinkle bread crumbs dredged in olive oil and grated Parmesan on top of that.

Minus- As much as I dig it, I have to steer clear of boxed mac and cheese for a good month after partaking of the real stuff.

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Plus- Peloton Mamas with Ryan Reynolds riding shotgun. 

Minus– Peloton Mamas riding solo.

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Plus- Adult beverages.

Minus- Bud Light Seltzer. Because they didn’t fuck up beer enough.

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Plus- The movie Cats. I went to see it with the girl and we loved it. It’s the musical and okay, it goes heavy on the CGI, but this did nothing to detract from the fact that it’s the musical delivered up in theater format.

Minus– Not sure what the peeps who bashed this movie were smoking. Because did I mention it was the musical?

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Plus- Trump’s impeachment defense ain’t gonna be a cakewalk with the revelation that he was freezing military aid to the Ukraine.

Minus- He’s probably gonna get off the hook anyway.

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Plus- Christmas movies. It’s the only time of the year when I’ll suffer Chevy Chase in those inane Vacation flicks, or Jamie Lee Curtis in a cardigan, or Vince Vaughn . . . at all. And this year brought a reboot of one of my favorite holiday movies ever- A Christmas Carol, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Minus- Hallmark Christmas movies. If you’ve seen the one with the big city exec who goes home for the holidays and falls in love with an old flame . . you’ve seen them all.

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Plus- The Miami Dolphins just had the most enjoyable 5-11 season ever. And they wrapped it in a bow by taking down the Patriots in the season finale; denying New England a first round bye for the first time in ten seasons.

Minus- The Patriots are still alive. And just like Michael Myers . . you gotta kill them, and then you gotta keep killing them . . just in case.

Welp, that’s just about a wrap for the 2010’s. May your pluses be plentiful and your minuses minimal inside the new year.

Peace and love . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heroes Of The Week!

Unbreakable

Merry Friday after Christmas, kids. I’ve somehow come up with yet another loving spoonful of good vibrations inside this holiday week. And while I contemplated adding a single lump of coal to one of my entries in honor of Ebenezer Scrooge, I thought better of it.

And now our heroes . . .

Daniel van Amstel doesn’t see his parents through the lens of some tired old description of what parents are supposed to look like. He sees his parents for what they supply, and how they teach and what they mean. To him.

In November, Daniel’s fifth grade class at Deerfield Elementary in Cedar Hills, Utah was asked what they were thankful for and when the 11 year old remarked that he was thankful for his adoptive dads, his substitute teacher decided it was a good time for a homophobic rant. She proceeded to bully the kid until three girls in his class let the teacher know she had crossed a line, after which they marched out of the classroom to tell the principal. The teacher was promptly escorted from the building and later fired.

Those girls have more compassion in their size four sneakers than you’ll find in the entire West Wing. And maybe the kids table is the right place to begin anew, because Lord knows there are too many adults out there who simply don’t have a clue. (Big thank you to Frank for this story).

Katelynn Hardee says she got the idea for a fundraising bake sale after overhearing a parent of one of the students at Breeze Hill Elementary School in Vista, California talking about how she was unable to afford an after-school program for her child. Katelynn runs a lemonade stand in the summer, so she decided to expand her business venture into the late fall in order to help some kids out. In the span of three hours, she raised enough money to pay off the lunch debt for 123 students at Breeze Hill.

A businesswoman and philanthropist, Katelynn is all of five years old. And this dynamo of a kindergartner ain’t done yet. Now she’s planning out ways to pay off the outstanding lunch debts of her entire school district. From the minds of babes . . .

Brenegan McNulty is no stranger to hard work. As a single mother of a one year old boy, the Canadian born waitress works two jobs in the hopes that someday soon she will be able to afford a place of her own. So working over the holidays goes part and parcel with this dream of hers.

Her weekend shift at Yellowknife’s Nova Hotel restaurant in the Northwest Territories was starting to look like the stuff that migraines are made of, on account of the fact they were short staffed for the evening. And then a party of ten came bustling in- a birthday party, Brenegan assumed, by the way the women were passing a greeting card around the table for all to sign. And then they presented her with the card, in which they had tucked $1,100.00 in cash. Turns out, “They wanted to do something nice for someone who was working hard during the holiday season,”.

Eat your heart out, Ellen DeGeneres. 🙂

Seamus is a nine year old pit bull mix who has spent more than half of his life at the Fresno Bully Rescue- a breed specific no-kill rescue in Fresno California. This lovable dude has earned an extra soft landing in the hearts of everyone at the shelter.

“As Seamus has been aging, he hasn’t been able to handle the weather as well, we were really hoping that he would be able to finally be in a warm home this winter season — and escape the heat of the summers. Sometimes we worried that he would be with us for the duration of his life,” Says Bridgette Booth, the shelter director.

On December 21, Seamus found his forever home. Booth considers the timing of this adoption to be a “Christmas miracle,”. His new parents are just thankful Seamus chose them.

April Doster is a nurse whose profit lies in the positive difference she tucks inside the desperate hours of people’s worst case scenarios. In 2016, that worst case scenario came calling on her. Doster was the nurse on duty the day J.T. Weyant- then six years old- was admitted to Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

J.T., along with his sisters Savannah and Hailey (four and five years old at the time), had been the victims of one of the most horrific abuse cases in state annals. Their parents Josh and Brandi of Halifax, Pa were arrested and charged with multiple counts of aggravated assault, conspiracy, false imprisonment, unlawful restraint and endangering the welfare of children. They were later convicted and sentenced to thirty years in a state prison.

When the children were found by law enforcement officials inside their home, their hair was matted with feces and urine. Their core body temperatures were 94 degrees and they appeared as if they had “just walked out of a concentration camp,”

Doster was heartbroken when she learned that the children would have little to no chance of being adopted together, so she spoke with her husband Rubin about changing that. Three years have passed since the day those three children walked out of hell and into a brand new life. And now they are a family of five; April and Rubin, J.T., Savannah and Hailey. April says the kids are thriving in school and at home.

Merriam Webster considers spirit to be a preternatural dynamic; as some supernatural being or essence which provides life to physical organisms. And somewhere in Central PA, a supernatural being wears her lanyard and blue scrubs to work every day.

They call her Mom.

 

Heroes Of The Week!

Rogue

Less than a week till Christmas, and I got a very late start on this week’s episode whilst trying to put myself in the proper frame of mind. It’s nay impossible for yours truly to find his Christmas spirit unless it rhymes with eighty proof. On the plus side, I had much help from fellow bloggers Dale and Frank on three . . count em three! . . of my stories, so I literally could’ve fallen out of bed and finished this one up. Tis? Meet the season!

And now our Heroes . . .

Mail Box

Aleem Chaudhry is being good for goodness sake. The San Antonio, Texas deli owner bought a small, decorative Christmas mailbox last year that he planned to put up as a decoration in his home. “But my wife was like, take it to the store,”

They received over four hundred letters last year. Kids ask for electronic gadgets and toys, but many keep it simple; asking that their parents spend more time at home with them. In addition to lists, the kids ask questions like “Do your reindeers like cookies too?”, and “Why do you come down the chimney when you can just use the door?” The youngest kids just draw pictures, and their parents fill out address sheets.

Because get this . . . Chaudhry writes back to the kids. Every single one of them. He and his wife have received over five hundred letters so far this year and he estimates it might reach a thousand. They’ve ditched holiday parties in order to reply to every last letter, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.

Joe Burrow

When LSU quarterback Joe Burrow won the Heisman Trophy last weekend in New York City, it capped a magical season for the senior. And whatever happens in next month’s College Football Playoffs, the kid’s already a champion in our book.

During his acceptance speech last Saturday, the Ohio native made mention of his hometown of Athens.

“Coming from southeast Ohio, it’s a very, very impoverished area. The poverty rate is almost two times the national average,” Burrow said. “There are so many people there that don’t have a lot, and I’m up here for all those kids in Athens and Athens County that go home to not a lot of food on the table, hungry after school. You guys can be up here, too.”

The mention inspired an online fundraising campaign for the Athens County Food Pantry. Donations have poured in from all across the country to the tune of almost 500,000 dollars thus far. Joe Cool took the Golden Rule . . to school. (Thank you to Frank for the 411 on this story).

The next two stories are a double dose of my pal Dale, who delivered up not one, but two stories for this Heroes episode. I don’t care what they say, those Canadians are pretty friendly peeps.

Busker

I’d never heard the term ‘busker’ until I checked this piece out, and all I can say is . . what a way to learn the word. Buskers are street performers, like Mo Guzman of Toronto, who do their thing while depending on the kindness of passersby. And recently, those kindnesses were delivered in bunches when a “Cash Mob” tossed hundreds of dollars in his guitar case. The mob was orchestrated by a Toronto marketing company called Zulu Alpha Kilo, who got their employees to pose as regular strap hangers.

The timing couldn’t have been better, since Guzman is the proud papa of a three month old baby girl. “I feel like years of working on the subway and making people smile is starting to pay off in its own way,” Guzman said in the video. “I feel so fortunate.”

Busk yeah!

Goalies

To paraphrase Ernest L. Thayer, it was looking rather bleak for the St. Stephen Spartans five after losing their goaltender to injury prior to a home game against the Southern Victoria High School Vikings. Senior defense man Davan Cloney gamely volunteered to sub for his goalie. No small task considering the position is one of the toughest in sports. If you don’t believe me, try standing on your window sill . . whilst attempting to block a vulcanized rubber disk hurtling towards your body at speeds in excess of one hundred miles per hour.

Vikings goalie T.J. Sullivan gets it, in more ways than the one. Which is why he skated down to meet with Davan at the end of the first period. He gave his opponent some pointers on how to tend goal and told him to hang in there. From that point on, every time Cloney made a save, Sullivan slapped his stick against the ice in celebration.

The final score had the Vikings winning handily, but something tells me the box score isn’t going to be the story those kids will be talking about when they look back on this game.

Chloe

It was June of 2018 when Shawn Cress’s whole world fell apart.

His twelve year old daughter Chloe needed some physical therapy for a limp, or so they all thought. The limp became a back pain and then a fever, after which lab tests revealed something much more serious. The Kingsport, Tennessee family was then referred to a children’s hospital forty five minutes away where Chloe underwent a CT scan.

Doctors found a giant tumor near her heart. It had spread to her esophagus and into some of her vertebrae. She was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer- alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, which is cancer in the skeletal muscles. From there she was flown to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, where the family would spend the next eighteen months as their daughter would fight for her life.

“You just break down,” Shawn said. “It just scares the life out of you . . . you just think, ‘I’m gonna lose my kid.’ And it’s really helpless, because there’s nothing you can do.”

Through it all, Chloe was selfless. She worried what her sickness would mean to her family; if it would lead to money problems since they had to uproot their home base eight hours from Kingsport and were spending more than fourteen hours a day by her side. She missed her dogs, Buu and Rollie, who she calls her “emotional link”.

Eighteen months is a lifetime when a parent is forced to consider the mortality of a child; it’s the kind of reality that runs counter to everything we believe. But inside that new reality, belief remained. The belief that Chloe would fight, and that she would walk out of St Jude one day with her family. Together.

On Tuesday, doctors informed the family that Chloe’s cancer was in remission. On December 21st, they will be heading home for the first time in eighteen months. She’ll have followup appointments every three months and she will most likely be bedridden for the rest of the school year. But all that’s on Chloe’s mind right now is being home with Buu and Rollie. And maybe adopting another dog, that too. And life as they knew it before that fateful June day, will never be the same again.

It will be better.