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Dogs Save a Girl’s Life [NEWS]

Posted by Zak Reid

On a brisk Canadian evening a 9 year old girl went missing. Meghan, from north of Edmonton, was last seen riding her bike at about 6 pm. wearing just a spring jacket and sweatpants.

After a short time, when she didn’t return, her family began to worry. Luckily, young Meghan was accompanied by her three dogs and they helped her survive the night. (Animals are the best.)

Good News Quick Me Ups Girl First Nation Saved by Dogs

Meghan with her 3 companions. Photo: CBC Canada

Starky, Brute and Prince are the real MVPs of this story. These three dogs knew what to do when Meghan found herself in the middle of the woods at nightfall.

The night wasn’t a warm tropical night either. Meghan’s from the Frog Lake First Nation close to Edmonton, Canda. With near-freezing temperatures at night and the child under-dressed, her family and neighbors were understandably very worried.

A search party was quickly assembled of about 30-40 people between community members and the police. After a full night of fruitless searching, the police were preparing to order helicopter assistance from Edmonton when…

Inspirational Boy Receives New Set of Hands [NEWS]

Posted by Zak Reid

This is the story of an inspiring, 8 year old boy named Zion Harvey from Baltimore, Maryland. Equipped with an infectious smile and an older-than-he-is view of the world, Zion has already overcome a number of difficult challenges in his young life.

CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF PHILADELPHIA, Zion Harvey, via Quick Me Ups

Zion never let a lack of hands hold him back. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

With an ever-present smile on his face he explains: “When I was 2, I had to get my hands cut off because I was sick”.

In reality, he suffered a sepsis infection, comprimising his life due to internal organ failure, and resulting in the amputation of his hands and feet.

At age 4 he received a kindey transplant from his mother, Pattie Ray, and was on his way to a healthier future, always with a smile.

Now, at age 8, Zion is making history as the first child recipient of a double hand transplant. He was reviewed for 18 months to assure he was a viable candidate, but even after in-depth analysis, results are never guaranteed. Zion’s reaction?

“When I get these hands, I will be proud of what hands I get, and if it gets messed up,” he continued, “I don’t care because I have my family.”

He truly has an infectious smile and winning attitude about life that many of us could learn from.

Before the surgery, Ray said: “[t]his is just another hurdle that he jumps. He jumps so many hurdles. He’s so amazing. This isn’t the first amazing thing that he’s done. He’s been doing amazing things since he’s been sick. I don’t know many adults that can handle half of his life on a day-to-day basis.”

As an 8 year old boy, there are many potentially exciting, new activities he will be able to take part in from the climbing monkey bars to walking a dog. But when asked what he’s most excited about doing with his new hands, he said: “pick up my little sister from daycare, and wait for her to run into my hands, and I pick her up, and spin her around.”

Zion Harvey Press Conference, via Quick Me Ups

Zion presents his new hands to the world. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

A team of 40 medical personnel, including doctors, nurses and anthesiologists, worked together on this revolutionary double transplant, well aware of the challenges and possible complications. But after more than 10 hours in the operating room, the head of the team, Dr. L. Scott Levin, emerged to tell Zion’s mother: “we have some good news for you. Your little guy has two hands.”

Zion isn’t completely in the clear yet, he will be taking a lifetime of immunosuppressant medication to avoid infection, and will be staying in the rehabilitation unit for the next few weeks to learn how to use his new hands.

That said, he’s already moving forward mentally and has told his mom that he and his sister want a new dog, which he is ready to take care of and walk everyday.

Now, what shouldn’t be forgotten when telling this story, is the role that a brave family played by donating the hands through the Gift of Life Donor Program. Another reminder that a loss of one life can help save or improve another.

During a press conference after the successful surgery, an emotional Zion spoked into the microphone and asked for his family members to stand up. He looked to them and said “I want to say to you guys, thank you for helping me through this bumpy road.”

A very grounded young boy with a bright future ahead of him, Zion is full of wisdom and optimism. He took a moment to summarize the importance of family, stating: “family means trust, hope, support, and if you fall down, they always catch you.”

His is truly a remarkable story, and one that we can all hope is repeated many times over. Children are our future, and this child now has a set of hands to help mold the world.

Zion Harvey: a reason to smile today. Let’s spread his story and all of the other positive things that are happening in the world right now. If you know of a story you think our readers would enjoy, please share it in the comments below.

A Singer & An Athlete Help Africa [NEWS]

Posted by Zak Reid

It’s easy to take things for granted… such as basic education and electricity. Unfortunately, in some parts of the world, both of these things are luxuries that not everyone can afford. Recently two successful men have turned their eyes to Africa to help out…


Akon Lighting Africa

While this isn’t breaking news, we haven’t yet discussed it here at Quick Me Ups, and I think it’s absolutely worth taking a minute to touch on.

Approximately 600 million Africans don’t have access to electricity today. With no lights, it means that once the sun sets, many people retire to their homes and the day is over. Some families have kerosene lamps for inside of the home (which can be hazardous and expensive), many don’t.

Just take a moment to imagine your home and neighborhood being completely dark after 7 p.m. How would this affect you?

Well…
– It’s more dangerous to walk down those dark streets.
– Many stores close early.
– People have to travel to charge cell phones (if they have them).
– And what about the children…. many of them can’t even study at home for lack of light!

This isn’t a small problem, this is serious.

International R & B singer Akon, along with Thione Niang and Samba Bathily, decided to work to remedy this problem. Akon Lighting Africa installs solar powered solutions to help rural communites which previously lacked electricity, and trains young people in the process.

They install solar street lamps as well as solar panels for residential and businesses lighting – including hospitals – some of which had to previously operate by flashlight!

Akon Solar Academy - Akon Lighting Africa - via Quick Me Ups

Akon Lighting Africa has a Solar Academy designed to create engineers, technicians and entrepreneurs. (Photo: Akon Lighting Africa)

Another benefit of this solar power project is the training of young men and women in the installation and maintenance of these solar panels and lights. It’s also designed to create entrepreneurs – young men and women who can bring the technology back to their village and create a sustainable business. These young people are learning skilled work all while helping their communities.

Previously, many children weren’t able to study in their home, but now with the lights, they can do so. They can work towards a brighter future.

Akon Lighting Africa has installed solar panels in 14 countries, but this is just the beginning. Their goal is to light one million homes, and then work to get electricity to those 600 million Africans currently going without.

Click to learn more about Akon Lighting Africa.


Federer Builds a Pre-School in Malawi

Roger Federer Foundation in Malawi - via Quick Me Ups

Roger Federer visiting with the children of Malawi (Photo: RF Foundation)

The Roger Federer Foundation has a goal: to reach 1 million children.

The foundation is well on its way with 215,000 young lives already touched. Recently Federer, professional tennis player, travelled to Malawi for his first time in order to witness the impact the foundation is having:

[Federer] attended the launch of the Lundu Model Community Based Childcare Center and was able to enjoy time interacting with the children and community members in two other centers. The Roger Federer Foundation started the initiative 2011 together with its local partner Action Aid Malawi. Up to date the program includes 50 model centers and 160 smaller satellite centers in six districts of the country, reaching out to a total of 34,000 children. – RF Foundation

In a video recently uploaded to Youtube (below) you can see how full of life these young children are, and how dedicated the teaching staff is.

I personally believe that early education is one of the most important determining factors in the growth and development of an individual. I was personally blessed to attend an amazing school (Evergreen Elementary School in Eugene, Oregon, USA) and am forever thankful for that opportunity as it sparked a curiosity in math and reading that has stayed with me throughout my life.

Roger on his trip to Malawi:

I think this is a great program that has helped, is helping, and will continue to help the future of Africa… one country, and one child, at a time.

Click to learn more about the Roger Federer Foundation.


There you have it – two young men who have been successful in their careers – using their influence to help people in less fortunate situations. While I love to see stories of ‘everyday citizens’ helping one another, it’s also refreshing to see financially successful people use their money for good causes.

I appreciate what Federer and Akon are doing to help the less fortunate. I also appreciate every time a person holds a door open for another. This world needs all the good it can get, be it small or large. So let’s spread these stories and make our own.

Have a great day!

Good News Friday VIII

Posted by Zak Reid

It’s time for Good News Friday!

Marathon Runner Refuses to Quit, Finishes 3rd

Hyvon-Ngetich-en-el-maraton-de_54427364054_53699622600_601_341

Kenyan marathon runner Hyvon Ngetich recently made headlines. She didn’t win the 2015 Austin Marathon, but she inspired many people with the way she finished. After leading for most of the race, Ngetich collapsed less than 500 feet (152 m.) from the finish line.

Instead of quitting, or accepting a ride in the wheelchair the organizers brought on the course, she crawled the remaining distance and finished 3rd. In the short video showing her final minutes crawling, it’s clear that she was completely and utterly exhausted. Afterwards she revealed that she doesn’t remember the final 2 Km. nor crossing the finish line.

Here’s a short clip of Ngetich crawling to the finish:

After the race Ngetich told a local news station:

“Running, always, you have to keep going, going.”

She certainly followed her own advice.


Oldest Man in Australia Knits Sweaters for Penguins

Alfie Knits Sweaters

108 year old Alfred ‘Alf’ Date found himself with free time last year after moving into a elderly-care village. But instead of sitting idle, he wanted to put his hands to work. So when he heard the call from the Phillip Island’s Penguin Foundation for knitters around the world to donate sweaters for oil-spill-affected penguins, he called upon the knitting skills he learned in the 1930s, and got to work.

Sweaters greatly improve a penguin’s chance to survive:

Sweaters are vital in the rescue of penguins affected by oil spills. A patch of oil the size of a thumbnail can cause their feathers separate and get matted together, allowing the cold to reach their otherwise protected skin. Penguins who are covered with oil will instinctively try and clean themselves by picking at their feathers with their beaks, this causes them to ingest oil which can damage their digestive system. Placing sweaters on rescued penguins prevents them from ingesting any oil while preening and keeps them nice and warm. – One Green Planet

Plus, who doesn’t love a penguin in a sweater?

Alfies Penguins

Alf, now 109 years old, continues to knit for animals and friends in 2015. He keeps his hands busy, and keeps making a difference.


Teen Invents Sensor to Help Alzheimer’s Patients

kenneth shinozuka

15-year-old Kenneth Shinozuka had a problem – his grandfather kept getting lost. With the onset of Alzheimer’s his grandfather began to leave his bed and begin wandering at night. In one instance police found him wandering on the freeway 2 miles from his home!

In order to prevent this from happening, Shinozuka invented a system which sends an alert to a smart phone when the patient stands up. In order to accomplish this:

[H]e created a super-thin film sensor printed with pressure-sensitive, electrically conductive ink and a coin-sized wireless circuit that can either be embedded in a sock or attached to a foot or shoe. When a patient steps out of bed, pressure causes the system to send an alert to an app that Shinozuka also designed and coded. – Business Insider

After creating this system, Shinozuka and his family gave the device a six-month trial run. During the test phase Shinozuka’s system detected 100% of the 437 known times his grandfather wandered, without any false alarms.

Shinozuka’s invention can truly make a difference and help those that need it. Because of his inventive solution to a serious problem, he was recognized by Google and made it into the final round of the Google Science Fair. After the votes came in…

Congratulations to Kenneth Shinozuka, 15, winner of the third annual $50,000 Scientific American Science in Action Award, powered by the Google Science Fair, for his project “Wearable Sensors: A Novel Healthcare Solution for the Aging Society.” Inspired to help his family care for his grandfather, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, Kenneth’s super-slim sensors, attached to a foot or in a sock, can alert caregivers via their smart phone if a patient begins to wander. – Scientific American

It’s great to see young minds innovating and working to make a better world.

It’s also great to hear about the positive and motivating stories that happen every day. Please help spread the good news, together we can create a better environment for everyone.

Good News Friday VIII.

Good News Friday VI.

Posted by QuickMeUps

After a Good News Friday hiatus, we’re back with more feel good stories that don’t make it on the “news” channels. Enjoy!

One-Eyed Chihuahua Saves Sick, Elderly Man

James Wathen and his one-eyed chihuahua Bubba reunited. Good News Friday VI.

James Wathen and his one-eyed chihuahua Bubba reunited.

James Wathen, a 73 year old patient in a Kentucky hospital, had been hospitalized for weeks when his health began rapidly declining. He stopped eating and his outlook wasn’t good; Mr. Wathen was in trouble.

Nobody knew what was wrong until the hospital staff realized the man missed his dog. He missed his one-eyed chihuahua named Bubba, and Bubba missed him.

While Mr. Wathen was in the hospital, Bubba had been turned over to a local shelter for care. And just as his owner, Bubba had also mysteriously stopped eating. Bubba was in trouble. The hospital staff went the extra mile and located the dog at the local Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter.

The too were soon united and instantly connected:

“When Bubba was handed to James he started to cry and then Bubba started to snuggle James,” the animal shelter added in a Facebook post, “it makes you realize that animals are not just pets they are loved ones.”

In an update posted to Facebook on Tuesday, the shelter wrote, “Both [Bubba and James] are so happy to see each other and both seem to be doing better! The power of love can go a long way!” – from HuffingtonPost.com

The hospital confirmed a ‘turnaround’ in Mr. Wathen’s health. So while one-eyed Bubba didn’t pull Mr. Wathen from a burning building, make no mistake about it, he saved Mr. Wathen’s life, and Mr. Wathen saved his.

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 5 Year Old Becomes Youngest Microsoft Professional

Ayan Qureshi and his home computer network. Good News Friday VI.

Ayan Qureshi and his home computer network.

Children today are learning more information than ever before. For proof of this, look no farther than young Ayan Qureshi of Coventry, England. Ayan took and passed his Microsoft Professional Certification exam at just 5 years old becoming the youngest person to do so.

Asim, Ayan’s father, an IT professional himself, began teaching Aysan about computers when he was just 3 years old:

“I found whatever I was telling him, the next day he’d remember everything I said, so I started to feed him more information.” – Asim Qureshi from bbc.com

Ayan, now 6, has a small computer network set up in his home and enjoys learning about the installation of operating systems and programs for two hours daily. In the future he has said that he’d like to start an UK-based technology hub similar to Silicon valley, and he wants to his own company.

He has his parents support in everything, not just computers:

“I’m very happy and very proud, I don’t want to see him set a world record every day. But I want him to do his best whatever he does in his life.” – Mamoona Qureshi, Ayan’s mother

A little love, attention, and education really goes a long ways.

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  Millionaire Adopts Impoverished Neighborhood

rosen-kids3

Self-made millionaire Harris Rosen, owner of Rosen Resorts and Hotels, decided to make a direct difference in his community. In the early 1990s Mr. Rosen adopted Tangelo Park, a sector of Orlando previously referred to as a “run-down, drug infested” neighborhood.

Mr. Rosen started by offering free pre-school to all children prior to kindergarten, and free university scholarships to all high school graduates. The results have been nothing short of amazing:

The Tangelo Park Elementary School has been an “A” rated Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test school for six of the past seven years, crime rates have declined steadily, student Grade Point Averages (GPAs) have risen dramatically– and are predicted to exceed 3.0 in the coming years, and as of 2012 the high school graduation rate is 100%. – from goodspeaks.org

For many years his work went unnoticed to those outside of the community, but that didn’t seem to bother Mr. Rosen who continued to donate his time and money over the years. More recently he has received a number of awards, and attention, but more importantly, has continued to impact young lives.

Mr. Rosen grew up in an impoverished neighborhood in New York and was able to make it out of there and be successful thanks to education. That’s why his program puts such an emphasis on educating the children in Tangelo Park with his scholarship recipients having a 75% university graduation rate, the highest rate among an ethnic group in the nation (source).

“I was part of the first generation of pre-K children in the Tangelo Park Program. Now I’m about to be the first generation of my family to go to college,” says Antionette Butler, a senior at Dr. Phillips High School. Butler plans to use her Rosen scholarship to attend UCF and study neurology. – ucf.edu

Donna Wilcox, another Tangelo resident, used her Rosen scholarship to study at UCF, and then went on to the University of Georgia where she obtained an M.A. in mass communications. She said:

“When people have the resources to go and succeed, there’s a ripple effect,” she says. “It becomes generational. No one in my family ever went to college before, but now, my baby sister can’t even picture a life without college. My mother even went back and got her degree. I showed her that she could do it.”

What a wonderful story of giving back.

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 High School Exceeds Goal in Blanket Drive

Blanket Drive to Help St. Vincent de Paul and Kootenai County Humane Society. Good News Friday

Taylor Demute smiles as she delivers more blankets for the drive. Photo: Kathy Plonka

There are large, successful fundraisers that raise millions of dollars for good causes (see St. Louis chapter of United Way raises $73+ million in 2014), and there are also smaller, yet difference-making fund raisers. We don’t have to raise millions upon millions of dollars to make a positive impact.

Small, personal gestures can positively affect our community. In Idaho, Post Falls High School decided that this year, they wanted to run a blanket fundraiser to show gratitude for the ‘warmth and comfort’ they have in their lives.

Quilts, comforters and cozy blankets dominated a Post Falls classroom’s countertops, corners and spare cubbyholes in an overwhelming response to a student-led blanket drive for a local homeless shelter. A group of Post Falls High School teens chose a blanket drive as their annual service project to show thanks for having warmth and comfort in their lives. “A lot of people don’t have that when they are homeless,” said Zachary Smith, 16. The high school students, and teacher Samantha Starr, expected about 200 blankets. They were at 450 and counting Thursday. The group also had raised more than $1,000 : Spokesman-Review

While this story certainly won’t make national, or international headlines, I think it’s important to realize that small groups of people can make a very real, tangible, positive impact in their communities.

If a few of us band together, we really can make a difference.

Good News Friday VI.

Good News Friday V.

Posted by QuickMeUps

Not to be confused with Good News Friday I, II, III or IV.
Negative news is tiring, so let’s get into the good stuff…

David Nelson's Foundation I'm Me is making a difference in Haiti.

David and Patrick Nelson & their new family in Haiti. Courtesy of New York Jets

Professional Athlete Helps Children in Haiti.

NFL player David Nelson had a radical change in his life. Says Nelson “there was a huge emptiness in my heart, because I was living out of selfishness. I was living out of vanity: money, fame, I wanted all the cars, I wanted all the clothes, it all changed when I went to Haiti.”

In 2012 Nelson was in Haiti helping in the aftermath of the disastrous earthquake. One day he noticed a small, malnourished boy entangled in rebar. After freeing the young boy, Nelson offered him food, sweets, games, etc., and the child said no to each. He then asked the boy “well what is it that you want?” … the child looked up and simply said “hold me”.

Nelson said he cried and it changed his view on life: “it opened my eyes to a different perspective, a new understanding that the greatest human need is Love“.

He decided to try to help. He and his brother started a non-profit foundation I’m ME and rented a house in Port Au Prince, Haiti. A short time later they became aware of a number of malnourished children in desperate need of urgent help. The brothers decided to take in these nine children desperately needing assistance in order to care for them.

They continue to run the foundation, and are fundraising with the goal to obtain 8 acres of land to build 8 homes with 6-8 children in each home. They also have education programs with hundreds of students enlisted, various other community outreach programs, and are even working with another company to build a $3 million sports complex which would be the first of it’s kind in Haiti.

If you would like to see video of their story, and an interview with the Nelson brothers, it can be found here. It’s very nice and refreshing to see somebody using their influence and wealth to affect positive change in the world.

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Lillian Skinnard and friends celebrate after she becomes homecoming queen.

From L to R: Naomi Martinez, Lillian Skinner, and Anahi Alvarez

Girls Help Bullied Friend Become Homecoming Queen.

17 year old Lillian Skinner may not be the most popular girl at her Texas High School, but she’s the homecoming queen now thanks to Anahi Alvarez and Naomi Martinez, two of her friends.

Unfortunately, bullying still exists in this world. Some unnamed classmates of Lilly attempted to prank and embarrass her by nominating for homecoming court. This motivated Anahi and Naomi, Lilly’s friends, to make a pact – if either of them won the title of homecoming queen, they would place the crown on Lilly’s head.

Well it happened, Anahi won the crown and title of homecoming queen. As planned, she immediately put the crown on Lilly’s head in front of the entire school. While this may not seem like a big deal to you or I, by watching the video, you can clearly see how much it meant to young Lilly.

Afterwards Anahi, the original winner said simply: “We need people like Lilly. We need people in this world like Lilly”.

Lilly was overwhelmed remembering the moment, stating: “I was like wow… really? […] like it’s a dream or something”.

Some people have had a negative reaction to this video, stating that it doesn’t deserve a news story, or that this should be normal behavior and not something to be commended. In an ideal world I could understand the merit of these arguments, but our world isn’t perfect, and bullying / prejudice exists, so I applaud this story.

Personally, I would prefer that news was full of these small positive stories, rather than the negative storylines that they usually thirst for.

So I say thank you to Anahi, Naomi and Lilly for sharing this brief, wonderful moment with all of us. And I’d venture to guess that 50 years from now, Lilly will still be telling this story with a big smile on her face…. so how small of a gesture was it really? Also, a special thanks to my friend Dan Guim for letting bringing this story to my attention.

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Eric Holder indicating the prison population decline - Quick Me Ups

US Attorney General Eric Holder announcing decline in prison population.

US Prison Population Declines for First Time in 30+ Years.

For the first time since 1980, the United States federal prison population has declined! Just let that sink in for a moment…. for the first time in over 30 years, we have finally had a decrease in the number of inmates, not an increase.

While the decline isn’t astonishingly large – a decrease of 4,800 inmates to lower the total overall prison population to 215,000 – the fact that the United States has stopped increasing the number of inmates is something to celebrate. Especially since both the political left and right agree that this is a good thing – they actually agree on something!

Eric Holder, outgoing US Attorney General, has called the decrease “historic” and hopes to decrease the population by another 10,000 inmates by 2016. To put that in perspective, a 10,000 inmate decrease would be enough to leave 6 maximum security prisons empty.

I, for one, am an ardent believer that our prisons should be used to house violent and aggressive criminals, not their non-violent counterparts. I believe that in most cases non-violent offenders should receive help / counseling / support / mentoring to assist them in finding a better path, as an alternative to incarceration. Prison is not the answer. Read this almost unbelievable statistic:

The US, with 5 percent of the global population, now houses 25 percent of the world’s inmates, the majority of whom are incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses. – CS Monitor

I hope in the future we can look back and say that the late 90s / early 2000s was a historically bad time for over-incarceration and that in both the USA and worldwide, we’ve moved on from that trend. This is a start.

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2,000 bags of food donations Glasgow, Scotland

Approx. 2,000 bags of food were spontaneously donated in Glasgow, Scotland.

Thousands of Impromptu Food Donations Help Those in Need.

Scotland recently held a referendum to vote for independence. The “No” vote won, with just over half of the population, meaning that Scotland will remain a part of the United Kingdom. With the country divided on the issue, there has been some unrest since the votes were tallied, as it was such an important issue.

Recently Andrew Carnegie was in Glasgow’s George Square delivering a speech about peace, reconciliation, poverty and unity when something special happened. See, Carnegie runs the Glasgow’s Needy project with his son, and their mission is to collect and deliver food across Glasgow to those needing help.

As he spoke in the plaza, people spontaneously started leaving bags of food to help. It started with a few people and quickly snowballed.

Bag after bag of donated food was left there in the Square. By the time it was all said and done, there were approximate 2,000 bags of food. Talk about unity. Mr. Carnegie said that the donations filled 8 cars and 11 vans!

“We’ve had people coming here from Perth, Aberdeen and across Scotland who had heard about this. They came here to drop off food and that’s just overwhelming. Something great happened here and I’m overjoyed.” – Andrew Carnegie

I’m overjoyed too, what an amazing story. I love when people help each other. Thanks to those who donated for giving us all hope, and thanks to Mr. Andrew Carnegie for donating the past 12 years to helping those who are less fortunate.

Have a great day and let me know if you have any good stories for future Good News Fridays. I hope you enjoyed these stories, what’s your reaction?  Let’s keep spreading positivity and good news, thank you!

Good News Friday IV

Posted by Zak Reid

If you’re new here, there is an archive of great stories between:
Good News Friday I
Good News Friday II
Good News Friday III

Now let’s get down to the under-reported, feel-good news portion of QuickMeUps!

140808-indonesia-tsunami-girl-main rescued survived family

Raudhatul, center, reunited with her mother, left. ACHWA NUSSA/EPA

Girl Reunited With her Family 10 Years After Tsunami.

At only 4 years old, Raudhatul Jannah and her older brother  were swept away in the waves of the deadly Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004. She clutched a floating plank of wood and was swept out to sea where she eventually landed on the remote Banyak Islands, approx. 200 km. (125 miles) from home.

She was found and eventually taken in by an elderly woman where she proceeded to live for the following 10 years about 130 kms. (80 miles) from her family home. In June she was spotted by a family member, and was reunited with her biological mother, Jamaliah, who recounted the reunion:

“When I first saw her I screamed and held her tight,” Jamaliah said. “I instantly knew she was my daughter because there’s a strong spiritual bond between a mother and her child.”

Furthermore, the 14 year old girl believes that her elder brother, who was also swept out to sea, is still alive and lives on the Banyak Islands. An amazing story of survival and reuniting family!

Fields Medal winner Maryam Mirzakhani

Maryam Mirzakhani. Photo: Stanford University

Iranian Mathematician becomes First Woman to Win Fields Medal.

For the first time in the 78 year history of the Fields Medal, the top prize for mathematics in which up to 4 medals are awarded once every four years, a woman has won. Iranian Maryam Mirzakhani, who now works at Stanford University in the United States, was awarded for her work in geometry of moduli space.

Personally having studied mathematics at the undergraduate level, and witnessing how few women pursue this path, especially at the graduate / post-doctorate level, I was very excited to learn about her accomplishment. I hope this paves the way for more women to study mathematics and science.

Another great part of this story is that President of Iran Hassan Rouhani published a Tweet congratulating Maryam, linking to a photo of her with her head covered, and more importantly, a picture of the mathematician with her head uncovered:

Congrats to #MaryamMirzakhani on becoming the first ever woman to win the #FieldsMedal, making us Iranians very proud pic.twitter.com/oVL98NRdVF

Photo of Maryam Fields Medal

— Hassan Rouhani (@HassanRouhani) August 13, 2014

One can only hope that more women from every region of the world will be inspired to study and have the opportunity to succeed.

Good News Friday III.

Posted by Zak Reid

We’re back for a new dose of some positive stories.

Good News Friday III.

paralyzed1n-3-web

Young Man Moves His Paralyzed Hand.
In keeping to the theme of highlighting a medical advance comes the story of a Ian Burkhart. Ian is a young man who, due to a swimming accident, broke his neck and become paralyzed. He decided to work with Ohio State University on a new technology they were developing and Dr. Ali Rezai installed a small chip in Ian’s brain, in the area responsible for the motor ability and control of his hand. With this chip and sensors they can essentially bypass the damaged part of Ian’s system and allow the brain to communicate directly with his arm. Recently, while conducting a test, Ian was able to move his arm simply by thinking!

water particles

Water Molecules are Affected by Our Thoughts.

There was a famous series of experiments done on water in the 1990’s by Dr. Masaru Emoto. He and his team would either expose to water to positive words / prayers / music, etc., or to negative influences, then they would freeze the water and photography the crystalline structure. It’s a very simple yet powerful example when you see the difference between the “hateful” water crystals and their “loving” counterparts. The positively affected water has a very pleasing shape and structure and you can see a big difference. With the human body made up of 60% water, it really makes one wonder about the influence of positivity / negativity on our own system! You’re awesome.

Fasting for 3 Days can Reset your Immune System.

I’ve never fasted but this is a very interesting story and could be of great help to some people out there. New research has shown that by fasting for three days, the body “flips a regenerative switch” and begins creating new white blood cells. This could be great news for everybody with weak immune systems due to age or sickness. It seems that the more we learn about our body, the more amazing it truly is.

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Young Man Walking 10 Miles in Snow Gets Job.

Great work ethic is still out there! A young man, Jhaqueil Reagan, was trudging through the snow in Indianapolis when he came upon restaurant owner Art Bouvier, and asked for directions. Jhaqueil was heading to a job interview, and when Art indicated that he was still 6 or 7 miles away, he said Ok and kept marching on. The young man didn’t have any money for the bus, so he had left his home 2 hours early in order to assure he would arrive in time for interview.Mr. Bouvier was so taken aback by the young man’s demeanor, determination, and attitude, that he helped the young man to the interview, helped him with money for food, and offered him a job. Obviously Jhaqueil was not expecting any of this, and was taken aback, but is happy, thankful, and now employed.

To summarize: medical advances are leading us closer and closer to overcoming paralysis, our thoughts influence the world around us, our body is more amazing than we knew, and there are heart warming stories everyday that we don’t always hear. Sometimes the noise of the negative overpowers the music of the positive, but let’s keep sharing these great stories to spread hope.

Good News Friday III.

Good News Friday II.

Posted by Zak Reid

Here we go again for round 2. A couple good news clippings to offset all the negative media that is out there. Good news is the best news. Good News Friday II.

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We’re getting pretty good at 3D printing hands.
There are now a plethora of stories of volunteers / teachers / parents using 3D printing technology to create a new hand. A nice prosthetic hand can cost US$ 42,000 while a 3D printed hand may cost US$ 50. What a difference. Here is the story of a 3D printed hand for the 7 year old Frankie pictured above.

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We’re getting closer to inventing a “super jet”.
Virgin Galactic has invested much time in money into leaving the atmosphere for planned space trips. A side benefit of this is that their model the SS2, which travels at approx. 4,200 mph (6,720 kph) at extremely high altitudes, could eventually be modified as a passenger jet which could make the 10,500 mile (16,800 km.) trip from London to Sydney in 2.5 hours! Here is more info and photos of the Virgin Galactic’s SS2 ship.

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Wim Hof the “Iceman” controls his internal temperature.
I only recently found out about Wim Hof or “Iceman” as he’s known. He holds 21 world records including taking the longest ice bath (1:13.48), swimming for 80 m. under North Pole ice, and running a marathon above the polar circle in Finland… again in just shorts, no shoes, no shirt. He also set a record for running a marathon in the scorching Namibian desert without water, and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2 days wearing nothing but sandals and shorts (pictured above). When in the cold he says that he uses his mind to turn his internal thermostat up. It’s amazing what humans are capable of.
For more info, you can visit the Iceman’s page here.

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Man creates dance school for Palestinians and Jewish children.
With so much news about religious fighting and wars, it’s a relief to see a positive story. Pierre Dulaine is a 4 time world champion ballroom dancer, and decided to open a school in Jaffa, Israel where he pairs young Jewish and Palestinian children as dance partners, with oustanding results. By uniting traditional “enemies” under a common cause as children, one hopes he can help unite such a divided world. Read more and watch the trailer for his movie here.

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“Smart glasses” for the seriously visually impared are being tested.
They look like a virtual reality headset, but in reality they’re a special set of computerized glasses designed to help the very visually impaired see. Using cameras, a processor, and lasers, they help convert objects close to the user, into very bright images in front of their eyes. This allows people that have very limited vision be able to see objects such as the faces of their friends, or a flower. Some have even reported seeing their helper dogs for the first time.
For a short video about these glasses, click here.

I wish that the news would talk more about these great, uplifting and positive stories, but since they don’t, we’ll have to keep passing them along by word of mouth. Have a great day!

Good News Friday II.

Good News Friday I.

Posted by Zak Reid

‘And now for something completely different.’

I’m an avid reader of BBC World News, but here’s the thing, a large % of those international stories are somehow related to tragedy – bombings, wars, kidnappings, instability, political tensions, it goes on and on.  Positive news gets drowned among the bad news, so today I wanted to take a moment and reference a couple of good new stories for the Friday edition QuickMeUps. Good News Friday I.

Building a home for others Good News Friday I

Habit for Humanity, Building a Home. Photo: US Consulate General, Chennai

Health:

Health science is ever-evolving, and trying to help us all live as long as we can. Just 100 years ago, about 10% of children born in the USA died within a year [source] Nowadays, less than 1% of all children born in the United States, die within their first year of life! We’ve had amazing medical advances, and they’re still coming:

In case you missed it: last year a young girl was fatally ill from cancer and was close to death. She was injected with a modified HIV virus that acted much in the same way, attacking the cancerous system, reproducing, and continuing the hunt for cancer cells. She is still in remission.

More recently, a woman with a very developed form of blood cancer (myeloma) had tried all treatments and was out of options. She was presented with an alternate solution: to be injected with about “100 billion units of an engineered measles virus (MV-NIS), enough for about 10 million doses of vaccine.” [source] She was out of options and decided to try this alternative treatment, which worked wonders.  After a tough 36 hours post-injection, her tumors began to shrink noticeably, and has been in remission since!

There are 2 known cases of children who have been cured of HIV in the past few years.

The first case happened in Mississippi in 2011 and involved a newborn exposed to HIV. Upon birth, she was immediately injected with high doses of three antiretroviral drugs, and in the years since, has shown no signs of the virus returning [source].

The second child was born last year in California, and based on the success of the Mississippi baby, this child was similarly injected with high doses of the 3 antiretroviral drugs within 4 hours of her birth. 11 days later the virus was undetectable, and an additional 8 months later, it was still undetectable [source].

Oh, also, dogs can detect prostate cancer. *sniff* *sniff*

Technology:

There are all sorts of powerful new technologies being released regularly, and this will continue. From the possibility of a viable, commercial quantum computer to Google’s self driving car, the future is rife with possibilities. Here are a couple of fun ones:

 

 
In Lima, Peru, the University of Engineering and Technology as designed a billboard which cleans the air. Outfitted with a thermodynamic water system and purifying filters, it cleans the air equivalent to approximately 1,200 trees [source].

This same university previously designed a billboard which converted air humidity into clean drinking water in a very arid region in which drinking water is difficult to access [source].

New technologies are showing that magnet levitation (maglev) trains may be able to greatly exceed their current speeds.The Shanghai Maglev Train is currently the fastest and reaches a top speed of 268 miles per hour (431 kmph). By reducing the wind drag in a vacuum tube, a prototype of the super-maglev train has been built by researchers at Southwest Jiaotong University, that could (in theory) reach 1,800 mph! (2,900 kmph) [source]

Lastly in technology, some developers are working to build a $7 USB flash drive that will revolutionize computer access and ownership for developing nations across the world. It’s an 8 GB USB stick called an “Keepod” and while 4 GBs are free for storage of documents, apps, and browsing history, the other 4 GBs contain a Google Android Operating System. This means it can be plugged into any computer with a functional screen, keyboard, and processor, and the computer will boot directly from the Keepod.

This will allow people to use old, gutted, discarded PCs with no Operating System, as if it were their own private computer. It will allow people in internet cafes around the world to use a public computer as their own with a password and private documents. This will allow millions (billions?) of people worldwide to have their own personal computer, with their documents, and will allow the recycling of old currently unusable computers. This is an amazing program that is currently in development – you can read more here and you can donate here.

Random Acts of Kindness:

You may have heard of these ones already, but I thought they were nice to share.

A month ago in Surrey B.C., Canada, it was raining and cold (that’s not the news). There was a barefoot passenger riding the bus, when another man approached him, gave him his shoes, said “don’t worry about me, I live close by” and exited the bus, walking barefoot through the rain. As this story gained publicity and notoriety, the good samaritan wished to remain anonymous. His story went ‘viral’ and he could’ve taken advantage for personal gains, but that wasn’t his goal, he just wanted to help someone else [source].

 

Lastly, a young man was in the elevator at an assisted living facility when the elevator became stuck. There was an elderly woman with him in the elevator who had trouble for standing for extended periods of time, so the young man knelt on all fours, and became a bench for other woman. He was in this ‘bench’ position for approx. 30 minutes while the elevator was repaired, and his friend took a picture uploading it to Facebook where it went viral. His employer College Hunks Moving Junk has since rewarded him with $3,500 for his random act of kindness, with $2,000 designated to pay down his college debt.

Have a great Friday!!