Wednesday, Sep. 27, 2006

Miracle Woman Has Miracle Baby

Donna Burt was an Idaho State University senior majoring in elementary education 16 years ago when her life, as she knew, changed forever.

Burt, then 25, was a passenger in a Greyhound bus and was heading home to Amberson, Pa., for the holidays when tragedy struck on Interstate 80 in Emery, Utah, on Dec. 18, 1990.

According a Dec. 19, 1990, Caledonian-Record article, the bus Burt was riding on was struck by a tractor-trailer carrying frozen hams during a blizzard. The tractor-trailer slid across the divided highway and plowed into the bus and another truck loaded with sand. Of the 43 passengers on the bus, which was headed to Chicago from Salt Lake City, seven were killed.

Burt was listed as one of the dead. She was put in a body bag and her right hand and left foot were tagged when she was found with no pulse. Later, when rescuers discovered she was still alive, she was transported from the scene to Evanston, Wyo., with severe head injuries. Burt said she later was airlifted to the University of Utah Medical Center.

For seven years, she spent time in hospitals and rehabilitation centers trying to put her life back together. She had to learn how to speak and walk again.

Gone were her dreams of marriage and having a family – or so she thought.

Burt went through long days of therapy, including speech, physical, cognitive and occupational.

She learned to walk again by riding horses. The horse’s movement mimics a person walking, Burt said.

One day, while in a rehabilitation center van, she and the others in the vehicle came upon a crash scene.

“We drove around for hours until we were OK,” Burt said. “You have blocks. You don’t know how to get by them, but as you are exposed to things, you get by the blocks.”

She said her parents were very involved in her therapy. They would have her do puzzles as a way to help her recover.

After the first seven years of rehab, Burt began to put her life back together again. But she did not believe she was going to be able to have what she always wanted, a husband and family – until she met Paul Corbeil in August 2004.

Burt was visiting her grandmother, Margaret Burt in Dalton, N.H. She met Corbeil at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Lyndon, where he was teaching a class.

“It was sort of like a Cinderella story,” she said Sunday sitting on a couch in her St. Johnsbury home. “He had not been dating for seven years. We met each other and things started happening. I thought time had run out. I thought by the time I found someone, I would be past the child-bearing age.”

What really affected Burt was when she was listening to Corbeil talking about his daughter from a previous marriage and how he had put his own needs aside to take her and a friend of hers on a trip.

“He wanted to make her happy,” she said. “I thought for someone to think of his child so much he would literally put everything he wanted on hold, was touching.”

Corbeil said that after class, she came up to him and asked him if she could write to him after she went back to New Jersey. At that point, he knew they would be dating.

“I almost did not go out with him,” she said. “When he wanted to go out with me, I said, ÔNow what will I do? Maybe he will take advantage of me. Maybe he is not as nice as he seems.'”

After all, she had not been on a date from before the crash in 1990 and the day she met him in 2004.

“That was a really scary experience,” she said. “Come to find out, there was nothing to be afraid of. I almost threw the opportunity away.”

Burt and Corbeil married in December 2004 and baby Richard was born Sept. 14 after 31 hours of labor, less than two weeks ago. He weighed in at 7 pounds, 91/2 ounces.

Paul Corbeil said it is kind of neat holding a little one again, even at the age of 51.

“That was something she definitely wanted, and I agreed,” he said. “I am happy to see Donna happy. He definitely is a miracle.”

If someone had told Donna Corbeil during the years of rehabilitation when she was learning how to talk and walk again she would be married and have what she calls their miracle baby, she may not have believed it.

Donna said a lot of people don’t think they have a chance to have a family when they are in their 40s. They think it is too late or they cannot afford it.

“Happiness is not something based on money,” as she gazed down lovingly at Richard in her arms. “Happiness comes from being satisfied with being where you are. Happiness is not based on things. Happiness is in love. One of the reasons I wanted to have a child was because a child is the expression of love between a husband and a wife.”

Monday, Sep. 25, 2006

Reality TV show reunites US veteran with daughter

A US veteran is being reunited with his daughter after more than 20 years apart, all thanks to a German reality television show. Glenn Godau hasn’t seen his daughter for many years, but it’s not because he didn’t want to.

Glenn Godau, being reunited with daughter: “Of course this is the only picture I’ve ever got of her.”

His daughter’s mother sent Godau a picture right before the young girl was put up for adoption. It was a child he never knew, one who was born after serving in the military in Germany more than 20 years ago.

Glenn Godau: “I’ve thought about her every day, not a day has gone by when I haven’t thought about her.”

His search ended with a letter.

Glenn Godau: “Well, at first I thought it was bogus, in today’s world stuff just doesn’t happen like that.”

The German television show called “All You Need is Love” said they found his long-lost child. The TV show is aimed at reuniting loved ones.

Glenn Godau: “When I first got the letter, I think I cried for about almost four hours straight, because it was all of a sudden, here it is.”

Godau is anxious to put his arms around his daughter for the first time in years.

Glenn Godau: “Just to hold her again, it’s paramount, it’s like a big hole in my life, the chance to hold your child once, two days after she was born.”

Godau is set to leave for Germany in early October. He says the show is giving him and his daughter a chance to make up for the years they spent apart.

Friday, Sep. 22, 2006

Underwear obsessed dog gets surgery

A Nottingham man says his pet dog’s penchant for ladies’ underwear left the animal needing emergency surgery.

Cliff Hall of Stapleford said his pedigree Bull Mastiff Deefer has eaten around 10 pairs of knickers in the past 12 months.

But the latest two pairs, belonging to Mr Hall’s daughter Stacey, 15, became lodged in the dog’s small intestine.

The dog could not drink, eat or move properly and a vet had to remove the blockage at a cost of more than £1,000.

Bathroom floor

Mr Hall, said: “He’s had a bit of a penchant for them in the past, this isn’t the first time he’s eaten a pair.

“If people have left them on the bathroom floor when they have had a bath he will typically wander in afterwards and steal them.

“Normally they go straight through him but on this occasion it agitated his intestine and left him in a bit of a state.”

He said that the dog’s strange habits had prompted the family to take out pet insurance, which covered the cost of the operation.

The dog had to stay at the vets for several days but has now been given a full bill of health.

Mr Hall added: “We’ve got a new house rule that underwear goes into the washing machine where Deefer can’t get at it.”

Member of public saves child at pool

LEISURE centre staff have been warned to improve safety after a drowning child had to be rescued by a member of the public.

Fairfield Pool and Leisure Centre, Lowfield Street, Dartford, was reported to Dartford Council’s health and safety department after the incident.

Mother-of-two Karen O’Brien reported the incident after her six-year-old daughter got into difficulty during a swimming lesson.
continued…

Mrs O’Brien, of Howard Road, Dartford, was watching her daughter swim to the deep end of the pool from the viewing gallery.

The 39-year-old said she saw her daughter begin to panic and go under the water.

Mrs O’Brien said: “I was watching her start to drown but her instructor couldn’t see her as she was helping a lifeguard move lane partitions.

“I ran down to the pool and started screaming at the lifeguards to help her but they had not been watching and did not know were she was.”

She added: “I was just about to jump in when a member of the public rescued her.

“I was devastated by the fact she nearly drowned and nobody had taken any notice.”

Following the incident Mrs O’Brien has stopped her two daughters continuing their swimming lessons at the pool.

The housewife sent two letters to the pool demanding the £84 she had pre-paid for lessons to be refunded to her.

Fairfield Pool and Leisure Centre replied offering to refund any further lessons taken at the complex.

A spokesman for Dartford Council’s health and safety department said: “We have investigated the claim and have written to both Mrs O’Brien and Fairfield Pool.

“We have advised the pool to reinforce its safety rules and make sure staff are aware of them.”

Fairfield Pool and Leisure Centre declined to comment.

Thursday, Sep. 21, 2006

Charity girl has miracle birthday

A youngster who has raised millions of pounds for charity has celebrated her 11th birthday – seven years after being told she had just weeks to live.

Kirsty Howard, who lives in Greater Manchester, has raised almost £5m for the Kirsty’s Appeal charity.

The youngster, born with a terminal heart defect, raises funds for the Manchester-based Francis House Hospice for children in Manchester.

During fundraising she became friends with David and Victoria Beckham.

She began campaigning for the Francis House Hospice, where she was being cared for, in 1999.

Doctors had told her she only had up to six weeks to live as a result of being born with a back to front heart.

As the England team mascot for the World Cup qualifying match against Greece in October 2001, she held David Beckham’s hand on the pitch at Old Trafford.

Nine months later she handed the baton to the Queen at the opening ceremony of the Manchester Commonwealth Games, again with Beckham at her side.

In the past she has also been invited to open the Harrods sale with Victoria Beckham.

Wednesday, Sep. 20, 2006

Angels in Adoption

One couple has much more love to give

We often hear of angels – but usually never see them. Until now.
A Midland County couple are Angels in Adoption – an award given to someone who’s made contributions towards the lives of so many children.

It started with one child, and for the Streu’s that’s all it took to get hooked.

“We extended our license so that teens wouldn’t have to leave our house,” explained Randy Streu, a foster/adoptive parent. “Then we extended to have more children and we’ve been falling in love with them ever since.”

Pam and Randy Streu were honored today at the Midland County Courthouse for being an angel in adoption.

Rep. Dave Camp nominated the couple for their commitment and love to kids. “You hear the life story of this family,” said Camp. “The love and hope they’ve brought to so many children, 49, it really is a special day.”

“I can think of so many families out there that do so much more than we do and they picked us,” said Pam. “It is so indescribable.”

Pam and Randy have also adopted seven and have a total of 10 children, including a son serving in Iraq, and three grandchildren.

Those who have known and worked with the Streus for the last 12 years say once a child is in their care, that child is loved, has faith and given hope.

“All it takes is a loving heart,” Randy said. “We don’t need a lot of knowledge. You just need to open your heart and your home; that’s all the kids want.”

Grandpa to the rescue

GOLD Coast grandfather Graham Flint could be Queens-land’s greatest good Samaritan.

The former property developer is spending $1.1 million on a dedicated facility for children with autism.

The centre, being built and due to open by 2007, will be the first of its kind on the Gold Coast.

It comes as the State Government has been accused of leaving gaping holes in the city’s disability services.

“It’s a lot of money but there’s nothing better I could spend it on,” said Mr Flint, 74.

“If you wait for the Government, you don’t get anywhere, so I decided to build it myself.”

Families of children with autism described Mr Flint as a hero yesterday, but the former consultant turned property developer from Arundel said he was only doing the right thing.

“I’m very, very ordinary,” he said.

“(The hero tag) doesn’t sit very comfortably with me at all.

“What can I say? I like kids.”

Mr Flint said he experienced autism first hand when his grandson Ben, 11, was diagnosed at age two.

Mr Flint’s daughter, Robyn Hawkins, who will run the centre, said her motivation was to give other children suffering the neurobiological disease a chance at a normal life.

“It’s ridiculous how inadequate services are on the Gold Coast,” said Mrs Hawkins.

“Parents are really struggling, they are doing it tough and they need some help.

“If we waited for the Government, it could take 10 years and we might still not get any funding.

“There’s always so much red tape and basically they don’t want to know about it.”

The proposed centre, at the corner of Napper Road and Allied Drive at Arundel, will focus on intervention for autistic children aged two to five.

“There’s just nothing like this on the Gold Coast and the tragic thing is, there needs to be, because early intervention can make such a huge difference,” said Mrs Hawkins.

“My son Ben made such an improvement and it’s something that should be available to all parents.”

Autism Gold Coast president Tony Maher praised Mr Flint and he urged the Government and the community to support the project.

After 11 Miscarriages, Friend Carries Twins For Woman Who Also Has Twins

Tasha and John Riddle’s Oregon home is filled with babies today. But they had tried to have children for years only to see each pregnancy end in a miscarriage within weeks.

“I don’t even know how to explain it,” Tasha told The Early Show national correspondent Hattie Kauffman. “It was very hurtful. We’d have a healthy baby, at eight, nine, ten weeks. We’d have an ultrasound every week and you see a heartbeat. You see little arms forming and legs moving. We were so excited. Then, the next ultrasound, there was no heartbeat.”

“It was heartbreaking,” John said.

In all, they endured 11 miscarriages.

“I felt bad for John because I knew he’d be such a great father. And for him possibly not to experience that was hard for me,” Tasha said. “So, at times, I did blame myself.”

In desperation, Tasha turned to her lifelong friend, Raquel Mitola — the two had been inseparable since the fifth grade — and asked Raquel to carry her babies for her.

“She actually started crying ’cause she was so honored that she’d carry our baby for us,” Tasha said. “And then of course, I started crying. So it was an emotional phone call for both of us.”

Raquel said it was difficult to see her friend suffer because she had always hoped they would raise their children together.

“Mine were getting older and she still wasn’t able to have a baby, so it was hard watching her and John go through it,” she said.

Using in vitro fertilization, doctors implanted Tasha and John’s embryos in Raquel.

“When we found out Raquel was pregnant, that was the, the ultimate at that point,” John said.

Raquel turned out to be pregnant with twins but then the even bigger news came: Tasha was also carrying twins. In a last effort, she had been implanted with embryos on the same day as Raquel, who said she never allowed herself to get attached to the children she was carrying.

“I was never worried. I know my family and friends were worried about that but I didn’t get too attached,” she said. “I knew I was going to be a part of their life.”

The two sets of twins — three girls and one boy — were delivered eight days apart.

“Just looking at them for the first time, I just, we both started crying,” Tasha said. “It was just little miracles.”

“Yeah, they’re so beautiful and they were so healthy,” John said.

After that experience, Raquel and Tasha grew even closer. Raquel drives two and a half hours through the country to deliver breast milk and to help out.

“I couldn’t imagine being pregnant without her,” Tasha said.

Today, the Riddles have to endure an endless cycle of diaper changing, laundry, fluffing and folding, feeding and burping four babies — it’s never quiet. Friends and neighbors help with the babies during the day but Tasha and John are on their own at night when the action is nonstop.

“Tasha made the comment the other day, you know. I know you were just joking, but she’s like, ‘It would be boring to have only one baby,’ ” John said.

Tuesday, Sep. 19, 2006

She was expected to die: This week, she bore a son.

They wheeled Kelly Jo Blosser into the labor and delivery room.

They lifted her legs for her. They propped up her body.

Then, as tears welled in their eyes, the doctors and nurses helped the quadriplegic deliver her baby.

Kelly Jo Blosser and 5-pound, 7-ounce baby Chad Allen Stanford are miracles, the medical professionals say.

In a split second on a winding Arkansas road last March, Blosser’s life shattered.

That Blosser and Chad Allen are here at all is a tribute to the commitment from the doctors, nurses and staff at Good Samaritan Hospital who took her in as a patient when facilities in Tennessee and West Virginia said the pregnancy and delivery were too risky.

“She’s a miracle mother,” said Dr. Kim Brady, the director of obstetrics at Good Samaritan.

Neither mother nor baby was expected to make it on that sunny March Monday morning when Blosser was driving her 7-year-old daughter, Kaitlin Nicole, to school.

After rounding a curve, Blosser’s car slammed into the rear of a garbage truck stopped in the road.

“It was too late for her to swerve,” said Robin Blosser, Kelly Jo’s mother.

The impact sheared the top off the car and killed Kaitlin Nicole.

A single mother, Blosser, who had just discovered she was pregnant when the March 14 crash happened, has been hospitalized ever since. She has never been well enough to go back to Arkansas and visit her daughter’s grave.

A CONSTANT CHORE

The crash broke Blosser’s neck in three places and severed her spinal cord. The injuries have seriously affected her central nervous system. Stabilizing her blood pressure is a constant chore.

Blosser, 25, will never walk again, doctors say. She will never be able to pick up Chad Allen or her other two children, Destiney Lynn, 4, and Gunner Todd, 2.

After the crash, both Blosser and Kaitlin Nicole were flown to Nashville, Tenn.

The little girl, although technically dead, was kept on a ventilator until Robin Blosser arrived to say goodbye. Kaitlin Nicole’s heart, liver and kidneys were harvested for transplant into four different people.

Kelly Jo Blosser’s doctors predicted she would die in a matter of hours. The fetus in her womb was expected to spontaneously abort.

Blosser and Chad Allen proved those Tennessee doctors wrong.

“I think this is what has kept her going,” Robin Blosser said.

MORE HURDLES

Blosser faces a lot of obstacles.

She has not accepted Kaitlin Nicole’s death.

“I can’t do this anymore,” a tearful Blosser said Thursday as her mother explained the accident.

Still, Blosser never gave up her fight to survive and be a mother again.

On Thursday, Robin Blosser carefully placed Chad Allen onto Kelly Jo Blosser’s chest.

Blosser, paralyzed from the upper chest down, crooked her head toward Chad Allen and kissed his temple.

“I was so scared,” she said of his vaginal birth at 10:08 a.m. Wednesday.

“She didn’t know if she was going to make it or if the baby was going to make it,” Robin Blosser said.

As Blosser and her son spent a quiet moment together Thursday, tears filled the eyes of the two hospital employees in the room.

NEW HOME ON HORIZON

Early this morning, Blosser is expected to say goodbye to Cincinnati, a city – save for two brief visits outside the hospital doors – she has only seen through her window or from TV images since she arrived here in July.

She’ll be going to her mother’s home in Spencer, W.Va. Her other children will join them.

“We got used to her around here,” said Good Samaritan nurse Lori Holland, who joined other nurses two weeks ago and threw Kelly Jo a baby shower. “If she hated the world and had had that attitude, she would never have made it this far. She really taught us a thing or two.”

Life will change radically for Robin Blosser, too.

The 41-year-old grandmother now has a quadriplegic daughter, that daughter’s three children, and her own 12-year-old son to care for. She quit her job as a cashier the day of the accident to be with her daughter.

“She’s going to need 24-hour care,” Robin Blosser said.

Robin Blosser, who is also a single mom, knows her life back in West Virginia will be a struggle, but she says it is nothing compared to what Kelly Jo has gone through.

She doesn’t know how she’ll do it. She just knows she’ll never stop being a mom.

“All I can do is take it a day at a time,” she said. “I know I’ll never be able to go back to work, because she will be 24/7. But I’ll be there for her; and I’ll be there to help those babies grow up.”

Teacher touts blogs for learning

“In this part of my blog, I’m going to tell you how I use modern day technology in my daily life. Well, first off, I begin my day by waking up, thanks to my alarm clock.”

That’s how one of Ben Goodman’s Cimarron Springs Elementary students started off an online journal known as a blog.

Goodman, a technology teacher, sees each class only twice a year, for three weeks at a time. He has to help students internalize what he teaches so it isn’t forgotten.

“I try to have them write about what they’re learning about,” said Goodman, who has been teaching in the Dysart Unified School District for 30 years. “The concept here is if you really internalize the concept, then you should be able to explain it to someone else.”

So Goodman combined teaching with technology to accomplish that goal.

“In my experience, when someone is writing and they know someone else will read it, they write better,” Goodman said.

The Web logs, or blogs, are posted on the Internet so that students can log on to read each other’s entries and make comments.

Goodman’s efforts in the classroom recently earned him the TeachersFirst Class Blogs Award from TeachersFirst.com, a Web resource for K-12 teachers.

“As the inaugural recipient of this honor, (Ben) Goodman is being recognized for actively using a classroom blog with students to facilitate student understanding, encourage writing expression and promote good writing skills,” said Candace Hackett Shively, director of K-12 at NITV, the parent company of TeachersFirst, in a statement.

But Goodman’s efforts don’t stop in the classroom – now he’s helping other teachers learn how to use the blogs so that they can continue with what he has taught their students.

“Quite a number of teachers . . . have formed their own blogs, and that’s what’s going to really change things,” Goodman said.

And students enjoy it, he said. It’s a real application of what they’re learning.

“I do think it helps,” he said. “You have a real audience. You stay a little sharper.”

And Goodman has to stay sharp as well, in a field that is always changing. He subscribes to newsletters and magazines to keep up on technology’s cutting edge. These new trends include wikis, collaborative, interactive Web sites, and podcasting, which is a way of distributing audio or video files over the Internet to mobile devices and personal computers.

Goodman adapts those cutting-edge ideas and brings them into the classroom.

“I think the job of technology . . . is to transform the way you teach, not to make little minor changes,” he said.

She’s secretly a student

It takes a special principal to hush 2,000 teenagers in an echoey gymnasium — especially without being there.

Doherty High School’s Jill Martin walked into a silent gym Monday morning where students, colleagues, family and friends surprised her with news that she has been named the 2007 National High School Principal of the Year.

Martin had been lured away from the school for a business breakfast as hundreds of people, including school band members, packed the gym.

When she returned, her secretary told her there was an emergency in the gym involving scoreboard equipment. Martin didn’t take the bait, so the story was embellished: A student had fallen in the gym.

Instead of paramedics, she was greeted by cameras and cheers.

“This is one of the few times in my life where I honestly have to say I don’t know what to say,” she told the crowd.

Principal at Doherty since 1999, Martin was selected from among hundreds by the National Association of Secondary School Principals and MetLife, which together coordinate and fund the award. She received a $5,000 grant for the school or for professional training.

Martin was honored for a lengthy list of accomplishments, from improving student attendance and decreasing the dropout rate to implementing several programs.

Principals were judged on their leadership, academics and people skills. State winners were chosen this year, and a national judging panel selected and interviewed three finalists.

Martin has a reputation among students as being a good listener. “She’s like one of us,” said sophomore Gloria Angel. “She’s secretly a student.”

Sarah-Rose Gundel, a senior, attended middle school in New York before coming to Doherty. She went from feeling like a number to a person, she said. “I was tearing up in the bleachers when I saw her walk out,” Gundel said.

Martin spoke to The Gazette last week about her status as one of three national finalists, not knowing she was the winner. She said she was honored to have gotten so far when she considered the competition. “I’ve been around long enough to know how many good high school principals there are,” she said.

She also happens to live with one of them. Her husband, Paul, is principal at Cheyenne Mountain High School and was Wyoming’s principal of the year in 1984 — a time when there wasn’t a national competition for state winners.

Her husband is her mentor, Martin said. She bounces ideas off him at home.

The journey to becoming National High School Principal of the Year began last school year when she was nominated for the Colorado award.

Maybe it began further back than that, Martin mused. She said she ran “schools” in her backyard as a youngster, charging 25 cents to conduct activities for younger kids, which she now realizes parents saw as cheap baby-sitting.

She said she didn’t have plans to be a teacher at that point.

That came later, when she watched her brother — who has gone on to a successful career in television — drop out of school. She wanted to find out what made him dislike school, which she loved.

She became an English teacher 37 years ago and said she’s “getting there” when it comes to answering the question about why some kids don’t want to go to school.

In her doctoral dissertation, she found that truant students wanted to be successful at school but didn’t think it was possible.

They were the same students who didn’t necessarily qualify for special programs at school to help them be successful, she said.

That’s driven her mission to start new programs, including one in which students periodically meet with teachers or advisers to set goals, review their academic progress and draft improvement plans.

Another program, Spartan Connection, provides groups of 30 students with a chance to meet weekly with two adults to talk about anything on their minds.

“The goal there is to personalize our school,” Martin said.

All students should feel they have at least one adult who is an advocate for them at school, she said. That adult may be a teacher, the custodian or Martin, who has a group that meets during Spartan Connection time.

About 130 Doherty students take elective classes that teach skills to make them more successful in college in a program initiated by Martin.

Teachers and counselors say Martin’s focus on the students never seems to waver, and she fosters a team environment where teachers talk regularly about students and learning and how to improve them.

“She’s always there to recognize when students do well,” said Doherty band director David Williams.

Monday, Sep. 18, 2006

Pensioner reunited with brother’s watch

DOUG Andrews was just a teenager when his older brother was killed in a wartime plane crash – and now, more than 60 years later, he finally has a treasured keepsake to remember him by.

Mr Andrews, of The Street, Bawdsey, near Woodbridge, has been presented with the watch that went missing when his brother died after a bombing mission over Germany.

His brother, Victor, was only 19 when he died in a RAF Halifax heavy bomber. The plane was returning to Snaith airfield, near York, on March 14, 1945, when it overshot the runway.

The plane crashed into a railway embankment and Flt Sgt Andrews, of Alderton, near Woodbridge, and the seven other crew were killed.

This was the crew’s 24th and final operation together and the tragedy for their families and the rest of the 51 Squadron was especially difficult to bear coming just before the end of the war.

Mr Andrews, 17 months younger than his brother, was working in the fields in east Suffolk when he was told of his brother’s death.

His brother’s watch was found soon after the crash and kept for safekeeping by a family. Thanks to the intervention of aviation historians it has now been handed over to Mr Andrews.

He attended a special ceremony at Snaith and was presented with the watch.

Mr Andrews, 79, said: ”The watch means a lot to me and it is a very treasured possession. It is by my bedside and that is where it will stay. I will not put it on because I do not want to lose it.

”It keeps very good time. It has a very small winder and I do not wind it very regularly because I need to be careful with it.”

His mother, Bessie Andrews, had written to the RAF on several occasions to try to get the watch returned to the family, but this never proved possible.

When he attended the ceremony to receive the watch Mr Andrews was so overcome by emotion that he found it difficult to thank the people involved.

”I could not speak. I had gone there thinking I could thank everybody but I could not speak,” he recalled.

The watch was discovered by Frederick Hardgrave, a farm worker, soon after the crash site had been cleared.

He handed it down his family with the wish that one day it would be returned to the owner’s family.

The RAF was told about the find but the Hardgraves were advised not to pursue the matter because it could upset Mr Andrews’s family.

But Peter Gulliver, a 60-year-old aviation historian, visited the crash site with another historian and he was told that a watch had been found. Mr Gulliver then visited the Hardgrave family.

Mr Gulliver said: ”They kept the watch until I went to see them at the tail end of last year.

“They were more than pleased to give it to me and I took it to a jewellers and had it repaired. They cleaned the watch and it worked straightaway.

”At the ceremony I presented the watch to Douglas. It was very emotional for both of us, we were in tears.”

Mr Andrews is buried at Alderton and his grave is visited by his brother every fortnight.

Friday, Sep. 15, 2006

Boy bitten 4 times by rattlesnake helps friend

Doing what came naturally to him almost cost Joseph Edward Michael “Mikey” Evans his life.

The 13-year-old seventh-grader at West Hernando Middle School was hiding behind a palmetto bush in Royal Highlands with his friend, 10-year-old Dustin Wright, eluding two boys who were chasing them.

Mikey felt a “sting” on his right ankle, just above his sneaker. He knew it was snake.

Mikey hoisted Dustin onto his back so the younger boy wouldn’t be bitten. He carried his friend 60 to 70 feet out of the woods, said Mikey’s dad, Joe Evans, before coming to a house and asking the residents there to call 911.

By the time Joe Evans and his wife, Lorrie, arrived at the scene, at about 8:30 p.m. July 27, paramedics had also arrived and Mikey was already hallucinating, convulsing and acting combative.

The exertion from carrying his friend pumped the venom more quickly through his body.

“He made a bad situation worse,” his dad said.

At Oak Hill Hospital, Mikey received four vials of antivenin serum to treat what were determined to be four snake bites, probably from two adult and two baby rattlesnakes.

The baby snake bites are the most poisonous.

Mikey was then taken by BayFlight to All Children’s Hospital, where, over three weeks, he received 68 more vials of antivenin.

“We had more than one doctor tell us we could lose him,” his mother said.

Ultimately, Mikey’s leg needed surgery.

“It was like a can of biscuits dough,” said Joe Evans. It burst right open.

“How fast it got bad,” he marveled, “but it started healing up fast, too.”

Since bringing Mikey home, the Evans family has made adjustments to their lives and in their home to care for him. He uses a walker indoors and a wheelchair for longer excursions.

Joe Evans took off four weeks from his job as a merchandiser for various local firms.

While the Evans family, including daughter, Emily, 10, was able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House near All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg while Mikey was a patient, they had to pay for 12 nights in a motel while their home was being retrofitted with ramps and other accommodations for Mikey’s limited mobility.

The teen is being homeschooled.

Moose Lodge 1767 on Wiscon Road, south of Brooksville, where Joe Evans is a member, will stage a fundraising all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast 9 a.m. to noon Saturday to help the family with unexpected expenses. The price is $4 per person. Lodge members are hoping for 50 hungry diners.

Also, Guy-n-Deanna’s Elbow Room, along with Eagles Lodge 4497, will sponsor benefit dining at the Elbow Room from 3 p.m. Oct. 7. The restaurant is at 1365 Kass Circle in Spring Hill.

Benefits will help to cover the family’s out-of-pocket expenses and future expenses for Mikey’s care and convalescence.

Couple thank heroes of roadside delivery

With the help of two construction workers and an EMS dispatcher, a Calgary couple delivered a baby at the side of the road.

Yesterday, Andrew and Janelle Baldwin met with emergency workers to thank them for their help in saving their baby girl’s life.

Janelle believed she had at least five hours before delivery when she and Andrew hopped into their car Aug. 12 and left for the hospital.

But within minutes she knew Kayla, their third child, would make her way into the world faster than anticipated.

Andrew pulled over to the side of the road at 194 Street and Macleod Trail S.E. and as he ran over to his wife’s side of the car, he immediately flagged down two passing construction workers.

“Janelle started pulling down her pants and I handed them my cellphone with EMS on the line,” he said yesterday.

“When I turned back, the baby was born.”

Andrew said Kayla was blue and not breathing and he quickly began blowing gently into her mouth, as one construction worker relayed the advice from EMS dispatcher Tyler Thomas.

“They told me to make sure she was covered and the construction worker handed me a jacket to cover her while I kept blowing into her mouth,” said Andrew.

Andrew said Kayla opened her eyes but quickly paled again and stopped breathing.

“I saw the ambulance coming and it was the best sight I have ever seen,” said Andrew.

The baby was still bluish when paramedics Teresa Roberts and Craig Munro arrived. They warmed Kayla up and helped her breathing, and she was in good shape when she arrived at the hospital.

Thursday, Sep. 14, 2006

Crash hero’s friend for life

WHEN Dutch lorry driver Fred Kolenbrander was trapped beneath his 20-tonne lorry and feeling his life slip away, the last thing on his mind was making a new friend – but that is just what he got.

For 40-year-old Oldhamer Bob Wild rushed to the rescue, stopped the lorry from crushing Fred to death, and kept him calm before help arrived.
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There is little doubt that Bob’s quick thinking kept Fred alive, and following the near-death experience the two lorry drivers have gone on to become the best of mates.

“I had a lucky escape from death and I got a great friend out of it,” Fred told the Advertiser this week.

The 43-year-old suffered serious head and leg injuries in the accident in May, with surgeons at Leeds General having to transplant stomach muscle into his leg. Fred remained in hospital for two weeks and was very thankful to have life-saver Bob popping in to encourage him.

“The first night I couldn’t sleep,” Bob said. “I have seen some horrendous accidents before but have never been so involved. Every time I closed my eyes I saw it.

“I went to see Fred. He was very thankful but he didn’t owe me anything. I did it as an act of humanity.”

Bob, a lorry driver for 15 years, had been at a roadside cafe on the fateful hot summer’s day when Fred’s nightmare unfolded. He was alerted to the fact that someone was trapped under a lorry nearby and didn’t hesitate.

“I was really shocked,” he said. “I ran over and when I saw Fred my heart went from calm to frantic in a split second. He was squashed from the waist down by the truck. I was horrified. There was blood everywhere.”

Fred had pulled over to sleep in a layby near Halifax after delivering flowers to Huddersfield market. Because it was a hot day he needed to adjust the air conditioning from beneath the lorry.

He said: “I forgot to put the handbrake on and the lorry rolled back over my leg. I was trapped between the two wheels. There was blood everywhere. It was very painful. I banged my head and that was bleeding as well. I was screaming for help for some time.”

Thankfully, Bob was just the help he needed. The father-of-three leapt into the truck, put on the handbrake, switched off the engine and pumped the breaks, so releasing the mounting pressure from Fred’s body.

“I would not take my foot off the brakes. I had a job to do, Fred’s life was on the line,” said Bob. “We waited for the emergency services.

“A few minutes felt like an eternity. I kept him talking and trying to make him laugh to relax him. When you are confronted with life-or-death situations you just do what you have to do.”

Amazingly, Fred is now on the way to making a full recovery at home with his wife and three children in Spykenisse, Holland. In fact, he is doing so well he even hopes to start up his 25-year driving career again in 2007.

But the 43 year old is looking forward to something even more than that – next month he will be reunited with his new pal.

Bob says that the strong bond they have formed was initially due to the horror of their shared experience, but after visiting Fred in hospital in Leeds he realised that they had a lot in common.

Ever since, Bob and Fred have stayed in touch via phone and email, and they plan to introduce their families in the near future.

Bob said: “I never want to be involved in anything like that again, but if I was I’d do the same again. Fred’s an absolutely brilliant guy.”

Hero dog, handler honored

Loyal, faithful, dependable, helpful and reliable have all been used to describe man’s best friend. The partnership of dog and man has included assistance with herding and hunting, an early alarm system, and the companionship many know and love. At NSB Kings Bay, dog handlers have a unique relationship with their military working dogs. The dogs, along with their handlers, are deployed worldwide to support the global war on terrorism, helping to safeguard military bases and activities and to detect bombs and other explosives before they inflict harm. They are also trained to sniff out drugs and even track scents.

”Rex and I are partners and when I start to lag a bit he pushes me onward, if he lags a bit I push him to keep going,” said MA1 Christopher Calloway, a military working dog handler. ”With life’s bumps, ups and downs, Rex will always be by my side.”

Recently Rex and his handler were nominated for the Hero Dog of the Year by the War Dog Foundation. On Sept. 15, Rex and his handler won the German Shepherd Club of America award for his heroism during his deployment to Afghanistan and for his role in the prevention of drug trafficking. Rex and Calloway will go to the National Special Show on Oct. 18 in St. Louis.

”Rex is one of the finest animals I have had the opportunity to come across,” said MA1 Kyle Strobeck, the Kings Bay Kennel supervisor. ”Rex excels at every task we assign him, whether here at home or deployed we know that Rex will get the job done.”

Rex and his handler were sent to Afghanistan for a six month deployment in Dec. 2005. Leaving the states, Rex and Calloway found themselves in Kuwait waiting for a final destination to Afghanistan. In country, they were put to use helping coalition forces in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. During his tour, he sustained a tear to his Achilles tendon, which lead to him and Rex losing their qualifications. Upon their arrival back to NSB Kings Bay in May, Calloway and Rex went straight into training for their qualifications and by June, they were fully qualified and ready to perform their duties.

”Rex is my work gauge to know if we worked enough that day, if not, Rex won’t get out of the vehicle until he feels we worked enough,” said Calloway.

Unsung hero finds new home

Heroics couldn’t save Edmund Henderson from homelessness, but the caring concern of others did.

The 58-year-old Portage la Prairie resident bravely alerted sleeping guests to danger at Portage Hotel when fire broke out in the building on the morning of Aug. 31.

However, warning others and seeing them safely out of the burning building left him little time to save his own possessions.

“All the possessions in the world aren’t worth your life,” he said yesterday, while recalling the day of the fire during an interview at his new home in the southeast corner of the city.

“All I got out was the clothes on my back,” said the janitor, who had called Portage Hotel his home for the last eight years.

Henderson, who works nights as a cleaner at the local Sobeys, said he returned to the site of the historic landmark as crews were clearing away the rubble in hopes of salvaging some of his belongings, but had no success.

“I didn’t really have a lot of stuff …, but it still came out to around $5,000,” he said, noting his possessions were not insured.

The Good Samaritan said after the fire, several Sobeys employees gave him clothes to wear. His friends has also donated items, with one person loaning him a television and kitchen table.

Henderson said most of his family lives in Alberta, adding he has contacted one of his brother to find out if he can provide some assistance, but hasn’t heard a reply yet.

“I just thank the people that were generous enough to help me out, because without them I would still have nothing … and I could have been homeless and out on the street,” Henderson said yesterday.

Bill Calder, owner of Clayton Agencies in Portage, was at the scene of the blaze when he became aware of what Henderson had lost.

“I was standing beside him watching the fire and he got talking and telling me about his situation …. He didn’t know where he was going to go, or where he was going to stay that night,” said Calder.

Calder said he had rented to Henderson previously and knew he was a good tenant. He then spoke to the owner of a building with vacancies who was also at the scene of the fire and by 1:30 p.m. on Aug. 31, Henderson was looking at what is now his apartment.

The building’s owner also dropped the rent by $25 to $325 a month so Henderson could continue to pay the same rate he had been paying at the hotel.

Henderson added his new landlord, who wishes to remain anonymous, brought him food and furniture as well. A neighbour has provided a bed.

“I think things will turn out all right,” said Henderson.

Crash: Miracle survivor of ‘a mum’s worst nightmare

THE SHAKEN mum of a scooter rider who escaped death by inches after being trapped under a double decker bus has expressed her heartfelt thanks to the quick-thinking driver, emergency services and kind passengers who rushed to his aid.
Susan Greengrass called the accident a “mother’s worst nightmare” and said the family were counting their blessings that the outcome hadn’t been bleaker.

As reported in the ET on Monday, 17-year-old Andrew Greengrass became wedged under the Citi1 Stagecoach bus, after falling from his scooter, narrowly missing being crushed by the vehicle’s front wheels.

Doctors said he was lucky to be alive as he was able to sit up and chat with hospital staff who treated him for minor cuts, bruising to his shoulder and a dislocated kneecap just moments later.

He is back at home, but still in a state of shock and pain, Mrs Greengrass said.

Andrew’s mum today praised the speedy reaction of the stunned bus driver and the reassuring words of an off-duty paramedic, who held her son’s hand as he lay helpless on the road.

She said: “If it wasn’t for the quick reaction of the bus driver, Andrew wouldn’t be here. I also want to thank everybody who helped – the firemen, paramedics police, everyone.

“He was coming round the roundabout going past the bus but then he lost it. He tried to put his foot down to steady himself and found himself under the bus. He can’t remember much after that.”

Ironically, the housewife from Campion Drive, Deeping St James, was caught up in the tailback that had built up after emergency services put roadblocks in place following the accident, but had no idea her son was involved.

She said: “I was in the car with my mum in the queue that had been held up going into town. I saw a police car and ambulance but didn’t think anything of it. I happened to turn my head and saw Andrew’s scooter. I told my mum, but she said it couldn’t be him as he wouldn’t be in Peterborough.

“But then my husband called and told me what had happened and we did a U-turn, went back to the police van and took him to hospital.”

She described her initial shock at seeing Andrew, as his skin had turned blue because the weight of the massive bus had stopped him from breathing. His helmet strap had also been frighteningly close to choking him.

Mrs Greengrass, who is married to Andrew’s dad Dennis (49), said despite the ordeal he had suffered, the adventurous teenager, whose passion for bikes sprung from his love of BMXs as a boy, is raring to get back in the saddle once he has fully recovered.

Mrs Greengrass revealed that Andrew, a former Deepings School pupil, had only passed his motorcycle test just four weeks previously.

She spoke proudly of how the trainee garage door fitter at Midland Garage in Fengate was showing remarkable spirit, even though the last few days had been a whirl of hospital visits and a battery of tests.

She said: “He is lucky to be alive.

“No one at hospital could quite believe he was sitting up and telling his tale.

“He wants to get back on the bike, but I would rather he didn’t. To think what could have happened if the bus had been a couple of inches nearer. It’s a mother’s worst nightmare.”

Dennis said his son couldn’t thank the off-duty paramedic who had stayed by his side enough.

He said: “He didn’t want her to go and he has been talking about how she comforted him. He is still in shock so he hasn’t said a great deal. He can’t believe he’s still here.”

Wednesday, Sep. 13, 2006

Pensioner is saved by hero neighbour

A 71-YEAR-OLD dialysis patient was rescued from his home by a neighbour after a fire in his kitchen.

Raymond Lawrence, of Brook Road, Northfleet, had just come back from treatment at Darent Valley Hospital when the fire started.

The trouble began when retired engineer Mr Lawrence decided to make a drink on his gas stove.

He said: “Normally I might have half an hour’s rest but I felt like a cup of tea, so I thought I’d put the kettle on.
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“The gas lighter didn’t work very quickly and when it did, it went whoosh’. There was a balloon of flames.

“I didn’t panic and tried to put the fire out but I couldn’t.”

He added: “When the smoke got a bit much I didn’t know where I was.

“I thought It’s time to get out of here’.”

However, Mr Lawrence was overcome by smoke, became disorientated and could not find his way out.

His neighbour, Derek Elllis, saw the smoke and ran to help.

The 60-year-old tried to go through the front door but was beaten back by the smoke.

He then went through a neighbour’s home, over the fence and broke into the house via the back door, cutting his arm in the process.

He found Mr Lawrence on the floor struggling to breathe and pulled him out of the front door.

The father-of-two said: “I just did what anyone else in the same situation would have done.

“The neighbours all get on around here and I hope someone would do the same for me.”

Mr Lawrence said: “I felt a little shook up but I feel better now.

“I am very grateful to Derek for pulling me out.”

Mr Lawrence was discharged from the hospital in Darenth Wood Road the following day.

Firefighters were called to the incident at 6.36pm on September 4.

Tuesday, Sep. 12, 2006

Thank God for good neighbors

You know it’s so nice and well heartwarming to have someone offer help or lend a hand just for no other reason than to be a good neighbor and friend. Someone who goes out of their way to maybe offer to take your trash when they’re going to the landfill or maybe offers you some produce from their garden. Maybe they come over and just ask how you’re doing or lend a hand when they see you’re having trouble with something. I hope you all have such a neighbor because I sure have a wonderful neighbor who does all of the above and then some.

His name is John Grigsby and I count myself lucky to be so blessed to live next door to him and his family. John’s always been a great guy but it dawned on me last night just how fortunate I was and what a good man he is.

Take last night for instance, John comes over and asks if I’d like to have two rows of corn from his garden that never really matured all the way to feed to our animals. I said sure that I’d get ready and be right over.

Folks by the time I got there he had cut down almost all of the corn and as I was parking the truck he was loading it up. By the time I left, I had some vegetables, a recipe for chili, and a “near bear” experience not to mention a much higher appreciation for John. He even tried to send me home with a new dog but I had to say no to something.

You could also take the time my sister next door had her little dog break loose and disappear. She and my nephew searched all over but could not find that dog. Well as it turns out John had heard a whimpering in the woods behind his house and when he went to investigate he found my sister’s lost dog all tangled up in the brush. Now he could’ve done several things at that point.

John could have left the dog and gone on his way. He could have turned it loose and not said anything. But that just isn’t John.

John untied the dog and returned it to my sister and my nephew had his dog back even though that little thing sure is funny looking. I swear it just has to have some otter in it somehow. Anyway like I said I feel very blessed to live next door to John and his family and I hope to continue to for many years to come.

Monday, Sep. 11, 2006

Cat rescue is this woman’s fancy

When a stray cat wanders into a backyard, possibly looking for something to eat, some people don’t take notice. However, when this happened to a Sacramento area woman nearly 10 years ago, it changed her life.

The backyard belongs to Ann Dickson, a woman who rescues stray and unwanted felines in her spare time. However, Dickson didn’t always have an interest in cats, and vice versa.

“Most cats I met prior to 1995 just didn’t seem to like me,” Dickson said with a laugh.

Dickson, a 52-year-old state employee at the Department of General Services in West Sacramento, said she was scratched, hissed at and almost spit on by other cats so “getting into cats must have been something a great power had planned for me.”

Dickson acknowledges that while she didn’t like cats at the time, she would never have thought to hurt one.

“I felt sorry for the skinny little boy and began to put a little leftover food along with the crumbs,” Dickson said. “I was warned by my husband that he would become our cat if I continued to feed him. Well, I didn’t think that would happen, especially with my plan to have him neutered.”

After her initial experience, Dickson said she knew she had to get involved in the protection and general health of defenseless cats.

Ann’s home became a foster retreat for various cats of different ages. She and her husband, Herman, eventually added a 700 square foot extension onto their home to make sure they had plenty of room to care for their rescued felines.

In 1998, the couple took their mission one step further and created their own organization called Cause For Paws, dedicated to the vaccination, spay/neuter and adoption of rescued cats.

“I’m responsible for taking care of all the kittens and cats in foster care. [This includes] vet care, food, litter and many other needed supplies.” Dickson said. “We have an adoption site which is run every Saturday and is a 50 mile round trip for me.”

Spay and neuter of feral and domesticated cats is an integral part of Cause For Paws. A female cat that is not sterile is capable of having three litters of kittens in a year, which is a heavy tax on her body. In turn, male cats will fight, disable and even kill other males when they are vying for the attention of females in heat, said Gerry Clark, a feline rescuer and fellow State employee.

The operations also keep the population of feral and domesticated cats in check.

“The clinic was sponsored by the Sacramento SPCA, and when I went in, Ann greeted me with enthusiasm,” said Josh Hicks, a coworker of Dickson’s. “She gave me shots for my kittens at her cost and she’s very knowledgeable.”

Dickson is equally vocal about the adoption of her foster cats, which are kept at her home as well as in a small network of other foster homes.

“To the best of my ability I work on placing the kitties in the best homes I can find,” Dickson said.

Anyone can adopt as long as they meet the following criteria: the cats must be ‘indoor only’ for life, no de-clawing of the cats, and the pet deposit must be paid if the owner of the cat rents their home, the owner must be willing to make a true commitment, and be willing to pay an adoption fee.

As long as Dickson knows her client is truly ready to accept the responsibility of adopting, she will go out of her way to find his or her feline match.

“My boyfriend and I were looking for a female orange tabby, because he had always wanted one,” said Sara Horr, a client of Dickson’s.

The couple got in touch with Dickson and she e-mailed them a picture of the exact cat they were looking for. However, “she was very careful about the health of the cat and said it needed its shots and to be spayed. She gave it its first set of kitten vaccinations,” Horr said.

Dickson’s cause is not always an easy or joyful one. Clark recalls a perilous occasion where “there was a cat trapped on a freeway onramp. Ann risked her life to save it.”

It was Halloween and Dickson was dressed as a nun that year.

“I don’t think [drivers on the freeway] knew if I was real nun or not and I just sort of walked across saying ‘Sorry, I need to get over here,’” Dickson said. “I don’t think I would have ever spotted [the cat]… the coloring of her fur blended into the pavement very well.”

Ann and Herman Dickson have dedicated themselves to feline rescue for 12 years and are planning to retire from fostering next year. In 2005, Clark nominated the couple for the SSPCA Humanitarian Award, which they won. They have also spayed and neutered approximately 1,800 feral cats and adopted out at least 1,200 friendly cats and kittens.

Dickson may never have expected to spend so many years of her life saving animals, but has improved the lives of thousands of feral and domestic cats as well as creating countless bonds of love between her clients and their perfect feline matches.

KCK woman wins $20K in lottery

Betty Ward received the surprise of a lifetime when she checked her 2by2 Kansas Lottery ticket from the Sept. 5 drawing.

The Kansas City, Kan., resident matched all four numbers on a $1 Quick Pick 2by2 ticket, winning a top prize of $20,000.

Ward, who works in the customer service department at a Hen House grocery store in Overland Park, checked her winning ticket before she reported for work.

“I bought my ticket after work,” said Ward. “When I came back in to work (the next day), I thought I better see if I won anything. I checked my ticket on the Check-A-Ticket machine and it said, ‘See store clerk’. I had a co-worker, the customer service manager, check it on the lottery machine because I had never seen that before.”

After having her winning ticket checked on the lottery terminal, Ward still was unsure of her winnings.

“This time it said, ‘Claim at Lottery,’” Ward said. “I still didn’t know how much I’d won so we printed out the winning numbers from last night’s drawing.”

That’s when she realized she had won the $20,000 top prize.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Ward. “I went home and showed my husband.”

Aaron, Ward’s husband, couldn’t believe it either. He decided to see for himself. He looked up the winning numbers on the Kansas Lottery’s website.

“She was acting so calm and cool, I thought she was joking,” said Aaron. “I don’t think it has sunk in how much she has actually won.”

The couple has two daughters. They plan to use their prize money to pay bills.

Thursday, Sep. 7, 2006

Holocaust survivors meet after 62 years

When they were 11 years old, childhood friends Esther Grauer and Tova Weiszner survived a six-month death march.

They then spent three years together during the Second World War in a prison in the occupied Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union, begging food from villagers to survive.

They lost touch after the war but trod similar paths, settling in Canada and raising families.

About 20 years ago, a support organization for Holocaust survivors put them in touch, but they hadn’t seen each other in person since not long after they left prison.

Sixty-two years, five children, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren later, the survivors were reunited yesterday at Trudeau airport.

“Do you have a Valium? I can’t believe I forgot my Valium,” Grauer, 77, exclaimed moments before the reunion, to no avail.

“I don’t want to make a scene.”

But there was no scene. Only glistening eyes, throats choked with emotion and the silent embrace of friends who have experienced too much and haven’t seen each other since 1944.

“I have no words,” said Weiszner, 76. “There are no words. I am speechless.”

Friends since Grade 2 at their Hebrew elementary school in Lipcani, Romania (now a part of Moldova), Grauer and Weiszner and their families were among more than 1,000 Jews forced from their homes in 1941 by Germany’s Nazis and the Romanian army, marching for six months until they reached the prison barracks in the occupied Ukraine in which they would live for three years. Those who couldn’t walk any longer or disobeyed were shot.

Grauer arrived with her mother and younger sister, Weiszner with her father, pregnant mother and brother.

“It wasn’t a four-star hotel,” Weiszner said. “We slept on the cement floor; there were no beds or even mattresses. And there was no food.”

They would sneak under the barbed wire before dawn (“If the soldiers saw us, they would shoot us.”) and beg from villagers who risked their lives to help them.

Grauer remembers melting snow for water in prison. For food, she rinsed potato skins discarded by the German and Romanian guards.

Bodies of the dead were carried out daily. Weiszner’s parents and her newborn sibling would be among them, ultimately succumbing to typhus and malnutrition. Disease and lice were rampant because prisoners were not allowed to bathe.

“Imagine not having a shower for three years,” Weiszner said.

Weiszner’s and Grauer’s parents heard of a new law protecting young prisoners with no parents, and they made the children pose as orphans so they would be sent to orphanages back in Romania. Grauer eventually reunited with her mother and sister; Weiszner never saw her parents again.

The friends last saw each other in Bucharest in 1944. Separately, both travelled to Israel in the late ’40s, married and had children.

Grauer immigrated to Montreal in 1958, and her husband, a professional soccer player, played for Italian and Greek teams and drove a taxi before opening the Village Cycle and Ski sports store in Dollard des Ormeaux. One of their sons, Morrie Grauer, started the MicroBytes computer store, which now has 16 franchises in Quebec. She recently became a great-grandmother.

Weiszner stayed in Israel for

12 years, then immigrated to Winnipeg, where her husband earned 80 cents an hour as a tailor and she made 50 cents at any job she could get – working in a factory, cooking for a daycare, washing floors.

They raised three children – two of them became dentists, and the other works at a university. Weiszner has been a volunteer for the last 25 years, and still donates her time to three different organizations.

And she recently became a great-grandmother.

“I’ve been lucky,” said the diminutive Weiszner, who has a comedian’s delivery and credits her vitality to “keeping busy –

I don’t just sit on the couch.”

“I’ve had a good life, I have good children – they’re healthy, they’re not in prison.”

Her one regret, however, is that she and Grauer took so long to see each other. Yes, Winnipeg is far, but it’s not like they had to walk, Weiszner said.

Grauer feels the same way.

Friends fortunate enough to have survived the Holocaust and who live in the same country have an obligation to see each other, Grauer noted.

“We were happy to survive, but you never forget. … When you’re that young, it leaves an imprint forever.”

Topping the agenda yesterday after Weiszner’s flight from Winnipeg were lunch and rest.

“And then we’ll probably stay up till midnight and talk,” Weiszner said.

The Scream is Returned

The Scream is returned back to its rightful owners “The People”

Oslo, Norway – Norwegian police recovered “The Scream” and another stolen masterpiece by Edvard Munch on Thursday, two years after the works were seized from a museum by gunmen.

“We are 100 percent certain they are the originals,” police chief Iver Stensrud told a news conference. “The damage was much less than feared.”

“The Scream” depicts a person that is extremely frightened with errie glows from the wavy red sky above. The other, “Madonna,” shows a bare-breasted woman with long black hair.

Two armed men broke into the Munch Museum in Oslo in August 2004 and yanked the two works from the walls in front of dozens of terrified tourists.

The paintings, both from 1893, have been missing even though three men were convicted in May of taking part in the theft and were sentenced to up to eight years in jail. Two of them were ordered to pay $122 million in damages.

Tuesday, Sep. 5, 2006

Man rescued by ferry gets married on vessel a year later

A man who was plucked from the waters of Lake Michigan onto the Lake Express ferry got married over the weekend on the same vessel.

Tom Drewek was clinging to a seat cushion in the lake for 24 hours after his boat capsized in August 2005. Someone on the Lake Express ferry spotted him on its way from Milwaukee to Muskegon, Mich. and rescued him.

“If it weren’t for the Lake Express, I wouldn’t be here. Cut and dry. Just plain and simple,” Tom Drewek said.

He and Sherry Thurston exchanged vows Saturday morning in Milwaukee. They then took the ferry to Muskegon for a reception.

It was Drewek’s first trip on the ferry since his rescue.

Thurston and Drewek met online.

“I don’t even live in the state of Wisconsin, and for us to get together we kind of think of this as our second miracle,” Thurston said. “Our first being his life saved.”

Drewek said he still loves the water, even after last year’s ordeal.

The Lake Express ferry makes three round trips between the two port cities daily during the summer.

Monday, Sep. 4, 2006

In the footsteps of an angel

A decent meal and friendly chat make a big difference to Melbourne’s many homeless and disadvantaged, writes Michael Lallo, a Margaret Oats Soup Van volunteer.

‘Mate, this is the first thing I’ve had all day,” says Frank, a hulking figure clad in a blue fleece top, as he gulps down a cup of steaming vegetable soup.

Judging by the speed at which the crowd descends on the table in Collingwood’s Smith Street, it seems Frank is not the only one who’s waited until 8pm for breakfast.

Volunteers busily dole out more food. As always, all of it is eagerly received. While some onlookers appear bemused by this scene, most are familiar with the nightly ritual.

Over the course of a typical week, about 70 volunteers – from students and young professionals to retirees – will hand out thousands of sandwiches, cups of soup and pieces of fruit to the homeless and housing commission residents of Collingwood and Richmond.

The scheme is the formal continuation of the work of Margaret Oats. Until her death in 1998, the “Angel of Collingwood” was a familiar sight on these streets, distributing much-needed food and clothes from her trolley.

And as I quickly discovered when I signed up as a volunteer last year, a sympathetic ear is just as sought after as a sandwich.

Tonight, Frank wants to talk about his health problems. Myself and Laura, another volunteer, simply listen and nod, and he seems to relax after unloading his woes.

But then Laura breaks the news that she’s leaving to spend a year doing charity work overseas. Frank’s face falls and he envelops her in a big bear hug. Only when she promises to write to him does he brighten.

As Laura says her goodbyes, the rest of us pack up and pile into two mini-vans, heading off to nearby housing commission units.

Kevin, a kindly man in his 50s, say this has been a particularly tough week. “Just ran out of money,” he admits.

Matt is more upbeat, inviting us in to show off his guitar.

Karen and Tom, who look to be barely out of their teens, emerge from a fog of pot smoke to request their usual – tuna rolls and apples.

Jack, who suffers both cancer and Parkinson’s disease, has a bowl ready for us to pour soup into. “Doc says I need to eat more vegies,” he explains.

As we leave, Jack produces a jar of lollies, proud to be offering us something in return.

“Take another one for the road,” he urges.

* Some names have been changed.

Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2006

Homeless man to the rescue

A promise ring has new meaning for its owner after it was lost and found again with the help of two dumpster-diving strangers.

Bianca Hunt, 17, was visiting Vancouver from Saskatoon when she lost the silver, diamond-studded band at her sister’s apartment complex two weeks ago.

“I was devastated,” she said. “That ring doesn’t leave my finger, but I was going in the hot tub . . . so I left it on the pool deck.”

Hunt forgot about the ring until the next day. But when she went back to the pool it was gone.

“It was just a tiny little promise ring, but it meant the world to me,” she said. “I put up notices in the all the apartment’s elevators, but in a few hours someone took them down.”

Unbeknownst to Hunt, the ring had been found by Vancouver art designer Scott Lauder, whose girlfriend lives in the building. Lauder put on the ring, meaning to turn it in to the building’s doorman, but soon forgot all about it. He noticed it again while at a friend’s apartment, where he took it off and left it on a counter.

“I’m really embarrassed to admit it, but I didn’t think of [the ring] until I saw a note in the elevator,” he said. “All of a sudden, I felt horribly guilty.”

Lauder called his friend, who told him he had thrown away the band, thinking it was fake.

“That meant I was going to have to go through his dumpster,” he said.

That day after work, Lauder went dumpster-diving. After looking through the trash with no success, he decided to enlist the help of a homeless man named Allan who was also looking through the bin.

For $20, Allan agreed to help him hunt. “[Allan] looked at me and said, ‘Let’s find it.’ I had faith that he would be able to do it,” said Lauder.

The two men chatted as they searched, but after two hours, Lauder had to go home.

“I gave [Allan] the money and then I asked him, ‘Can I trust you?’ He looked me right in the eye and said, ‘What makes you think you can’t?’ I told him he was right and that I trusted him.”

The men struck a deal: If Allan found the ring, he would leave it in a vent on the side of the apartment. If Lauder visited the building in the morning and saw the ring there, he would leave another $20 for him.

“I got home, but I kept thinking about it, feeling guilty that I wasn’t there,” said Lauder. “At 10:30, I went back. I saw Allan standing in a doorway and I knew he had found it. His face had this look of accomplishment.”

In the vent, Lauder found the ring. “I was overwhelmed almost to the point of tears,” he said. “What I did for [Allan] was monetary, but he gave me something more . . . He made me realize I’m often too quick to judge.”

Hunt was also overcome with emotion upon hearing her ring had been found.

“I’m so happy, I can’t stop smiling,” she said from Saskatoon. “My boyfriend gave me the ring for our two-year anniversary and we’ve been through a lot of negative stuff. This means so much to me.”

Lauder plans to give the ring to Hunt’s sister, who will complete the circle and get it back to its rightful owner.

Heaven-sent bulldog stood in as wartime mascot

More than 60 years ago, during the last years of World War II, Mr. Angel watched over Sanford Stadium, much like Uga VI will do this Saturday.

Like Uga VI, Mr. Angel was a bulldog who wagged his tail during his tenure from 1944 to 1946.

Mr. Angel’s caretaker, Dr. Warren A. Coleman, passed away years ago, but his daughter, Marie Coleman Wilson, is on a mission to bring Mr. Angel’s story out from out beneath history’s haze.

“It is just a shame he has slipped through the cracks in history,” said Wilson. “He is a part of the history of Georgia.”

Mr. Angel is not found among Butch, Mike, all six Ugas and even a goat in the football media guide today. The catalogue shows a gap from 1894 to 1947 without a mascot.

“I don’t know why he was not written up,” said Wilson. “He was there during the war years, which were not the happiest times to be at school.”

Wilson, 81 and residing in Lilburn, was a student at the University from 1944 to 1946. She remembers hearing the names of students who passed away in battles against fascism and that Mr. Angel provided a distraction from the stresses of war.

“He was available and eager to do it,” said Wilson. “He was such a sweet dog, so sweet.”

Mr. Angel served his post during the war on the sidelines as a source of school pride, much like his bulldog successors Butch (1947-50), Mike (1951-55) and the line of Ugas who have served the University since 1956.

Contrary to the media guide’s neglect, Mr. Angel was a part of University in some capacity. Wilson provided The Red & Black with photographs of Mr. Angel at football games and with cheerleaders.

In addition, Mr. Angel is pictured on the field during the 1944 and 1945 homecomings in Pandora yearbooks.

Former head of sports communications and legendary tennis coach Dan Magill said he did not know about Mr. Angel when he first compiled information on mascots in the 1950s.

After seven decades in the program, Magill is considered the historian of Georgia athletics.

However, while Magill was serving in the Marines during Mr. Angel’s tenure, he said that the dog could have been one of many “volunteer mascots” that would show up to the games.

“Several alumni would just bring their bulldogs to the games,” Magill said. “There was no official mascot at that time.”

Yet, according to a picture in the 1945 Pandora, Mr. Angel was at center field during the 1944 Homecoming, as film star Janet Blair spoke about war bonds with University officials.

Magill said he would look at the evidence and see if Mr. Angel should be added to the historical record on mascots.

Wilson is not sure of the exact year of Mr. Angel’s death, but he is buried in Eastman.

The Red & Black attempted to reach current Athletic Association officials for comment but were denied repeated requests for a timely interview.

Firefighters shave heads to show support for boy

Buzzzzzzzzzz.

Twelve-year-old Josh Munoz played barber for the day as he pushed a hair clipper up and down a firefighter’s head.

“This is going to make me feel good that I am not the only one with a shaved head,” said Josh, who wore a baseball cap to cover his baldpate from battling cancer. “They are nice and generous to be doing this.”

More than 40 firefighters and cadets walked away with a buzz cut Friday at Peoria Fire Station No. 1 to show their support for the Glendale boy and other child cancer patients. Josh is the son of fire Capt. Mike Munoz.

“We promised him when his hair fell out, we would shave our heads,” said firefighter Hunter Clare, who spearheaded the event. “This is an initial kickoff to help out cancer foundations, especially Phoenix Children’s Hospital.”

Firefighters also donated $1,000 and an event for the public is scheduled for next month, said Clare, who volunteers at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

Firefighters picked Aug. 25 for the event because it’s the 10th anniversary of Peoria firefighter John Valentine’s death from brain cancer.

Battalion Chief Rick Picard said the children don’t feel so much like outcasts after seeing firefighters, often looked up to as role models, sporting shaved heads.

“It’s much easier to be a hero in their fight against cancer when they look and feel like their heroes,” said Picard, who was second in line for a crew cut.

Munoz said his son was diagnosed July 4 with Burkitt’s lymphoma, a rare childhood cancer, after complaining about stomach cramps.

“The prognosis is pretty good, a 90 percent cure rate that it won’t come back later in life,” said Munoz, who gave pointers to his son during the hair shearing.

Josh lost his hair about two to three weeks ago after his second round of chemotherapy, Munoz said. Each chemotherapy session takes a week and Josh is due for two more rounds.

“I can’t take the needles and medicine,” said Munoz, whose head was shaved earlier in the day. “But I can mirror what is happening to him to show support.”

Firefighter Jenn Schroeder also showed her support by sacrificing 10 inches of her blond hair, which will go to Locks of Love, a non-profit group that makes wigs for children who lost their hair due to a medical condition.

“Oh my gosh, wow,” Schroeder said after she ran her hands over her close-shaven head. “My head feels so small.

“I’ve never done anything like this before. I’ve had it long most of my life.”

Trevor Cameron, 12, accompanied Josh to the station for the event.

“I shaved my hair almost two weeks ago because he is my friend,” the Glendale youth said. “All my friends are doing it. It’s to encourage him to fight his cancer.”

Stacey Munoz said her son has not complained at all about his illness.

Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2006

Milwaukee woman rescues butterflies

Barb Agnew ruffled the thin netting hanging in her flower shop, causing a monarch butterfly to descend far enough for her to gently clasp it. She then released it outside where it flitted about a hanging plant before disappearing in the gray sky, leaving her beaming like a proud mother.

About two weeks earlier, the butterfly was either a pinhead-sized egg or a caterpillar that Agnew rescued from the nearby Milwaukee County Grounds.

Bulldozers are clearing the grounds to create a flood basin for excess rain water. The machinery removes assorted vegetation, including the milkweed plants, on which monarchs lay eggs and upon which their caterpillars feed.

As work progresses, Agnew races to collect as many of the movement-challenged insects as she can. She brings them to Wildflower Floral, the flower shop she co-owns in the Milwaukee suburb of Wauwatosa.

“I’d be doing this anyway just because these creatures are so beautiful,” said Agnew, 44. “But with the destruction, there’s a greater sense of urgency. I couldn’t bear to see them be killed.”

Agnew estimates that she’ll rescue about 1,000 monarchs this year. She has collected butterflies for about 20 years.

Agnew walks the county grounds almost every night. She spots the tiny monarch eggs on the underside of milkweed leaves, and brings them to an enclosure in the back of her store.

The eggs hatch into caterpillars, which gorge on milkweed leaves for about two weeks before forming a chrysalis, the cocoon-like structure in which their metamorphosis occurs.

Agnew generally transfers the chrysalises to the front of the store, using a glue gun to affix them to a gnarled tree. Nearly 100 of them hang like jade ornaments, each with a raised strip of tiny golden beads near the top.

“Over the years I’ve watched butterflies emerge countless times, and each time I never cease to be amazed,” she said.

Judi Fancher, a floral designer at Wildflower, said Agnew’s enthusiasm is infectious.

“Kids will come in and she’ll have them hold (freshly emerged butterflies) to give them a moment of making it real,” she said. “They leave with such an appreciation for them.”

Agnew said she hopes that exposing more people to the wonder of nature will generate more opposition to the removal of habitats.

Jeffrey Glassberg, the president of the North American Butterfly Association based in Morristown, N.J., said Agnew’s attempts to save butterflies are well-intentioned but ultimately futile.

“She may be saving these, but that won’t have any effect on population next year,” he said. “It’d be better to get people to plant milkweed and give monarchs a place to feed.”

Agnew said she won’t stop. She said she hopes to teach others about nature’s beauty.

“We need wondrous things in life to be happy. It can’t always be about work and money,” she said. “We need mystery, we need wonder. There’s got to be more.”

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