Good News Blog

Kids & Teens

Friday, May. 16, 2008

Toddler rescued from pool

A two-year old girl is back home after nearly drowning in a backyard pool.

She survived, thanks to her 6-year-old sister and the fast response of police and fire crews.

2-year old Gwenevere, her 6-year old sister and 4-year old brother were playing outside, when their father went inside to check on a pizza.

He heard his son screaming, ran back outside, and saw his 6-year old daughter pulling her sister out of the pool.

His wife called 911, and a Broken Arrow police officer arrived 93 seconds later.

Officer Chris Walker didn’t feel a pulse, and started to perform CPR on the little girl.

She was taken to the hospital where she recovered.

The family considers Officer Walker a hero; he says the girl’s 6-year old sister is the real hero.

Thursday, May. 15, 2008

Children saved in sea rescue

FOUR people have been praised after they saved two children from drowning.

Two unnamed men dived into Haverigg Lagoon to help a 12-year-old girl and 13-year-old boy.

The children, from Millom, got into difficulties swimming 100 metres off the coast.

Two police officers, PC Rachel Brown and PC Ben Strain, swam out to help in the rescue, which unfolded at 6pm on Sunday.

The actions of the officers have been commended by Cumbria Constabulary.

Sergeant Rachel Jones said: “This was a near tragedy, which was only averted by the presence of mind of witnesses and the bravery of the local people and police officers who swam to the aid of the children.

“I am delighted there is a happy ending to this situation, but it should act as a warning to parents to remain vigilant as the warm weather sets in, and to remind children of the dangers associated with playing in water.”

Two members of Millom coastguard also attended.

John Whitford, station officer at Millom Inshore Rescue, said: “If it wasn’t for the actions of the people on the scene it could have been a lot worse. The police officers were exceptional.

“We were alerted to the scene and were there within five minutes, the police were already on the scene. We were just concentrating on keeping the children calm and keeping them warm. We used a special blanket and talked to them until the ambulance arrived, we had the girl on oxygen at one point and treated them both for shock.

“Some of the guys with boats on the lagoon offered to come and help but the children were out of the water when we arrived.

The children were taken to Furness General Hospital as a precaution.

Teen’s selfless, thougthful actions garner Tim Duncan Character award

Patty Cuevas thought she was in trouble when her teacher said she wanted to talk before the start of her third-period class. Patty, a freshman at Roosevelt High School, met her teacher outside of the Northeast Side building, her nerves on edge. She relaxed when the teacher wanted to talk about her next year as a Cavaliers cheerleader.

When they walked through the door into her applied sciences class, her fellow students erupted with a cheer of “Surprise!”

Patty covered her open mouth with her hand, eyes wide as barrel tops, as classmates, teachers and parents swallowed her up with hugs and pats on the back.

The crowd had gathered to celebrate Patty’s honor as a recipient of the Tim Duncan Character Award for helping her friend Penny Cullins become an honorary pep squad member.

Patty’s teacher, Leslie Philbrick, submitted her name to the Spurs organization in October. She received word Friday that Patty was one of a number of students selected for the award.

“She was so caught off guard,” Philbrick said, fighting back tears as Patty’s parents, Guadalupe and Jesse Gomez, congratulated her. “She didn’t think what she did was special.”

Patty, 16, a pep squad member, flashed a smile — displaying a full set of braces. Her smile grew bigger as Philbrick loaded her arms with a T-shirt, planner and notebook bearing Duncan’s name and image.

Duncan’s foundation and the Spurs have chosen 3,000 area students who embody outstanding character traits each year since 2002. Teachers nominate students for the award.

As Philbrick cut a large, chocolate cake, the two girls leaned against one another.

Patty befriended Penny, 15, who has limited physical disabilities, in their English class. She had little tolerance for a few of her classmates who looked at her friend “weird” or made fun of her. That wasn’t what her mother taught her about how to treat people.

So Patty followed her mom’s lessons, bringing her new friend into her circle. She learned that Penny loved the Cavaliers’ routines and told Philbrick she was going to teach Penny to become a cheerleader.

During class, Patty could be heard teaching Penny dance moves and cheers in the hallway. Penny sat in the stands for football games, until the last game. That’s when she stood on the sidelines beside Patty, running through the moves her friend taught her.

“She’s extraordinary,” Patty said of Penny. “She’s a very extraordinary girl.”

When Philbrick asked the students to write an essay and name a teacher, parent, guardian or student they thought was an extraordinary individual, Penny returned the compliment.

She penned Patty’s name in the block reserved for extraordinary student.

Wednesday, May. 14, 2008

16-year-old rescues man from explosion

Deon Garrett did not wait for emergency workers to arrive Monday May 6 before he helped rescue a man from a house on Detroit’s west side that had just exploded.

The 16-year-old heard the blast and ran from his nearby home to see a man whose leg was on fire standing on a second-floor balcony.

“I could see something in his eyes that he was scared for his life,” Deon said.

The man was one of two injured in the explosion about 8 p.m. at 1507 Lee Place near Rosa Parks Boulevard. Capt. Steve Varnas, of the Detroit Fire Department’s Arson Section, said the cause of the blast was unknown, although neighbors said a man could be seen lighting a cigarette at the house just before the blast.

Varnas said the house was supposed to have been vacant since December. He identified the two men as Edward Hardwick, 31, and James Herrell, 52. Both were taken to Detroit Receiving Hospital. Their conditions were not available.

The house was between two other vacant houses. At least one of those other houses also suffered damage from the explosion, Varnas said.

When firefighters arrived, they found one of the men lying in the street.

It was unclear which man Deon rescued.

The Northwestern High School student said when he spotted the man on the balcony, he climbed up the side of the house and grabbed the man’s arm, pulling him to the ground.

The man “was just screaming for his life,” Deon said. “He was in shock so I was in shock, too.”

9-year-old girl honored as a hero

She is only 9 years old, but a third-grader from Oceano is being called a hero.

Lily Hawkins was home sick from school on April 24 when her dad had a seizure. Lily called 911 and stayed on the line with dispatchers until help arrived.

Tuesday, Lily was honored by the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors for her bravery.

She received a medal and a “911 for Kids” T-shirt. Next Monday, she and her family will travel to Sacramento for a similar ceremony.

As for her dad, Action News is told he is out of the hospital.

The doctor said, You’ve got an angel

Spend an hour or so with R. J. Gawel and the following might happen:

• He’ll embrace you in a bear hug, or a kiss, if he feels so inclined.

• On his Dynavox, an electronic communication device, he’ll ask, over and over: “Do you want to dance?”

• Look away for a moment and he’ll snitch your cell phone.

That’s the mischievous nature of the 13-year-old, who spends much of his day smiling and laughing and doing his darnedest to get others to do the same.

“R. J. is always the most popular kid in school,” said his father, Bob.

With his happy demeanor, though, come other traits.

His parents noticed the differences when he was an infant and failed to crawl or sit as expected. “He just wasn’t hitting the typical milestones,” said Gawel. “At first, doctors said that he was developmentally delayed, that potentially by the time he was in kindergarten all of this would be behind us.”

Instead, R. J. got further behind, and they still didn’t know why.

Finally, they met Dr. Luther Robinson at Women and Children’s Hospital, who had been doing some fortuitous research. He took one look at 3-year-old R. J. and said: “You’ve got an angel.”

Robinson wasn’t describing the boy’s behavior. He was telling his parents, Bob and his former wife, Mary, that the boy has the very rare Angelman Syndrome. That diagnosis placed R. J. in the company of fewer than 2,000 in the United States, with only six families within driving distance of his Hamburg home.

Robinson recognized R. J.’s characteristic behaviors, just as English physician Harry Angelman had done in 1965 when he observed three of his young patients. Until then, the ataxic gait, unsteady balance, outstretched hands, had earned the name the “Puppet Children” disease, but it was renamed Angelman Syndrome.

It is caused by a deleted region on Chromosome 15, according to information on the Web site of the Angelman Syndrome Foundation.

Getting that diagnosis brought a degree of relief to the family, which also includes, Shannon, 18, R. J.’s sister.

It explained why the boy flaps his arms when he’s excited, walks with a lurching gait, is unable to speak and appears to be in a happy state much of the time.

Before the diagnosis, the Gawels weren’t sure how to proceed because they weren’t sure what they were dealing with, they said.

Finally, they could put a name to the rare condition and begin to come to terms with the care that R. J. will need for the rest of his life.

“We know he’ll never speak,” said Gawel. “He doesn’t have any words. To this day he can only say ‘mama,’ which he says for just about everything. And because of his fine motor skills, he can’t sign.

“His functioning level is about [age] 2 1/2 and he can understand about as well as a 5- year-old, but he really doesn’t understand the concepts of danger and strangers.”

R. J. attends a BOCES class at Holland Middle School, where he works on communication skills and learns various tasks. Each week, he spends a few hours with Joe Miner, a life skills trainer for Heritage Centers, who sometimes runs around the neighborhood behind R. J. on his specially designed bike.

Because Angelmans is not well known, the Gawels want to raise money for research as well as raising awareness about the condition. Gawel understands why people may not know how to react. “You see this big kid rushing up to you,” he said. “You don’t know it, but all he wants is a high five.”

And they want doctors to be clued in, too, because it’s been undiagnosed or misdiagnosed as cerebral palsy or autism.

“It’s a pretty complex syndrome,” said Mary Gawel, a former surgical nurse who now works for People, Inc.

For the first time, there will be a local walk-a-thon to benefit the Angelman Syndrome Foundation. It begins with 8 a. m. registration (walk at 9 a. m.) Sat urday at the Casino in Chestnut Ridge Park. The two-mile walk is being held in conjunction with walks in 18 other cities.

“It’s the first year I’ve been brave enough to take on a walk here,” said Gawel, who is manager of Harlequin Sales Corp.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have the big draw of having a celebrity child, someone like Jim Kelly for Crabbe’s disease.” In fact, actor Colin Farrell disclosed last October that his 4- year-old son has Angelmans.

The Gawels say they want to get the word out about Angelmans, so they can both learn from and help other parents. Bob Gawel is particularly pleased that he helped a mother get a diagnosis for her daughter, who is 34.

Besides creating a bond with others, they can trade information on what is most effective for the various ailments that often accompany Angelmans.

R. J., for one, takes medication for migraine headaches, cyclic vomiting, reflux, constipation, sleep, all disorders that can be part of the Angelmans package, his mother said.

If there is a bright side to the angels — and it’s clear that R. J. is a bright spot to his family — it’s the characteristicly happy disposition.

“They will do anything to make themselves laugh,” said Gawel. “R. J. will pretend he’s going to kiss you, but instead will lick your face and think it’s the funniest thing he’s ever seen. He lives for getting reactions out of others.”

Thursday, May. 8, 2008

Miracle: A Story Of Healing

Tyrone Hickman II, 14, said he was healed of a serious disease because of his family’s faith in God.

“Trust in his word and just do what you got to do,” Hickman said.

Tyrone’s amazing story began before he was born. Pat and Tyrone Hickman decided not to have more children after their first child, 19-year-old Tyrah was born with sickle cell anemia.

Despite their plans, Tyrone was born five years later.

The elder Tyrone Hickman has a rare form of the disease that’s hard to detect called sickle cell thalassemia.

“It wasn’t until we had our first baby, we discovered he had the trait,” Pat Hickman said.

Sickle cell anemia is a condition in which red blood cells are sickle-shaped instead of smooth and round. The cells are stiff and clumpy and get stuck in blood vessels. Clumps of sickle cells can block the flow of blood to limbs and organs causing plain, serious infections and organ damage.

The Hicksmans are members of New Horizon church. They asked their pastor, Bishop Ronnie Crudup, to pray for healing for their unborn child.

“At the altar, he laid hands on me, on my stomach,” Pat Hickman said. “I can remember standing there and as he prayed it was if I went into a zone. I could hear I could actually hear this inner voice speaking to me. Saying he’s healed as the pastor was praying.”

The Hickmans said their pastor’s teachings about faith encouraged them.

“He turned out to be a healthy baby. He was hardly ever sick,” Pat Hickman said.

Seven years later, the Hickmans welcomed another surprise: a boy named Tyler.

“Forty years old and there I was, pregnant with another baby,” Pat Hickman said.

Then when Tyrone Hickman II was 11 years old, he had a stroke. Doctors determined that he was born with the same sickle cell trait as his father. Doctors recommended blood transfusions. The Hickmans decided against it.

The only other option was a bone marrow transplant. Their doctor reminded them about the blood saved when Tyler was born five years earlier.

“The doctor suggested we do cord blood collection and store his blood in case we ever want to do a bone marrow transplant for one of our children,” Pat Hickman said. “They could only store the blood for five years.”

Tyler Hickman was already 5 years old and the blood was nearing the end of its usefulness.

The Hickmans said they sought counseling from their pastor.

“He said God heals in different ways, this could be your healing,” Pat Hickman said.

At a Sunday service, the entire congregation prayed for Tyrone. Then he went into the hospital for 30 days to undergo chemotherapy and then the bone marrow transplant.

“Every morning at the hospital we would start off with prayer service,” Pat Hickman said. “Even though (Tyrone Hickman II) didn’t feel like it he would participate.”

After his hospital stay and 100 days of isolation to avoid infection, tests showed Tyrone Hickman II was cured.

“God had already spoken that Tyrone was going to be healed,” Pat Hickman said. “I didn’t know how he was going to do it. God knew and he knew Tyler had to be a part of that plan.”

Bishop Crudup is convinced Tyrone Hickman II’s healing is a miracle.

“It is an intervention typically of God into the affairs of men,” Crudup said.

A God who Tyrone Hickman II believes orchestrated amazing circumstances to heal him.

Wednesday, May. 7, 2008

Seven-year-old medical miracle

He’s a medical miracle. A local seven-year-old boy was dead for at least 12 minutes, but you would never be able to tell.

“I asked for a donut when I had heart surgery,” Cameron Knowles said nonchalantly. Cameron suffered a devastating heart condition on March 26th.

He’s not shy to show off the scar that covers most of his body. “Big scar,” exclaimed Cameron as he lifted up his shirt. “Woo hooo!”

The first grader is full of energy, but Cameron wasn’t so lively the morning of March 26th. “It was horrible,” said father Mark Knowles. “It’s a nightmare that we’re living over and over again every time we go to bed at night.”

Cameron’s parents Mark and Rebecca Knowles still aren’t sleeping at night. “I went him to check him, and he was gone,” said Mark with tears welling up in his eyes.

His son had suffered sudden cardiac arrest. “I reached down to feel a pulse, and I couldn’t find it,” Mark added. He screamed for Rebecca. She couldn’t find a pulse either.

Both have careers in the medical field. Mark is an EMT and dispatcher with Ridge Road Fire District. Rebecca works for a cardiologist. She immediately started CPR.

“Anything after five minutes and you start to lose significant brain function,” Rebecca said. Even if her son recovered, she knew the outlook wasn’t good. Cameron had been dead for at least 12 minutes. No one knew Cameron had Long QT syndrome. It’s a heart rhythm disorder that can cause sudden death.

“It can happen to anybody, and it can happen to any child,” warned Rebecca. “It’s more than a miracle,” Mark said of his son’s complete recovery. “He’s here for a reason.”

Friday afternoon, Cameron’s classmates at Holmes Road Elementary School honored him in their “Jump Rope for Heart” program. The kids raised $10,000 for the American Heart Association. “They made me better,” said Cameron of his classmates. Because of their encouragement, the quick response by his parents, first responders and doctors – Cameron is alive.

“I thank everybody,” Cameron said. And we found out this medical miracle also has a lucky lady. Her name is Katana Noble. We asked how long they’ve been dating. “Ten years,” exclaimed Cameron. “But you’re only seven,” said reporter Nikki Rudd. “I don’t care!” was Cameron’s smiling response. Katana later told us they’ve actually been dating for five years.

“We play together and sit next to each other in lunch,” Katana said quietly but with a beaming smile. Cameron says he’s lucky to have her and his smile says it all.

“He’s here for a reason,” said Rebecca. “He’s here to tell a story, and he’s here to put a face to Long QT syndrome.”

Cameron was on medication for ADHD before this happened. Some studies show those medications can cause Long QT syndrome. His parents want everyone to watch for the signs which include fainting.

Student collects thousands of soda can tabs for charity

While many Hornell Intermediate School students bring in pop can tabs to help out the Ronald McDonald House, one student went above and beyond the rest of the pack.

The difference is, however, he will see the benefits personally.

Kyle Cornish, 11, the son of Heidi and Bob Cornish of Troupsburg, has cerebral palsy.
“His family has used the Ronald McDonald House before,” said Lisa Connors, Kyle’s special education teacher at Hornell Intermediate School.

The drive is a great way for Cornish to help out, Connor said.

“It’s nice because he benefits from it and he helps out,” Connors said, adding the other students have been very good helpers with the project. “The students see what it goes to (with Kyle).”

Last year, the school filed 17 paper boxes with pop tabs, which were taken to the Hornell Waste Material Company and redeemed for their scrap value, about $200 after an additional donation by the company.

Students have filled eight paper boxes so far this year, without adding Cornish’s contribution.

Also assisting Cornish’s family were the Jasper-Troupsburg school bus drivers, who collected many tabs for him.

Kyle’s contribution can be seen at the main office at the Intermediate School.

The drive is not quite finished yet, and there have been plenty of donations from visitors to the building, Connors said.

“In some ways, it’s a community effort,” she said, adding anyone can bring in tabs for the collection drive.

In short order, Walter said, the tabs will be taken to Hornell Waste and redeemed, about $1 per pound at the current scrap metal prices.

“Some Ronald McDonald Houses collect the tabs,” she said. “In Rochester, they prefer you redeem them first.”

Gift to Locks of Love

On April 27, 2008 Kayla Griego, age 10, of Eagle Point, fulfilled one of her dreams. After waiting for about a year to get her hair cut, she walked into Cost Cutters on Delta Waters Road where Carrie was waiting to give her a hair cut.

This was not to be just any hair cut. Kayla’s hair was below her waist. The fourth grader at Little Butte School had made the decision. She wanted her hair cut and donated to “Locks of Love,” a non-profit organization that provides hair pieces to financially disabled youth under the age of 18. These children suffer from major medical issues on a long term basis with subsequent loss of hair.

The mission of “Locks of Love” is to return a sense of self confidence and normalcy to children who have lost their hair by utilizing donated hair to provide the highest quality hair prosthetics.

Carrie cut 11 inches off Kayla’s hair and still left it at a nice length. From the smile on Kayla’s face, one can tell that she has done something she really wanted to do. When asked why she did it, she said, “I wanted to give a little girl a wig made with my hair so she would not have to have people see her bald. Because people can make you feel bad if you look different.” When asked if she could do it again, she said “Hmmm, maybe.”

“You have something to be proud of,” said her great- grandmother, Dona Spence. “All it takes is one person to make a difference and you have certainly made someone feel special. ”

Kayla is the daughter of April Crowder. Her grandmother is Susan Wickersham and her great-grandmother is Dona Spence, all are Eagle Point residents. Her mother felt it would be too emotional to watch the locks being cut, according to her great-grandmother, so her grandmother and great-grandmother accompanied her to the appointment.

Tuesday, May. 6, 2008

Brave five-year-old rescues family

A boy, 5, stayed calm and untied his parents and brother after a terrifying home invastion by a gun-toting masked man in Melbourne’s outer northern suburbs.

The boy was asleep when a balaclava-clad intruder broke into the house at Plumpton, on the northern metropolitan fringe, about 1am this morning.

The intruder attacked the boy’s parents as they slept, pistol-whipping the father before tying the pair up.

The burglar also tied up the couple’s other child, a 16 year-old boy, before stealing cash and fleeing the property.

The young boy woke to cries for help from his family and rushed to their aid.

The terrified family contacted police.

Police congratulated the boy on his composure.

“He managed to untie them,” Detective Sergeant Rod Arthur said.

“It was very well done and he was very level-headed.”

Kid of Character: Ashira Casanova

Ashira Casanova (8) of Second grade, Driftwood Elementary, consistently demonstrates outstanding character in all areas. However, her kindness and compassion for others is evident on a daily basis in school, at home and in the community.

She always helps teachers and students. She assists less capable students with academics and stands up for a child who is being picked on and includes students who are being left out. Ashira seems to understand how another person feels and does whatever is necessary to help with the situation. She has good manners and is respectful, responsible and cooperative.

In November, while attending a health fair with her family, she heard a presentation about donating hair to cancer patients and decided to donate 8 inches of her hair to Locks of Love. She has two special-needs siblings and helps out at home by assisting with homework and chores. She encourages her brother and sister to do their best and overlook unkind comments.

Ashira is a greeter in her Sunday school class and is in charge of helping new children.

Ashira Casanova makes a difference every day and this world is becoming a better place because of her outstanding character.

Monday, May. 5, 2008

Teens making a difference

While some of her peers at Neshaminy High are sleeping in or socializing, Jennifer Lentine is teaching Sunday School to kindergartners and spending time with Alzheimer’s patients.

It’s all in a day’s volunteering for Lentine, 18, one of 17 area teens whom the YWCA will recognize Wednesday during the 14th annual Teen Volunteer Awards.

“Children are going to be my future so I try to do a lot with that,” said Lentine, who plans to study elementary and special education at Holy Family University. “I always said I wanted to be a teacher.”

And for seven or eight years, Lentine has taught by example, first as a mother’s helper, then as a baby-sitter and eventually through Neshaminy Cares, a fundraising organization that helps charities such as the March of Dimes and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

President Bush gave Lentine the Presidential Volunteer Service Award for clocking more than 183 hours from April of her sophomore year to April of her junior year. But that wasn’t enough, the ambitious young woman said.

“I bumped it up in 11th and 12th grade,” she said, adding that she made distinguished honor roll for three years straight. “I wanted to try to make a difference in the world I’m living in.”

For Bensalem High senior Royce Cohen, volunteering is like hitting a home run. Literally.

Cohen, an avid tennis player and sports lover, has spent four years coaching softball for Valley Athletic Association. His ulterior motive, he said, is to find a way to spend more time with his little sister.

“When I tell people I coach a team, it’s like “that’s no big deal. That’s fun,’ ” Cohen said. “I look up to the people who volunteer at the old age homes and at the shelter.”

Besides coaching, Cohen has been volunteering since fourth grade. He’s taken two pizza parties to the residents of Wood River Village, serves as president of the National Honor Society and plans to take an anti-smoking campaign to elementary schools sometime before graduation.

“If they realized what the outcome could be of helping someone, that would stimulate kids to [volunteer],” Cohen said.

Thursday, Apr. 17, 2008

ImprovEverywhere Gives Kids Best Game Ever

A little league baseball game is turned into a major league event. All players, coaches, and parents do not know what is happening. We worked with the league commissioner to get the kids’ names and access to the field to setup our equipment the morning of the game.

Wednesday, Apr. 9, 2008

Cancer patient gets night at the prom


That’s what Adam Field’s friends all said, when he told them who he was taking to his senior prom.

And that was the first thing out of his mom’s mouth when he came home from school on a Friday afternoon in March to ask her what she thought.


The senior at Palmyra High School had been sitting in anatomy class earlier that day when prom talk came up.

Who you going with, Adam?

I don’t know. I need a date.

Chevy Christian was sitting behind him.

Hey, why don’t you take my sister?

Chevy’s little sister Brett hadn’t been in school all year.

The seventh-grader had leukemia. The bad kind that mostly grown-ups get, with a 30 percent survival rate. Chevy and Adam played on the football team together, and played basketball, and ran track together, and they were good friends.

Adam was last year’s Homecoming king. He was president of FFA. He was a guy everyone liked. But he didn’t have a girlfriend at the moment.

Maybe I will, Adam said.

Chevy figured he was probably kidding.

But Adam went home and told his mom what he was thinking. She knew Brett. The whole town did. When you live in a place like Palmyra everyone is family. They’d gone to bake sales and spaghetti feeds and prayed for her to get well.

The next Monday, Adam sat down by Chevy in Pre-Cal.

So, is it really OK if I take Brett to prom?

And that’s how it was that a 12-year-old girl who loves horses and volleyball went shopping with her mom for a swirly pink and white dress and dark pink sandals.

And then went with her grandma to have her fingernails painted at Wal-Mart.

And then had her make-up done. Lipstick. Blush. Mascara. Even eyeliner!

And then got pretty tipped toenails, the kind that press-on so it would be easier for the doctors to get her ready for the test on her bone marrow two days after prom — the test that would let them know if these last chemo drugs were working and moving Brett closer to a bone marrow transplant.

Then she put on a pink scarf to cover her head, instead of her usual baseball cap.

Was she happy to be going to prom?

Oh. Yeah.

“She’s bouncing off the walls,” Brett’s Mom said Friday, the day before prom.

Brett had been at the end of a month-long stay in Room 510 at Children’s Hospital, when her mom asked her about the prom proposal.

“What?! What guy? Which Adam?”

Sure. Of course, she’d like to go.

Last week, they invited Adam over for spaghetti.

Brett’s mom made sure he’d drive safely and be good and have Brett home by midnight or when she got too tired, whichever came first.

And then Saturday came, with wrist corsages and picture-taking and riding in Adam’s dad’s red Mustang, with Chevy and his date, to Shogun.

Then on to prom itself, the hall decorated like Paris, with silver and gold and twinkling lights and marshmallows and strawberries to dip in runny chocolate fondue.

After the picture-taking Adam’s mom got misty-eyed, thinking how honored she was to be his mom.

Brett’s mom thought the same thing.

“He’s a great kid. He had five or 10 other dates he could have gone on and he stepped up to say this is my last prom and I’m taking Brett.”

Brett didn’t get tired Saturday night. She danced the slow dances and the fast dances. She danced with Adam and she danced with all her brother’s friends.

She took off her sandals and danced in her bare feet.

Adam had her home by midnight, and she knocked on her mom’s door to let her know she was back.

Her mom was asleep, so Brett put on her pjs and got in bed.

But Brett couldn’t get to sleep, she was so excited.

So she just lay there for a long time.

Thinking about what a really, really good time she had at her first prom.

Monday, Apr. 7, 2008

Hero Teachers Save Student From Certain Death

Students and teachers often find themselves at odds with each other. But one 15-year-old will likely have a newfound respect for his educational mentors after they performed CPR to save his life.

The 15-year-old’s heart suddenly stopped beating and things looked grim until the heroic, collective effort of a group of teachers brought him back.

The student went down outside a third-floor classroom at Riverdale Collegiate. Teacher Ryan Wakelin was the first to reach him. “His head (was) very close to the door, and it was scary to see … his head was … leaned back, mouth open, gasping.”

Ryan told students to get more help. Seconds later, fellow teacher Chip Tompkins arrived.

“I used my hand to feel for the carotid artery and there was no pulse,” he remembered. “I put my face down. I could not feel any breath. I could not hear any breath.”

Tompkins knew what he had to do next. He hadn’t performed CPR in over 35 years, but the techniques quickly came back to him in the heat of the moment.

He began the life-saving procedure, and in the meantime two more teachers arrived to aid in the rescue effort.

Lifeguard Cindy Cooper Elliott and phys-ed teacher Karen Gallagher took turns giving the teen chest compressions and life-saving breath.

“I would do 30 and then Cindy was on this side of him and she would tilt his head and plug his nose and give him two big breaths, and then I would immediately give 30 more compressions,” Gallagher said.

Paramedics soon arrived, and the teen was taken to hospital where he’s recovering. When principal Ralph Nigro went to visit him, the boy was doing his math homework.

He also relayed a message to the brave teachers. “He said, ‘please say thank you and that I wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for you,’ ” Nigro proudly explained.

By the end of this school year, all of Toronto’s public high schools will be equipped with defibrillators and staff will be trained in how to use them, so when an emergency arises, they’ll be even better equipped to perform a miracle like the one that took place at Riverdale Collegiate.

Wednesday, Apr. 2, 2008

Honoring a young hero

At Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, Stillwater officials presented Hope Hendrix with a Citizen Commendation for her actions during a house fire during the early morning hours of Feb. 17.

Hope, 7, was at home with her mother, Angela Hendrix, her boyfriend Ben Wade, and Hope’s great-grandfather, Francis Brown, when the fire broke out. The youngster immediately woke her mother and alerted her to the blaze.

Angela and Hope exited the home, Wade went to assist Brown, and Angela dialed 911. The intensity of the fire forced Wade from the house, but Stillwater officer Leslie Wardell and Oak Park Heights Sgt. Paul Hoppe arrived on the scene and rescued Brown. The two officers received Meritorious Service Commendations for their actions.

Brown, a World War II veteran who Glaser called an “icon in Stillwater,” was unable to attend the ceremony at City Hall, as he was hospitalized after a recent accident at home.

“We wish him well,” Glaser said.

Hope seemed to blush a bit after receiving the award and a standing ovation from council members and those in attendance.

How hero Harley (4) saved his nan’s life

A YOUNG boy from Aldwick who was not expected to live has turned lifesaver.

Harley Freeman helped to ensure his nan received medical treatment after she collapsed on a footpath.

He coolly and calmly told paramedics the medical history of Sheila Taylor to help them give her the correct treatment instantly to ensure she made a complete recovery.

Mrs Taylor (70), of The Hamlet in Laburnum Grove, said: “If Harley had not been there, I would still be on the ground now. Not a lot of people walk along the path that we were going through.”

Harley’s mother, Lisa Taylor, said: “Harley is my little hero. I am very proud of him.”

Harley, who celebrated his fourth birthday on Monday, sprang into action in late March.

He was walking home to Countisbury Close with Mrs Taylor from the ABC Nursery on Aldwick Road at about 1.30pm on a Tuesday.

Mrs Taylor’s pace began to quicken for no reason as they went along a footpath which connects the two roads.

She collapsed without warning but managed to ask Harley to go to his next-door neighbour.

There was no reply and he went back to Mrs Taylor. She passed out. But Harley was seen walking along Countisbury Close on his own by another neighbour.

He took her to his nan who was still on the ground. With the help of another neighbour, they managed to get her to Harley’s home.

They contacted Lisa and her sister, Sarah, who rang 999.

The paramedics were quickly on the scene and were informed by Harley that Mrs Taylor was a diabetic who had suffered a mild stroke before Christmas. He also passed on details of his family.

This enabled them to begin testing her blood sugar level for potential problems.

She was admitted to St Richard’s Hospital for an overnight stay. Further tests showed she had suffered from a low potassium level which can cause delirium.

It is thought the range of medication she takes for her conditions, which also include high blood pressure, were the cause. She has made a full recovery.

Part-time clerical worker Lisa (33) arrived at the scene to find out Harley had taken charge.

“I couldn’t work out how the paramedics knew my mum had diabetes. But, when we got
to the hospital, they told us what Harley had said to them.

“Harley had a difficult start in life. He was born three months early.

“I went through days of being told he would never live because he had fluid leaking on his brain.

“I was then told he wouldn’t walk. He was late walking and he doesn’t run or kick a football around like other boys.

“But he makes up for his lack of physical ability with his intelligence.

“Everything sinks in with him, even when you are not talking to him. The paramedics were absolutely amazed how much knowledge he has.”

A South East Coast Ambulance Service spokeswoman said: “The family of this young boy must be very proud.

“As this case clearly shows, it is very important that children are taught what to do in the case of an emergency because you never know when you may need help.

“As well as teaching children what number to call, it is also important that they know their home address and the name and address of a close relative who could be called upon by the emergency services if necessary.”

Toddler reunited with folks after wandering off

Laconia police helped a youngster return home after she accidentally wandered off and ended up at the Cumberland Farms store on Court Street.

The youngster, a 4-year-old girl with autism, came to the store just after 8 a.m. Tuesday decked out in pink pajamas and a matching bathrobe and slippers, according to Laconia Police Sgt. Sharon Cavanaugh.

She apparently left her home nearby without her family noticing, said Cavanaugh.

When she showed up outside the store, employees brought the girl inside and notified police.

The girl was able to give her name to officers, pointed them in the direction from which she came and was able to identify her house.

Cavanaugh said the girl was uninjured and that no charges would be filed in connection with the incident.

Wednesday, Mar. 26, 2008

Two-year-old rescued from borewell after 27 hrs

A two-year-old child who fell into a 45-feet borewell at Tehri near Agra in India, has been rescued, according to sources. The girl, Vandana, was rescued after Army and locals, after she had spent 27 hours in the well.

Rescue operations were on all day, with the Army and locals trying to get to Vandana.

Vandana was playing with her friends close to a borewell on Tuesday evening when she slipped and fell into it.

A JCD bulldozer and earth movers were being used to dig a borewell parallel to the one Vandana fell into. After that, a tunnel about 5-feet long would have to be dug to connect the two wells – a crucial task fraught with risk since the tunnel would have to bear the weight of the huge column of soil above and could easily collapse.

Food and glucose water were sent into the well all day to ensure she did not dehydrate, according to Mukesh Meshram, district magistrate of the area.

Tuesday, Mar. 25, 2008

1-in-10,000 Wonder Boy

A Little boy who, just 18 months ago, was unable to move and was given a one-in-10,000 chance of survival, is now clambering about.

Matthew Frost’s parents have described their son as a “little walking miracle” because of his remarkable progress.

The three-year-old was born with a heart complaint called tetralogy of Fallots and contracted an infection after heart surgery when he was 18 months old. The infection left him on a life-support machine for five days and caused him to lose a leg and some of his fingers. At one stage, he was given only a 0.01 per cent chance of survival.

But Matthew’s recovery has been incredible and his parents say it is nothing short of a miracle.

Mum Claire Frost said: “He is a little walking miracle. Everyone cannot believe how much he has come on. Eighteen months ago, he could only move his eyes and we were told he would never be able to walk.

“Yet now he is crawling and climbing up on the settee.”

Dad Mark Frost, 34, said there had been “some very dark times”, including periods when they were told their only child at the time could be left deaf, dumb and brain damaged, or that he could even die.

Mr Frost said: “In September 2006, scans showed signs of brain damage but that seems to have corrected itself and he has been discharged from the brain clinic. If you ever want to see a miracle, then here is one. It’s just incredible from where we’ve been to where we are now.”

Matthew has regular check-ups and physiotherapy sessions at Derbyshire Children’s Hospital.

He was recently given a “whizzy bug”, an electrically-powered vehicle to help him get around.

The Frosts, of Benner Avenue, Ilkeston, have been talking to doctors at Nottingham City Hospital about Matthew having a false limb fitted.

Last year, the Frosts began fund-raising as a gesture of thanks for the medical care that Matthew had received from five hospitals in the region, including Derbyshire Children’s.

They have now raised £10,297 for Heartlink, a charity that supports the parents of children with heart defects.

The charity, based at Glenfield Hospital, in Leicester, is raising £161,000 for a 4D ultrasound scanner, which is able to show highly detailed images of the heart.

The Frosts also feel thankful to medics for another reason.

Their second son, Richard, who will be one next month, was born with Erb’s palsy, a condition that is caused by a traumatic birth and affects movement and feeling in one arm.

But Mr Frost said that, although Richard did not have full movement in his right arm, his condition had massively improved with the help of Derbyshire Children’s Hospital.

5-year-old hero saves his grandmother

A 5-year-old South Jersey boy’s being called a hero for saving his grandmother from choking on Jell-O.

Shirldine Stewart’s little hero is her 5-year-old grandson, A’zir, who she credits with saving her life after she started choking.

“I had just put a spoonful of Jell-O in my mouth and I turned to talk to him and it just got stuck,” Shirldine said.

With the Jell-o stuck in her throat, she started gasping for air.

“My biggest fear was if I passed out, he wouldn’t know what to do,” Shirldine said.

In a panic, she ran to her side porch, hoping she could flag down a neighbor or passing car.

This is when A’Zir quickly started giving his 56-year-old grandmom instructions.

“This calm little voice started saying ‘Mom-mom, are you joking? He told me what to do  raise your hands. I just did what he told me to do. Whatever was stuck in there just came out,” Shirldine said.

A’Zir learned what to do when he was in a similar situation at his school, which is closed today. His teacher stayed calm.

“I was choking and she told me to put my hands up and then it went away,” A’Zir said.

Today, Shirdeen and A’Zir are playing with a train set she bought him as a gift. She says she hasn’t touched the batch of Jell-o since the incident.

Thursday, Jan. 17, 2008

4 y.o. boy beats deadly disease THREE times

Meet Bailey Smillie – the mini medical marvel who has amazed doctors by beating a deadly blood disease THREE TIMES.

Four-year-old Bailey has confounded all expert opinion which says a person should only be able to contract meningococcal septicaemia once.

More incredibly still, Bailey has beaten each bout of the illness – any of which could have killed him.

Mum Martine Robinson, 24, said: “He’s been very unlucky and very lucky at the same time.

“No one knows how he managed to get the illness again and again – it shouldn’t have been possible. But he’s come through it without any lasting effects.

“One of the major side-effects is deafness, but each time Bailey has been OK. It’s a miracle, really”.

Experts say meningococcal septicaemia – which can be caused by the same bacteria as meningitis – should only affect a person once.

Once they have contracted the blood poisoning, their body should build up a natural immunity against it.

For someone to suffer once is unusual and twice is very rare. But for it to have happened a third time is “exceptional” and only a handful of cases have been recorded worldwide.

Bailey’s consultant paediatrician at St James’s Hospital in Leeds, Dr Ragbir Thethy, said he had never come across another instance in his 20-year career.

In fact he is so stunned by Bailey’s case that he plans to write a research paper on him.

Dr Thethy told the YEP: “It is extremely rare for a child to get this three times.

“Thankfully his mother picked it up quickly and the doctors who first treated him were not dissuaded by the fact he had suffered this before.

“Technically he should have been immune to it after the first time and we’re not sure why he isn’t. We’re going to run more extensive tests to see if there is an underlying cause and to find out what we can do to prevent it coming back again.

“Myself and my colleagues hope to write a medical paper on Bailey’s experience because it is so unusual.”

Bailey’s parentsMartine and Ryan Smiley, 24, from Gipton, Leeds, now want to warn other parents to be on their guard for symptoms of meningococal septicaemia – even if their child has already suffered.

Bailey first caught the bug when he was just six weeks old. He spent seven days in Jimmy’s. The next time he was six months old and this time spent nine days in hospital.

After that he was placed on a course of preventative antibiotics for more than two years.

However, on Saturday he fell ill again and recognising the symptoms, Martine called an ambulance and he was rushed back to St James’s.
After treatment he was allowed home yesterday evening.

Martine said: “Like everyone else we thought it could only happen once. Thankfully Bailey has been OK. But we want everyone else to be aware. You shouldn’t rule out meningococal septicaemia because it can happen again – Bailey is proof of that.”

Friday, Dec. 14, 2007

Fire hero who saved his sister

A boy who saved his sister after her dress caught fire has been hailed a hero by firefighters.
Shahid Lala, 13, has been praised for helping his older sister Shaista, 14, when her synthetic dress caught fire on Wednesday evening.

Fire and ambulance crews attended but Shahid, a student at Christ the King Catholic Maths and Computing College in Frenchwood, had the situation under control.

He rolled her over on the floor to extinguish the flames before removing the burning garment and using a fire extinguisher.

Shahid, of Lawrence Avenue, Frenchwood, Preston, learned what to do during a fire service education day when he was a pupil at St Augustine’s Catholic Primary School.

Mark Hutton, station manager of Preston Fire Station said: “It is certain that if it had not been for his quick thinking and clarity of thought it would have been far, far worse.

“His actions have made a huge difference to his whole family’s life. I have been to similar incidents where the outcome has been much more serious.”

The children’s mother Salma, 38, said: “Shaista is much better than she was yesterday, but it will take six to nine months for it to get back to normal.

“I feel very proud of my son for what he has done. He has saved the day.”

Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2007

A hot meal by teens, for teens

Sunday dinner is in the hands of the Price boys.

Travis, 17, does the main dish. Thomas, 14, whips up dessert.

Every other Sunday the brothers make supper for as many as 20 homeless youth at Urban Peak.

The shelter, which helps young people overcome homelessness, is one of 14 area charities receiving grants from The Gazette/El Pomar Empty Stocking Fund.

The Price boys do the planning, shopping and cooking for the Sunday meal. Their mom picks up the tab.

The Sunday stints started when the shelter opened three years ago and needed canned goods. Travis led his Boy Scout troop in a can drive to stock the shelves.

He wanted to do more.

He was too young to volunteer, but not to cook.

There isn’t a regular cook at the shelter on Sundays. The Price boys alternate Sunday supper duty with other volunteers, so dinner is ready when the residents come back in the evening.

Without this evening meal, many would go hungry or eat junk food.

The Price boys make teen-friendly fare that is nutritious — no fried fastfood stuff. Barbecue and sloppy joes are popular entrees. A fruit and vegetable rounds out the menu.

They take “comfort food” requests. One teen wanted German food. Another wanted a pan of corn bread.

Thomas’ specialty is a creation with angel food cake, candy bars, pudding and whipped cream.

Travis makes a mean meatball lasagna.

The boys have not only learned to cook, they’ve learned to embrace and respect fellow teens going through hardships. Some Urban Peak residents were Palmer High School classmates of Travis’.

The boys have led projects to raise money and awareness of teen hunger.

“It’s a real eye-opener,” said their mom, Michele.

Monday, Dec. 10, 2007

7-year-old’s birthday wish is to donate her toys to family shelter

When children enter the Cedar Valley Friends of the Family shelter, it’s because their world has been turned upside down.

Little Katie Wichman has set out to help right things a bit. The Waverly first-grader, who turns 7 today, has decided to give all of her birthday presents to children at the shelter.

“We were driving home one day and talking about what she wanted for her birthday,” said Katie’s mom, Kelli. “Out of the blue she said she wanted to give toys to other kids.”

Kelli let the idea rest for a couple of days until Katie brought it up again.

“We explained to her what that meant, that whatever was brought to her birthday party she would give away,” Kelli said. “She said, ‘I would give away all my toys to another little girl if I could.'”

Her parents say they were pleasantly surprised.

“It’s very unusual, especially for a child who wants everything when we go to Wal-Mart,” joked Katie’s dad, Eddie.

Katie and her 3-year-old sister Kennedy have no shortage of toys of their own, their parents say. A toy room in their home is brimming with toys. Then there are the toys that fill their bedrooms. They have no need for more, the Wichman’s say.

Katie has invited all of the girls from her class as well as family and friends to her party, which is themed “Pretty in Pink.” She’s asking guests to bring gifts that her family will deliver to the Cedar Valley Friends of the Family shelter.

“It really pulls at your heart strings,” said Marcie Sharp, the organization’s administrative services director.

Cedar Valley Friends of the Family is a private, nonprofit domestic violence and sexual assault prevention center. It serves families from nine Northeast Iowa counties, and offers a 14-bed safe shelter to victims of domestic violence. It also provides services for the homeless.

For the fiscal year 2006-07, the shelter served 70 children ages 17 and younger who were using the safe house for the first time. On occasion, a child is forced to spend their birthday there.

“Sometimes moms can’t afford a gift when they leave the situation they are in, so (from donated toys) the mom will get the pick of whatever she wants for her child,” Sharp said.

Sharp said three other children have donated their birthday booty to the shelter, in the form of cash. Rather than asking for gifts, they asked party guests to bring money to benefit the shelter. Katie’s gifts will come in handy as Christmas approaches. They will fill the gap for families who arrive at the shelter in the few days before Christmas.

“It always amazes me how generous the children are,” sharp said. “It’s pretty remarkable that (Katie) would give up her gifts for someone she doesn’t even know.”

For Katie, it’s not remarkable at all. It’s simple logic. She gives up what she has plenty of to children who don’t. In fact, last year she donated her hair to Locks of Love, which provides wigs for children with cancer or other health issues that cause hair loss. Her reason for giving up her birthday gifts follows the same logic.

“Other people maybe don’t have enough toys,” she said.

Young patriots support troops

Traci Askew’s kindergarten class at Holy Cross Elementary School began learning at a young age the importance of patriotism and supporting the United States military when they sent hand made prayer rocks to a group of soldiers currently serving in Iraq.

The soldier who received the rocks was Army Lieutenant Andrew Richert – a close family friend of Mrs. Kathy Westmoreland, another staff member at Holy Cross – and 45 of the men and women serving along side him.

The students were excited to learn that Richert and two of his Army buddies sent a photo that pictured them with their prayer rocks back to the kindergarteners as a token of their appreciation.

Each rock was painted with a cross on it by a student in Askew’s class and was sent with a card that reads: “Because you’re our hero, we made you this rock, to put in your pocket, or put in your sock. It was sent with a blessing, and is yours to keep, and we promise to pray, each night before sleep.”

Before the rocks were sent to Richert, Askew took them to receive a blessing by Rev. Susan Kennard and the Wednesday night youth group of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.

“At the youth group, they brought them all to the altar and laid hands on them and prayed for them,” said Askew.

The children also sent their own blessing and prayers with the rocks.

“Here at school we all went outside and gathered around them on the grass and the children said their own prayers and some of them kissed the rocks,” Askew said.

According to Askew, several of the children had some very grown-up feelings about the whole process.

“Julianne (a student) had tears running down and said, ‘I just want them to come home’,” Askew explained.

Askew said it was surprising how much the students could understand even at such a young age.

“It was good to see them have thoughts and feelings about something a little more important than Hannah Montana,” said Askew.

When asked how she felt about sending the prayer rocks to Richert, one student, Julianne Friesenhahn, had very careful words to say.

“I feel really, really good about sending the prayer rocks to Andrew,” said Friesenhahn.

“I prayed that (the soldiers) would be alright in the war and that Jesus would watch over them.”

The class will continue to send gifts to the soldiers throughout the year for various occasions and look forward to a possible, in-person visit from Richert in the spring.

Thursday, Dec. 6, 2007

Girls’ singing Christmasgrams will make you smile

Alexis Hurrell, who is 7 years old, wanted to make it clear that she wasn’t necessarily speaking for her sisters when she explained why she is taking part in the Miss Miracle Pageant to benefit the Children’s Miracle Network.

“We just want to help other kids. Well, at least I do,” is how Alexis put it to me.

For the record, Alexis’ sisters — Katelynn, 8, and Isabella, 5 — also want to help other kids. But let’s face it, the chance to dress up and be in a real pageant is sort of appealing to girls of a certain age, and the Hurrell sisters are definitely of “a certain age.”

The Miss Miracle Pageant is a pretty neat deal. Girls between the ages of 4 and 12 who are interested in taking part in the pageant are asked to raise a minimum of $100. Those who do will get to take part in the pageant on Jan. 12. The winner of the pageant will be the contestant who raises the most money. Each participant will receive her own tiara and an 8-by-10 photograph of herself taken by a professional photographer.

I don’t know if the Hurrell sisters will raise enough money to actually win the pageant, but I’m not sure that’s really a big deal to them. I really believe that Katelynn, Alexis and Isabella are sincere when they talk about helping kids. I really believe that because I think Katelynn, Alexis and Isabella know a thing or two, even if it’s in a subconscious way, about kids who could use a little help.

See, the three girls and their youngest sister, Emily, who is 3, until recently didn’t get to spend a lot of time with one another. Instead, they spent time in separate foster homes, desperately waiting to be adopted. As the oldest sister, Katelynn seems to have a fresher memory of those days. She told me, in a very matter-of-fact manner, that the girls “had to wait so long to get adopted.” A little less than a year ago, their wait ended when the courts awarded custody of the girls to Randy and Karla Hurrell.

If you had a chance to spend a few minutes with the girls, you would quickly see what drew Randy and Karla to them. First of all, they are as cute as they can be, they’re funny, they’re charming, and they love to laugh. Of course, I imagine they also can be a handful. I imagine riding herd on four high-spirited, yet well-behaved, young girls can be a tad exhausting. But I think Randy and Karla are used to dealing with handfuls, and I think they are used to dealing with “a tad exhausting.” The couple have been foster parents for 18 years. Karla said they have helped raise 200 children and have adopted nine, six of whom still live with them.

In addition to Katelynn, Alexis, Isabella and Emily, Randy and Karla have an adopted 14-year-old daughter named Kylie and an adopted 7-year-old son named Solomon. Randy works for Mediacom, and Karla works for the Children’s Miracle Network. It was Karla who mentioned the Miss Miracle Pageant to the girls.

“They wanted to do it the moment I told them about it,” Karla said.

Once the decision to raise money for the CMN was made, the girls had to figure out how to get their hands on some cash. Since knocking over a liquor store probably was not a good idea, the girls set their sights on something a little easier and slightly more legal. They decided to make and sell caramel apples. The girls had fun doing that, but they quickly decided it was going to take a lot of caramel apples to raise $100. Plus, as Katelynn pointed out with a giggle, Randy kept eating the caramel before it made it to the apples. Next, the girls tried their hand at making Christmas tree ornaments, but so far that hasn’t exactly taken off either. The ornaments, as Karla put it, “are a work in progress.”

Finally, the girls hit on something that I think is a winner. For $25 the girls will come to your house or place of business and sing Christmas carols from a song list they have put together. If you would like to hear from the singing Hurrell sisters, you can make a reservation by e-mailing Karla at The singing Christmasgrams will be delivered between Dec. 17 and Dec. 23.

One of the things on which I pride myself — to paraphrase Mark Twain — is that I tell the truth in this column … mainly. For the most part — to paraphrase George Gobel — if I tell you in this column that two roosters can pull a train, you better hook ’em up. So, I’m telling you, if you pony up the $25 or $35 to have Katelynn, Alexis and Isabella sing Christmas carols, you will be glad you did. The girls will make you happy. They will make you smile. I promise.

Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2007

Girl, 7, uses body to shield mom from bullets

A 7-year-old-girl is being hailed as an “angel from heaven” and a hero for jumping in front of an enraged gunman, who pumped six bullets into the child as she used her body as a shield to save her mother’s life.

Alexis Goggins, a first-grader at Campbell Elementary School, is in stable condition at Children’s Hospital in Detroit recovering from gunshot wounds to the eye, left temple, chin, cheek, chest and right arm.

“She is an angel from heaven,” said Aisha Ford, a family friend for 15 years who also was caught up in the evening of terror.

The girl’s mother, Selietha Parker, 30, was shot in the left side of her head and her bicep by a former boyfriend, who police said was trying to kill Parker. The gunman was disarmed by police and arrested at the scene of the shooting, a Detroit gas station. Police identified him as Calvin Tillie, 29, a four-time convicted felon whom Parker had dated for six months.

Parker, who was treated and released at Detroit Receiving Hospital, is now at her daughter’s bedside. She declined to comment Tuesday.

The drama began to unfold just before midnight Saturday, when Parker called Ford and asked if she and Alexis could spend the night at Ford’s home.

“She said she had no heat and they were very cold, and I said , sure I’ll come and get you,” Ford said.

Ford said she drove her burgundy 1998 Ford Expedition to Parker’s home on Dwyer. She said as Parker and Alexis walked up to her vehicle she saw a man on the porch, who she assumed was a furnace repairman. She said Alexis, who walks with a limp, slipped momentarily on the icy sidewalk and as she helped the girl up, she saw the man and recognized him as Tillie. He was holding a gun.

Tillie ordered them into the vehicle, cursed at the women and angrily told Ford to drive him to Six Mile Road, she said.

“He looked like he was enraged and didn’t care what he did. I knew if we went to Six Mile, he would kill us,” Ford said. Instead, she told him she needed gas and drove to the Fast Stop Gas station in the 5000 block of East Seven Mile Road, a station that requires customers to pay the attendant inside.

“I figured if he got out to pump the gas, I was going to take off,” Ford said.

Instead, Tillie gave her $10 and told her put in $5 worth of gas.

Ford said she dialed 911 on her cell phone as she walked into the station.

“The first operator clicked off and I dialed again and told that operator a guy with a gun was holding me hostage with a mother and baby and threatening to kill us. I told her the name of the gas station and then she said they didn’t have a unit to send.”

Ford said she paid for $5 of gas and slowly returned to the vehicle, stalling for time as she handed Tillie the change. She said she kept stopping and starting the pump, hoping the police would show up.

“I told him I needed more gas and took money out of my purse and went back into the station,” she said. The attendant, Mohammad Alghazali, 30, said he noticed Ford was crying and she told him what was happening. He called 911 as he heard shots coming from the vehicle.

“It was very scary. She (Ford) was scared and screaming when the guy was shooting. I was scared, too. I was on the phone talking to the police when he started shooting,” he said

Parker told police that Tillie said Ford was taking too long

She said she pleaded with him but he pointed the gun at her and shot her in the side of the head. She told police she was shot in the arm as she lunged at Tillie.

Before Tillie could fire again, Alexis jumped over the seat between her mother and the gunman and begged him not to shoot her mother.

The police report said Tillie “without hesitation” pumped six shots into the child.

As police arrived, they saw Parker, covered in blood, running from the truck, screaming, “He just shot my baby.”

The officers said Tillie came out to the vehicle holding a blue steel 9 mm semi automatic and dropped the weapon when ordered to do so. Officers said they found Alexis huddled on the floor under the steering wheel, covered in blood, surrounded by spent cartridge casings, a spent bullet on the floor and teeth on the seat. There were bullet holes in the windshield and blood inside.

Alghazali said a police car on a street nearby arrived in less than a minute after his call.

Marvin Bodley, a Detroit Public Schools attendance agent, spent two days at Alexis’ hospital bedside and said it’s miraculous that she’s alive.

“What a courageous, courageous little girl,” he said. “You see more bandages than child,” he said. “It’s a horrific sight.”

Bodley said Alexis receives special education services at school, in part because of a weak left eye, which is the result of a massive stroke she suffered as an infant.

Ford said doctors at the time had predicted that when Alexis got older she would have trouble with tasks such as writing, but she is now able to write her name.

“She is a good little girl who is very protective of her mother,” said Tonya Colbert, Parker’s cousin.

Tillie is being held in the Wayne County Jail facing kidnapping, assault with intent to murder, child abuse, felony firearms and habitual criminal charges.

A preliminary examination is scheduled for Dec. 13.

Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2007

911 Hero Award given to two special kids

They are barely old enough to understand what it means to be called a “hero”, but that is their new title. 9-year-old Wesley Coleman, and 11-year-old Brenden Lopez are special kids, with special honors. They are this year’s recipients of the El Paso County Sheriff Department’s “911 Hero Award.”

Brenden may be just 9-years-old, but that is old enough to help his mother after a dangerous fall knocked her unconscious. Brenden says, “My mom just dropped to the floor. All I did was call 911 because she didn’t wake up after awhile.” This is part of that emergency 911 call:

Brenden: I think she’s waking up. I don’t know, she’s moving.
Dispatcher: Is she able to talk to you?
Brenden: Hold on, give me a second. Mom, can you hear me? Okay, she can speak to me.
Dispatcher: Okay, very good. Tell her just to lay still. Tell her we’ve got medical people coming, okay?
Brenden: Mom, just lay still, medical people are coming, don’t worry.

(Courtesy: El Paso County Sheriff’s Department)

Wesley Coleman says he was worried when his mother fainted suddenly, but he sounds surprisingly calm answering questions from a 911 dispatcher during the emergency. The call reveals the 11-year-old answering questions about defibrillator’s, and successfully taking his mother’s pulse. Wesley says, “You pick up their hand, and you put both fingers on the wrist. I felt a bump.” This is part of that emergency 911 call:

Dispatcher: What’s your name?
Wesley: Wesley coleman.
Dispatcher: Wesley, you’re doing a fine job young man.
Wesley: Thank you.
Dispatcher: Your welcome.
Wesley: It’s okay mom, the ambulance is coming.

(Courtesy: El Paso County Sheriff’s Department)

Wesley says he learned how to take a person’s pulse from a television program. He says he wants to be a paramedic some day.

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