MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MD - A garbage truck drives slowly down the street, then pulls to a stop. Out steps the driver, a friendly-faced man in his late 50's. But wait. He is not just here to pick up garbage. He is giving something to a homeless man curled up under a blanket, trying to keep warm.
This friendly sanitation truck driver is Arnold Harvey. And his is a well-known name among those down on their luck. To them, Arnold is heaven-sent. He provides them with food, clothes, blankets, even tents - whatever he can to help them. And more than that, he provides them with hope... and love. A simple smile, a hug, a few moments of his time. To these veterans of the street, this is no small thing.
So how did all this come about? Well, it started nearly ten years ago, when Arnold was out on his route as usual. He stopped in one alley to pick up the trash and found a family hunkered down there for the night. Arnold began noticing how many people were homeless or struggling. He knew what it was like to go through hard times. One of 12 children, he had grown up in the worst part of Kansas City, MO. He joined the Army as a young man, later settling down, marrying, and raising five children.
Arnold talked things over with his wife and they knew that they had to do something even if it was small. They started collecting coats and blankets, and handing out sandwiches. It grew from there. Today they run their own nonprofit called God's Connection Transition, and help feed over 5,000 families a month! They also supply clothes, shoes, and other necessities to those in need, and offer classes in skills and job training, which can help lead to better job opportunities.
He might be a garbage man at first glance, but the truth...? He's a hero with a different sort of truck.
VIENNA, VA - Eric Heffelmire had removed a wheel from his truck and was working underneath it, trying to fix some brake lines, when everything started to go wrong. First, the jack that his truck had been on shifted and Eric found himself pinned under the vehicle. Then some gasoline started leaking out around him. But when the leaked gas caught on fire, Eric knew he was in trouble. He tried to struggle free, but it was no use.
Suddenly, into the burning garage rushed his 19-year-old daughter, Charlotte - barefoot, five-foot-six, and weighing only 120 pounds. An Air Force Academy student, she happened to be home for Thanksgiving break. Somehow she managed to not only lift the truck off of her father and drag him to safety, but to also then get into the truck - still on fire - and drive it, on only three wheels, out of the garage and away from the house. She then closed the garage doors to contain the fire, went inside the house to round up her grandmother and 3-month-old niece, got them safely out, and called 911. Then, while waiting for the fire trucks to arrive, she grabbed a nearby hose and began spraying down the house.
Charlotte suffered burns to her hands and feet, but is recovering. She was presented with a Citizen Lifesaving Award on January 7, by the Fairfax County fire department and Rep. Jim Moran. Charlotte doesn't think that she deserves it. "I just did what I had to do, so I don't feel like a big hero or anything," she said. Understandably, there are many people who disagree.
Charlotte's injuries, including one to her back, may keep her from returning to the Air Force Academy, but she still plans on taking a public service job. Whatever she decides to do, I'm sure someone will be happy to employ her! But for now: "I'm just healing up and making sure the family is okay," she said.
Gang violence claims countless lives every year, both in Chicago and around the country. Senseless black-on-black killing has continued to spread unchecked while the media focuses their attention on other "racially-motivated" crimes. Do black lives only matter when they have been taken by someone of another color?
Zaevion Dobson, 15, was spending an evening with some family and friends in the neighborhood where he lived on December 17. The group of young people sat on the porch and talked, making plans for the upcoming holidays. Zae, as he was known by his friends, was a sophomore at Fulton High School in Knoxville, TN, and a member of the football team. His coach described him as "a guy that made the right choices that gave him a chance to be successful."
The same could not be said of another young man living in that area - Brandon Perry. Earlier that evening, someone had driven by Perry's house, firing shots which wounded Perry's mother. Perry set out on a mission of revenge. Picking a random area in the neighborhood, he opened fire. It was the place where Zae and his friends had gathered for the night. As soon as the shooting started, Zae, using his body as a human shield, quickly moved to cover three girls standing there. None of the girls were injured. Zae was not so fortunate. Perry's senseless act of "revenge" claimed Zae's life - that of an innocent young man not even connected with any gang. Perry quickly drove away, but less than 4 hours later, he was also dead - shot by members of a rival gang. Two suspects were later taken into custody.
How long until enough is enough? Zae was a bright young man full of potential who willingly gave his life to protect others. His is a name we need to see plastered on every headline around the nation. His was a life that mattered.
I'm sure you probably have heard by now of the tragic events that happened this past month in Paris, France. Over a hundred people were killed and many more were wounded. But had it not been for the brave actions of some, many more lives might have been lost. Here are some of these heroes' stories.
A man who identified himself only as "Sebastien", rescued a pregnant woman clinging onto a window sill of the Bataclan Theater after trying to escape through a window. Both the woman and Sebastien survived.
Michael O'Connor was also at the Bataclan Theater that evening with his girlfriend. He lay on top of her on the floor, shielding her from the bullets flying all around. By lying still and pretending to be dead, both he and his girlfriend were able to survive.
Another woman was saved in a similar manner by a total stranger, a man known only as "Bruno". He hid her under some chairs and protected her by shielding her with his body.
Ludovic Boumbas was celebrating a friend's birthday at the La Belle Equipe Cafe when one of the terrorists opened fire. Ludovic threw himself in front of a woman there, taking a bullet for her. Both Ludovic and his friend were killed, but the woman he protected survived.
Another hero there that day was a former French marine, Eric Doninichetti. He pushed his girlfriend to the floor when the shooting started, then dragged her behind the bar where she was protected from the spray of bullets. After making sure she was safe, Eric went to help the wounded until medics arrived.
Many people saved lives that day, but the brave guards outside the Stade de France saved hundreds if not more. Three different terrorists tried unsuccessfully to get into the stadium where tens of thousands of people were gathered to watch a friendly match between France and Germany. Foiled by the security guards, all three blew themselves up outside the stadium walls. Only one civilian was killed in these three suicide bomb attacks.
MORTON, Illinois - James Vernon, a 75-year-old army veteran, was spending some quality time on the afternoon of October 14, teaching chess at the local library to a group of 16 children ranging in age from 7 - 13. Suddenly, a young man named Dustin Brown burst into the room, wielding a knife in each hand. The crazed 19-year-old brandished his knives and yelled, "I'm going to kill some people!" James immediately put himself between Brown and the children, who quickly hid themselves underneath the tables. James tried talking some sense into the young man and getting him to calm down. But Brown was not to be deterred in his horrible plans.
James motioned to the children to escape while he distracted Brown. His plan worked; all the children were able to get safely out of the room. That left only James and the knife-wielder. Brown slashed at James' arms and wrists. He managed to cut him pretty badly, but James did not give up. Using his larger size to his advantage, James was able to grab Brown and take him down to the ground. He punched him in the collarbone, causing the knife to drop out of his hand.
James was bleeding pretty badly, but he continued to hold Brown down - with some help from a library employee - until police and paramedics arrived. Brown was arrested, and is now being held on multiple charges. In a statement to police two days later, he said, "I failed my mission to kill everyone."
James' injuries included two cut arteries and a slashed tendon on his left hand, but he is recovering well. His thoughts when he had first seen Brown enter the room were: “This can’t happen here and I’m not going to let it happen. These kids are my responsibility right now.” And thanks to his heroic actions, it didn't happen.
EAGLE, ID - David Finlayson was enjoying a backpacking trip with his 13-year-old son, Charlie, when suddenly everything went south. The two were scouting a climbing route when a boulder rolled off the mountainside and knocked David off his feet. He fell, tumbling 20 to 30 feet down the side of the mountain. This knocked him out, but amazingly didn't kill him.
Charlie rushed over to his father. The fall had left David with a broken back, left arm, left heel and a foot-long gash on his shin. Though scared, Charlie knew that he had to do something. Their camp - a mile away - was another 13 miles from the nearest ranger station where they might be able to summon help. And they were in the middle of a 12-day trip, so they would not be missed anytime soon.
Using the first-aid kit that they had brought with them, Charlie disinfected and bandaged his father's wounds as best he could. Then he ran the mile back to camp to fetch blankets and sleeping bags. The next morning, they began the slow slog through the boulder field. Even with Charlie's help, it took David hours to crawl through the rocks to get back to the lake.
Charlie searched the nearby trails and camps in hopes of enlisting help, but found no one. Finally on the third day after the accident, Charlie had to make the difficult decision of leaving his dad and hiking the 12 or so miles back for help. Three miles out, he ran into two men from his hometown. They went back to stay with David. Farther on, he ran across more hikers. One man ran the last 8 miles ahead. A helicopter was called in to airlift David to a nearby hospital.
Though still in a bit of pain, David is slowly getting better. He is very thankful for the actions of his brave, quick-thinking son. David and Charlie are already planning their next adventure together. The destination this time? The beach.
Recent news articles highlight the dangers faced in the Middle East. Many lives have been lost in the fight against terrorism. But sometimes heros stand up and things change...
In a little village on the border between Turkey and Syria, ISIS terrorists were holding a "trial" in front of an audience of locals forced to attend. ISIS officials were targeting anyone belonging to the Shia sect of Islam, which ISIS counts as a cult. An Iraqi spy saw and reported the situation to a British Special Forces (SAS) unit patrolling in that area. The team conferred together. An air strike would most likely kill innocent bystanders. The team decided on another plan of action.
They moved into position just outside the village. Looking through binoculars, they saw a disturbing scene. ISIS thugs had blindfolded and tied up a man and his young son. Dead bodies lay in the dust around them. One of the terrorists pulled out a long knife. The sniper on the SAS team took careful aim. He pulled the trigger and the man with the knife dropped dead. Two more well-aimed shots, and the two ISIS guards armed with AK-47s met the same fate - three shots from 1,000 meters away, and three kills! The rest of the terrorists stared in disbelief. Then they turned tail and fled. The villagers quickly freed the father and son. No terrorists have dared set foot in the area since.
On a train in France, a young Moroccan stepped out of a bathroom with a gun and opened fire. He wounded several people, but didn't kill anyone. That's because two US servicemen, Alek Skarlatos, (Oregon National Guard), and Spencer Stone (Air Force) were riding that same train on a vacation trip through Europe with a friend, also American. Together they were able to subdue the terrorist and tie him up. After the train stopped, the man was taken into custody, his murderous plans foiled.
MIDLOTHIAN, TX - Daniel Gaskey, a former Marine, has been a firefighter with the Mansfield Fire Department for a year now. Daniel stays busy when he's on-duty. But even some off-duty days can be rather eventful...
Daniel was waiting in line at a local convenience store this past month, when a man entered the store. But this man had no intention of buying anything. He shoved Daniel aside and pulled out a knife, threatening the cashier. That didn't last long. Daniel grabbed the would-be robber in a chokehold, took him down to the ground, and disarmed him. He then continued to keep him pinned down until police arrived and took the man into custody. The whole thing was caught on the store video cameras. This was one bad guy that didn't stand a chance!
ALBUQUERQUE, NM - Ana Dean, a 61-year-old grandmother, had her late husband's truck stolen from her this past month. Determined to get the truck back, she set off in her car to see what she could find. Guess who she saw driving right past her? It was a man in the stolen truck! Ana saw the truck pull into a driveway. The man got out and went into a house. Ana pulled into the driveway behind the truck, blocking the exit. Then she locked her doors and called 911.
The man and a woman soon came out of the house. They started the truck and motioned for Ana to move her car. She refused. Then they came over and started yelling and pounding on her windows. Just as they got back in the truck and were preparing to ram Ana's car, the police showed up. The man, Jasen Mulvaney, was arrested, and is now being charged with receiving or transferring a stolen motor vehicle.
Ana might be a grandmother, but she's one tough lady!
PORTLAND, Maine - State Trooper Doug Cropper was driving along on Interstate 295 when a car sped past, going 15 over the speed limit. Cropper pulled the driver over and proceeded to write him out a ticket. But on walking back to the car to give the ticket to the driver, he found the man unresponsive. His head was tilted back and his mouth was open. First, thinking that the man might have fallen asleep, Doug tried to get a response by talking loudly and calling him by name, "Jay, Jay! Look at me, Jay!" After still not receiving a response, Doug dragged the man from the vehicle and started to perform CPR.
Emergency room nurse Leon Chick happened to be driving by and, noticing the trouble, pulled over to help. Together they were able to regain a pulse from the lifeless man. Finally, Portland rescue workers arrived and administered the heroin-effect-reversal drug Narcan. Jay then recovered enough to be able to walk on his own. He was taken to a local hospital, where it was found that this was the second time he had overdosed in the past week. He said he needed a kick in the head. "This is the kick you get," Cropper told him.
So far, the man has not been charged with anything besides a traffic violation. Cropper is thankful that he pulled the man over when he did. "Who knows how much farther along the road he would have gone... driving off the road and killing himself - or even worse, crashing into someone else, some innocent person going to work?" Cropper said.
Cropper does not consider his actions to be heroic, but he definitely saved at least one life that day.
Jack Mook, who has been on the Pittsburgh police force for over 22 years, is not someone you would want to mess with; the no-nonsense detective is known as being something of a tough guy. A lifelong bachelor, Mook spends much of his free time training underprivileged youngsters at the Steel City Boxing gym, a nonprofit organization that helps kids receive mentoring. One of those kids was 9-year-old Joshua.
Joshua began working out at the gym regularly and Mook became Joshua’s trainer. The two bonded. Joshua and his little brother, Jessee, had never known an easy life. Growing up in extreme poverty, they had been transferred to foster care with relatives after their parents, who struggled with drug abuse, had lost custody of them.
Then Joshua stopped showing up at the gym. Mook's detective instincts told him something was very wrong. He tracked Joshua down and was disturbed by what he saw. Joshua was flea-bitten and malnourished, and looked very much neglected. When Mook asked Joshua what was wrong, Joshua began to cry as he told him of the abuse that he and his brother had to live under. "He said, 'Coach, we have to sleep on the floor and there’s nothing but dog feces on the floor,' " Mook recalled. "Hang in there," Mook told him. "Protect your little brother, and let me work on some things."
Mook decided to take the boys in himself - first as a foster parent, and then for good when he legally adopted the boys several years later. "I never expected to be a father," said Mook. "But God had a plan and blessed me. And what did I gain out of this? Two best friends."
As for the boys, they have never been happier. "I'm very happy," Jessee said. "His house is clean, he has great rules, and I know he's going to make me a better man in life."