Beaverton couple, Melanie Blake and Brian Cook met over MySpace ten years ago when Melanie reached out to him. “I lived in Connecticut and he was out here and I wanted friends before I got out here,” she explained in an interview with KOIN 6 News.
However, soon after they began dating, Melanie was diagnosed with both thyroid cancer and a brain tumor. She tried to break up with him because of the diagnosis, but he refused to leave her side. “I didn’t want Brian to go through all that,” she stated. “I didn’t want him to be with someone who was sick all the time, but he wouldn’t let me.”
After multiple surgeries that included a craniotomy, she was left unable to talk or perform basic functions; even so, Brian stuck by her side. After eight months of intense rehab, Melanie was finally herself again.
On October 26, 2016, the couple got engaged. Unfortunately, several weeks later, Melanie discovered the tumor had grown back even larger, and she was started on chemotherapy and radiation.
Even with such a heavy diagnosis, the couple was still able to have their dream wedding with the help of Wish Upon A Wedding, which is a non-profit organization that provides weddings for couples with serious health issues. A spokesperson from the non-profit, Kasey Conyers stated, “We are honored to have this opportunity to assist such a deserving and loving couple.” Local vendors also donated their services as well, adding to the amazing generosity shown to the couple.
When discussing how she copes with her health, Melanie stated that “You just need to love everyday because you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow . . . I’m so happy. Yeah, I’m so happy.”
On Sunday, July 16th, a 4-year-old boy was standing near the river with his fathers and siblings when he fell in the North Fork Santiam River and was immediately swept along by the river.
Almost immediately, four strangers jumped into action to help the child.
Jason McDade, who had no intention of playing in the water that day, jumped in the moment he realized the child was limply bobbing up and down in the river.
“I see a kid floating on his back, and I thought he was just swimming, enjoying the water, and he was bobbing under the water and whatnot,” Jason said. “I thought he was messing around, playing in the water. I look into the water and he’s way down there, and he wasn’t moving or anything. My mom said, ‘Go get him’ and I took off my shirt and got in.”
By the time McDade reached the 4-year-old, the boy had been carried 15 feet and was under water for at least 20 seconds.
“My eyes were open so I can see where I was going because I was down there for quite a bit. I grabbed him by his harm, and he was limp. I was like, ‘Oh, no.”
After Jason reached the surface, Christian Lozana took the boy to shore. Kelda Klukis, who had seventeen years of experience as a certified nursing assistant, described how tense the situation was.
“Your fight or flight kicks into gear, and you gotta do what you gotta do,” Kelda said. “Paramedics were called. It took almost three minutes for them to get there, and that’s critical time a life has.”
Jason said, “It all happened in like five minutes, it was real fast. I don’t really now what to think. I just did what I thought was right.”
By the time the paramedics arrived, the boy was breathing again thanks to the heroic efforts of the four strangers and taken to the Santiam Hospital, later to be transported to a children’s hospital in Portland.
Imagine being able to simultaneously buy a wedding dress for a fraction of the cost while also helping those in need.
Brides for a Cause, a non-profit in Portland, does exactly that by collecting both new and used wedding dresses and selling them to help local and national charities, especially women-focused organizations that help with serious diseases; self-image and esteem; women in the military; and single, disabled, or abused women.
Erin Scharf, the founder of Brides for a Cause, in an interview with FOX12 stated “We kind of stepped back and thought maybe we could make more of a difference if we were a non-profit ourself, so then we can open up or beneficiaries and be able to impact and provide money to other charities that might need it.”
Scharf described the joy of founding such a unique non-profit. “Just seeing their face light up when they find their dress, I mean that is one of the most rewarding parts of our job.”
Soon-to-be bride, Jessica Taylor, who purchased her dress from Brides for a Cause, said, “The idea that I can get a dress here that kind of started as a donation from somebody who wanted to support this mission and then also my money, buying the dress would also support the mission. It’s a wonderful cycle.”
Since the organization’s founding, it has collected over 8,000 dresses and given over $450,000 to charities across the United States.
Learn more about Brides for a Cause at bridesforacause.com.
Local Oregon teacher, cancer survivor, and mother of two, Rachel Harry recently received the Tony Award for Excellence in Theatre Education, which is given in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University. The award recognizes a K-12 educator who has made a noticeable impact on his or her student’s lives.
Harry, who has taught at Hood River Valley High School for thirty-one years and is also an instructor at the Columbia Gorge Community College, received $10,000 to spend on Hood River’s theater program. She was also awarded a free trip to New York to receive her award at the Tony Awards.
Remarkably, Harry had absolutely no idea she had been nominated for the award. Several of her students, both current and former, collaborated in secret with Hood River teacher, Amirra Malak, to prepare and submit her nomination. They surprised her with her achievement at the high school’s annual Evening of Excellence.
In an interview with CBS, Harry explained her passion for teaching: “I love teenagers. I love everything they’re going through, the drama. They come in as these, basically kids, and they leave as adults.” One student, in her testimony, described Harry as “definitely a mother figure. . . She’s created a second home.” Another student stated that Harry “teaches in a way that we don’t feel like we are being patronized or being talked down to.”
In the month of March 2017, two local Portlanders separately discovered $100 bills hidden in copies of the book, The Cloud Seekers, in stores around the city. Jeffrey Winton, one of the lucky discoverers, found the money in the book at the Goodwill located on Southeast 52nd Avenue. Along with the money came a small note that stated:
“This book is free. If you need the money, please keep it. If you don’t, please give it to someone who does. You are not a Leftover. None of us are!”
The note was signed by Dustin Banks, a fictional character from the book.
Initially, the person behind these generous actions remained anonymous; however, the author of The Cloud Seekers, James Zerndt, eventually admitted when asked by KGW News that he had hidden the money along with his five-year old son, Jack, who had come up with the idea while watching Willy Wonka and the Charlie Factory.
In a tweet, Zerndt exclaimed “I’ll just say that my five year-old’s favorite movie is Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. He says everyone deserves a golden ticket!” Jack later said in an interview, “I had an idea from ‘Willy Wonka” when we watched it that I think everybody should get a golden ticket. That’s not fair if only five people do. So my dad had the idea of going to put the money in his books to help people get money.”
Money was placed in five books. So far, only two of the lucky books have been found; three books stuffed with $100 bills are still waiting to be discovered.