Justice

Accused burglar rescued after stuck in chimney 10 hours

Think it’s hot outside? Try being stuck inside a chimney from 2:00 am until noon Wednesday.

That’s what happened to a man who police believe got stuck while trying to break in to a catering business through the chimney.

The owner of the business showed up around noon and heard the man screaming for help.

The business, “The Place” on Florida Boulevard near Foster, was closed.

The owner just happened to show up to check on a few things when he heard the man’s pleas.

Baton Rouge firefighters lowered a rope down the chimney and slowly pull him out.

He was covered from head to toe with soot.

Paramedics treated the man at the scene before bringing him to a hospital for treatment.

Baton Rouge police later identified the suspect as 38-year-old Dong Nguyen.

He was transported to a Baton Rouge hospital for treatment.

Officers say he will be booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison after his release from the hospital.

Motherhood

Believe in miracles

Dan and Suzanne Isidor, of State College, were surprised but thrilled to learn almost three years ago that Suzanne was pregnant with twins.

Then came the worrying news. Nineteen weeks into

the pregnancy, they were told it would be a high-risk pregnancy. The fetuses were situated in a way that one of the children might not survive the birth.

The news hit hard. Then, one

evening, they decided to watch the Children’s Miracle Network telethon. And it gave them hope.

“When you hear the news about something like this, you think that you are all alone, but you’re not,” Dan Isidor said. “There is a network of support — financially and emotionally.”

Now the parents of healthy 2-year-old twins, Luke and Evan, and a 4-year-old son, Jackson, the Isidors will be one of the families featured on the Children’s Miracle Network Celebration telethon. It will air from 9 p.m. to midnight today and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday on WTAJ, the local CBS affiliate.

Proceeds from the telethon will benefit Janet Weis Children’s Hospital in Danville, where the Isidor twins were born, and health care providers in State College, Altoona, DuBois and other Pennsylvania locations.

The telethon, the Isidors said, helped them realize they weren’t the only parents dealing with high-risk pregnancies or premature births. It’s also where they saw other parents’ success stories.

“We had never watched it before,” Suzanne Isidor said of the telethon. “The stories were so touching that we even donated money.”

Children’s Miracle Network requests donations annually through fundraisers to help children like the Isidor twins. Since 1984, Children’s Miracle Network has raised more than $36 million throughout the Geisinger Health System.

Telethon donations have helped Geisinger provide state-of-the-art pediatric care by funding support services, programs and pediatric equipment, said Jennifer M. Young, spokeswoman for Geisinger Health System and Children’s Miracle Network at Geisinger.

Types of equipment purchased with telethon donations include tele-echo equipment, used to transmit echo-cardiogram results immediately to a specialist, and Isolette incubators, used to transport neonatal patients by helicopter.

Vital signs monitors were one piece of equipment purchased with telethon funds that were used to help the Isidor twins survive.

Born prematurely in the 30th week of Suzanne Isidor’s pregnancy, the twins were delivered by Caesarean section. Luke weighed 2 pounds, 4 ounces. Evan weighed 3 pounds, 1 ounce.

The babies had to stay in Geisinger’s neonatal unit at the hospital. For weeks after Suzanne Isidor was discharged, she and her husband made countless trips between their State College home and Danville. Much of the time, she made the trip alone while her husband stayed home to go to work and take care of Jackson.

“It was hard when we had to leave them there,” Suzanne Isidor said, recalling the fragile twins as each being about the length of a Barbie doll. “Jackson didn’t understand when I didn’t come home with a baby.”

Family, friends and support groups associated with Children’s Miracle Network helped the Isidors through the rough times.

The Isidors often stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in Danville, sparing them the expense of hotel rooms.

Evan came home after five weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit. Luke came home two weeks later.

The Isidors are now advocates for Children’s Miracle Network, saying the twins are living proof of the good the telethon does.

“The money goes to a great cause,” Suzanne Isidor said, holding Evan in her arms. “Obviously, it’s a cause that goes straight to our hearts.”

Woman told she can’t have kids has 4 in 16 months

Confidently feeding and changing her baby daughters, Naomi Kesterton looks as though she was born to be a mother.

But a house full of children was once a distant dream for Naomi, 30, who years before was told she had practically no chance of conceiving naturally.

But she proved the doctors wrong – and just months after meeting her husband-to-be Toby, Naomi was pregnant and went on to have four children in just 16 months.

After daughter Ella was born in September 2006 she got pregnant again nine months later with identical triplets Catherine, Amelia and Sophia.

Incredibly, experts put the chances of natural conception identical triplets at 200million-to-one.

Naomi said: “When I think about how unlikely it was that I’d have children naturally, let alone identical triplets, I realise what a miracle they are.”

Former events organiser Naomi met internet publisher Toby, also 30, when she moved into his house in Bracknell, Berks, as a lodger in January 2005.

She said: “We had both just come out of messy relationships but we got on so well that within a few months we’d fallen for each other.

“Toby wanted a big family but when I was 20, doctors told me there was only a five per cent chance I would conceive naturally.

“It was devastating as I’d always wanted children but I had to resign myself to other options like IVF and adoption.

“Toby and I knew it was something we would have to face when we decided to start a family.”

But on a break to Scotland in November 2005 for Toby’s birthday, Naomi had an unexpected gift.

“We found out I was pregnant,” she remembers.

“It was a huge shock but a lovely one. We hadn’t been that careful with birth control because I assumed I couldn’t conceive. It wasn’t planned at all. We were both very career-minded and planned to get married after a couple of years and then think about a family.”

The couple flew to Naomi’s native Durban in South Africa to marry and, in September 2006, after a six-day labour, Ella, now 20 months, was born.

“I loved being a mum,” says Naomi. “But I warned Toby that I’d never be pregnant twice. Ella was my one miracle.”

Settling into motherhood, Naomi gave up work and starting planning a second wedding in the UK. She explains: “We got married in Durban because we wanted to be married when Ella was born but we still planned a big ceremony in the UK.”

Last summer, just weeks before her big day, Naomi began to suspect she was pregnant again. “I started getting sick and I began to grow,” she says.

A pregnancy test proved her intuition right and Naomi gave Toby the news on their wedding day in July last year. “He grinned like a Cheshire cat,” she says.

After a honeymoon in Cyprus that was ruined by morning sickness, the couple had their first scan.

Naomi explained: “I immediately saw two heads and asked ‘twins?’ Then we saw a third. Toby was grinning from ear to ear but I was thinking more about complications and risks. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, I said, ‘Please don’t find a fourth!’

“I phoned my mum in tears and asked, ‘How do I do this?’ It was so scary. I came home and went on the internet and found statistics like 48 per cent of triplets don’t make it and in many of those cases the mothers don’t make it either.”

Her fears were intensified when another scan discovered that not only were the triplets sharing a placenta, two of them were sharing an amniotic sac and at risk of developing Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome, a potentially fatal condition where one baby takes blood supply and nutrients from the other. The Kestertons were given a stark choice.

Naomi said: “It was explained we could consider elective reduction – terminating one baby to make the pregnancy easier.

“I said to Toby, ‘No, if complications arise and the babies are at risk then maybe, but I am not going to terminate a baby just to make my life easier’.”

As doctors closely monitored the babies to check they were all developing at the same rate, Naomi struggled through a difficult pregnancy. She recalls: “The sickness was incredible. Normal morning sickness is bad but times that by three. I was a mountain. I measured my stomach at five-and-a-half months and it was 50 ins around.

“I was eating eight times a day, grazing on small meals because there wasn’t enough space in my stomach. My hips expanded so much I ended up on crutches. At six months I could hardly move. I would come down the stairs and not go back up all day because the effort was too much. I was immobile. I ended up with diabetes.

“It became a matter of getting as far through pregnancy as possible to give the babies the best chance. First, I had to make 27 weeks, when we got there it was 31 weeks because their lungs would be more developed then.”

In January this year, when the babies were 31 weeks and four days, Naomi felt back twinges and knew there was no space left.

After a steroid injection to allow the tiny babies a final chance to strengthen their lungs the three girls were delivered by caesarean at Basingstoke Hospital on January 9.

Because they were so rare, 15 assembled doctors and nurses supervised the birth. Amelia was born first, followed by Catherine and finally Sophia. They weighed 4lbs, 3lb 7ozs and 3lbs respectively.

They spent three weeks in incubators and two more in hospital before gaining enough weight to be allowed home. Naomi says: “They were so small and adorable. I’d always known they wouldn’t go full term and had to prepare myself not to be able to hold them at first.

“While I was recovering I picked up the winter vomiting bug and so there were days when I couldn’t even see them.

“It was awful to be away from them and breathtaking just to be able to hold them.”

Now the triplets are healthy five-month-olds and Naomi runs her household like clockwork.

She says: “I can tell who is who, but to anyone else they look the same.

“They all have their own distinct personalities. Amelia is the Earth Mother and looks out for her sisters, Catherine smiles the most and Sophia is the laidback one.

“Amelia and Catherine shared the sac and they have kept that bond. They hold hands and look for each other when they are apart.

“It’s not easy but the plus side is that we had our family all in one go. Most people have four children over a decade, we did it in 16 months. And we know how blessed we are to have them.”

Angel Food Ministries

Angel Food Program Helps Virginia Families

Strapped families struggling to pay increasing food costs can order a $30 box of food that participants say doubles their money.

“Going in the store and seeing the prices of things and then comparing it with what you get, honey, it’s a big, big difference,” said Helen Taylor, 89.

“I think the value is about $70 or $75,” said the Sandston resident, who so far has purchased two boxes from Angel Food Ministries, a Georgia-based nonprofit, nondenominational organization.

The boxes include restaurant-grade meats, frozen vegetables, fruits and dairy products, said David Mills, program director for Virginia and Washington.

The items are purchased in large quantities from such major suppliers as Tyson, ConAgra, Pilgrim’s Pride and Sara Lee, Mills said.

Anyone can buy the food, and food stamps are accepted for the boxes, which include 12 pounds of meat and can feed a family of four for a week or a senior for a month, according to Angel Food Ministries’ Web site. There is no limit on the number of boxes.

Not many Virginians know about the program, which operates in 36 states, organizers said. For example, 37 churches from Abingdon to Woodbridge participate, compared with about 800 churches in Texas.

“I want more people to take advantage of the food,” said Terry Alligood, a member of New Bridge Baptist Church in Sandston.

Alligood, an area coordinator, was responsible for bringing the program to the Richmond area about eight months ago.

“It helps you live a lot higher on the hog,” said Eleanor Grubbs, 86, of Varina.

“You can eat much healthier and a bigger variety. There are some things you have to add to it. As a rule, there isn’t bread in it,” Grubbs said. “I haven’t found anything yet I had to throw away.”

Boxed specials are also available. The specials are mostly savings on meat boxes.

More host site churches are needed in the Tidewater and Northern Virginia areas, as well as throughout the Shenandoah Valley, Mills said.

Churches have to apply, and the ministry makes a determination about their capacity to participate based on the details of their application and whether the churches are on the route logistically.

For Taylor of Varina, the program warrants more exposure at a time when people are penny-pinching to buy the basics.

“I’m 89 years old, and I’m a widow. Social Security is not the highest-paying thing in the world, and this has really been a blessing to me.

“I just wish there were more programs such as this to help people in the same position I’m in and some who are in worse.”

Miracle League

Miracle League gives players chance to shine

Amanda Shellhouse wants to fly.

The 17-year-old keeps a picture of Dale Earnhardt Jr. near her bed and a poster of him on her wall. Whether it be on a plane, in a car or around three bases in her wheelchair, one thing is certain — Amanda likes to go fast.

Doctors diagnosed Amanda, born three months premature, with cerebral palsy when she was 18 months old.

She’s used a wheelchair ever since. Her speech is slurred and difficult to understand unless you’re accustomed to hearing it. But with some patience, you can get an earful. She has little use of her hands because of the spasms caused by the cerebral palsy. At 77 pounds, her legs are like spindles. Amanda needs others to dress her, feed her and help her with all the routine daily tasks most people take for granted.

And after spending her youth watching her parents and older sisters play softball and baseball, it was Amanda’s turn to fly around the bases. For six weeks, her family cheered her on just as they have her entire life.

Amanda plays for the Pirates. She’s No. 3.

March 29 — Opening day for the Dothan Miracle League.

Teams take turns squaring off on the field designed with a rubberized surface to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers. There are six teams; two are for adults with disabilities. It’s a roller-coaster day. There’s laughter, some tears of joy. Near the fence on one side of the field, Amanda sits with her family. They’ve all come out — her mother, father, stepmother, sisters and grandparents.

It’s the Cardinals vs. the Pirates.

It’s clear pretty quickly this is not a normal ball game. First of all, nobody keeps score, nobody strikes out and you don’t have to knock one out of the field to get a home run. Each player has a buddy to help them during a game. When a player comes up to bat, their name and photograph are displayed on a digital screen at the back of the field.

Nobody loses in this league.

“I think it’s great,” Sandra Shellhouse, Amanda’s mother, said. “I think it’s one of the best things that could have happened to Dothan.”

By 1990, Billy and Sandra Shellhouse already had two daughters — Cindy, born in 1980, and Donna, born in 1984.

When Sandra found out she was pregnant a third time, she had neither planned on nor wanted another child. Six months into the pregnancy, Sandra was hospitalized with an abrupted placenta, a condition in which the placenta pulls away from the uterine wall. It can lead to premature birth and miscarriage.

Amanda was born three months early and weighed just 3 pounds.

There was swelling in Amanda’s brain, and a shunt was put in to drain the fluid. Amanda spent 45 days at Baptist Medical Center in Montgomery.

Amanda’s parents — who have been divorced 15 years now — took her home.

But something was different.

A year after she was born, Amanda did not sit up. She did not roll over. She was not doing any of the things her older sisters had done by that age. At 18 months old, Amanda was finally diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

Cerebral palsy encompasses a number of disorders caused by brain trauma.

The United Cerebral Palsy estimates between 1.5 million to 2 million children and adults in the U.S. have cerebral palsy; 10,000 babies are diagnosed with cerebral palsy each year.

April 3 — The Athletics vs. the Pirates.

It’s a Thursday evening. Amanda’s normal buddy, Providence Christian School teacher Jordan Sanders, is unable to make it. Jordan’s daughter, Lauren, fills in as Amanda’s buddy. The entire Sanders family is active in the Miracle League. Mark Sanders, Jordan’s husband, is a Pirates coach. Their children volunteer as buddies for the Orioles.

Billy Shellhouse drives up from Sunny Hills, Fla., with his wife, Mary, for Amanda’s games. He watches his daughter intently when she’s on the field. After making it around the bases and back to home, he meets Amanda in the Pirates’ dugout.

“How did you like going all the way around?” he asked her.

“Good,” Amanda said.

She’s playing second base in the outfield. With Lauren behind her ready to scoop up the ball if it comes near them, Amanda talks to the Athletics’ players as they stop at second.

Amanda’s smile is visible from the dugout.

Back at bat, Lauren helps Amanda hold the lightweight bat. Together they hit the ball off a tee. The two then work their way around bases, Lauren pushing Amanda’s wheelchair.

From third base, Lauren yells back to Amanda’s family. “She said she wants to go faster.”

“She just got an electric wheelchair a few months ago,” Amanda’s sister, Cindy, said. “… The only speed she knows is faster.”

Billy Shellhouse yells some encouragement to his youngest daughter.

“Amanda, you’re doing real good out there,” he said. “You sure went flying around them bases.”

For the longest time, Sandra Shellhouse blamed herself for Amanda’s condition.

She felt enormous guilt after Amanda’s birth because she had not wanted more children when she found out she was pregnant.

“Then one day my mother’s preacher told me, ‘God don’t give these children to just anyone’,” Sandra said.

Today, she can’t imagine not wanting all her daughters. Amanda, she said, is her miracle baby.

April 19 — With the April 12 game rained out, the Pirates meet the Braves.

Amanda plays pitcher.

It’s chilly on this Saturday, so Amanda is bundled in jackets to keep her warm. She’s not having a good day, and it’s been a bad week. The headrest on Amanda’s regular wheelchair broke, so she’s using her electric chair. It’s more cumbersome and requires ramps just to haul it around in Sandra’s van.

It takes Jordan some time to get used to the electronic controls. It’s slow-going until Sandra increases the speed to help things along. Amanda didn’t like the slow pace of the electric chair.

“She wanted to go faster,” Sandra said.

A couple of young Braves players provide some needed levity during the game.

Six-year-old Jessie Hall bats for the Braves. She’s followed by Joshua Adkins, her best friend. Joshua bats and proceeds to first where Jessie waits. She won’t go to second until he hugs her.

It’s undeniably cute — Joshua bats and runs to first. He hugs Jessie, who runs to second. Joshua leaves first and runs to hug his dad, a Braves coach. Joshua and his buddy return to first. Joshua throws his hat on the ground. He then runs to the outfield fence and sits in the shade for the rest of the inning.

Amanda has had a tough road medically.

In 2003, she was diagnosed with scoliosis. It was so severe, she began having difficulty breathing.

She’s had five shunts in her life to keep fluid off her brain. The shunt connects to a tube traveling down her neck under her skin and drains the fluid from Amanda’s brain into her peritoneum. The excess fluid is eventually reabsorbed into her body.

A Baclofen pump is used to control Amanda’s spasticity caused by the cerebral palsy. A tube implanted under the skin of her abdomen connects to the spinal cord and releases the Baclofen in controlled doses.

It can be dangerous. Sandra Shellhouse remembers the death of one of Amanda’s classmates due to an infection around a Baclofen pump. But without it, Amanda’s spasms would be overwhelming.

April 26 — The Pirates vs. the Orioles.

Orioles player Buck McClendon is well known. His mother, Melinda, was instrumental in getting the Dothan Miracle League off the ground. Both Melinda and Buck’s names are on the field house at the Miracle Field. On this Saturday, Buck is running all over.

Like Amanda, every player has a story.

Michael Barber used to play Little League baseball and was an All-Star player at Eastgate Park. When he was 9, his family was in a car accident on the way to All-Star practice. Michael suffered a severe brain injury and now uses a wheelchair. He’s 18 and plays for the Pirates. His brother and sister, Brian and Nicole, buddy with him.

Michael’s parents are typically nearby watching. His father, Doug Barber, explains that Michael’s medication often leaves him groggy by the afternoon. But he knows Michael looks forward to the games. Just a mention of it brings a smile to Michael’s face.

“These kids, right here, enjoy this so much,” Doug Barber said. “This one hour, they are like everyone else.”

Like any teenager, Amanda has her good days and bad days. A lot of it, her mother said, is frustration.

“She gets so frustrated with herself, especially when she’s trying to tell you something,” Sandra said.

Amanda has a memory like you wouldn’t believe, Sandra said. She does well on her tests at school, which are given to her verbally by a teacher. And she remembers what she learns. Numbers, however, mean nothing to her. She routinely “lies” about her age.

She could be a good boss one day, her mother attests. But while she’s in the 10th grade at Northview High School, Amanda’s school work is on an elementary level.

“I would love to see her go to college, but I’m realistic about it,” Sandra said.

With big brown eyes and her mother’s olive complexion, Amanda doesn’t look much like her older sisters. Sandra is Amanda’s primary caregiver. She easily lifts Amanda in and out of a van.

Attending school to get her registered nursing degree and working as a licensed practical nurse, Sandra leans on both Amanda’s maternal and paternal grandparents for help with Amanda when she needs it.

Sandra doesn’t worry about what will happen to Amanda if she no longer can care for her. Sandra knows Amanda’s father and stepmother as well as her sisters will step in when needed.

“They have never treated her any different,” Sandra said of her other daughters. “They’ve never been embarrassed or ashamed to have her around … If something happens to me, I really don’t worry about her.”

May 1 — The Pirates vs. the Cardinals.

Coach Ronnie Tucker reached a goal when Melissa Pearson, the spirited ham of the league, hit a pitched ball. Tucker cheered Melissa all the way to first base.

“My goal was to get all of them not in a wheelchair to get a hit with a pitch,” Tucker said.

Chaz Tenzel-Walser for the Cardinals hit one out of the park. It’s the second for the season.

One of Tucker’s customers heard what he’d been doing and wanted to do something for the Pirates. So each player on the team got gift certificates to Dairy Queen.

Yes, Amanda has disabilities. But in so many ways she’s a typical kid.

Her favorite television shows are “Full House,” “Golden Girls” and “The Cosby Show.” She has all six seasons of “Full House” on DVD. She enjoys Nick at Nite and likes to drift off to sleep with her TV on a timer.

She likes to go to the beach. She loves the water. She wants a boat.

She likes sardines with hot sauce.

She likes to sip on a Coke-flavored Icee, and buddy Jordan Sanders brings her one for every game even going into “emergency Icee” mode when the Icee machine at her usual store broke.

Magic Moments, an organization that grants wishes to kids with disabilities, has offered to grant Amanda a wish.

She wants to fly.

She studied Hawaii in school and wants to see a volcano. But she’d settle for a cruise or flying somewhere sunny.

May 10 — Pirates vs. Dodgers, final game

It’s the Saturday before Mother’s Day, and the Pirates only have five players show up. It’s a good day. Amanda’s smile comes quick.

“She likes the outdoors,” Billy Shellhouse said. “She loves to sit on the porch.”

Amanda’s wearing dark sunglasses to block the glare in her eyes. She looks over her glasses at her dad.

“I see you, Amanda,” Billy said.

The game ends, and the players take to the field to congratulate each other, as they have every other game. Pirates Coach Mark Sanders announces that Amanda’s grandmother is providing popcorn and Coke for the team. Sanders, a pharmaceutical rep when he’s not coaching the Pirates, gathers the team around in the dugout to formally end the season with a team yell.

“Go Pirates … Argh!”

Miracle League gets a miracle of its own

The act of giving was also center field Saturday afternoon in Myrtle Beach.

Employees from the Sheraton Broadway Plantation presented an enormous check to The Grand Strand Miracle League.

The Miracle League is a baseball league designed exclusively for children with disabilities.

And the check wasn’t just dollars and cents, it was for $58,123.92.

The emotional presentation was quite a surprise to Miracle League volunteers.

Sheraton employees say they held bake sale, auctions, and just about anything else they could do to raise money.

Wayne Rickman, Vice President of Sales said, “One of the project managers literally came to our houses and took all of our garbage out of our garages, took it down to save more auction house and they made thousands of dollars for that event.”

Sheraton employees said the money is the result of three months of fundraising.

Field is where dreams turn into miracles

Unlike most young moms, Lisa Surgo can pronounce it, spell it, and define it. It’s a medical condition called the Congenital Disorder of Glycosylation. There are about 20 varieties of the syndrome and the rarest of them, the kind her son Kyle has, is limited to about 40 cases in the whole world, she said.

His is a metabolic disorder that affects the heart, liver function, and the size of the brain. Its victims are developmentally delayed, which is actually a rather odd term considering its victims, sadly, often aren’t around long enough to develop all that much in the first place.

The medical experts warned Lisa and her husband, Todd, that Kyle would never see his 5th birthday. They said he would never walk in any way, shape, or form. Had the Surgos asked, the docs would have told them Kyle would never play baseball or swing a golf club either. And they would have been wrong about that too.

Kyle turned 5 in January. His little legs flail furiously to make his walker move. He played in his first T-Ball game the other evening, had a couple hits, stopped a ball in the field, and made a strong throw toward home plate.

“Our whole family was here and there wasn’t a dry eye,” Lisa said. “We were all bawling like babies. Once again, Kyle beat the odds.”

It’s called the Miracle League and, friends, there has never been a more appropriate name for a sports group.

They’ve been a miracle short, though. While some of its participants are ambulatory, many are not and it’s a tough deal to make those wheelchairs and walkers move on dirt or gravel infields and basepaths, even with helpers doing the heavy lifting. It won’t be long, though.

The city of Northwood has a small piece of land in a large park being developed near the fire station behind the ball diamonds at Lark Elementary School. It has agreed to lease that parcel to the Miracle League for 50 years. The lease terms? $1.

They have their land. Now they need a field with a synthetic, rubberized surface. It costs $160,000 and the Miracle League, behind President Jeff Barton and his board, have worked exhaustively in tough economic times to come up with nearly $140,000. The rest will come in one windfall, courtesy of this summer’s Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic Presented by Kroger.

If you’ve ever wondered what kind of good this annual LPGA golf tournament has done from contributing $5.8 million to various children’s charities since its inception in 1984, well, wait a few months and drop by the Miracle League’s new stadium.

The whole tab for labor and fencing and other building materials will surpass $300,000, but just about everything, with the exception of the playing surface, has been donated.

Yes, take a bow, because we are a community with a big heart. One look at these kids, their wide eyes, their smiles; then take in the sound of their laughter and joy and, well, it couldn’t be any other way.

The name most synonymous with the Farr Classic is Se Ri Pak, the event’s five-time champion. Kyle Surgo and nearly a dozen of his Miracle League friends and their helpers, like Kyle’s big brother Andrew, and their parents met up with Se Ri yesterday behind Lark Elementary and it was mutual love at first sight.

The kids taught Se Ri their game, then she taught them hers. A girl named Olivia decided Se Ri was her new best friend, so the golfer helped her buddy hit the plastic baseball off its tee, then held her hand and ran the bases. Later, they took to the field together to play second base.

“They may have handicaps, but they’re having fun and enjoying the day,” Se Ri said. “I can’t think of anything more important. I think this a great experience, and not just for them – for me too. This is as good a time as I’ve had off a golf course.”

But then she was right back on it, sort of. When the kids were done playing baseball, they gathered around Se Ri and the Pink Panther mascot from Owens Corning and learned to hit a golf ball. The LPGA Hall of Famer wrapped her arms around each kid, helped them draw the club back, and then sent a Titleist flying across the field.

Tyrus Carroll thought this was about the greatest thing since, well, baseball. He is a whirling dervish of constant energy. Born with Down syndrome, this sweetheart of a kid also has a rare metabolic bone disease. He’s been through open-heart surgery and so much more, said his mom, Chantillie Doering. But he’s all about rough and tumble, and the Miracle League is just part of his baseball life.

“At home, I can get five or six kids from the neighborhood lined up to play ball, and they want to play with him,” Chantillie said. “It’s incredible. This sport is helping integrate him into the community. He just loves to play ball. In the middle of winter, I’ll pitch him a snowball and he’ll hit it with a shovel.”

Do you like baseball, Tyrus?

“Yeah,” he shouts.

Why? What do you like to do?

“Bat. Throw.”

Do you come here to play with your friends?

“Him,” Tyrus said, pointing at the Pink Panther.

Later, after hitting his first golf shot, Tyrus dropped the club, ran out of Se Ri’s embrace, and hurried to give the Pink Panther a high five.

Kyle Surgo, who has never spoken, took his turn at golf too, but was soon back on the baseball field, making a high-pitched sound suspiciously like laughter as brother Andrew pushed his walker around the basepaths.

“This means the world to us,” Lisa Surgo said. “The Miracle League is just that, a miracle. Somebody is giving these kids a chance to be normal.”

There are hundreds of baseball diamonds in the metro area and there are games every night where healthy kids are throwing curves and stretching doubles into triples.

There are dozens of golf courses where healthy kids are hitting 250-yard drives and getting up-and-down for par.

There is not one of either where you will find more joy and passion for life than Se Ri Pak witnessed yesterday morning from a dozen very special kids on the field behind Lark Elementary.

Do you believe in miracles?

Kids & Teens

Boy in bubble cured of life-threatening disease

A seven-year-old boy kept in a “bubble” for two months has become the first person in Britain to be cured of a rare life-threatening disease with a bone marrow transplant.

Rhys Harris was kept in isolation in the airtight chamber while his immune system was destroyed by chemotherapy and replaced by being given new bone marrow.

During eight weeks of treatment, his parents had to wear specially sterilised gowns and, although they could dress and cuddle their son, they were not allowed to kiss him.

Rhys was initially diagnosed with a mycobacterial infection – a “cousin” of tuberculosis – which is rare.

When doctors investigated further, they discovered that he had an underlying immune deficiency disease called Nemo, Nuclear Factor Kappa B Essential Modulator, which effectively stopped his white cells working properly.

Less than 12 people in the UK currently have the condition.

Rhys, from Newbridge in South Wales, was transferred from care in Cardiff to Newcastle General Hospital, one of two units specialising in treating such diseases.

The transplant took place last October and this week his parents Kevin, 44, and Dawn, 39, were told the procedure had been successful.

Rhys, who was left deaf after suffering meningitis as a baby, now has a “normal” immune system and is no more at risk from disease and infection than anyone else.

Mr Harris said: “We knew it was a slim chance but we had to take it. The flipside of the coin just wasn’t worth thinking about.

“Rhys just went through hell and back and back to hell again – it was a really tough time for all of us. He is really tough and resilient. He is a normal seven year old boy apart from this who loves rugby and adores his brother.”

Dr Mario Abinun, consultant paediatric immunologist at Newcastle General Hospital, said 25 similar transplants were carried out each year.

“This is the first time this operation has been carried out on a child with Nemo in the UK. When Rhys came in he was a very sick boy but now he is so much better.

“All the staff at the hospital are happy and glad to see the little boy getting better and enjoying the normal things boys should be doing – running around and being mischievous.”

Teen fire rescue heroes to get award

TEENAGE heroes who rescued a family from a blazing block of flats are to be commended with a bravery award.

Joshua Cramer and Daniel Ridgeon, both 15, saw smoke billowing from the block in Anselm Avenue, Bury St Edmunds, in August last year.

They also heard screams coming from inside.

To try and alert residents to the danger Daniel shouted and pressed door entry buttons.

The pair was let in and they ran up the stairs to the top floor which was filled with black smoke. They found an armchair alight on the landing and Daniel ran to get a fire extinguisher while Joshua tried to stamp out the flames.

Then while Daniel fought back the flames with the extinguisher, Joshua escorted two children, Marcus and Jess, who were just two and 11 months old respectively at the time, and their mother Louise Ashton – down the stairs to safety, using tee-shirts to cover the children’s mouths.

The fire was put out with the help of other residents before fire fighters arrived on scene.

Next Tuesday the dynamic duo will receive bravery awards after being nominated by Suffolk’s Chief Constable Simon Ash. They will get certificates from the Society for the Protection of Life from Fire and a cash sum from the Provincial Police Awards.

Mr Ash said: “I am very pleased to be able to recognise the bravery of these two young men, whose quick thinking saved a young family from a fire which was well alight.

“Both thought of the safety of others before themselves, but quickly reacted to the situation so no-one suffered any serious injury as a result of the fire.”

Suffolk Fire and Rescue’s western area commander John Wilcock said: “With little regard for their own safety, these two young boys displayed immense courage in entering a burning building and rescuing a young family.

“This demonstrated a community spirit and a willingness to respond and assist when a person is in need, and it is only fitting that they are receiving these awards.”

Neighbor rescues boy, 15, from pool

A 15-year-old boy was rescued from a pool Monday night after he lost consciousness, police said.

About 6:30 p.m., the boy was in a pool at a home on Sherwood Lane with two teenage friends when he went underwater and did not return to the surface, police said.

The two other teens saw that the boy was in danger, so one of them got out of the pool and yelled for help while the other tried to pull the boy to the surface, police said.

A neighbor, identified as Paul Urban, 61, heard the cries for help, responded and helped rescue the boy, who was unconscious and not breathing when he was pulled from the pool, police said.

Urban performed CPR on the boy and eventually revived him, police said.

The boy was taken to Capital Health System’s Fuld Campus in Trenton as a precaution, police said. His condition was not immediately available.

His identity was not released.

Firefighters stage rescue for kids

FIREFIGHTERS staged the dramatic rescue of a motorist from the wreckage of a car to convince youngsters of the dangers of joyriding.

They cut a dummy free from a car before stetchering the `victim’ away for treatment.

It was part of an open day at Moss Side fire station organised by the East Lancashire Amateur Boxing Assocation.

Youngsters also got a chance to test their boxing skills in a ring put up in the station house.

Station commander John Varey said they now hope to make it an annual event.

He said: “It was really successful. It was a demonstration of the dangers of car theft and subsequent accidents.”

Baby Miracle heading home

A deformed Samoan baby girl banned from entering New Zealand is heading home after extensive medical treatment in the United States.

Nine-month-old Miracletina (Miracle) Julie Nanai was born to her parents Sefulu and Mikaele Nanai in Falelatai, near Apia, with extreme deformities, notably around the face. Medical authorities had not expected her to survive.

The parents had been told the child would die within hours if not fed. Her family refused to let her die and secretly fed her.

Family backer To’oa Kristin Taylor has written to media organisations in Samoa saying Miracle was heading home.

She has been in Miami Children’s Hospital for extensive surgery.

“All of this work has been worth every second,” Taylor wrote.

“To learn to live your faith to the point of exhaustion, in the face of criticism, in the depth of financial need and when all is seemingly hopeless … is a gift few will realize unless they believe in ‘Miracles’.”

They say they will be back in Samoa this week.

The hospital donated many of the services while fund raising in Australia, New Zealand and Samoa raised $100,000 to send the child to Starship children’s hospital in Auckland but she was refused a visa to enter New Zealand.

The then head of Immigration, now suspended, Mary-Anne Thompson, declared last September that treatment was not advisable and “will not benefit Tina’s quality of life.”

Having now undergone surgery at Miami Children’s Hospital, Miracle could live a “long, long” time, chief of plastic surgery S. Anthony Wolfe said.

Sudden Wealth

Kellogg’s worker won’t change much after winning $1M lottery jackpot

Nancy Edwards headed to work $1 million richer this afternoon.

Edwards, a Cave Spring, Georgia, resident employed at the Kellogg’s plant in Rome, received a check today for winning the Georgia Lottery scratch-off game Cash Explosion then headed to her job at the plant.

The presentation was held during her lunch break at the Kangaroo station located at 3131 Maple St. in Lindale where Edwards purchased the $10 ticket from clerk, and friend, Tia Frick.

“I’m so happy that I sold the $1 million winner to someone I know who’s from here,” Frick said.

Edwards said that after scratching the ticket, she excitedly showed it to Frick.

“I was laughing, crying and my knees were shaking,” she said.

Edwards won the fifth of 10 $1-million prizes from the Cash Explosion game, which premiered in January. After about 32 percent taxes, she will receive $34,500 per year for 20 years.

Edwards and her husband, Roger, have four children and eight grandchildren. They plan to take a vacation to Hawaii but don’t expect to make major changes to their day-to-day lives.

Of course, family members may have other plans — grandson Avery Hall has already asked for a new skateboard.

Rescues

UK Coastguard praises rescued divers

The actions of four divers who spent three hours drifting in heavy currents off the Donegal coast have been praised by the Irish Coastguard.

The divers, who had clipped themselves together, were rescued on Sunday after they swam towards land against a current sweeping them to Scotland.

Station officer Pat Lynch, from Malin Head coast guard, said the men had been “instrumental in their own rescue”.

The men, from the Sligo area, were rescued by the Greencastle lifeboat.

Speaking on Monday, Mr Lynch said: “They were tracking north easterly but swam in a southerly direction, and had they not done that, God only knows where they would have ended up.”

The drivers were carried five miles from their boat by a strong current and were drifting towards Scotland when a fishing boat spotted them.

They were then rescued by the Greencastle lifeboat.

Mr Lynch said the strong currents meant the men could have drifted a long way without being seen.

“They clipped themselves together, so instead of looking for four individual divers we were looking for one unit, which was a great thing as well.”

Mr Lynch said the divers only narrowly missed being rescued earlier.

He said that they passed a fishing boat but “the people on board were looking inshore, but they were offshore, and they didn’t see them”.

A total of 16 different groups of divers were in the water off the headland on Sunday.

10th floor balcony rescue drama

A man has been rescued from the balcony of his 10th-storey flat in the early hours of this morning.

A fire broke out in the living room of the flat, in Lincoln House, Arundel Place, Avenham, at around 4.45am.

Fire-fighters had to rescue the man, who has not been named, from the balcony.

A candle is believed to have caused the blaze which severely damaged the living room.

Man rescued from burning car

Firefighters called to a burning car overnight in Auckland thought they were dealing with a fatality, but they rescued a man inside – just in the nick of time.

Fire Services were called to Shadbolt Park in New Lynn just after 11pm, after multiple calls of a car on fire.

Spokesman Steve Smith says the car was well ablaze when firefighters got there.

Steve Smith says the 20-year-old man remains in a critical condition.

The fire is not thought to be suspicious.

Science & Technology

Scientists make bird flu breakthrough

A HONG Kong research team has successfully tested a new drug combination that could help tackle the deadly bird flu virus in humans, scientists said in a paper due to be published tomorrow.

The use of three drugs together dramatically increased the survival rate of mice who had been infected with the deadly H5N1 virus, the University of Hong Kong team said in a paper to be published a United States-based journal.

And the treatment could help improve the survival chances of people infected with the deadly virus if the success can be replicated in humans, the paper said.

“Triple therapy offers some hope for surviving the devastating consequences associated with a pandemic influenza outbreak,” the 13-person team said in a paper to be released in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The team tested the drug combination on mice injected with lethal doses of the bird flu virus. They found that the drug combination increased survival rates from 13.3 per cent to 53.3 per cent when given after a delay of 48 hours.

The mortality of people infected with bird flu varies between 45 and 81 per cent, the paper said.

Several major pharmaceutical companies have been working on a vaccine to prevent the disease, which has killed more than 240 people, mainly in Asia, since 2003, according to the World Health Organisation.

She’s a walking miracle

DODDINGTON Rector Val Fernandez is walking tall after under-going a miracle during a recent Christian conference.
The sixty-year-old reverend had suffered with one leg being shorter than the other for 50 years after injuring her left limb in an accident at the age of 10.

But when a group of people at the New Wine Conference in Harrogate started to pray for Val for help with arthritis in her ‘good’ leg she started to feel something happening.

Although the prayers were being said for the pain in her ‘good’ right leg Val started to feel discomfort in her shorter left leg.

“It felt like my leg wanted to go somewhere and there was no room for it. Someone suggested taking my shoes off and it felt better,” explained Val, who also noticed she could put her heel on the floor.

“My left leg had been one-and-a-half inches shorter since the accident. I fell off my bike and a few days later I started to have a lot of pain. I went to the doctor and was told I should try to use my leg as much as possible – which I did.

“Unfortunately this caused awful damage. My leg ended up being shorter and I had to wear special built-up shoes on my left foot to compensate.

“I have had two hip replacements as a result of the damage caused and I walked with a limp despite the special shoes,” said Val.

But after the prayer experience at the conference Val was convinced her shorter leg had grown.

“I didn’t say anything much to anyone. I told a few close friends, but I wanted to have it confirmed first.

“I knew I had a hospital appointment to get some new shoes built up so when I went for this appointment I told the man responsible for organising the building up of my shoes that I thought my leg had grown.

“He asked me to walk with my shoes on and off and, although I still walked with a limp, there was no real difference between how I walked with or without my shoes. He said my leg had grown an inch.

“It is still half-an-inch shorter but he told me your body can naturally compensate for this and he said I didn’t need the raisers in my shoes any more.

“That was two weeks ago. I’m picking up my shoes this week and they will have had the raisers removed.

“I have just bought myself a dainty pair of pink shoes and for the first time I can choose whatever shoes I like without having to worry whether they are suitable to be built up.

“God does heal people. It is not just stories in the Bible, he is still doing things to help people,” said Val, who firmly believes she has undergone a miracle thanks to the power of prayer.

“There is no other explanation for what has happened. The man at the hospital could not explain it. I still limp slightly, but it is something and nothing,” she concluded.

She has contacted the conference organisers who have congratulated Val on her ‘fantastic news’.

Mother’s gamble works: Boy whose skin can’t attach is healing

Two-year-old Nate Liao has spent his young life swathed in bandages from head to toe.

Nate has a rare and deadly genetic disease that prevents his skin from attaching to his body. The slightest friction against his skin, such as the rubbing of the seam from his shirt, gave him blisters the size of water balloons. Swallowing anything but baby food tore his esophagus.

Yet today, seven months after an experimental therapy at the University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital Fairview, the New Jersey toddler is eating Oreos. He’s slurping chicken noodle soup, cleaning his bowl and holding up his spoon for more. He’s wearing a regular T-shirt. And, for at least a few hours a day, some of his bandages are coming off.

For the first time, doctors say, they appear to have cured the disease Nate has, called epidermolysis bullosa.

“Every now and then, you really feel like you’ve done something great,” says John Wagner, a hematologist at the University of Minnesota Medical School who oversaw Nate’s therapy, a bone marrow transplant from his healthy 3-year-old brother, Julian. Doctors did the transplant to give Nate a vital protein that he was born without. That protein, collagen VII, glues the outermost layer of skin to the underlying layer, Wagner says.

The goal was for stem cells from the transplanted bone marrow to travel to Nate’s skin and begin to make collagen VII once they arrive, says Angela Christiano of Columbia University, who identified the gene for Nate’s disease and collaborated on his therapy.

The procedure, like all bone marrow transplants, was risky. Before they delivered the healthy bone marrow, doctors first administered intensive chemotherapy to kill off Nate’s immune system and prevent his body from rejecting his brother’s cells. A child like Nate, who has so many open wounds, would be left especially vulnerable to infection.

But Nate was lucky, Wagner says. His brother’s blood was a perfect match, which cut the risk of rejection.

Nate recovered from the surgery and even gained weight, says his mother, Theresa Liao, who has met with many researchers over the years to push for a cure.

Best of all, tests show that Nate’s body is making collagen VII. The transplant, Wagner says, seems to have cured the underlying genetic mistake that causes Nate’s disease.

But doctors don’t need lab tests to see the difference in Nate.

Nate today looks like a different child, Wagner says. His face has plumped up, and he has fewer blisters. Nate’s skin, which once looked like cellophane, now looks more normal, his mother says. Nate is even tough enough to bounce back after being hit by Julian with a toy train.

“They’re horsing around like brothers, instead of everyone saying, ‘Don’t hurt the baby,’ ” Liao says.

Wagner says he hopes Nate’s body will continue to make more collagen VII over time.

The protein won’t erase Nate’s scars, Wagner says. But, as the boy grows, his scars should appear proportionally smaller. With fewer wounds, Nate should have a lower risk of infection. He will become better nourished as cells lining his digestive system heal. And, most of all, doctors hope Nate will be spared from the aggressive skin cancer that kills many patients in their 20s.

Now, Nate’s parents and doctors are hoping for a second miracle. His 5-year-old brother, Jake, who has the same rare disease, is undergoing a transplant at the University of Minnesota. Jake faces tougher odds, Wagner says. Doctors couldn’t find a perfectly matched donor, so he’s receiving a match from an unrelated donor.

And because Jake is older, he has suffered far more scarring. He has lost the tips of his fingers, and his fingers have fused together. If the transplant cures his disease, surgeons will try to repair the damage, Wagner says.

Right now, Julian, Jake, Nate and their mother are in Minneapolis as Jake receives treatment. The father, Roger Liao, remains in New Jersey with a fourth son, who is healthy.

Scientists around the world will pay close attention to a news conference today as doctors present their research for the first time. If Nate has benefited from the transplant, other doctors will try to offer them, as well.

“It’s extremely exciting,” says Dennis Roop, a stem-cell expert at the University of Colorado-Denver Anschutz Medical Campus.

Jonathan Vogel, a senior investigator in dermatology at the National Cancer Institute, cautions that other patients may not respond as well as Nate. Experiments in mice — performed before doctors tried the therapy on Nate — cured only three of 13. Doctors also may want to wait before declaring Nate cured, to see if his condition continues to improve, he says.

But the boys’ mother says the therapy is an answer to a prayer. Ever since her first son was born with this disease, she says, “I made him a promise, to do whatever I could to make him better or make this go away. I’m doing my best to keep that promise.”

Cops

Hero saves children from burning home

Described as a hero, Officer Jeremy Foote raced in a home with a room on fire Wednesday morning and helped bring two girls to safety, officials said.

Unattended candles sparked a blaze about 11:50 p.m. Tuesday at a home in the 2200 block of Southeast Carnation Road, which Foote noticed while on routine patrol, a police report states.

Foote “saw the fire and called it in and got some of the family members out of the house,” St. Lucie County Fire District spokeswoman Catherine Whitaker said.

“Foote was a hero because of his fast action,” Whitaker said. “He did a good deed.”

One bedroom of the single-story home appeared “fully engulfed,” and Foote went to the front door to see whether anyone was inside, a police report states.

That’s when Stanley Dossous, 24, ran out with a fire extinguisher. Dossous said his family remained inside, and Foote raced to the front door and came across 31-year-old Myrlende Guerrier, who said she and her two daughters, one 7 and the other 9, were inside.

The girls ran out of their bedroom and Foote escorted them outside before he and another officer tried to help Dossous contain the blaze.

The fire caused about $5,000 in damage to one room, Whitaker said.

Foote, 34, joined the police department in January 2007, said Officer Robert Vega, police spokesman.

An offer from the Fire District to the victims for Red Cross assistance was turned down, the police report states.

Heroes

Fire hero dashes into blazing house to save pal

A HERO friend burst into his burning house three times in a desperate attempt to rescue his flatmate.

Terry Collyer, 41, fought back intense smoke and flames after realising Peter Knight, in his 50s, was unconscious in his bedroom.

Mr Collyer, who lives with his 21-year-daughter on the ground floor of the shared home in Broad Street, Dagenham, had to flee downstairs twice during the rescue in the early hours of Monday morning after being overpowered by choking smoke.

He told the Recorder: “We woke one of the guys up and we managed to get him out but the other guy was semi-conscious.

“I stupidly ran upstairs and kicked the door in but there was so much smoke, I couldn’t breathe. I went downstairs twice to get my breath back.

“I just crawled to his bed and dragged him downstairs. Just at that moment the firefighters arrived.”

Fire crews from Dagenham Fire Station have called Mr Collyer a hero after the brave rescue. But the man himself is reluctant to hold that tag.

He said: “I could have killed myself doing it. It’s a normal thing to do, just instinct.

“You don’t think about what could have happened until after the event, I just hope someone would do the same for me.”

Mr Collyer, who is living with his ex-wife while the building is made habitable, said his daughter was the real hero after she smelt the smoke while upstairs and raised the alarm.

The cause of the fire is believed to be accidental, and possibly the result of an electrical fault with a microwave.

Mr Knight remains in hospital recovering from smoke inhalation, while the other man, also called Peter, is living with friends.

Three fire crews from Dagenham and Barking spent about 45 minutes putting out the blaze, with the house left suffering significant smoke and fire damage.

Miracles

Miracle baby beats 1-in-a-million odds to survive growing in mum’s ovary

A MIRACLE baby born fit and well after growing in her mum’s ovary was hailed as one in a million yesterday.

Little Durga Thangarajah stretched the ovary so tight that her hair and face were visible through it.

The organ could have ruptured at any moment, killing the tot and putting mum Meera’s life at risk.

But apart from a spot of morning sickness, Meera had a healthy 38-week pregnancy and had no idea anything was wrong.

And her doctors didn’t realise that Durga was in her ovary until they began delivering her by Caesarean.

Durga, who arrived weighing 6lb 3oz, was only allowed to grow to full term because Meera didn’t have a scan early in her pregnancy.

If her condition, called an ectopic pregnancy, had been discovered, the baby would probably have been aborted to safeguard Meera’s health.

Only one in 100,000 successful deliveries involve babies who have grown outside the womb and doctors reckon the odds of a successful ovarian birth are a million to one.

Dr Andrew Miller, who delivered Durga on Thursday at a private hospital in Darwin, Australia, said: “It’s an extraordinarily unusual outcome. I’m not aware of anyone who has had a fulltermovarian pregnancy.

“It truly is a miracle that Meera got a living baby.”

Meera said: “I didn’t know anything about it until I woke up after the Caesarean and the doctors told me. I’m feeling like the luckiest woman in the world.”

Durga’s dad Ravi, 40, added: “We expected a normal Caesarean but the doctors told me it was like a miracle baby.

They said, ‘You’re one of the luckiest men in the world at the moment.'”

Farmer’s miracle survival after being hit by truck

Family of a Featherston farm bike rider are stunned “the tough old bugger” survived a collision with a truck that ran him over on Friday.

Donald Fuge, 67, was yesterday awaiting transfer back to Wairarapa Hospital after having facial surgery at Hutt Valley Hospital to repair a head wound that had exposed his skull.

“I’m feeling good as gold now. It was just a bit of skin off the top of the head,” he said.

Mr Fuge, a horse trainer and dairy farmer, was on his way to shift stock when he turned in front of a truck on State Highway 53 near Tauherenikau that was travelling behind him about 3:30 on Friday afternoon.

“I don’t remember anything about the crash and have no idea how it happened,” he said.

“I guess I’m pretty lucky it wasn’t any worse.”

His wife Beth was still in shock yesterday as she described her husband being “up and talking as if nothing happened to him”.

“It’s quite miraculous considering he doesn’t even have any broken bones.”

Mrs Fuge had spoken to her husband by cellphone shortly before the crash and he had told her he was going to shift some stock.

“It must have just happened as I was getting home but because he was around at the bottom farm I didn’t come across it. When I got home there was a message on the answer phone saying he was being taken to hospital.

“I followed up after the ambulance and then he was transferred to the Hutt and had surgery right away.”

She said his recovery is “remarkable, he’s fooled everybody”.

“No one can believe how well he’s doing and everyone is saying it’s because he’s a tough old bugger.”

The site of the crash is known as a “dangerous corner”, she said.

“We always pull into the middle of the road when turning because if you pull to the side you can’t see if anything is coming. It’s always been very dangerous.”

Mrs Fuge said their granddaughter had been feeling guilty after the crash “because she had asked for help to get the stock back in the paddock and that’s where he was going when it happened”.

“Donald’s told her to stop being silly and if it had been her fault he would have kicked her up the butt by now.”

She said the only concern with his injuries is that his eye socket is in danger of collapsing once the swelling goes down.

“That’s why they’ve keep him at the Hutt but it looks like they will transfer him back to Masterton and just see how it goes.”

Charity

Former lifeguard will make waves to help charity

Ex-lifeguard Mark Lowing, 48, talks tactics with mental health charity worker Leonard Goff this week as he trains at The Venue in Elstree Way, Borehamwood, for a two-mile charity swim.

Mr Lowing, of Berwick Road, will be raising money for Watford-based mental health charity Guideposts, which also has a Borehamwood-based outreach group, when he takes up the challenge on June 18.

He said: “Guideposts has helped me in the past so I thought I would give something back. Swimming two miles means I will have to be in the pool for 128 lengths.

“I have been in training over the past few weeks at The Venue, where I used to be a lifeguard, so the length of the swim should be fine.

“I am sure that I will come out looking like a prune though.”

Mr Goff said: “It is a fantastic thing that Mark is doing for Guideposts and I really admire him for his efforts. The charity will really benefit from the money raised.

“We provide activities and days out for people in the group and so it is tremendous to receive such support like this.”

Teens can raise money for charity by watching movies

The United Way of Quinte has reeled in a unique fundraising event aimed squarely at teenagers.

The Starlight Film Festival will be an all-night, chaperoned, movie marathon for high school students with free unlimited popcorn and soft drinks and even video arcade games.

The venue will be the Famous Players Belleville 8 cinema at the Quinte Mall from midnight Saturday, June 28 and runs until 7:30 a. m. Sunday, June 29.

The cost is $20 per student with all proceeds going to the United Way.

“We’re using it as a way to engage the youth from our community in the United Way of Quinte,” said Sara Marlin, campaign associate.

She said there is an existing partnership between the United Way organizations in Canada and Cineplex Theatres that other communities have taken advantage of by holding similar all-night movie marathons to raise money.

“These have been successful events in the past and this will be the first year for it in the Quinte area,” she said.

Marlin said four students from Loyalist College’s business administration program have worked alongside the United Way to plan and promote the upcoming event.

The theatre will provide the facility as well as four movies, unlimited refreshments and free arcade games all night long.

“The movies will run throughout the night and students can also play arcade games if they don’t want to watch a movie,” Marlin said.

The four movies to be shown are The Devil Wears Prada, Mission Impossible 3, Disturbia and Blades of Glory.

Marlin said there will be no admittance into the theatre after 1:15 a. m. Sunday.

There are only 300 tickets available for the Starlight Film Festival.

High school students can purchase their tickets at the United Way’s office at 249 William St. or at the Quinte Mall Info Kiosk.

Dumpster Diving for Charity

Members of the Otterbein College in Westerville will station themselves by dumpsters on campus to collect usable furniture and other household items that can be sent to charitable organizations during the student move-out from 10 a.m.to 6 p.m.on June 9-11, 2008. Michelle Acker, organizer and psychology professor at Otterbein says, “As many of you have observed, when students move out of the dorms, they throw away many usable things. This throwing away is not usually planned; rather it is a function of last-minute ‘Can’t-fit-in-the-car-itis.’

“Over the past 5 years, my faculty comrades and I have fished out of the dumpster 5 vacuum cleaners, 3 working refrigerators, a large cooler, 3 full-length mirrors, several lamps, comforters and towels in almost new condition, a dartboard, many half-filled bottles of laundry detergent, area rugs, sealed food, office supplies, many clothes hangers and plastic totes, an Easy-Bake oven in the box and much, much more. All of these things could be kept out of the landfill and used to help other people.”

They will have at least 22 faculty members stationed near the dumpsters on campus on their move-out days. This will help keep usable items from even going in the dumpsters in the first place. Michelle says that local charitable organizations will be there each evening to pick up the usable goods.

“ForKids” family is part of Habitat for Humanity’s building blitz

Habitat for Humanity of South Hampton Roads has begun a building blitz. June 2-7, local builders, donors and volunteers will build 16 Habitat for Humanity Homes in the Huntersville neighborhood of Suffolk.

“Thanks to our local builders, 16 local families will realize the dream of homeownership,” said John K. Morgan, III, Executive Director. “We are so grateful these homebuilders are working to make our community a better place.”

One of the homes will belong to a mother and daughter. Jan and Alexis moved into the ForKids Emergency Shelter “Haven House” a few years ago. It was through that program where someone encouraged them to apply for a Habitat for Humanity home.

Now, their dream is coming true.

A butter yellow house with hunter green shutters and a pink “High School Musical” bedroom. That is nine year old Alexis’ dream home. It may not sound like such a reach, but for a ForKids family who has experienced homelessness, just dreaming of a home is everything.

This week Alexis and her mother Jan will be among the 16 families to move into Habitat for Humanity homes in Suffolk’s Huntersville neighborhood. They will be living in a community filled with newcomers. A community filled with children. A community filled with hope. Alexis is excited “My new friends are going to be my neighbors. We’ll have all kinds of fun.”

Three years ago Jan and Alexis were not having fun. They were barely living day to day. They were evicted from a rat infested apartment that was filled with mold and bugs. Jan had escaped an abusive marriage and they had no where to go. The first glimmer of hope came when Jan and Alexis moved into ForKids Emergency Shelter “Haven House”. Like all ForKids programs, “Haven House” offered more than room and board. Therapists, case workers, clinicians, and people who care welcomed Jan and Alexis into the program.

“The first night I lay on the bed and cried. Alexis was already upstairs with the other children having a ball. I looked at our room. There were two bunk bends and a dresser. I knew then I had to make a decision. I can get up and try to do what the program wants me to do and put my faith in God, or I can leave and live out of my car.”

No doubt the sounds of Alexis’ laughter drifting down the stairs helped Jan make that decision. “I knew when I took that first yoga class at Haven House there was hope. It was the first thing I had done for myself in years.” For four months she worked on budgeting, parenting, and all the other tough programs ForKids requires. Jan immediately got a job as a Bus Driver for Norfolk Public Schools. Alexis also dove right in and became part of all the programs ForKids offers.

Following success at Haven House, Jan and Alexis were accepted into ForKids’ transitional housing at “Elizabeth Place”. They’ve lived in their own apartment for two years. “Having my own place meant everything.” Now that space will become a lot larger.

In November of 2006 ForKids staff encouraged Jan to apply for a Habitat for Humanity Home. On the day her divorce was final, Jan found out she and Alexis were among the 50 finalists. Then in March 2007 she received the word that she felt was sent from above. She and Alexis were going to get a home! “I felt like I had won the lottery. I never thought I’d get a home. I said, Lord if it’s meant to be…. I thank everyone for this blessing.”

Jan and Alexis worked 251 sweat-equity hours for Habitat for Humanity to earn their home. Alexis received credits for her grades at school. The biggest credit came this past week. Alexis learned she won the national essay contest for Habitat for Humanity. She told her mother she was proud to help earn their home. In her essay Alexis shows how far she and her mom have come since that first night at Haven House in September 2005.

“My mom and me want to plant flowers everywhere. I’m so happy I don’t have to keep moving around. Me and my mommy used to lay in bed at bedtime and pretend how our house would look. It is all mine and nobody can hurt us. My Habitat Home means a lot to me because it will be my home and that means a lot to me.”

Alexis plans to paint her bedroom pink and go with a “High School Musical” theme. She’ll be able to start painting soon.

The opening prayer ceremony for the Habitat for Humanity Huntersville Builder’s Blitz is Monday June 2 at 6:45 in the morning. After a full week of hard work, the dedication and key ceremony is Saturday June 7 at 1:00.

Jan and Alexis feel overwhelmed, excited, and blessed to be moving into their new three bedroom home. They embody the ForKids mission. Together they’ve moved from homelessness to home ownership. A journey made easier, according to Jan, by the dedication, love, and support from ForKids. “I never would have made it without ForKids.” If Jan had left that first night, they’d be living in her car instead of moving into a butter yellow home with hunter green shutters and a pink “High School Musical” bedroom.

Teachers

Del Mar teacher wins excellence award

Candy Basso is strict, which is understandable because she teaches a class of 30 English Language Development students at Del Mar High School.

Once in a while, though, she will do something spontaneous and fun. When an ELD student asked her what an 8-foot giant was, Basso stood on a stool to demonstrate the height while the students laughed and stood up to compare their height with hers.

More than anything, Basso understands the importance of getting to know her ELD students. All of her students are first-generation immigrants, and many of them share similar problems, such as being separated from family members and having to worry about sending money back home. She makes an effort to know her students’ struggles at home to help her to empathize with them when they are struggling in school.

Basso’s teaching methods are just part of why she received the Excellence in Education award from the Goldin Foundation for Excellence in Education, a nonprofit organization established in 1990.

“We nominated her because she’s the chairman of our ELD program,” said principal Jim Russell. “Our test scores surpass the state standards significantly. Our program has exceeded the state targets for years, and we attribute it to Candy’s leadership, having selected the programs and putting it in place.”

Basso puts extra time and effort into the ELD program by ordering books, programs and new technology and showing teachers how to implement them into their lesson plans.

She also meets with the ELD students and their parents. Despite these efforts, she credits the teachers as the reason Del Mar’s ELD program is doing so well.

“We’re fortunate that we have good teachers and money from the state,” she said.

One of Basso’s most impressive endeavors is the book she co-authored, called Coming to America. The book, which has yet to be published, tells the inspiring stories of some of her immigrant students.

“It acknowledges them, who they are and their culture,” Basso said. “For me as a teacher it makes me more empathetic knowing, for example, that a student didn’t do his homework because he is paying rent. I think other people will learn from the stories.”

Basso wrote the book because she wanted to help other teachers gain a better perspective on ELD students. The book also offers tips for teaching ELD students. The top five tips are: Review vocabulary and pronunciation; use lots of visuals; discipline the bad students; encourage students to participate (some students come from countries where it is considered disrespectful to ask the teacher a question); and ask them to stay after class for help.

“I think she’s cool and the best teacher,” said freshman Jerusalem Bekele, who moved to the United States from Ethiopia nine months ago. “She prepares us for everything we know. She helps us with everything from homework to classwork.”

Prayer

Families Count Blessings In Wake Of Tornado

A Hancock County family say it’s a testament to the power of prayer.

When a twister hit the Keefe home, they had barely finished praying a second “our father.”

“You want to know how long a tornado lasts? About to the end of the lord’s prayer, that’s how long,” said Erick Keefe.

Keefe says his mood isn’t horrible, because they survived. His wife and children escaped to the basement early Saturday morning as the tornado cut an eight mile path in northwest Ohio.

A path that includes destroying his dad’s home next door.

Ann Keefe says both families are unhurt as they lookover what remains from the twisters damage.

The insurance company says both farm houses are a total loss.

The tornado threw their belongings to the surround farmlands even nearby trees, and neighbors came to try and help put it all back together, reported ONN’s Dan Weist.

“She’s from my home town,” says Cindy Brooks, who was one person helping.

Brooks like many others over the last few days just came to help. Other neighbors have arrived in droves with offers of assistance.

“I’ll try to keep my composure but they just came out of the woodwork,” said Erick Keefe.

Even after what has rained down on them, both families have hoisted flags and proclaimed their gratitude to those, divine and otherwise helping them to start anew.

Animals

Firefighters lauded for deer rescue

The rescue squad in Nashua, New Hampshire, is being recognized for saving a deer from a tight situation.

Nashua Fire Rescue freed the small doe on Memorial Day from a fence around a cemetery using a metal-cutting saw that it usually uses to extricate people from car wrecks. The group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is saying thank you by giving Fire Rescue its “Compassionate Fire Department Award.”

The deer made it most of the way through a six-inch opening in the fence around Woodlawn Cemetery, but got its pelvis stuck. Fire Rescue put a blanket over the animal before cutting part of the fence. The deer – which apparently had only scrapes and bruises – promptly took off.

Inside Good News Blog