Far too often, the media focuses on negative events while positive news items take a back seat. That’s not the case here as this list covers only stories that inspire, amuse, and uplift. If weirdness is more your thing, you can check out the offbeat list, too.
There are several stories this week of elderly people who prove that age is nothing but a number. A neighborhood bands together to help a deaf girl while a hockey ref fights against Alzheimer’s with a little support from AC/DC.
10 The Senior Junior Ranger
A centenarian became a junior ranger of the Grand Canyon National Park to encourage newer generations to protect and learn about the great outdoors.
Rose Torphy made her first trip to the Grand Canyon back in 1985. Now, on her second visit, she heard about the junior ranger program and wanted to be a part of it. Her parents taught her to care for the land, and in turn, she desires to do the same for other kids.
Although the junior program is intended for children, it is available to everyone from ages four and up. Therefore, Rose was able to enlist even though the 103-year-old is actually older than the national park she has sworn to protect. On February 26, the Grand Canyon will be celebrating 100 years since its designation as a national park.
9 An Unlikely Savior
A Florida inmate used his criminal expertise for good to rescue a baby trapped inside a locked car.
It all started when the father of the child strapped his one-year-old daughter in the safety seat in the back of his Chevy Tahoe and threw the keys in the front seat. He then exited the SUV and instinctively closed the door. Only then did he realize that he had just locked himself out of the vehicle.
Meanwhile, a group of low-level offenders was repairing medians nearby under the supervision of Pasco County deputies. They heard the commotion and rushed to help. One of them used a coat hanger to jimmy the lock and open the door of the car. The whole thing took about five minutes, and the baby was completely safe.
Her mother, Shadow Lantry, filmed the whole thing and then posted it on social media. She was grateful to the men who had dashed to her rescue, saying that she respects them all.
Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco admitted that such opportunities are rare where a criminal breaks into a car for the right reasons. However, he also extended his appreciation toward the inmates by claiming that they are individuals who have made mistakes but want to “do the right thing in life.”
8 Rowing Seniors Claim World Record
Two English grandfathers in their early sixties became the oldest duo to row across the Atlantic Ocean while simultaneously raising money for veterans’ charities.
Neil Young and Peter Ketley have the combined age of 123. Despite this, the two former paratroopers were able to row 4,828 kilometers (3,000 mi) from the Canary Islands to Antigua in just 63 days. Moreover, they had no previous rowing experience apart from a year-long training regimen they underwent before departing in December 2018.
Ketley and Young took part in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. Started in 1997 by Sir Chay Blyth as the Atlantic Rowing Race, this endurance event touts itself as the “world’s toughest row.” The aging duo managed to raise over £30,000 to support charities such as Dreams Come True, Support Our Paras, and the Royal British Legion Industries.
7 It Takes A Village
All the people of a neighborhood in Newton, Massachusetts, have begun learning sign language so that they can communicate with their deaf two-year-old neighbor.
Samantha Savitz is just like many young kids her age: She’s happy, outgoing, and loves to chat up people. There is just one problem, though. Sam is deaf. She knows sign language, but that is not a skill many other people have. Therefore, her attempts at social engagement often go unanswered. Sam is left visibly frustrated, even sad, when she is unable to communicate.
Her neighbors have noticed this and decided to do something about it. They got together, hired a teacher, and began taking American Sign Language classes. The instructor, Rhys McGovern, has been impressed with the kinship and care shown in this community.
Rhys remarked that, in other cases, not even the parents of a deaf child bother learning sign language, let alone the neighbors. Sam’s mother, Glenda Savitz, already sees a difference in her daughter’s behavior and is still looking for a way to express her gratitude for her neighborhood’s “shocking and beautiful” gesture.
6 One Good Deed Deserves Another
An amateur Canadian hockey ref has been doing marathon skate sessions to raise money and awareness for Alzheimer’s disease. This year’s session came with a surprise donation from his favorite rocker, Angus Young from AC/DC.
Steve McNeil has been skating for charity since 2012 in honor of his mother who died from Alzheimer’s. She was born in 1926, so McNeil skates for 19 hours and 26 minutes in every Canadian city that has an NHL team. Since he started, McNeil has raised over C$40,000, which he donates to the local chapters of the Alzheimer Society.
Sometimes, it gets really cold and tiresome on the ice. When that happens, Steve has two things to keep him going. He thinks of his mother’s home cooking, and he cranks up AC/DC on his headphones. He has always been a massive fan of the band, but they’ve been on his mind more in recent years after Malcolm Young died of dementia.
Word of Steve McNeil’s efforts reached Malcolm’s brother, AC/DC lead guitarist Angus Young. To show his approval, the rocker donated C$19,260 to the Alzheimer Society of Ontario. The money will be distributed to support music programs for people with dementia across Canada.
5 Remembrance Of Things Past
An antique dealer found a letter from World War I among a stack of old papers she bought for a dollar. It was a “thank you” from Canadian soldier Earl Sorel to the sister of another fighter who had sacrificed his life to save Sorel at the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
Amanda Kehler owns a cafe and antique shop in Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada. She was going through a bunch of recently purchased documents when she found the letter from Sorel, a soldier with the 78th Battalion. It was postmarked May 1917.
The letter detailed the heroics of Sergeant Gorden. He was in charge of a platoon at the Battle of Vimy Ridge on April 9, 1917. They had pushed for about 1,100 meters (3,600 ft) when Sorel heard a loud “bang” and felt a sharp burning in his back and left arm. He had been shot, but Gorden carried him to a shell hole.
Sorel was eventually taken to a dressing station and survived his injuries. He found out the next day that Gorden had been killed in the charge. However, Sorel wanted the sergeant’s sister to know that her brother “died a hero, along with many others that day.”
4 Grateful Like Gary
Celebrities and veterans banded together this week to create a heartwarming video thanking actor Gary Sinise for all the charity work he has done to benefit military families and first responders.
Titled #GratefulLikeGary, the video was made to surprise Sinise after the release of his book Grateful American: A Journey From Self To Service. Jay Leno, Rob Lowe, Robert De Niro, and Steve Buscemi are just a few of the actors who appeared in the clip alongside many firefighters and soldiers.
Sinise became involved with charity work for veterans after starring as Lt. Dan in Forrest Gump, which is celebrating 25 years since its release later this year. He founded the Gary Sinise Foundation which raises around $30 million a year for veterans.
He also built dozens of smart homes for soldiers with disabilities and organized over 400 benefit concerts. He is even part of a cover group called the Lt. Dan Band which does USO shows.
Fittingly, the tribute video ends with his Forrest Gump costar Tom Hanks saying simply, “Thanks, Lt. Dan.”
3 Back From Extinction
It has been a good week for large species of animals thought to be extinct. The world’s biggest bee has been found alive in Indonesia, and a giant Galapagos tortoise was sighted for the first time in over 100 years.
Megachile pluto is also known as Wallace’s giant bee, named after Alfred Russel Wallace who first collected and described it in 1858. The female can reach a length of 3.8 centimeters (1.5 in) with a wingspan over 6 centimeters (2.5 in) long.
It was considered extinct in modern times until scientists found a few specimens in the Indonesian Bacan Islands in 1981. Then the species was not seen again and was feared extinct once more.
This January, however, a team of wildlife experts journeyed to the North Moluccas islands and caught sight of Wallace’s giant bee once again. They only found one female, but it was enough to give them hope that the insect is still thriving in areas left alone by man.
On the Galapagos island of Fernandina, a scientific expedition found a tortoise species not seen since 1906. According to the Ecuadorian government, researchers found an adult female Fernandina giant tortoise believed to be over a century old.
Moreover, they also discovered tracks and scents which suggest that she is not the only one of her species still around. Conservationists are hoping to find other tortoises, including males, to start a breeding program.
2 The Crochet Whiz Kid
An 11-year-old kid from La Crosse, Wisconsin, has won over the online world thanks to his mad skills at crochet.
It’s not exactly a typical pastime for young boys, but Jonah Larson’s newfound fame has turned him into an ambassador of the crochet world. He started learning when he was five years old by watching YouTube videos. Jonah quickly discovered that he had a knack for it, and now he gives his own online lessons.
The young man also started selling his creations through his own crochet business called Jonah’s Hands. His story went viral after being recently featured in a local paper, and Jonah had to temporarily stop taking requests to fulfill a backlog of over 2,500 orders. He also makes sure to give back to the community and regularly donates money and goods to the Ethiopian orphanage from which he was adopted.
Right now, Jonah is happy with his role of introducing new generations to crochet. His ambition, however, is to put his skillful hands to a different use in the future as he wants to become a surgeon.
1 Flyby For Fallen Soldiers
The story of one man’s dedication led to 10,000 people attending a flyby over Endcliffe Park, Sheffield, to honor 10 American airmen who died there in 1944.
It all began in early January when BBC presenter Dan Walker was walking his dog and ran into octogenarian Tony Foulds. The latter was tending to a memorial dedicated to the crew of US bomber Mi Amigo. On February 22, 1944, the plane was coming back from a bombing run. It crashed into the woodlands of Endcliffe Park, and all 10 men aboard died.
Foulds was there that day. He was an eight-year-old boy playing with his mates in the open field. He feels guilty about the crash because he believes the pilot wanted to land in the field but veered at the last moment to avoid smashing into the children. Since then, Foulds has spent decades looking after the memorial.
Walker told Tony’s story and began campaigning for a flyby to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the crash. Word spread on social media, and the campaign was a success. On Friday, Foulds was joined by around 10,000 people who gathered to witness American and British aircraft take off from RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk and do a flyby over the park.