Cleveland, Ohio - On February 17, the girls' basketball team of Gilmour Academy played Northeast Ohio College Prep School. Gilmour won. This was no surprise; Gilmour was #1 in the district and Northeast Ohio was in last place, having won only one of twelve games this season. After the game, Justin Shullick, the director of Northeast Ohio, the losing team, said: “The final score did not result in our favor.” He went on to say that his school was extremely proud of his team. Gilmour’s team was incredibly talented, he said, and he congratulated them on their victory. So what was the final score? 108-1. Gilmour had beaten Northeast by 107 points!
Bob Beutel, coach of Gilmour’s team, was accused by some of running up the score by gaining more points even when he was clearly in the lead. But Bob said he had tried to let the other team score. Three minutes into the game, he said, he had pulled all his best players out and put in the ninth grader substitutes. Still his team kept scoring! Finally he had changed his defense strategy to help Northeast Ohio take more shots. “We allowed them to shoot and they took 28 shots,” said Bob. The problem was that none of those shots made it into the basket! Northeast Ohio also took four foul shots, but only one made it through the hoop. Shortly after this lopsided game, Justin Shullick was fired.
But this score, although crazy, is not the most uneven in girls' basketball history - last year, Arroyo Valley High School crushed Bloomington High 161-2!
Orange County, CA - Matt and Simone Tipton were thrilled when their second baby was born - a sweet little girl! But both parents knew that the coming years would be a struggle. Their new baby, named Scarlette, had a big problem. Her left arm was huge, measuring almost three times the size of her right arm. After many tests, doctors diagnosed Scarlette with a type of cancer so rare that even they had never heard of it before!
Over the next year, Scarlette underwent many surgeries and chemotherapy treatments. Finally, doctors removed her entire left arm. After weeks of recovery, the doctors announced that Scarlette was finally cancer-free! But Scarlette’s struggle is not over yet. Now two years old, she still has a lot of pain and must learn to live with one arm. To help her deal with her pain, Scarlette’s parents wanted to get her a little furry friend she could connect with.
This past December, in a city in California, a little kitten was found with one front leg badly injured. The kitten was taken to an animal hospital where its leg was amputated. After it had recovered, it was put up for adoption. When Scarlette’s parents heard about the kitten, they knew that it was the perfect pet for their little girl. Soon, Scarlette and the kitten, named Doc, met for the first time. "Owies," said Scarlette, pointing to Doc’s scar. "Yes," said her mother. "The kitten is hurting... just like you." The little girl nodded and put her hand on her own scars. Now, one month later, Scarlette and Doc are fast friends and are helping each other be brave as they learn to overcome their disabilities.
Deep in the Arctic, a small Swedish village named Jukkasjarvi is nestled in the snow. During the freezing winters, this place has no daylight. The harsh climate makes this land a difficult place to live. Yet every winter, hundreds of tourists come to this village. What's so special about this place?
Every spring, the village people cut huge blocks of ice from a nearby river and store them in a special building through the summer and fall. When the weather turns bitterly cold again, artists from all over the world come to the village. The blocks of ice come out of the storehouse and are used with snow to build the walls and framework of a hotel. Then the artists get to work. Each one crafts a different room, using ice and snow as their only building materials. When each beautiful room is done, a bed of ice is installed and covered with reindeer hides. A church and a bar, both made of ice, are also built. Finally the ice hotel is opened to the public.
Visitors to the hotel can go on a tour of the icy rooms, join in wintry activities such as dog sledding, ice carving, and skiing, see the northern lights, and eat at the ice hotel's restaurant and bar (even the glasses in the bar are made of ice). Couples can get married in the ice church. Guests are given the choice of sleeping in a room carved of ice, or a warm room in a Swiss cabin. If they choose to sleep in the ice hotel, they are given a warm sleeping bag, and off they go to their room. Though some guests describe the experience as magical, others find it hard to go to sleep - they're too warm with the sleeping bag, and much too cold without it!
Irvine, California - Mary Bailey was stunned. Her son Chase, two years old, had just been diagnosed with autism. Over the next eight years, Mary struggled to give Chase a good education and help him deal with his learning disabilities. Like many autistic children, Chase had trouble with math and language skills and found it hard to understand and remember things. He also had trouble eating, because the smell and look of the food on his plate overwhelmed him. Mary patiently worked with Chase, trying to help him overcome his dislike for food.
Then something happened that changed Chase’s life. When Chase was eleven, his grandfather began to watch cooking shows with him, and when Chase saw the chefs preparing food, he wanted to try it too. So Mary taught him the basics of cooking, and a whole new world opened up to him. As Chase became more confident, he began to dream of having a cooking show himself. Mary decided to make it happen, and with a camcorder, she taped the first episode of Chase’s show “Chase ‘N Yur Face”. Soon Chase began to spice up his show by adding some comedy and inviting celebrity chefs to join him in the kitchen.
Since then, Chase has met many famous people and has learned to love food. Mary homeschools him so he can learn easier, and he has certainly learned a lot in the few years he has been cooking! Chase is now a happy, confident 13-year-old who knows his way around a kitchen and doesn’t shy away from a camera. He has plans to open his own restaurant someday and would also like to be an actor, director, and producer.
On a warm summer evening, you might see a strange sight - a group of people are eating a fancy outdoor dinner while enjoying the beautiful view around them. What's so strange about that? The diners and their food are dangling from a crane!
This is Dinner in the Sky, a dining experience that began when a Belgian man named David Ghysels wanted to give his daughter a grand birthday party. He had the idea of a party in the air, but he didn’t know how it could be done. Then he met Stefan Kerkhoffs, the owner of The Fun Group, a business specializing in extreme attractions. Stefan came up with the idea of a platform dangling from a crane. David and Stefan added a table and installed special seats around it. They left a space in the middle of the platform for a chef and a few servers, and their restaurant was ready to take off. Since then, Dinner in the Sky has visited many countries, treating hundreds of guests to fine food and lovely views. The guests arrive in limousines at the launch site. After everybody is strapped into their seats, the crane hoists the platform 180 feet into the air! Once the table has stopped moving, a four course dinner is served, prepared by a famous chef from that country. Of course, this all comes with a high price tag: Dinner in the Sky can cost up to $500 per person. Another problem is that there is no bathroom on board. Guests are “strongly encouraged” to use the bathroom before they go up - if they don’t, they’ll just have to wait until their dinner comes back down to earth!
On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Louisiana, completely flooding and destroying the city. Though many people had evacuated, thousands more were trapped in their homes. Rescuers were rushed to the scene, and over the next few weeks they worked to save the people stranded in New Orleans. Mike Maroney, an Air Force sergeant, was one of those rescuers. On his 7th day in New Orleans, Mike rescued a family with several children. As he unloaded them at an airport, one of the little girls wrapped her arms around him. A photographer happened to be there, and snapped a photo of the hug. The family was flown out of New Orleans, and Mike continued his work. But he never forgot that moment.
Years passed, and Mike still thought of the girl who had given him that special hug. He wanted to meet her again and tell her how much it had meant to him. He tried to search for her, but all he had was a picture - not even a name! He put the picture online and hoped that someone would recognize her. Finally he got his answer: The girl’s name was LeShay Brown, and she lived in Mississippi. Mike was very excited. After a phone call, the two made plans to meet. On September 15, Mike and LeShay (now 13 and taller than Mike) finally reunited. Mike was overjoyed at seeing her again. "You helped me through a dark time," he said. "You rescued me more than I rescued you." Mike plans to keep in touch with LeShay - now that he finally found her, he won’t lose her again!
Every year, more things are invented that make our lives easier. And not all are invented by grown-ups... read on!
IRVING, CA - Kenneth Shinozuka’s grandfather, Deming, has Alzheimer’s, a disease of the brain. Deming often wanders at night. Once, the police found him near a busy road in his pajamas! When Kenneth was 15, he came up with an idea: he invented a thin sensor that he placed on the bottom of Deming’s sock. When weight is put on the foot, the sensor sends an alert to a caregiver's smartphone. Deming used the sensor for 6 months and it was able to detect all 437 times he started to wander! Kenneth's sensor is now being used to help others with Alzheimer’s.
MONTREAL, CANADA - When Anya Pogharian, 17, was assigned a science project for school, she remembered her time spent volunteering at a hospital dialysis unit. When people’s kidneys are not working properly, they need dialysis treatments to clean their blood. These are often done by big machines costing around $30,000. Anya was able to make a machine that cost only $500 and was a lot smaller. Anya's machine filtered about 4 quarts of blood in only 25 minutes; she had thought it would take 2 ½ hours! Anya hopes to have the new dialysis machines ready for sale in a couple of years.
ROCHESTER, MN - While working on a school science project, Ethan Manuell, 14, made a very important discovery: Exposing hearing aid batteries to air for 5 minutes before use can extend their life by as much as 80%! Ethan has won several awards for his discovery.
Xavier Elliot, 10, knows how it feels to be homeless. When his father, an Iraqi War veteran, came back to the US, he struggled to provide for his family. Xavier and his family lived in six different shelters before they were able to get a house. So when Xavier saw his mom making a purse on her sewing machine, he had an idea. He could buy sewing supplies with his pocket money and make clothes for the homeless! When Stephanie, Xavier’s mom, heard his plan, she was touched by his concern and decided to help him. She began teaching him how to sew and asked for donations of fabric and sewing supplies. Soon the donations began to come in... material, pins & needles, zippers, snaps, even money for a new sewing machine. Xavier is now learning how to make clothes and hopes to encourage others to help too.
Miles away, in Bremerton, Washington, a nine-year-old girl is also spending her free time helping the homeless. Hailey Fort was just five when she saw a homeless man on the street and asked her mom to buy him a sandwich. A year later, Hailey decided to plant a garden so she could feed more people. But homeless people need shelter as well as food. Hailey told her parents that she wanted to build a small mobile sleeping shelter for one of her friends, a homeless man named Edward. Hailey’s mom applied for a grant to fund the project, and soon the building began. (Hailey also received many donations which she used to expand her garden and buy building materials.) With the help of her mom, Hailey built the entire shelter herself, finally finishing it off with a few coats of paint. Hailey wants to build 11 more shelters with the funds she has, and give away 250 pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables from her garden this year.
Last month, on June 6, a jockey named Victor Espinoza came tearing up the final stretch of the Belmont Stakes, atop a champion racehorse named American Pharoah. As the crowd roared, the horse raced ahead of its competitors, lengthening its lead before it swept across the finish line. Victor Espinoza stood up in the saddle and thrust his arm in the air, celebrating his victory - a Triple Crown!
Every year, the best racehorses in the United States compete in three main races - the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes. If the same horse wins all three races, the victory is called a Triple Crown. No horse had won the Triple Crown since 1978. That was 37 years ago! But now American Pharoah had claimed the Crown, becoming only the 12th horse in history to do so!
Famous races such as the Kentucky Derby have large cash prizes, and horses can win millions of dollars in prize money. American Pharoah’s winnings amounted to $2.4 million after winning the Triple Crown. The prize money is divided between the horse's owner, the trainer, the jockey, and several others. The jockey often gets 10% of the winnings. But Espinoza didn’t get any money from this race. Why not?
Many years ago, Espinoza visited a cancer hospital called City of Hope. There he saw children suffering from cancer. Ever since then, he has donated 10% of his earnings to City of Hope. But in the greatest victory of his career, Espinoza wanted to give more than 10 percent of the money - in fact, he wanted to give it all. So Espinoza donated his entire earnings - an estimated $54,000 - to City of Hope. When asked why he did it, Espinoza replied, ”Nobody tells me to give the money. I do it for my heart.”
Josiah Duncan, a five-year-old from Prattville, Alabama, was happy to be eating out with his mother one evening earlier this year. But as they ate in the Waffle House restaurant, Josiah noticed a man in dirty clothes, standing outside, holding a bag. Curious, he asked his mom, Ava Faulk, what the man was doing. Ava explained that the man was homeless. “What does that mean?” Josiah asked. “It means he doesn't have a house,” Ava replied. But Josiah wasn’t satisfied. "Where is his family? Where does he keep his groceries?” he questioned his mom. When Josiah heard that the man didn’t have any food, he was shocked and asked his mom to buy the man dinner, which she quickly agreed to do.
When the homeless man came inside and sat down, Josiah saw that no one was waiting on him. Jumping up, he hurried over to get the man a menu. The man wanted to order the cheapest thing he could, but Ava convinced him he could get as much as he wanted. When the man’s food came out, Josiah wanted to do one more thing for the man. As eleven other customers and Ava watched, Josiah sang a simple blessing over the food: “God our Father, God our Father, we thank You, we thank You, for our many blessings, for our many blessings, Amen, Amen.” When Josiah finished, the homeless man - as well as everyone else - was in tears.
The man finished eating and left. Ava never saw him again, but she doubts the man will ever forget her little boy or the kindness he showed to a homeless stranger.