Washington woman crochets stuffed animals for children with cancer

Washington woman crochets stuffed animals for children with cancer

Kinsey Price, of Vancouver, Washington, has a crocheted a zoo of all sorts of animals including seals, tarantulas, beavers, and newts, to name a few. She has spent eight months making all of these animals and intends to donate them to children in the cancer units of the Providence Cancer Center.

“Each day that comes and goes through their treatment, the kids need to know that somebody remembers them,” she said. “Not just the family but somebody out there made something special for them.”

Price has taken suggestions for what to crochet next from neighbors and friends. Price’s first creation was a dinosaur for her grandson.

“He said grandma, how come you can’t crochet a friend for my dinosaur. And I said well I’ll try,” she said.  Price had crocheted and donated blankets, hats, and scarves for years but this was her first attempt at something more complex. Price bought pattern books, yarn, and polyester stuffing for the animals and began working.

“I’m hoping this will give them [the kids] the smiles that they need,” Price said. She plans to continue crocheting for children and other hospital patients. She and a friend, Sherry Kleven, are taking yarn and other donations and can be reached at sherryandroger@gmail.com

Portland launches new first-of-its-kind bike rental program

Portland launches new first-of-its-kind bike rental program

Portland is introducing a new city-wide bike rental program sponsored by Nike called BIKETOWN.

The program includes 1,000 bikes located at 100 hubs across the city.  Spokesman Dylan Rivera of the Portland Bureau of Transportation says the goal is to make bike rides 25 percent of all trips in Portland by 2035.

No taxpayer money is going towards BIKETOWN’s upkeep as the start-up’s $4 million budget is covered by federal grants from Metro and Nike’s scholarship dollars.  Maintenance will be covered by the income from memberships and other scholarships.

The program is operated by Motivate.  The company is already operating in cities like Chicago, New York, and Seattle, but Portland is the first city to incorporate their bike program where the technology is all contained in the bikes rather than in the docks of the stations.

Not only does this technology make the program more affordable and expansive, it means more flexibility for the user.  In other cities, the bikes can be locked to their stations and BIKETOWN bike racks, but in Portland, they can be locked to any public bike rack for a small fee of $2.  However, users that return a bike from a public bike rack to a BIKETOWN bike rack earn $1 in their account towards future rides.  This is the company’s way of maintaining the supply of bikes at stations without using outside transportation.

The bikes themselves cost $1,500 apiece and are designed for safe commuting featuring a solar-powered LCD display, automatic lights, a chain-less shaft drive, and a front basket that holds up to 20 pounds.

Even current bike owners can find the program useful with the possibility of one-way trips.  BIKETOWN offers single trips, day passes, and annual memberships.  For more information, Portland’s BIKETOWN website is available.

Neighbors to turn alley into park

Neighbors to turn alley into park

Melinda Matson, a North Portland resident, is working with the city to transform the alleyway behind her house into a community park.

The alley between North Failing and Beech street is made up of gravel, pothole covered, and weed-ridden.

Matson wants this neglected area to become “a really inviting community space for people to enjoy,” she said.

Matson envisions the alley to look like one a block away with pavers that filter stormwater runoff and benches.

That alley was allowed through building development, but homeowners face a more difficult task to transform alleys into community spaces. Current city policy requires that alleys remain accessible to bikes, cars, and emergency vehicles even as a park. These policies complicate the process and add expenses.

However, the city is willing to work with homeowners.

“We want to work with community members on how to make livable streets that meet their needs that can provide public gathering spaces,” said Dylan Rivera a spokesperson with Portland’s Bureau of Transportation.

Matson has set up an online crowd-funding campaign and is accepting donations for the project in addition to applying for grants.

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Teacher donates kidney to first-grader

Teacher donates kidney to first-grader

Wisconsin first grader Natasha Fuller will no longer be in renal failure thanks to her teacher Jodi Schmidt, who is donating one of her kidneys to the girl.

“It truly just came to me after I did a lot of thinking and praying,” Schmidt said. She called her husband. “I told him, ‘Rich, I want to give a student one of my kidneys’.”

Although Natasha has been waiting for a kidney donor for years, infections have repeatedly  bumped her off the wait list.

The 8-year-old was born with prune belly syndrome which has caused complications leading to a need for regular kidney dialysis. Natasha has spent the last two years living with her grandparents, Chris and Mark Burleton, in order to be closer to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin for specialized care, but her condition had worsened.

After undergoing medical tests to confirm that her kidney was a match, Schmidt met with the school’s principal to come up with a special way to tell Natasha’s grandmother her plan.

“We gave her a gift box, and under the tissue paper was a card with the words: ‘It’s a match,’ ” Schmidt said.

Doyle took a video of Natasha’s grandmother opening the box.

“I just lost it,” Chris Burleton said. “You could never tell this little girl has three tubes in her, she doesn’t let it faze her. She is happy and sassy, and she just wants to lead a normal life, and do things like go swimming.”

Later, everyone cried when Doyle showed the video in a staff meeting.

“Jodi is extremely passionate, full of life and energy, and does everything 150%, ” Doyle said. “She told me that she knows she is here to do more. She is always looking for ways to serve others.”

Natasha currently has an infection, but if she recovers from it by March 21st, a date for the transplant will be established.

Women and girls shine at unique beauty pageant

Women and girls shine at unique beauty pageant

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Ten-year-old Brianna Heim poses elegantly for the camera, a bedazzled sash ornamenting her beautiful purple dress. The tiara on Brianna’s head is nearly as bright at the cheerful smile on her face. Sitting close by is Brianna’s service dog Emily, who recently accompanied her on a special trip to Los Angeles to compete in Miss Amazing, a pageant designed for girls and women with special needs.


Earlier this year, Brianna won the title of Miss Preteen in Utah’s regional Miss Amazing Competition. Brianna, who lives with a speech and motor-skill imparing disorder called glutaric acidemia type 1, attended the National pageant where she participated in the weekend’s activities, including a talent portion, interviews, and an evening gown walk.

Brianna even got to witness the opening ceremony for the 2015 Special Olympics, held in Los Angeles that same weekend. Brianna’s mom says, “(The pageant) is a nice place for these girls to go and be themselves and it doesn’t matter what your disability is.”


The Miss Amazing Pageant was founded in 2007 by Jordan Somer in Omaha, Nebraska. Now, eight years later, the program has impacted more than 800 girls and women with disabilities all over the nation. Somer explains that Miss Amazing is designed to help young women see their unique capabilities and celebrate their individuality.

Jordan Somer says: “According to a study conducted by The Center for Women Policy Studies, disabled women and girls live at the corner of disability and womanhood. With two minority identities, a double dose of discrimination and stereotyping, and multiple barriers to achieving their life goals. Miss Amazing is looking to change that fact.”


Several promotional videos on Miss Amazing’s website highlight the joyful energy of the women who participate in this event. They dance, perform on instruments, bond with friends, and are given a platform to articulate their thoughts and to express themselves. These ladies tear up as they are handed trophies, and wave happily as crowns are placed on their heads.

Somers states: “The Miss Amazing Pageants are inspiring a culture that encourages women and people with disabilities to reach their fullest potential.” It’s clear that this is the case when one looks at girls like Brianna and young women like Mikayla Holmgren, individuals who truly are embracing their identity and thriving.


TLC star and Oregon-native gets married

TLC star and Oregon-native gets married

Those of us who grew up watching the TLC reality show Little People, Big World were in for a heart-warming thrill with the news of Zach Roloff’s wedding this past weekend.

Zach (25) and his bride, Tori Patton (24), wed at his parent’s farm in Hillsboro, Oregon on Saturday, July 25th. The couple had been engaged for more than a year; the countdown began last May after Zach proposed to Tori in an open field.


According to People Magazine, the wedding was nature-inspired and took place by a gazebo in front of a specially planted field of wheat. The bride wore an ivory dress with a chiffon-like skirt and a lacy, detailed bodice. Zach was quick to tell People magazine that the 200 guests made him feel a little nervous: “Neither of us are spotlight kind of people.” However, he also said the two of them are “looking forward to setting their lives in motion.”


Zach, who was born with dwarfism to two parents with dwarfism, has had unique issues to cope with in his lifetime. But despite adversity, and with support from Little People, Big World’s fan base and his supportive family, he has thrived and is now embarking on his own journey with his beautiful new wife.