Justin Juenemann, a backup kicker for the University of Minnesota’s football team, recently received an unexpected gift from an equally unexpected source. The 23 year-old has diligently worked as a volunteer at Masonic Children’s Hospital throughout his college years. His coaches and teammates were inspired to do something for him.
“Our goal was to create a moment of memory for Justin and his family forever because that’s what he earned,” said P.J. Fleck, head coach of the Minnesota Gophers.
Kyle Tanner, a teen patient at the hospital, spoke in front of the team and singled out Juenemann as his favorite player. Coach Fleck handed Tanner a t-shirt and told him to put it into a t-shirt cannon and fire it directly at Juenemann. He did so. Juenemann caught the white shirt, unraveled it and read the message on the front.
“Justin, congrats you have earned a scholarship,” it read. Justin and his teammates celebrated afterward and he FaceTimed his mother to show her the shirt.
“It was an amazing feeling,” Juenemann said. “It is something that I will never forget.”
“I’ve never seen anybody serve and give more than that guy who is not a star player,” Fleck said. “He could easily just not do it and nobody would ever say anything, and he does is continue to keep his oar in the water and live that holistic life academically, athletically, socially, and spiritually. His life is not about him. His life is about serving and giving to other people.”
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.”
YouTube recently announced how it intends to combat terrorist propaganda and rhetoric on their website: they will redirect the users looking for those things. Users who search for such content will be shown to videos that depict clerics refuting violent religious narratives. They will also be directed to videos that show victims of terrorists.
“When people search for certain keywords on YouTube, we will display a playlist of videos debunking violent extremist recruiting narratives,” YouTube said in its blog post last week that explains this new change. “This early product integration of the Redirect Method on YouTube is our latest effort to provide more resources and more content that can help change minds of people at risk of being radicalized.”
Multiple social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google have been eager in their response to the deluge of propaganda that has been surfacing on their platforms, where it can be accessed by anyone, including those with a habit of violent behavior. YouTube already prohibits its users from uploading videos that are comprised of violent or racist content; however, users can get around the website’s sharing rules by posting hundreds of links. Propaganda videos are often uploaded as “unlisted,” which means that users can’t find them through a search but the videos can still be posted on social media or shared with direct links.
The Redirect Method was conceived and developed by Jigsaw, a company owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet. The Method is intended to target ISIS-focused videos and was constructed with research partners who had explored the major avenues and narratives the group used for recruiting.
YouTube, aside from announcing the Redirect Method, also stated that it would be expanding product functionality to a wider set of search queries in languages other than English and would be using machine learning to update search query terms. It also intends to work with expert NGOs on creating new video content to counter violent extremist messages and to collaborate with Jigsaw to expand the Redirect Method in Europe.
“As we develop this model of the Redirect Method on YouTube, we’ll measure success by how much this content is engaged. Stay tuned for more,” YouTube said.
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.
Over 800 teenagers have been participating in a work camp and have been working on 104 different projects throughout northern and central Virginia this summer. The Diocese of Arlington is sponsoring this camp.
“I didn’t even think we had people like this in the world anymore,” said Kevin Curtis. Curtis, 59, has been the beneficiary of the teenagers’ hard work. They’ve built him a deck extension and a ramp so he can get out of the house. Due to his disability, he has been unable to leave without being carried by two strong men for the past 15 years.
“It’s so wonderful to have somebody come to you and help you. I’ve never reached out for any kind of help in my life,” Curtis said. He has multiple health issues stemming from a car accident he suffered in 2003. “I crushed every bone in my body, in my chest. Both collarbones were broken. All my ribs were broken. My back was broken. My leg was broken in several places.”
Contractors oversee all the teens’ projects but the teenagers do the majority of the work.
“We have to dig the holes first, put the posts in, then the concrete,” said Monica Castro. It is her third summer participating in the work camp. “All three years I’ve been building decks. So I’ve gotten pretty good at the whole ‘dig the holes, mix the concrete, pour the cement and let it set.’ And then the measurements that come afterwards.”
“I’m so excited! I’ve got a doctor’s appointment…that I won’t miss because I will be able to get out of the house,” said Curtis. He recalled that after he met the kids, he bent his head. “And I prayed. I asked God to bless them all, deeply and fully.”
The deck and ramp were completed in time for Curtis’s appointment.