103-year-old Julia Hawkins competes in 100-meter dash, says to appreciate sunsets and music

103-year-old Julia Hawkins competes in 100-meter dash, says to appreciate sunsets and music

103-year-old Julia Hawkins likes to have a flower in her hair—even while she is running a 100- meter dash.

Two years ago, when Hawkins was 101, she ran the 100-meter dash in 39.62 seconds. They dubbed her the “Hurricane.”

Hawkins made another appearance this week in Albuquerque, running the 50- and 100-meter dash races in the National Senior Games. It has been said that she is the oldest woman to formally compete on an American track, according to the organization. The National Senior Games hosts events in Olympic-style for athletes 50 and older.

There is not much competition in the centenarian age group, so Hawkins was mostly competing against herself. Although she finished her 100-meter dash about six seconds slower than her record time, Hawkins did not let that dampen her spirits. “I’m two years older, remember?” she said, as reported by The New York Times.

Hawkins started running late in life, but she has added it to her list of passions. She resides in Baton Rouge, La., where she goes on daily walks and looks after the trees on her property. She has four children, three grandchildren and one great-grand child. She married her late husband, Murray, over the telephone during World War II. They were married for 70 years.

Hawkins loves flowers. When The New York Times contacted her for an interview on June 19, she was taking it easy in a botanical garden.

“I would rather be the ‘Flower Lady’ than the ‘Hurricane Lady,’” she said.

When Hawkins looks back on her life, she is grateful for her family.

“I’m most proud of my children and my husband,” she said. “They were the wonderful things in my life — and the grandchildren, and the great-grandson. Those are things, you just can’t beat that. This other (the running) is just a little icing on the cake.”

Hawkins bestowed her life advice.

“Have many passions,” Hawkins said. “And look for magic moments. That is something that I have done in my life — think of the things that are magic moments that happen to you, like sunsets and sunrises, rainbows, beautiful birds, music and people’s lovely comments to you. All of those are magic moments and they are free for all. Be sure to keep your eye open for them.”

To read the full interview by The New York Times, click here. 


Loggers, farmers and ranchers protest HB 2020 at the Capital, show support for the ‘Oregon Eleven’

Loggers, farmers and ranchers protest HB 2020 at the Capital, show support for the ‘Oregon Eleven’

Eleven Republican senators have continued their walkout protest that is in its eight-consecutive day. Meanwhile, hundreds of loggers, farmers and ranchers assembled on the Capital steps on June 27. They were protesting a greenhouse gas emissions cap-and-trade bill and showing their support for the missing Republican senators.

It was one of the biggest rallies of the 2019 legislative session. There were flags, signs and songs, along with a continuous flow of semi-trucks, pickups and farm equipment that surrounded the Capital for several hours.

Traffic blocked many streets as several large rigs from throughout the state showed up during the morning commute.

Inside the capital, 18 Democrats met once again for a floor session, not expecting their Republican colleagues to arrive.

The Democrats have the supermajority, with 18 members, but they must have two Republican senators in order to reach a quorum of 20. A two-thirds quorum is necessary to do any business.

Even if the Senate acquires enough members before adornment on June 30, they will still have to come up with a solution about House Bill 2020, the greenhouse gas emissions bill. This is true regardless of what Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, said on Tuesday. He said that the bill lacked the votes to pass the Senate, and “that will not change,” as reported by the Statesman Journal.

Nevertheless, because of where HB 2020 is in the legislative process, it is essential that the Senate has an up-or-down vote on the bill. It’s either that or have a vote to send it back to committee.

Republicans want it to be guaranteed that the bill really doesn’t have the votes to pass. Senate Republican Leader Herman Baertschiger Jr., R-Grants Pass, trusts Courtney, according to legislative staff, but there is prevalent suspicion in his caucus of Democrats, now that the end of the contentious session is nearing.

Not all Democrats in the caucus are agreed on how they want to continue. Some have declared that they are not letting go of HB 2020, causing anxiety among Republicans.

Citizens from across Oregon rallied in support of the Republican senators. Some of them trekked nearly three hours Thursday morning. They stood in the rain, some wearing hard hats or holding American flags. Almost all of them had signs with phrases on them such as “rural lives matter,” “make Oregon ours again” and “they walked for me,” referencing the Senate Republicans.

Hunter Nash said that he came to Salem because, as a 6th-generation logger, he believes HB 2020 would wipe out his livelihood. Every one of his vehicles run on diesel.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the Oregon Eleven,” Nash told the Statesman Journal, referring to the absent Republican senators. “They are definitely representing me and all of the people here.”

Speakers spoke to the crowd, saying that HB 2020 would not help alleviate climate change at all, and that it would take away their jobs. Those that promote the bill admit that by itself it would have an insignificant impact on global carbon emissions.

“Those of us who make a living from the land are the best environmental stewards there are,” Marie Bowers, a 5th-generation farmer, said. She got a loud response from the crowd. “Those who work outside are more in touch with the climate that those who legislate the climate.”

Many House Republicans said that after trying and failing to amend the bill to support rural Oregonians, they were pleased that Republican senators took action to stop it.

After six hours of debate on the floor on June 17, the HB 2020 bill passed the House of Representatives. The bill has acquired more than 120 suggested amendments.

“Both chambers fought this in different ways,” House Republican Leader Carl Wilson, R-Grants Pass, said during the rally. “There are people who have a greatly different vision of how Oregon should look. Their vision would take away your jobs. It already has and it will.”

If the Republican senators fail to return, about 125 budget and policy bills will die after June 30.

Negotiations to convince the Republicans to return to the capital are still in progress between Baertschiger, Courtney and Gov. Kate Brown.

Read the full story here.

Hunter Nash sits in front of the Oregon State Capital.



Four Oklahoma teenagers save elderly woman from fire

Four Oklahoma teenagers save elderly woman from fire

Ninety-year-old Catherine Ritchie from Sapulpa, Oklahoma, had been living in the same house for 58 years. That changed when her bed caught fire several weeks ago.

“I was getting ready for bed in the bathroom, and I turned around, and my bed, the head of my bed, was covered in flames,” Ritchie said, as reported by KTUL.

According to a blog post written by Ritchie’s daughter, Missy Nicholas Ritchie, her mother pushed the emergency call button she wears on her necklace and called 911.

“The smoke was so bad, I couldn’t see to get out of my room,” Ritchie said. “I felt along the wall, and I went into the closet instead of the door to get out of the room. I finally did get to the door.”

That was when four young heroes intervened.

“We were just sitting around looking for something to do,” said 17-year-old Wyatt Hall.

“We were actually fixing to leave … We were fixing to go to QT to get something to drink,” said 16-year-old Seth Byrd.

When the boys, ages 14 to 17, left the house they were in, they became aware of the smell.

“It smelled kind of like burning rubber. Then, we heard the house alarm go off,” said 16-year-old Dylan Wick.

The boys acted quickly.

“One started breaking the glass on the front door,” Ritchie’s daughter wrote in her blog. “One called 911. One went to the back door and began kicking it in. One went to the neighbors for an ax and help.”

Nick Byrd, 14, was able to get through the back door and quickly went inside. He found Ritchie in the hall. She was lost in the smoke.

“This young boy was right there,” she said. “He picked me up, and I said, ‘I can walk,’ and he said, ‘We’re getting out of here.’”

“I just kind of heard her,” said Nick Byrd. “I went to the right of the house, and no one was there. I went to the left of the house, and I saw her in the hallway, so I just grabbed her and took her to Seth.”

Ritchie made it out safe along with the boys, and firefighters quenched the flames.

“They were just special, as young as they were,” Ritchie said of the boys.

Missy Nicholas Ritchie’s blog post was titled “An Open Letter of Thanks.”

“Thank you for your selfless acts of heroism and courage,” she wrote to the boys. “Thank you for not allowing this to be the tragic end to our mother’s amazing life.”

Catherine Ritchie has 42 grandchildren.

“Thank you for more than we know how to thank you for!” Missy Nicholas Ritchie wrote to the heroes. “We will forever be indebted to the time you bought for us and the example you set for us. God Bless each of you for being such a blessing to us.”

Find out more about this story here.


World’s smallest surviving micro-preemie discharged from hospital

World’s smallest surviving micro-preemie discharged from hospital

A little girl was born weighing only as much as an apple.

A hospital in San Diego revealed that the girl is believed to be the tiniest surviving micro-preemie in the world. She weighed only 8.6 ounces when she was born in December.

The girl, who nurses called “Saybie” was born 23 weeks and three days into her mother’s 40-week pregnancy. Saybie’s Father was told after her birth that he would only have an hour to be with his daughter before she passed away.

“But that hour turned into two hours, which turned into a day, which turned into a week,” the mother said in a video released by Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns, as reported by Mail Tribune.

It has been five months since Saybie was born and in late May she returned home from the hospital as a healthy infant. She was five pounds.

The hospital said that Saybie’s family wanted to remain anonymous, but they gave permission to share her story.

According to the Tiniest Baby Registry that is upheld by the University of Iowa, Saybie is the world’s smallest baby ever to survive.

Professor of pediatrics from the University of Iowa, Dr. Edward Bell, said that Saybie had the lowest medically confirmed birth weight submitted to the registry.

However, “we cannot rule out even smaller infants who have not been reported to the Registry,” he said in an email to The Associated Press.

The previous tiniest baby was born in Germany in 2015. But Saybie officially broke that record by weighing seven grams less.

In a video created by the hospital, the mother said that the birth was the scariest day of her life.

She said that she was taken to the hospital because she was not feeling well. When she got there, she was told that she had a damaging condition called preeclampsia, which causes the blood pressure to skyrocket. She needed to give birth right away.

“I kept telling them she’s not going to survive, she’s only 23 weeks,” the mother said.

But in her neonatal intensive care unit, Saybie did survive.

As she gained pounds over the months, a pink sign was placed by her crib. It read “Tiny but Might.”

“You could barely see her in the bed she was so tiny,” nurse Emma Wiest said in the video.

When Saybie was ready to leave the unit, nurses positioned a tiny graduation cap on her head.

The tiny little girl has massive challenges ahead of her as a micro-preemie, defined as an infant born before 28 weeks of gestation. Babies like Saybie can face vision and hearing problems, developmental issues and many other complications.

Michelle Kling, of March of Dimes, said that many micro-preemies don’t survive their first year. March of Dimes is a nonprofit that seeks to improve the health of mothers and babies.

To date, Saybie has defied the odds.

“She’s a miracle, that’s for sure,” said Kim Norby, another nurse featured in the video.

“I just want her to know how strong she is,” nurse Emily Wiest said. “There’s nothing she can’t do.”

For more information about this story, click here.

To watch the video, click here.

Woman rescued from Hawaii forest after being lost for 16 days

Woman rescued from Hawaii forest after being lost for 16 days

A woman was retrieved from a Hawaii forest after being lost for more than two weeks. She said that she had to choose between life and death in order to stay alive, as reported by ABC News.

“There were times of total fear and loss and wanting to give up, and it did come down to life and death, and I had to choose,” said Amanda Eller, 35, from her hospital bed, hours after rescuers plucked her from a ravine using a helicopter. “I chose life.”

After being lost for 16 days, Eller was found in decent condition on May 24 at about 5 p.m. local time.

Eller appreciated the Maui community, the volunteers who helped search for her, and the people who donated to help pay for the search.

“People that know me, that don’t know me, just under the idea of helping one person make it out of the woods alive just warms my heart,” she said in a video posted on the Facebook page “Find Amanda,” which was created after she went missing.

Eller’s mother, Julia Eller, told Fox affiliate KHON-TV that her daughter is recovering “remarkably” with just a fractured leg and needed treatment for her ankles.

“She had been working on herself — she’s a physical therapist by training, so apparently those healing touches had done her well. And they said for what she had been through, she was in surprisingly good shape,” Julia Eller said. “I’m just so incredibly grateful to have my girl home. I never gave up hope for a minute. And even though at times, you know, I would have those moments of despair, I stayed strong for her because I knew we would find her.”

Amanda Eller vanished after going on a hike on May 8. She is a yoga instructor and a physical therapist. The last person to see Eller that morning was her boyfriend. When she did not return he reported to the police that she was missing the next day.

Soon after she was reported missing, Eller’s SUV was found at the beginning of the Kahakapao Trail.

ABC News was told by Sarah Haynes, who operated the Facebook page, that Eller was found by a search helicopter on the afternoon of May 24. She was in a ravine close by Twin Falls. Haynes said that Eller was able to flag down the helicopter.

A member of the rescue team said they discovered her in a stream bed.

“She was waving up at us while we were in the helicopter, and we got her out nice and safe,” Chris Berquist, who was in the helicopter, told ABC News Radio late Friday.

Considering what she faced, Eller was in good condition. She spoke to her father when she was on the helicopter. After she reached the helipad an ambulance took her to Maui Memorial Hospital.

“She was very alert, she knew her father’s phone number, she knew who she was, where she was, knew exactly how long she had been out there — very surprised to see us,” Berquist said. “I’ve never felt something quite that overpowering.”

Haynes said that Eller had been living off water and plants.

“She was several miles above Twin Falls, over in deep H’aiku, way off the beaten track,” Berquist said.

Just a few hours before Eller was found, the reward for her return was upped to $50,000.

On May 16, Eller’s boyfriend, Benjamin Konkol, told ABC News that he believed she was still in the forest and that he did not suspect foul play.

“She’s my soulmate, she’s the love of my life and I feel that she’s still out there. … I’d really like to stop spending my evenings alone and have my love back,” he said at the time.

Haynes filmed a short video for Facebook, in which Eller thanks to her rescuers. She also talked about looking at the big picture of her ordeal.

“This is just a tiny little blip of my story and my life and it serves a much, much bigger purpose,” Eller said. “Seeing the power of prayer and the power of love when everybody combined their efforts is incredible. It can move mountains.”

“This was all about us coming together for a greater purpose of community and love, and appreciation for life,” Eller said.

To read more about this story, click here.

To view the video of Eller’s message to her rescuers, click here.



D-Day secret revealed by DNA test

D-Day secret revealed by DNA test

In Ludres, France, Andre Gantois had lost hope, after decades of searching.

Gantois, a retired French postal worker, thought he would die before he found out who his father was. He knew his father was a U.S. serviceman, who had struggled across France in the aftermath of the D-day landings, and was shot in the skull. Gantois’ father was brought back to health in a military hospital by Gantois’ mother.

But Gantois, in his 70s, had no leads and no name to help him in his search. This left him ill at ease.

“Throughout my life, I lived with this open wound,” he said, as reported by Ashland Tidings. “I never accepted my situation, of not knowing my father and, most of all, knowing that he didn’t know about me, didn’t know of my existence.”

On June 6, the United States, Europe and their allies will commemorate the day 75 years ago when 160,000 allied troops attacked a heavily-fortified 50-mile (80 kilometer) part of coastland occupied by the Nazis in Normandy. Respect and honor will be given to the surviving veterans, though they are few.

Because the fighting was so ruthless in France, thousands went missing or were not able to be identified pre-burial. Their graves were marked, “A comrade in arms known but to God.”

On all sides there were soldiers who fathered tens of thousands of children. Many of those children could not answer the question: Where did I come from?

Until a few months ago, Gantois, was in that position. That is, until a self-proclaimed ‘miracle’ altered his life and solved one of the mysteries of wartime history.

Growing up after the war in eastern France, Gantois would draw a line on paperwork that required his father’s signature. His mother and grandmother lied to him, saying that his father was killed in France’s war in Vietnam that took place in 1946, the year Gantois was born. Gantois’ grandmother told him that his father’s name was Jack. Not knowing that he was being lied to, Gantois ignored the elderly neighbors who dubbed him “the young American” or “the American’s kid.”

When Gantois was 15, his mother died of tuberculosis at age 37. Finally, he got the truth.

“‘Listen, Andre, I have to tell you,’” the 73-year-old Gantois remembers his grandmother admitting to him. “‘Your dad was an American, in the war.’”

Gantois did not know what to do at first. When he reached his twenties, he was strongly motivated to find out more.

With a wife and intention to begin a family of his own, Gantois deeply desired to fill in the missing pieces of his past.

“He had no name, nothing to go on,” his wife Rosine said. “He told me, ‘I’ll die without ever knowing who he was.’”

Visiting U.S. offices in France was not helpful.

Gantois remembers that an embassy official told him: “A lot of people are looking for their fathers, because they want money, they want to be compensated by the U.S. government. But you have to have proof.”

Gantois did not have proof. Then, last June, influenced by his daughter-in-law, Gantois took a DNA test.

Several weeks later she called him with astounding results.

“‘You have an American brother, a sister, a whole family,’” Gantois recollected her words. “I didn’t know what to say.”

The test had revealed that his dad, Wilburn ‘Bill’ Henderson, had been from Essex, Missouri. Henderson, as an infantryman, had landed on Omaha beach on what seems to be just after D-Day. He made it through Normandy and received a wound to the head soon before the war ended. It was then that he met Irene Gantois at a hospital in occupied Germany.

When Germany surrendered in May 1945, Henderson came to visit Irene Gantois in eastern France where she lived. But it appears she didn’t tell him that she was pregnant with his child. Henderson returned to the United States, married someone else and never told his children about Irene. He died in 1997.

The story would have ended there. But Gantois’ American half-brother, Allen Henderson, also took a DNA test because he was interested in what the results would be. They both happened to pick the same testing company, which made it possible for them to be linked. The two men met last September, along with Gantois’ half-sister, Judy.

Gantois and Henderson are thankful that their father survived Normandy and its aftermath.

“When I was little, he was always telling me stories about being in France and he’d speak a little French and kind of talk about how it was like to lay in a foxhole and guns, bullets flying over your head and guys dying all around you,” said 65-year-old Henderson, who resides in Greenville, South Carolina. “Amazing that he survived.”

To read more of this story click here.