March is here, and we want to start you off on a happy note. That’s why this list has some of the more inspiring and amusing stories that happened over the last few days. If you would also like to read about bizarre and outlandish occurrences, check out the offbeat list right here.
This week is about extremes as we cover stories about people at the opposite ends of the age spectrum. One pensioner spends his days scouring the streets for coins to donate, and a centenarian grandmother goes skydiving.
Meanwhile, a teenager becomes the youngest person to achieve nuclear fusion, a record-breaking preemie goes home, and a 12-year-old budding reporter displays the kind of doggedness you want to see in that line of work. There are also dogs and a fat rat.
10 The Penny-Pincher
A Canadian pensioner has a unique way of spending his free time: He scours the streets of Montreal looking for spare change to collect and donate.
Young S. New has a simple philosophy taught by his father back in Korea: Respect the penny. Therefore, after he retired, he started a new hobby. He would walk the streets of his neighborhood in the west end of the city looking for discarded change. He considered it good exercise, plus it helped him do his good deed for the day.
New has been doing this for 12 years. Other people started joining in, and he even started his own club called the Montreal Hainneville Collectors (MHC). For the first several years, the collected money would be split between New’s church and the Gazette Christmas Fund. Nowadays, he prefers to give the money directly to the homeless.
9 Jackson’s Laboratory
An American teenager and nuclear engineering hobbyist might have become the youngest-known person in the world to achieve nuclear fusion.
Despite being only 14 years old, Jackson Oswalt from Memphis, Tennessee, is a regular contributor to the forum of the Open Source Fusor Research Consortium. Using about $10,000 worth of equipment bought on eBay, he converted an old playroom in his parents’ house into a nuclear laboratory.
According to posts on the forum, Jackson successfully managed to heat up deuterium gas and fuse the nuclei to release energy, thus creating a nuclear reaction. He did this in early January 2018 when he was just 12 years old.
While the hobbyist research consortium acknowledges Oswalt’s achievement, it would have to be verified by an official organization and published in an academic journal before being accepted by the scientific community. If this happens, then Jackson will become the youngest recognized individual to attain nuclear fusion, surpassing previous record holder Taylor Wilson who did it when he was 14 years old.
8 Bad Person Doing A Nice Thing?
A stranger did his good deed for the day when he walked up to a Girl Scout troop selling cookies and bought their entire supply so that they could get out of the cold.
Last Friday, Troop 1574 from Greenville, South Carolina, was dutifully selling Girl Scout cookies even though it was 1 degree Celsius (34 °F) outside. Kayla Dillard, one of the girls’ mothers, was with them to act as “cookie manager.”
A Good Samaritan walked up to their table. First, he bought seven packs of treats and paid $40, telling the girls to keep the change. He then changed his mind, came back, and purchased the rest of the cookies so the scouts could pack up and leave early. He spent another $540 on cookies.
The troop sold over 220 cookie packages that night. Most of them went to the stranger, who didn’t even give his name, although he did pose for a picture with two of the scouts.
This story took an unexpected turn this week. After his photo went viral, the man later identified as Detric McGowan was arrested in a DEA bust on multiple federal drug charges.
7 Firefighters Mount Rodent Rescue
German firefighters from the town of Bensheim received an unusual request for help this week. A chubby rat didn’t quite get rid of all her extra winter weight and got stuck in the hole of a manhole cover.
The first to spot the distressed rodent was a little girl. She contacted animal rescuer Michael Sehr. When he couldn’t get the animal out on his own, he got in touch with the fire department. Eight volunteer firefighters turned up to save the day, although truth be told, most of them sat around watching or filming the bizarre rescue operation.
The trick wasn’t really getting the rat out of the hole but doing it in such a way that neither the rat nor the firefighters were injured. One of them secured the animal in place while others lifted the manhole cover and propped it up with wedges. Sehr then popped the rotund rodent out of the hole and released her back into the sewer.
Some wondered why anyone would go to all this effort just to save a rat, although the fire department’s Facebook page also attracted hundreds of comments praising the work of the firefighters. As for Michael Sehr, he got his thanks in the form of a hand-drawn picture of the rat surrounded by hearts, courtesy of the little girl who first found the trapped animal.
6 Grandma Takes To The Skies
A new centenarian celebrated her 100th birthday by going skydiving for the first time.
Jane Haynes is not your average pensioner. Her daughter, Patricia, says that “[Jane’s] life began at 60.” That is when Jane decided to live out her remaining years to the fullest and started going on one adventure after another. She went hiking in the Grand Canyon, explored the Mayan ruins of Guatemala, and went whitewater rafting in Alaska.
Recently, Jane had her sights set on a new challenge—skydiving. She had wanted to try it ever since she saw her granddaughter do it. What better opportunity for this than her 100th birthday?
Jane visited Skydive Arizona in Eloy and did a tandem jump from 4,000 meters (13,000 ft). She landed safely and is probably already thinking of the next thing to try.
5 Sully’s New Gig
Sully, the former service dog of President George H.W. Bush, has found a new job with the US Navy helping veterans at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
The yellow Labrador received his training and certification as a service dog from a nonprofit organization named America’s VetDogs. Following the death of Barbara Bush in April 2018, Sully became the companion of George Bush Sr. After Bush also died in November 2018, his dog gained international fame after an image of Sully resting beside his master’s coffin went viral.
Now Sully will work at the medical center alongside other service dogs. His duties will include interacting with both staff and patients to reduce stress and increase their well-being.
The Labrador was appointed to the rank of hospital corpsman second class in a ceremony where he also received his new “military uniform” in the form of a vest. His personalized oath of enlistment stated that Sully will “comfort and cure warriors and their families, active and retired” and will do so freely “without any promise of treats or tummy rubs.”
4 Open For Business
Staff from a grocery store in Canada accidentally left the supermarket completely unattended with the doors unlocked. You might think this would be a recipe for chaos, but it turned out to be a stunning display of honesty.
February 18 was Family Day in Canada. In honor of the holiday, the Food Basics supermarket in Kingston, Ontario, was supposed to be closed. No employees showed up for work, but the doors had been left unlocked. Customers soon started appearing and entered the store to do some shopping. Before long, they realized that they were completely unattended.
For dishonest people, this could have been the perfect opportunity to get a few weeks’ worth of shopping done for free. That’s not what happened here. Customers left confused, perhaps a bit annoyed, but empty-handed.
According to one eyewitness, he saw a guy exiting the supermarket and carrying two packages of cherry tomatoes. He approached the man asking if he was just planning to take the tomatoes, to which the other shopper replied that he had left $5 on the counter.
The police were called, and they contacted store management. Staffers arrived in the afternoon and did a quick inventory check. They confirmed that a few other customers had followed the lead of the aforementioned shopper. They wrote lists with the groceries they took and left money on the counters.
3 Tiny Baby Boy Goes Home
A premature baby has become the smallest boy on record to be successfully treated and leave the hospital in good health.
In August, the baby was born at only 24 weeks by emergency C-section at Keio University Hospital in Tokyo, Japan. He weighed only 268 grams (9.45 oz), 6 grams (0.2 oz) less than the previous record holder.
Survival rates for babies under 300 grams (10.6 oz) are not good, and the odds go down further for boys. Doctors are not sure why, but they believe that it has to do with slower lung development.
The boy spent the first five months of his life in the hospital, but against all odds, he survived. After being treated in the intensive care unit, the infant now weighs 3.2 kilograms (7 lbs) and is feeding normally. He was finally able to go home with his family last week.
2 Fighting For The Fourth Estate
A town in Arizona issued a formal apology to an intrepid 12-year-old reporter after a marshal violated her First Amendment rights.
Hilde Lysiak is not like most girls her age. She has great journalistic ambitions and has started pursuing her dream from a young age. She is already a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.
She has her own online newspaper called the Orange Street News where she edits and posts news items from her town of Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. In 2016, Hilde, then nine years old, made the headlines after she covered a murder in her neighborhood, getting an exclusive out hours before other media outlets.
Hilde was recently in Patagonia, Arizona, and she was running down a lead. Town marshal Joseph Patterson approached her. When the young girl identified herself as a reporter, the officer allegedly told her not to give him “any of that freedom of the press stuff.” He then threatened to arrest her and throw her in juvie.
This would scare off most kids, but Hilde just saw it as a new development. She approached the marshal again and this time caught the meeting on video. He lied to her on camera, saying that it was illegal for her to post the clip online.
The interaction caused a bit of a brouhaha. Following a town council meeting, Patagonia Mayor Andrea Wood apologized to Hilde Lysiak. The girl accepted, glad that she could move forward and get back to covering the news.
1 The Life Of Cuddles
Raised to be a vicious warrior, she was rescued from a fighting ring only to be sentenced to death. She earned a reprieve and did a stint in prison where she earned her PhD. Now she has finally found love and a forever home with a former veteran and retired firefighter. This is the story of Cuddles the pit bull.
In 2015, Cuddles and 20 other pit bulls were recovered when police busted a dog fighting ring in Ontario, Canada. However, an animal behavior expert from the SPCA recommended that all the dogs be put down because they were too aggressive to be re-homed.
The pit bulls became known as the Ontario 21. Animal rights groups protested the death sentence and took the battle to court. After two years, they got a third-party evaluator to come in and do a reassessment of the animals’ behavior. He cleared all but two dogs for retraining.
Cuddles ended up in the care of a nonprofit organization from Florida called the Pit Sisters. They placed the dog in the Teaching Animals and Inmates Life Skills (TAILS) prison program. Cuddles responded very well to the initiative and graduated with a PhD from the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) and a Canine Good Citizen certification from the American Kennel Club (AKC).
Late last year, the prison pooch finally found a forever home in New York with Billy Brauer. The 73-year-old former firefighter was looking for companionship after suffering a stroke, and the two hit it off immediately.