Kids & Teens

Miracle Girl Survives Tractor Accident

A six-year-old girl remains hospitalized in serious condition after she fell off a tractor last week and was caught under the machine’s mower, according to family members.

Jessie Keaton was riding a tractor last Tuesday afternoon when her father, Jason Keaton, was apparently distracted by his five-year-old son, Jason, who was also on the vehicle while Keaton was operating the bush hog. The boy was not injured.

Brenda Jester, Jessie’s aunt, described the accident, which occurred around 3:30 p.m. She spoke Monday night with Jason Keaton and the girl’s mother, Loretta Lynn McGee.

“He told me that it all happened in a blink of an eye,” Jester said.”All he remembers is that the tractor had run over her and she was under the bush hog . . . The little brother saw that. He was talking to his daddy and got him distracted . . . They were just about done for the day. It just happened so fast.”

Keaton immediately jumped off the tractor on his property off U.S. 601 South near the Davie/Yadkin county lines and called 911. Emergency first responders, including members of the Courtney Volunteer Fire Department and the Yadkin County EMS, rushed to the scene. Although critically injured, Jester said that Jessie was still conscious.

She remains at Brenner Children’s Hospital in Winston-Salem where Jester said she had undergone several operations. Jester said that doctors, despite their best efforts, were forced to amputate Jessie’s right leg below the knee, and part of her left ring finger. Doctors, who have kept the girl heavily sedated for most of her hospital stay, were also tending to a large cut to the back of her head, Jester said.

“The worst of it is over,” Jester said. “She has another surgeryscheduled for Thursday. Her left foot is still a little iffy and her hands had real bad cuts on the palms . . . But she is really improving. She was more alert and hungry this morning before she went into surgery. Right now, it’s just a waiting game. We just hope it continues to get better.”

Jester said that the father is inconsolable.

“He’s been there at the hospital nonstop. But he’s blaming himself,” Jester said. “He always had the young-ins with him in the yard when he was working. It was a habit; not a good habit.”

Jessie’s mother, Jester said, is undergoing chemotherapy treatments.

“She’s holding up pretty good,” Jester said. “She has not leftthe hospital.”

The family has medical insurance. But there’s no way to estimate how long and costly Jessie’s hospital stay will be.

“It’s just like anything else,” Jester said. “It will only pay so much.”

Zola Murphy, Jessie’s grandmother, was emotionally devastated when she first learned of the accident. She said that she still can’t get the terrible image of her granddaughter’s near-death experience out of her mind.

“I’ve done cried all I can cry,” Murphy said Monday. “She’s justa little miracle girl.”

Jester said that the family has been overwhelmed by the community’s response. So many have telephoned or visited the hospital, she said.

“The people have come down here left and right,” Jester said.”All of my prayers are working. Jessie is doing so much better today.”

Wandering toddler reunited with parents

Maryland Human Resources officials say a 3-year-old boy found wandering in West Baltimore in pajamas and flip-flops has been reunited with his parents.

The boy, identified as Nazaiah Johnson, was found Tuesday in the 2500 block of West Lanvale Street. He was too young to tell people his name or where he’s from.

His parents, Brian Johnson and Tynisa Leach, say they asked a friend to care for the toddler while they were at work and agreed to let him stay there overnight.

Leach says the sitter told her about 5 p.m. that Nazaiah was missing and she thought he left the house early in the morning as the adults and other children in the home slept. Leach called authorities, but they weren’t able to take the boy home that night. They were reunited Wednesday morning.

Gold award for pupils’ art

Getting smart in art! That’s a Bury school which is believed to be the first in the borough to snap up a top arts award at the first attempt.

Bury Catholic Preparatory School is celebrating after being awarded the coveted Artsmark Gold by the Arts Council England.

The accolade recognises the Manchester Road school’s firm commitment to art and co-incides with an innovative arts project currently involving the prep school and nearby Holy Cross College.

Teacher and arts co-ordinator, Elizabeth Gaskell said: “The Artsmark award was set up eight years ago and I found out about this three years ago. I began to look into it and spent a year auditing everything that we already did. We found out that as far as the guidelines were concerned, with an extra push we could apply for gold.

“We applied last November for the award after auditing everything we did. After being assessed, we were recommended for gold and then later we were told we had achieved it. The extra push involved us reaching out to the community, putting on a concert at the Grundy Day Care Centre and our choir taking part in a carol service in Bury town centre.”

Bury Catholic Preparatory School’s devotion to the arts is well documented. Pupils already benefit from a whole range of art-related subjects and activities including painting and drawing, dance, ballet, guitar lessons, dance workshops and fencing.

Elizabeth added: “We’ve also shown partnership with another educational establishment and done work on the model of a man with Holy Cross College.

“Our children did the template for it. Our Year 1 pupils sat down and helped design different parts of the body and we made our 7ft sculpture out of cardboard.

“The Holy Cross students took it away and assembled it.

“Our children have been working with Holy Cross to refine their sculpture skills and they spent an afternoon at the school assembling the sculpture.”

Commenting on the Artsmark award, she added: “As far as I am aware, it is rare to receive gold at the first approach. Naturally, we are all delighted.”

Irish twins saved by miracle operation in womb

The parents of baby twins who defied death due to groundbreaking surgery in the womb have thanked the hospital that saved them.

Fidelma and Paul Greene, from Swords, Dublin, said yesterday their daughters, Lauren and Sophie, were thriving three months after being born.

Their unborn children had been given almost no chance of survival when Rotunda Hospital medics discovered they suffered from a rare medical condition.

Doctors diagnosed them with Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS) when their mother was 21 weeks pregnant.

The condition means one baby gets too much blood and the other too little. In almost all cases it leads to death of both twins, if it’s not treated.

Consultant obstetrician, Professor Fergal Malone, decided the foetuses had to be operated on while they were still inside their mother’s womb if they were to have any chance of surviving.

He performed the life-saving procedure in the hospital’s new foetal operating theatre on January 10 this year. The operation involved the obstetrician and his team inserting a camera, less than an eighth of a inch thick, and other tiny surgical instruments, into the womb.

The camera helped the team identify abnormal blood vessels, which were then repaired using laser therapy.

The girls were born by caesarean section three months later on April 7.

Lauren and Sophie are among the first children in Ireland to survive the pioneering surgery. It also saved the lives of twin boys Ryan and Dylan Kershaw, who were born in March last year.

The radical surgery was previously available in only a handful of clinics in Europe and North America.

Mr and Mrs Green said their babies would not have survived without Professor Malone and his team and thanked them for their care. “Paul and I are absolutely delighted that this story has had such a happy ending,” said Mrs Green (43).

“We would like to thank all the staff in The Rotunda for their excellent care and professionalism. Lauren was discharged home with me after five days and Sophie joined us at home nine days later. Now the girls are three months old and are thriving.”

Professor Malone said almost a third of all twin pregnancies were identical, and up to a quarter of identical twins could develop Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome.

“When one considers that up until recently survival for these babies was so poor, it is gratifying to see the Irish health service investing in new technology that provides such an immediately apparent benefit to our patients.”

Miracle girls get audience with Pope

HER courage and extraordinary will to survive has won her the admiration of all Australians – now Sophie Delezio is set to be rewarded with an audience with Pope Benedict XVI.

And she will be joined by bashing victim Lauren Huxley, another young Catholic who has shown a strong will to live

The two will be among a group of young people to meet the Catholic leader when he arrives in Australia later this month.

While 21-year-old Lauren’s introduction will take place at the Sacred Heart Church in Darlinghurst, Sydney, on July 18, seven-year-old Sophie – who, along with her family, has been named as one of nine official World Youth Day ambassadors – will be part of a large group of festival volunteers to be thanked by him at The Domain on July 21.

Sophie, who had excitedly waited since she got home from school to meet Lauren yesterday, immediately welcomed her new friend into her life.

It was a joyful first meeting and both excitedly spoke of the the once-in-a-lifetime chance.

“It’s just an honour, an amazing opportunity I can’t believe it,” Lauren said yesterday.

Sophie said she was would be “praying for all the sick kids” when she was in the Pope’s presence.

When she was just two, Sophie suffered third-degree burns, lost both her legs and a hand when a vehicle ploughed into her childcare centre, trapping her beneath it.

Two years later, Lauren was the victim of a violent bashing by a stranger in her family’s western Sydney home and was given only a 5 per cent chance of survival.

As she watched her daughter pose for photographs yesterday, Sophie’s father Ron Delezio said World Youth Day was incredibly special for their whole family.

“To go through what we went through without having faith in something, well it would have been a very lonely place,” he said.

“It will be wonderful if we could get the Pope’s blessing on Sophie, it would be a real dream come true.”

Lauren’s father Pat said the crime inflicted on his daughter left them with little else to believe in and they recited the Lord’s Prayer more times than they could count.

The family decided to have her baptised and confirmed in a special ceremony just prior to a marathon 13-hour surgery as she lay in a coma – in case she did not survive.

“She just moved her whole body for the first time after that. We knew that it was with God then,” her mother said.

World Youth Day coordinator Bishop Anthony Fisher said both girls symbolised how courageous and inspirational young people could be.

“(They are) an absolute inspiration to us all,” he said.

Washington Township teen grew hair for image, cut it for charity

Washington Township teen Sebastian Canigiani didn’t mind being ridiculed a bit by his friends for having long hair.

After all, he had grown it with the best intentions at heart.

Four years ago, the 13-year-old guitarist began letting his hair grow long to complement his rock star image.

About two years later, he made the decision to grow it longer and have it cut and donated to his father’s friend, Marty “Moe” Ferrari, who was diagnosed with cancer.

Ferrari lost his battle with the disease last August but Sebastian remained committed to a charitable cause.

He decided to give 13 inches of his wavy, brown tresses to the Locks of Love foundation.

Locks of Love, a nonprofit Florida organization founded in 1997, provides hairpieces to children in the United States who suffer from long-term medical hair loss.

Canigiani only had to grow his hair 10 inches to make a donation, but he went the extra mile.

His mother, Valerie Canigiani, her son will help four children because of the length and thickness of his donated hair.

Hair stylist Kim Hazy of Washington Township, a friend of the Canigiani family, cut Sebastian’s hair for free May 20.

Sebastian’s mother, Valerie, said the haircut was a drastic change for her son.

“He got quite a reaction in school the next day. Teachers didn’t know who he was,” she said with a laugh.

Sebastian said he now prefers his hair short, especially since the summer has arrived.

He said there was much more support than criticism for his deed.

“I got a lot of good comments,” Sebastian said. “A couple kids wanted to do it, too.”


Wife’s medical miracle helps husband survive heart attack

The fact that John Seville can tell this story is incredible.

“Once I found out I did die, it was extremely terrifying,” the 41-year-old New Jersey police officer said.

Seville was in his garden three months ago when he felt something terribly wrong.

“My legs felt cold. It felt like I had snow blindness,” he said.

Minutes after arriving at this hospital, Seville went into cardiac arrest; he flat-lined, no heartbeat.

“At that particular point in time, he’s dead. The question is: Is he going to remain dead,” Morristown Memorial Hospital Heart Dr. James Slater said. “He’s fallen off the cliff. We reach, we grab, we pull him back.”

Injecting medications started Seville’s heart again. However, doctors discovered another emergency: A deadly tear in his aorta, the major blood vessel in the body. A five-and-a-half hour operation repaired that blood vessel, but by now, many of his organs were failing, including his brain.

Three days after the surgery, the patient was only minimally conscious, paralyzed on his left side and making a little progress.

“He was on a ventilator, and I was afraid he would never be off of it,” Seville’s wife, Connie, said.

That’s when Connie 40 weeks pregnant with their second child went into labor. In that very same hospital, two floors down Levi Seville was born. Within hours, Connie decided this baby might hold the key to her husband’s recovery.

“The nursery brought the baby down with Connie and held him up to his face,” nurse Vicky Dunn said. “And he just cracked the biggest smile on his face. The unit got quiet, and then you just heard people crying. It was a beautiful sight. Then we just knew: He’s gonna make it.”

For the next several weeks, John’s recovery amazed even his doctors. Day by day, he gained strength and lost most of the paralysis.

Finally, it was time to head home. With a “thank you” to his doctors and nurses the Sevilles were soon back together again.

“Just to be able to come home and hug them, and just say ‘I love you,'” John said. “For a while there, you never know if you’re going to have that opportunity. It ‘s incredible.”


Christmas in July charity

The office is decked out in red, white and blue, but they aren’t celebrating the nation’s birthday all month. President and CEO of the company, Don Crawford, arrived for work in a Santa Claus suit. Those who have worked at Delta Dallas for more than a year knew Christmas in July had arrived.

Delta Dallas, a Dallas-based leading provider of staffing and recruiting services specializing in administrative, accounting and call center staffing, today* announced the launch of its 10th annual Christmas in July. Throughout the month of July the company will sponsor a 31 day program of giving that it hopes will touch the lives of over 2,000 children in need.

It is common to see companies sponsor charitable giving opportunities during the Christmas holidays. But not many go all out to celebrate Christmas in July. With lights strung, a Christmas tree decorated in red, white and blue and the receptionist answering “Merry Christmas” every time she receives a call, Delta Dallas has thrown themselves into the Christmas spirit while temperatures outside are anything but wintery.

The purpose of the drive is to collect back-to-school supplies for children in under-served communities in Dallas and Plano. “We hope to make a significant difference in the lives of the children represented by the charities we have chosen to support this July,” said Yvonne Abel, executive director of client services for Delta Dallas. “Our employees, clients, candidates and friends look forward to being able to contribute supplies or cash donations to the children in our community.”

Delta Dallas’ Christmas in July campaign will benefit four local charities: Dallas Concilio, The Samaritan Inn, Shared Housing, and The Wilkinson Center. Non-profits receive most of their charitable giving from individuals and the corporate community during the Christmas season. During this time of year non-profits can experience a lull in giving. Delta Dallas hopes, with their Christmas in July program, to make going back to school a more successful experience for the underserved children in our community.

4-year-old boy wanted to give

Give credit to Brandon Wilkes Tidwell, 4, who grew his hair halfway down his back so that it could eventually be cut off and donated to make wigs for children who have lost their hair.

Brandon was just 3 years old when he saw bald children on television and decided he had to help them. He endured the indignity of being mistaken for a little girl in order to stay true to his goal. For the obvious reason, most donors are, in fact, girls.

His hair has been cut and donated to Locks of Love, a nonprofit Florida group that accepts donated hair for wigs for children with hair loss. Brandon now looks more like a boy. But this may not be the end. He’s thinking about growing it out again for future donations.

We wish him well with any such goal. He’s truly a special little boy.

Kids join forces for Shop With a Cop

Like many kids, Nick Novak doesn’t remember the gifts he got last Christmas, but he does remember presents under the tree.

Now the 7-year-old is joining forces with Kole Hendrickson, 11, to run a lemonade stand this Saturday to help make sure other kids have Christmas presents.

The pair also is joining forces with Mayor “Skip” Edwards and Fremont Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 37 to challenge other kids to sell lemonade on Saturday for the Shop With a Cop program.

“Help us help the other kids,” Kole said. “It’s fun and you get to help others. It’s a simple thing to do and you can change a life.”

Shop With a Cop is a program where FOP Lodge

37 raises money throughout the year to make Christmas a better time for underprivileged children. Off-duty officers take the children shopping at Wal-Mart Supercenter and spend $100 per child on winter clothing and an age-appropriate toy. Children are usually nominated by their schools and their families are invited on the shopping trip.

Edwards signed a proclamation marking July 12 as “Whet Your Whistle Day,” a day of challenge to area youth to run lemonade stands with Kole and Nick and donate the money to the Shop With a Cop program.

“I think any time our young people step up and support those less fortunate, it’s a good deal. I think we need to support it,” the mayor said, adding he admired that Kole and Nick wanted to challenge others to participate. “I think it would be nice if we could get a nice cross section of young people to do it. It shows responsibility on our young people’s part for stepping up.”

The boys and Edwards said they thought having the challenge during John C. Fremont Days might drive a few more people to participate.

Sgt. Bob Buer, president of FOP Lodge 37, thought a prize might help out with the challenge. He said the FOP will present the lemonade booth that turns in the most money by July 18 to dispatchers $50 in Chamber Bucks to be used at area merchants.

“It’s just awesome that other kids help raise funds for kids who don’t have as much as the rest of us,” Buer said. “That’s what (Shop With a Cop) needs. We can’t do this alone.”

This will be the fourth year Kole has run the stand outside his home at 428 W. 16th St. and the second that Nick will help out. Kole’s sister, Korri, 14, was a partner the first three years and in those three years more than $1,000 was raised through selling 25-cent cups of lemonade.

The boys said they learned the importance of helping others from their parents. In fact, Nick went to Costa Rica with his family on a church mission trip last year.

“I felt good when I did it,” Nick said. “You can help people.”

The boys said they have been spreading the word among their friends and hope the fundraiser catches on and that other kids want to help Shop With a Cop.

“You have it good even though sometimes you might not think you do,” Kole said. “I hope we can get a lot of money.”

Their lemonade stand will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, but there is no time limit on when competing stands can be open.

“We wanted to see if we could raise more money to help more people if other kids do it,” Kole said. “We don’t want to be in it all by ourselves.”

Science & Technology

Antibiotics may cure shyness

Young people and adults who experience social anxiety may benefit from a revolutionary new study being carried out at the University of Sydney.

The study’s lead researcher, Dr Adam Guastella from the University of Sydney’s Brain & Mind Research Institute, said the treatment involves a combination of cognitive-behaviour therapy and d-Cycloserine (DCS), an antibiotic commonly used to treat tuberculosis.

“What is so exciting about this research is that this radical new method of treatment uses DCS to help patients learn to overcome fear faster so that it is less likely to return,” Dr Guastella said. “We use the medication in combination with the best psychological therapy approaches we have to create a top of the line treatment.

“This trial will test how effective DCS is for the everyday mental health professional, and the likelihood that DCS will revolutionise anxiety treatments for the general community.”

Dr Guastella recently led the largest and most comprehensive trial of this medication to treat social anxiety in university clinics, with a team of UNSW and Macquarie researchers. Published in Biological Psychiatry, it is the first international study to provide strong and comprehensive evidence for the benefits of DCS.

“We gave 56 adults either the medication or a placebo immediately before a therapy session. Those who took DCS with psychological treatment showed greater and faster improvement in total wellbeing,” he said.

Dr Guastella said social anxiety typically develops between the age of 12 and 27, and his new treatment trial is aiming to target sufferers from 12 years to 65. “We are hoping to develop a more effective treatment that is likely to have the greatest impact on reducing long-term disability across the lifespan.”

He said research has found that social anxiety in early adulthood can contribute to long-term social isolation and other mental health problems later in life. In the early stages social anxiety often appears as shyness or a fear of being perceived negatively by others.


Truckie hailed a hero after car crash rescue

Wayne Zappone has been called a hero after he helped resuscitate a man who had a heart attack at the wheel of his car.

AS Warren Zappone watched the car in front of him veer across the road and crash into an embankment yesterday morning, he knew something had gone terribly wrong.

He ran down the ditch off Norman Road, North Rockhampton, dialling triple zero before he reached the car.

When he opened the door to the silver Hyundai, he immediately checked the elderly driver for a pulse. There wasn’t one.

“He wasn’t breathing and I knew he must’ve hit his head or something,” Mr Zappone said.

“Another bloke came over and we pulled him out of the car and started CPR.”

The men worked desperately to revive him until the ambulance arrived minutes after the accident, which happened about 9.30am.

The ambulance officers managed to get his pulse going again before he appeared to go into cardiac arrest again.

The 83-year-old Farnborough man, who is believed to have suffered a major heart attack, remained in a critical condition at Rockhampton Hospital yesterday afternoon.

Mr Zappone is a truck driver for Kele Bros.

He was on his way to Yeppoon for work when the accident happened, and he very nearly had one of his own.

“We went very close to having a three-car pile-up,” he said.

“I had to go off to the side as well.”

He said he was relieved to hear the man had survived.

“I’m still a bit shaky now,” he said just hours after the incident.

“It’s not something you come across every day.”

With enough knowledge of what to do, having dealt with the ambulance service through work, Mr Zappone drew praise from officers on the scene.

“The ambulance officers said it was fantastic that I knew all that I did,” Mr Zappone said.

Police yesterday hailed Mr Zappone a hero, and Central Region traffic co-ordinator Inspector Lyle Mitchell said his efforts had certainly not gone unnoticed.

“I am going to make a recommendation for an award of some sort,” he said.

“His actions no doubt helped save the man’s life.”

War Hero Reunited With Troops

U.S. Army Maj. David Underwood was released Monday from Brooke Army Medical Center to be reunited with troops returning from Iraq.

Underwood served as commander in Iraq for 28 months until he lost his arm in an explosion and was taken to BAMC for treatment.

“The explosion hit me … severing my wrist right off the bat,” said Underwood.

Part of Underwood’s leg was also wounded in the blast, but doctors were able to save the limb after a number of surgeries.

On Monday, the 38-year-old father boarded a special flight provided by Veterans Airflight Command to his hometown in Savannah, Ga., where he will welcome home troops who had served under his command.

“Last time these guys saw me, I was in pieces,” said Underwood. “I think they’ll be surprised.”

After his visit, Underwood will be transported to Walter Reed Hospital, where he will receive further treatment and be fitted with a new prosthetic arm.

The wounded hero has inspired many with his strong drive and incredible outlook on life.

He received a Purple Heart and met with President George W. Bush.

“It’s what I loved to do and I would not trade any of it for the last 8 months I had in Iraq,” said Underwood.

Shark Hero recieves Award

A man who received a bravery award for swimming into the ocean to help a woman being attacked by a shark says he is no hero.

Queensland Governor Quentin Bryce presented seven bravery awards this morning.

When 21-year old Sarah Whiley was being attacked by a shark at Amity Point Beach of Stradbroke Island in January 2006, Josiah Topou swam into the ocean to help her.

He brought her back to the beach and tried to stop the bleeding but Ms Whiley later died in hospital.

Governor Bryce says Mr Topou showed splendid valour to plunge through the water.

But Mr Topou says he did not do anything heroic.

“I think Sarah was the real hero,” he said.

“I think she battled it, she battled the sharks, that’s why her hands were bitten.”

Mr Topou says he did not see the shark as he swam to her aid but thought he could help.

“If it’s a shark then maybe I can divert it a bit because I’ve heard of people kicking and punching sharks,” he said.

Travis Brown, Tim Gurry, Kirk Muir, Evan Winstanly, Donald Smith and Andrew Bartley received awards for helping victims of car accidents.

Heroes rescue neighbour from house fire

TWO hero housemates have told how they pulled their neighbour from a smoke-filled kitchen after a fire in the early hours of the morning.

Rhys Lomax, 29, and Chris Clark, 25, of South Street, Haslingden, charged into the 41-year-old man’s home after they heard his smoke alarm at around 1.55am on Sunday.

Prison officer Mr Lomax said: “I had just picked Chris up from the airport and we were arriving back at our house.

“Then I heard this beeping and at first I thought it was the car because we’d left the headlights on.

“But then I realised it was my neighbour’s house and we could see smoke everywhere.

“We charged into the house and found him collapsed on the oven with black smoke coming from it – I don’t know how he had not burned.

“We dragged him out and put him out on the main road and then called out the fire and ambulance.”

Fire crews from Haslingden and Rawtenstall attended the blaze, which left the kitchen smoke damaged and the oven completely destroyed.

Paramedics attempted to take the 41-year-old to hospital but he refused medical attention.

Mr Lomax added: “If it had been another couple of minutes I think he would have been up in flames. He was a very lucky lad.

“He was also lucky I was bringing Chris back from the airport because otherwise I don’t think we would have heard the alarm.”

Afterwards, fire officers praised the pair, saying they had potentially saved the man’s life.

But Mr Lomax played it down and added: “I am a prison officer so I have dealt with things like that before.

“I didn’t see any flames so I thought I would risk it. It was a bit risky but it is just one of those things – the adrenaline was going.”

And Mr Clark, a shop manager, said: “If there had been flames we might have thought twice but we just covered our mouths and went in.

“We thought he was a goner because he was unconscious on the chair in front of the oven.”

Andy Sas, crew manager at Rawtenstall fire station, said the incident highlighted the importance of fitting smoke detectors.

He said: “It was potentially a very bad fire and the message to be brought home is the importance of smoke alarms.”

Fire officers would be making door-to-door calls in the area to offer home safety checks, he added.


Man becomes miracle dad 25 years after cancer treatment made him infertile

Little Aisling Richardson never pestered her parents for a new Barbie or a pony. She craved just one thing – a baby brother or sister. And from the moment she could talk, she never stopped asking.

The youngster, who is now nine, little realised that her own existence was a longed-for blessing, and that another addition to the family would be little short of miraculous.

“She was desperate,” says mum Beverley, 39. “It was her one desire in life. She’d put coins in wishing wells, look at shooting stars and tell us she had asked for a brother or sister. It touched our hearts. We so wanted to make her happy.”

But Beverley’s husband Michael, a social worker, had been left infertile following cancer treatment 25 years ago. Aisling had been conceived using his frozen sperm and specialist fertility treatment – but this had failed when they had tried for another baby.

So imagine the family’s surprise and delight to discover that Aisling was to get her wish after all – miracle baby Eliza was on the way.

Astonishingly she was conceived completely naturally – a quarter of a century after doctors said Michael would never have children. “It’s incredible,” says Michael, 47. “Even the doctors are dumbfounded and haven’t heard of it happening before, especially after such a long period of time. I feel like I’ve won the Lottery.”

The Richardsons found out that Eliza, now five months old, was on the way last April, after Beverley, had gone to give blood.

“The nurse thought I had anaemia,” says Beverley, a primary school teacher. “She gave me iron deficiency tablets but they made me feel worse – nauseous and weak.”

Next she saw her GP and was shocked to be asked whether she had taken a pregnancy test.

She says: “I knew there was no way I could be expecting – Michael was infertile. But she needed to do it to rule it out. So I agreed.

“When the test came back positive, I couldn’t take it in.”

Michael was equally stunned by the news: “I thought Bev was joking. I was so surprised, I even joked that it couldn’t possibly be my baby. But obviously, it was.”

Michael from West Yorkshire, was 22 when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma – a form of cancer. He needed radiotherapy, but was told it would affect his fertility. In all likelihood he would never become a dad.

In 1990, seven years after having radiotherapy, Michael was told the cancer was unlikely to return. It was then he met and fell in love with Beverley.

After they got married in August 1993, Michael felt the true pain of his infertility. “We wanted kids. But even though we had an intimate, loving relationship, and never used precautions, nothing happened. We accepted it was because I was sterile.”

Fortunately, Michael had been advised to freeze some sperm before his cancer treatment. In late 1997, after an assessment at the fertility centre at St James Hospital in Leeds, it was confirmed that using his frozen sperm was their only option.

So the next January, Michael and Beverley embarked on ICSI, a form of fertility treatment where sperm is injected into the egg.

Unfortunately, Beverley had a bad reaction to the drugs. “I suffered Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome,” she says. “My lungs flooded with fluid and I ballooned, putting on two stone in 48 hours. I was kept in hospital for two weeks.”

Yet two months later, Beverley bravely decided to try again. And this time, they were successful.

“We were speechless,” says Michael. “My frozen sperm, which was 17 years old by then, had actually produced a child.

“It had been such an outside shot.

We couldn’t believe it.”

On February 16, 1999, Aisling was born. “Her name is Irish for ‘vision’ or ‘dream,'” says Beverley, “which is exactly what she was to us.”

When Aisling was three, they tried ICSI again. But it cost £4,000 a time, and, after four failed attempts, they had to call it a day.

Michael and Beverley resigned themselves to having an only child.

But Mother Nature had other ideas. And on January 29 this year, Eliza came into the world.

“Eliza’s gorgeous,” says Michael, proudly. “I keep looking at her in awe. It’s phenomenal.

“The doctors can put it down to nothing other than that I’ve taken care of myself. I don’t drink, don’t smoke and I have a good balanceddiet.

I feel like Superman!”

Beverley adds: “Aisling is on cloud nine. She adores her little sister. One day, we’ll tell her. We’ve beaten cancer and infertility. It’s taken 25 years – now our lives are definitely complete!”

It’s incredible. The doctors are dumbfounded and I feel like I’ve won the Lottery


Big sister Aisling, nine, was conceived using sperm Michael had frozen in 1982

21 years Sperm frozen for that length of time was used by a British couple to conceive their first child in 2004

Durga Thangarajah was delivered alive and well in Australia in May after growing in her mother’s ovary instead of the womb.

4 years after her father’s death from cancer Jaimie-Rose Roberts from Chepstow was born in March using his frozen sperm

Premature Babies

Miracle Baby Turns 18

‘A Miracle Baby’ were the best words to describe little Cherie Maguire when she was born in 1990 weighing only 26ozs! Despite an amazing struggle to survive, the now very healthy Enniskillen girl has never looked back. She has just completed her A-levels at St Fanchea’s College and this week, celebrated her 18th birthday.

“Now is a time for reminiscing I suppose,” Cherie’s mother Geraldine told the ‘Herald’ this week.

“And back in those days, you would never have thought Cherie would make 18 at all because it was so touch and go.”

When Cherie, the daughter of Geraldine and Jimmy from Glenwood Gardens, was first delivered at the Jubilee Maternity Unit in Belfast, she fitted neatly into the palm of her mother’s hand while her father could easily slip his wedding ring onto her leg.

It was an anxious and stressful time for Jimmy and Geraldine, and Cherie’s older sister Melissa. The family had lost a baby girl also delivered at 29 weeks, nine months previously, and when problems developed with this pregnancy, consultants at the Erne took the decision to transfer Geraldine to the Royal Maternity Unit. However, when doctors there examined Geraldine they realised Cherie would have to be delivered almost immediately if she was going to have any hope of survival, but with no incubators available at the Royal, Geraldine was transferred to the Jubilee Maternity Unit. The following morning she underwent a caesarean operation and Cherie was brought into the world at 10am weighing 1lb 10ozs.

“She was so tiny and looked so vulnerable and surrounded by so much hi-tech equipment it was hard to believe she had any chance of survival,” Jimmy said at the time.

Geraldine didn’t see her baby until that afternoon and her initial reaction was that she didn’t look like a baby at all, more like a foetus surrounded by a mass of tubes and monitors. She noted that it was unusual for Cherie’s eyes to be open for such a premature baby and they were a striking shade of dark blue, looking huge against the rest of her tiny body. At that initial stage, staff in the unit were not optimistic and held little hope, and Geraldine herself experienced a mix of feelings, both pleasure that Cherie was alive and fear for the future.

“I didn’t want to get too close to her because I thought if she died it wouldn’t hurt so much then.”

Cherie however, was determined to live and became a real little fighter. She overcame feeding difficulties which saw her weight drop to 19ozs, a bowel infection, breathing difficulties and a heart murmur. Gradually, Cherie started to put on weight and three months later was allowed to return home. Having heard the stories from her family and having seen the newspaper clippings marking her survival story, Cherie, an award winning Irish dancer, knows looking back now, that she was, as the headlines suggested, a miracle child.

“I don’t know how I survived to be honest,” she remarked.

Awaiting the results of her A-levels, she is currently working in Flo’s Restaurant in Enniskillen and hopes come September to study for a HND in Health and Social Care at the South West College and progress from there, to study for a degree in nursing at university. And, despite being naturally small, Cherie is now one young, fit and healthy adult.

“I’m very small, just 5ft so I’m very tiny. I have size three feet and wear small clothes.”


Man with Autism Meets Firefighters Who Came to Rescue

Keith Kennedy is getting a chance to meet the firefighters who rescued the 25-year-old man with autism from the Wisconsin woods.

Kennedy was missing for a week in the woods near Grantsburg, Wis. after running away from Trade Lake Camp for the developmentally-disabled on June 15. He was rescued June 22 and taken to Fairview Medical Center at the University of Minnesota for recovery.

Kennedy was discharged from the hospital Monday. He had a kidney transplant in 1995, and had been without his medication since June 15. Searchers feared that his kidneys would shut down.

On the last day of organized search, one of the St. Paul firefighters found Kennedy naked in some brush. He was dehydrated, full of ticks and bug bites and suffering from hypothermia.

Kennedy will meet the firefighters following a ceremony to honor the rescuers at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday in St. Paul.

Firefighters rescue children

The Patriots in the Park annual carnival turned into a tense situation for several children stranded on a ride.

Sometime between 4 and 6 p.m. on Friday, six children between the ages of 3 and 8 were stranded for about 25 minutes on the Crazy Bus, a children’s ride that goes in circles for several minutes. An electronic problem caused the malfunction, according to Granite City firefighter/paramedic Craig Sykes.

Sykes was one of nine special responders from the fire department who rescued the children by carrying five of the six down a ladder.A child of about 8 was old enough to climb down the ladder by himself, Sykes said.

The children were stranded a little more than 20 feet off the ground in an upright position while they were rescued by firefighters. The rescue took about 15 minutes. No one was injured, Sykes said.

“The youngest one (about 3 or 4) seemed scared. The others seemed fine,” Sykes said.

“This was the first time we had any problems with any of the rides since I’ve been with the Park District,” said Dave Williams, executive director of the Granite City Park and Recreational District. “We’re thankful no one was hurt.”

Williams, who has been the executive director since 2000, said the ride was shut down for the remaining two days of the carnival.

The rides at the Patriots in the Park carnival are owned and operated by Swyear Amusements Company, of New Athens.

Swyear has been providing rides at the carnival for several years, Williams said.


After 21 Years, Father Reunited With His Daughter

For 21 years Peter Luddy was left to stare at a photograph of the son and daughter who left for a brief vacation with their mother to her homeland of Austria and did not return.

Those 21 years passed quickly, Luddy said this week, only days after his 22-year-old daughter Justina Linder cleared the gates of immigration at Boston’s Logan Airport a week ago Tuesday. Luddy said he was holding up the photograph of his son James, just two-and-a-half years old, and Justina, eight months, in hopes of being able to recognize his grown daughter.

“The last day I saw her she was a bundle of joy,” Luddy said. “That time has gone very quickly now that she’s here. “I missed a lot of years, but having been with her a week and it’s almost like she had never been gone …now she’s talking back to me.”

Luddy and his first wife, Christina Linder, who worked as an au pair for a wealthy family in New York City, separated and divorced and he was told not to come visit his children. Luddy said he made efforts to stay in touch, sending Christmas presents to the kids through his wife’s family. When Justina Luddy was 10 years old her mother took legal steps to change the kids name to Linder.

Over the years Luddy has made efforts through both the state department and the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, the agent of the Austrian government facilitating child support payments, to contact his children.

“I went to court and wanted to talk about my rights as a father,” Luddy said. “I always wanted to pay the child support.”

But Luddy, a former selectman was stonewalled. This past winter Luddy said he received a letter from the Austrian government about his son James.

“I got scared, it wasn’t written in English. I thought he might have gone to war and something happened.”

Luddy contacted his ex-wife’s family and they said James was ok. The letter turned out to be an announcement to Luddy that he had met his financial obligations and no longer had to pay child support.

From that point, Luddy said he began pursuing contact with his former wife in effort to communicate with his children. He said when he reached Christina she yelled at him for five minutes.

“I said the phone goes two ways and one of us could have communicated better,” Luddy said.

That phone call led to a quick response from his daughter, who said she wanted to come to America and meet her father.

“The moment she said she wanted to come see me, I was excited,” Luddy said. “She wrote me an e-mail and said ‘a stone has fallen from my soul.’ Waiting for her for three hours at the airport after those 21 years was like an eternity.”

“I thought a lot about him and would it have been better growing up in America,” Justina Linder said on Monday. “Yes, I knew he was here and wanted to get in contact with him growing up, but my mom said no.”

Luddy said he has learned a lot about his daughter in the past week. He said his life has been an open book and that holds true for his daughter. “She’s been very honest with me,” Luddy said.

In an effort to help define her life, Linder has put together an album of photographs chronicling milestones and, she said the second half of the album will be filled with her experiences here with her father.

Linder has been out and about in Harwich and it is quite different from her home in Hohenems, Austria, a mountainside village near the border of Switzerland, where her grandfather is a sheep herder.

“The gardens are perfect and there are no papers or litter in the streets,” Linder said of Harwich. “The people are also very friendly here.”

Luddy said many people have stopped him and his daughter in the streets to congratulate them on the reunion. Luddy said his daughter asked him at one point if he paid them to make those comments.

Justina’s older brother, James Linder, recently moved to Los Angeles and is also planning a trip east to visit with his new found family. Luddy’s daughter from a second marriage, Katrina, now 13 years of age, informed her father and half sister she had communicated with her half brother the previous evening on MySpace.

Katrina was excited to finally meet her half sister, explaining she learned of her existence when she was a little girl and often asked if Justina would ever come and see her.

“I said if you say enough prayers they will come,” Luddy said.

“It’s really good,” Katrina Luddy said. “I love my sister and I can’t wait to meet James. I thought I’d be older, 18, and be going to meet them.”

Linder is here for at least the summer and she has brought her best friend Jackie Dorn with her. The group has already made a visit to Leo Cakounes’ farm and done some horseback riding. On Monday, Linder, who grew up on a farm, wanted to make another trip to the farm to ride a horse and work with the animals.

“I will stay until I become homesick and then I must go home,” Linder said. “But I will come back every year to America. Next time I will come with my boyfriend.”

Luddy said he has called Austria again to talk to his former wife.

“I wanted to thank her for doing such a good job raising Justina,” he said. “Once my son comes here my life will be complete.”

Father reunites with his daughter after 8 years

REMBAU: “It is the most meaningful day of my life.” This was all K. Naga Jothi could say when she was reunited with her father yesterday. She was 10 when she ran away from home.

Now a young woman of 18, she was in tears when she saw G. Karthik Kesarao who had come from Johor Baru to the private Vivekenanda Home near here to take her home.

Naga, who said she ran away because of problems with her stepmother (her parents divorced when she was a year-old), spent the last eight years at various government children’s homes.

“I am so glad that I have found her. The last eight years of my life have been miserable,” said Karthik.

Also present at the reunion were Karthik’s wife K. Gunavathi 36, and son Mageswaran, nine.

Karthik said he had sought the help of various bomoh and mediums to look for his daughter.

“All they told me was that she was alive. Deep down, I knew that I would be reunited with her one day,” he said, adding that he did not lodge a report as Naga had run away from home several times before.

Karthik said he would enrol Naga for skills classes so that she could apply for a job later. However, the first thing he would do when they got back to Johor Baru was to get her an identity card.

He would also be holding thanksgiving prayers.

Last Friday, The Star reported that Naga was pining to be reunited with her family. The story was picked up by a vernacular paper and the link established after a radio station deejay contacted Karthik.


UK Teacher of the Year 2008 is…

FUN-LOVING Paul Johnson has scooped the title of the Scarborough Evening News Teacher of the Year 2008.
Mr Johnson, of Hinderwell School, was presented with the award after four of his pupils nominated him for the prestigious title.

Evening News editor Ed Asquith presented Mr Johnson with his certificate – and a cheque for £100 yesterday. His class is also set to enjoy a free trip to the Sea Life Centre which includes being picked up by a complimentary Shoreline Suncruisers open-top bus.

The 30-year-old, who lives in Hunmanby, said: “I am just so shocked. I have been nominated for this award for a few years and I never thought I would win it. It is fantastic. It is completely out of the blue.”

Mr Johnson has worked as a Year 5 teacher at the school for seven years. He also works as an advanced skills teacher which involves visiting other schools in the county once a week to offer cross-curricular teaching.

He was chosen as the winner because of his dynamic but educationally engaging approach to teaching, and based on the real way he has demonstrated that every child matters. Each term he picks a theme for his class and the curriculum is based around it. This term they are studying medieval times – and his classroom has a castle in one corner.

He also treated his class to a three-day trip to London earlier this year.

His nominators were Lucy and Emily Desborough, Rachel Laverick and Rebecca Miller. Classmate Callum Macdonald, 10, said: “He is the best teacher in the world and he deserves this. He is brilliant with us and he is just so funny. He tells lots of jokes which always make us laugh.”
Beth Lawty, nine, added: “Our classroom is the best ever. We have really enjoyed being in his class and I will miss him next year.”
See our website for the celebration video.

The Evening News would like to congratulate eight other teachers who made our Roll of Honour. They are:

Mr Smith from Gladstone Road Junior School, Mr Bateson from Snainton School, Miss Morris from Barrowcliff Junior School, Mr Dyer from Gladstone Road Infant School, Mrs Gortzak from Newby and Scalby School, Miss Atkinson from Scalby School, Mrs Elsdon from Raincliffe School and Mr Hobkinson from Newby and Scalby School.

School’s Teacher of Year uses river as a resource

Teacher Jill Wnuk believes middle school is not just about math, science and social studies: It is also about helping them discover what is really important in life.

“At this age,” she explains “the kids are so ‘all over the place.’ They’re growing up. So we really try to not just teach them subject matter, but also teach them about how to take responsibility and how to make a difference.”

So, just before the school year ended Wnuk’s students donned rubber gloves and picked up garbage bags and trekked down to the banks of the nearby Hockanum River which winds its way around the bend behind the school.

The tally after the day-long campaign: 30 bags of trash – cans, cardboard, plastic, bottles, boxes and even some corroded lengths of pipe that looked suspiciously like an old football goal post from back in the day when football captain and quarterback John Larson was helping his EHHS Hornets score touchdowns on the old high school field at what is now the town’s middle school.

“This is our second time cleaning up along the river,” related Wnuk. “It’s part of an environmental project that we started last year sponsored by [non profit] American Rivers. We keep doing it because (students) understand that it’s important to clean up their community.”

Students really “get it,” said East Hartford Middle School’s ‘Teacher of the Year’ for 2008-2009. “We have 100% participation. They all do it.”

From the baseball fields of Labor Field in Mayberry Village down to the Forbes Street bridge, little seemed to escape the determined middle school garbage avengers.

Teacher Wnuk worked to restrain the students’ eagerness for safety reasons. The kids were given gloves and instructed not to pick up anything they could not identify.

“We told them not to pick up glass. Anything questionable, don’t pick it up. Let an adult pick it up,” Wnuk said. “Last year we spent a whole day out here, and collected crazy things” she recalled. “Chairs, a boat, a dead cat, and big rolls of chain link fence – the kids dragged everything out [and] our custodians put everything away in the trash.”

Among other things, the teacher said, kids organized a cell phone recycling drive. They studied articles on global warming and solar energy, and wrote letters to state leaders about the problem. “Nobody answered,” Wnuk observed.

What was important is that the kids responded to the message of social responsibility and civic mindedness, she added.

“When we were on a field trip in Hartford we went to the State Capitol as part of that, and they were mentioning, when we drove down some street, they were like ‘look at all the trash.’ They don’t litter, and when someone drops something they pick it up.”

As for the “Teacher of the Year” award Wnuk said, while it was a surprise and an honor, the title for her is more about representing the school than a personal accolade. “It’s a team effort” she stressed.

EHMS Principal Pietro Cerone pointed out there was a big reason Wnuk was picked. “She’s very involved in school activities. She’s very involved in our school,” he said. “She runs the Student Council as well as the River Cleanup. And there are many other positive programs that she’s involved with. All of these are volunteer programs. We don’t ask her to do it. She’s a team leader.”

Teacher strikes a winning chord

THE world may know only one Carlos Santana — the guitarist and rock musician — but at Mayflower Primary, there are quite a few of him, so to speak.

Thanks to “Project Carlos Santana”, :conceptualised by Mr Melvin Cher, the school’s acting subject head of art and aesthetics, every student is given the opportunity to learn to play the guitar.

For his innovation and passion in developing his students through music and aesthetics, Mr Cher received the Outstanding Youth in Education Award yesterday. He was one of three teachers to receive the National Youth Council award for educators under 30.

:Mr Cher, who joined the school three years ago, said: “What inspires me is being able to give a child the opportunity to grow and to develop. I see that happening in my music class — not so much through just learning an instrument, but the kind of discipline, values and disposition it inculcates.” :

:The school’s modular music programme goes beyond the recorder, keyboard or usual classical string instruments — students are exposed to a variety of world music.

:Mr Cher has also played an integral role in moulding the school’s Primary Five and Six music programmes, which started two years ago.

:Said Principal Zainal Sapari: “He is doing it for the kids, and he is very humble in terms of learning from his peers and his colleagues.”: :

:The other two recipients of the award are Mr Quek Swee Nee from Bukit View Primary and Ms Chua Hwee Pheng from Paris Ris Crest Secondary.

:The award is supported by the Teachers Network and is for educators who go beyond teaching the formal curriculum to nurture their pupils. Winners get a trophy and certificate, and will be fully sponsored to attend an overseas conference to further their professional development. :

:Education Minister Ng Eng Hen, who handed out the honours at the National Institute of Education Teachers’ Investiture Ceremony, said that new programmes will be introduced over the next two years to help teachers upgrade. He encouraged teachers to make the most of the opportunities.:

:These include a part-time Bachelor of Education programme specially customised for non-graduate primary school teachers; and a new Masters programme — the MTeach — which is currently in development and is expected to accept its first intake in 2010.

A total of 1,672 newly-qualified teachers will receive their NIE diplomas this week.


Miracle horse finds better home

Miracle, a mare that was shot five or six times in the head and survived, now has a loving home.

Doña Ana County Animal Control supervisor Curtis Childress said Miracle has been adopted by her foster caretakers.

“… The foster family that is caring for her has actually agreed to keep her,” Childress said.

Investigators originally thought Miracle had been shot three times before wandering in the desert for two days prior to ending up June 9 at a house near Radium Springs. A woman called authorities after finding the horse at her doorstep.

Childress said Miracle’s adoptive family requested they not be identified.

The mare will stay with the family during her recovery and then will be sent to a facility where she will be put to to pasture, Childress said.

He added that the horse’s prognosis is good and she is doing well.

Brian Drake, 36, of the 7400 block of Doña Ana Road, has been arrested in connection with the shooting and faces one count of extreme cruelty to animals, a fourth-degree felony punishable by up to 18 months in prison.

Two surgeries were successful in removing two bullets but a third remains lodged. Another follow-up is scheduled next month to see if the body will eject the bullet naturally. Due to the bullet’s location, removal by surgical methods would be risky, Childress said.

Tortoise returned after 2 1/2 weeks on the lam

A 60-pound tortoise that escaped from a family‘s garage last month is back home after a 2 1/2-week adventure that took him through three northwestern Indiana towns.

The couple had earlier called Highland and Hammond police, but Munster officers knew all about the missing reptile, which had turned up at a gas station not long after his escape.

Fourteen-year-old Kylie Hirchak said Tank, who escaped when someone left open a garage door, is like a member of the family. He‘s one of two tortoises the family owns.

Her 12-year-old sister, Kelsie, had feared that Tank fell into a ditch or that someone put him in a pond and he drowned.


Child dropped to safety, woman rescued

A house fire Monday morning forced a woman to drop a two-year-old child from a second-story window before she was rescued herself by firefighters.

No one injured in the fire, but the woman, who is pregnant, and one firefighter were treated for smoke inhalation.

The fire started about 7:43 a.m. in the kitchen of a house in the 400 block of Dare Avenue, according to Fire Marshal Anne-Marie Loughran.

The family renting the house had visitors for the holiday weekend, Loughran said, so that a total of four adults and seven children were in the home at the time of the fire.

According to Loughran the woman dropped a two-year-old child from a second-story window to a teen-aged cousin standing below, then was rescued when firefighters arrived. Loughran said a neighbor tried to get people out of the second story with a ladder, but was unsuccessful.

Firefighters also rescued a dog.


Stolen pit bull safely returned

Thumbelina, a 9-week-old pit bull who was ripped from her owner’s arms, has been safely returned after a woman walking along the Greenway bike trail off of Paxton Street in Swatara Twp. found the dog abandoned on the Fourth of July.

Angie Shives’ cell phone rang at 3 a.m. Saturday. On the other end was a woman who claimed to have found the puppy, whose plight was reported in The Patriot- News on Friday.

“Someone showed her the article in the newspaper and told her they thought she had the puppy,” Shives said. “I asked her so many times, ‘Are you sure?'”

On Monday, Shives was lured to a home near 17th and Market streets in Harrisburg by two men claiming they wanted to adopt the puppy she’d advertised for sale, she said.

Shives, who runs an informal pit bull rescue out of her Chambersburg home, said she tried to do all the right things before selling the dog, including getting references and conducting a home visit. She was trying to start the visit when the younger of the men grabbed the dog and ran.

Shives notified police, deluged shelters with e-mail, posted flyers and contacted the media.

“I figure with the article in the paper, and then two news crews showing up, he got scared and dumped her,” Shives said. The woman who rescued Thumbelina agreed to meet Shives and her husband at a Swatara Twp. gas station at 4 a.m., where she handed back the puppy.

The woman refused a reward, Shives said.

“She gave me hope,” Shives said. “My trust was down to nothing, and now it’s restored a little.”

For now, Shives said she’s stopping her pit bull rescue effort.

Harrisburg police did not return a call for comment.

As for Thumbelina, she’s rejoined her brother, Mickey, and sister, Patches, in romping around the Shives home.

Angel Food Ministries

Angel Food Ministries Program Helps People Save on Food

In these times, people don’t have to be out of work or in debt to feel the economic pinch of sky-high gas and food prices. One church ministry group is offering a way to get a lot more money out of those grocery dollars.

Everyone is trying to save money at the grocery store these days, by buying store brands and inexpensive cuts of meat, but in the end, it all still adds up.

“I went to the grocery store recently and the amount I spent in food, for just me, I’m a single woman, versus what I was spending a year ago was just ridiculous,” said Areia Theus.

Many, like Theus, are looking for a way to save big and that may be through Angel Food Ministries.

“A friend of mine told me about it in Dallas, Texas and she spoke so highly of it I figured it was a great opportunity,” said Theus.

On a recent Saturday, Theus joined 20 people and picked up food at the Total Grace Christian Center in Decatur.

“What’s in the package would be a variety of meats such as pork ribs, pork riblets, steaks, and chicken,” said Theus.

The food was supplied by Angel Food Ministries which offers a monthly menu that includes meats, frozen foods and dry goods like pancake mix.

“I get a variety of foods that I can live off for at least three weeks to a month and the food is good,” said Tracey Gordon.

The food isn’t given away, but it’s greatly reduced. Clients said they were saving up to $40 a month.

“I’m on a fixed income and this is one way I can make sure my ends meet a little bit closer,” said Riva Annette Zwarick.

People can place orders through local churches and non-profit groups. The orders are filled by Angel Food Ministries, which purchases the items in bulk from major suppliers like Bird’s Eye and General Mills. Angel Food Ministries then ships the orders out all across the country.

“It’s not donated, it’s not seconds. It’s purchased straight from the manufacturer. It’s all USDA approved and inspected and it’s name brand top quality food,” Director Angel Food Ministries Mike Wood.

The program was started 14 years ago in Monroe, Georgia and now reaches 35 states. Wood said there are no restrictions on who can participate.

There are many churches and non-profits throughout Georgia that participate in the program.


Thousands flock for God and rock

AUSTRALIA’S biggest congregation proved the potency of Christianity with a pop-culture twist by drawing thousands of people to the opening of its annual conference last night with a high-volume pop-rock beat and a call to end poverty.

More than 24,000 Christians from 21 denominations around Australia and 70 other countries will attend the five-day 22nd Hillsong Conference at Acer Arena, taking part in workshops on church leadership, the creative arts and evangelism.

Last night’s opening began with a light show, choirs and the public debut of the soloist Katherine Vassalakis, singing U2’s One against a backdrop of a throbbing red heart.

Bible in hand, Hillsong’s worship pastor, Darlene Zschech, and the Hillsong band brought the stadium to its feet with their brand of energetic worship.

The event served as a warm-up act to World Youth Day, heralded by the arrival on Sunday of Pope Benedict on his first visit to Australia. Although they are miles apart in theology and musical tradition, the Catholic Church is borrowing Hillsong’s headline act for World Youth Day in its own attempt at mass youth evangelism. Ms Zschech and her band will perform at a concert held after the Stations of the Cross on Friday, July 18.

The first winner of Australian Idol , Guy Sebastian, who came from Adelaide’s Pentecostal Paradise Community Church, has written World Youth Day’s theme song.

Hillsong, accused by some of preaching self-absorbed Christianity, focused for the second year on the scriptures’ call for social justice – traditional ground of the Catholic Church.

Tim Costello, chief executive of World Vision Australia, welcomed conference delegates.

Mr Costello, who has just returned from Burma, praised Bono as a prophet of the movement to eliminate global poverty. “Bono understands we cannot make poverty history unless the church rises up.”

He said Australians had won the lottery of life by being born in a country with ample food, opportunities and universal health.

The senior pastor of Hillsong, Brian Houston, said the word justice and the responsibility it implied was a key message of the conference.

Inside Good News Blog