Just about a week after the Fourth of July, Michelle Wietbrock from West Lafayette, Indiana, pulled over the family vehicle so that her sons, Jack and Teddy, could help a small turtle make its way from the middle of Cherry Lane to the side of the road.
Michelle Wietbrock said, as reported by Lafayette Journal & Courier, that not all turtles they saw on their drives on Cherry Lane were so lucky, judging by the occasional carnage of one that didn’t make it to the other side.
Jack, her 8-year-old son soon to be in second grade at West Lafayette Elementary, took the plight of the turtles to heart.
“We were able to save that baby, but we had a couple of times that were some not-so-great moments of seeing turtles on the side of the road,” Michelle Wietbrock said. “I was trying to think of something productive to say as a parent. And Jack said, ‘Maybe we should send a letter to the mayor.’ I was like, OK, we’ll send him one.”
That evening, Jack composed a letter, in clear, handwritten block letters:
“Dear Mayor Dennis,
“There are turtles crossing the road and they need our help.
“Can you please put up a turtle crossing sign?
“Thank you, Jack Wietbrock, 2nd grade.”
He included a picture he drew of a car stopped and someone carrying a turtle. He captioned it: “We saved a baby turtle.”
On the morning of Aug. 6, West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis summoned Jack and his family to West Lafayette’s weekly board of works meeting.
“The great thing about West Lafayette is we embrace the unique and, in some cases, the odd,” Dennis said, after inviting Jack to the podium. (Jack quickly ran to the mayor’s side.)
West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis. (Photo taken from the West Lafayette City Government Facebook page.)
“So, we felt, you know what,” Dennis said, “there’s something we can do here that’s going to be kind of cool and celebrates Jack’s initiative on making us aware of a problem.”
Dennis said he had the street department – which has its own sign-making machine – make the warnings “to help our turtle population.” The signs were installed on Cherry Lane that afternoon. In addition, Dennis said another set will go up later on Cumberland Avenue.
Jack and his brother, Teddy, posed by the signs soon after they were put up.
That morning, Dennis asked Jack to say something, as his family – including his dad, Matt Wietbrock, formerly of the Purdue University Police Department – and the city’s administration observed.
Michelle Wietbrock said she hoped Jack’s suggestion would make a difference.
“That road, people are zipping right by all the time,” Michelle Wietbrock said. “It was great for the mayor to take Jack seriously.”
Dennis said the letter just made sense.
“Jack was so awesome about it,” Dennis said. “He is our Ninja Turtle hero.”
Read the story and view pictures here.
A Vancouver Island woman scared off a threatening cougar by playing Metallica on her phone. Later she was given the opportunity to thank the band when frontman James Hetfield contacted her to talk about the incident.
In late July, Dee Gallant was walking down a logging road south of Duncan with her eight-year-old husky-retriever. It was then that she started to feel like she was being watched.
“I looked over to the right and there’s this cougar prowling toward me, doing that really stalking kind of cat prowl with his head down and his bum up,” Gallant recalled in an interview, as reported by The Globe and Mail.
She waved her arms, attempting to frighten the cougar, but was not successful. Then she shouted at the cat, threatening to fight him, she said, laughing. The cat, about 50 feet away, stopped approaching but kept its eyes focused on her.
“I thought, ‘I’ll just start recording,’” Gallant said. “‘This is really cool, I want to share this, and if I get eaten, then at least people will have footage of what happened, and they’ll know what happened to my body when they find my phone.'”
When things did not change, Gallant decided that she was not content with the encounter ending with a viral video of her death by cougar attack. She tried another tactic, pulling out her smartphone again and looking through her music library. She wanted to find a song that might “give the right message to the kitty.” She chose Metallica’s “Don’t Tread on Me.”
“I thought, ‘That’s perfect. It’s got that really strong intro and it says exactly what I want to say,’” she said.
Turning the volume up, she pointed her phone at the cougar, which immediately turned and ran.
James Hetfield. Photo from Dee Gallant’s Facebook page.
Gallant shared her experience on Facebook that night. Friends started tagging the band and spreading the story. The media pounced on the story, first locally, then internationally. She received calls from Spain and Italy.
“When a CNN reporter tracked me down at work, I thought, ‘Okay, this is getting really big,’” she said.
In early August, Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett shared Gallant’s story via his Facebook page, which thrilled her. The next day, an artist liaison for the band messaged her, asking for her contact information.
She got a call that afternoon, from a California number.
“Hi, Dee?” said the voice on the line. “This is James Hetfield of Metallica.”
“I didn’t know what to say,” Gallant said. “I was more scared talking to him than I was facing a cougar.”
They spoke about dogs and life on Vancouver Island. The guitarist said that he had read Gallant wanted to know that it saved her life, and he did in fact know.
After the phone conversation, Hetfield sent Gallant a photo of himself with a big smile, making the ‘rock on’ sign.
“Thought you might like some confirmation that it was me,” an attached message read.
“It was really cool,” Gallant said. “I was beside myself excited.”
Read The Globe and Mail story here.
Listen to “Don’t Tread on Me” here.
A five-year-old girl was rescued on Portmarnock beach in Ireland July 22, after being swept out to sea with a floaty. Her Virginian rescuers were Walter Butler, 21, twin brothers Eoghan and Declan Butler, 18, and their brother-in-law Alex Thomson, 24.
The young men had recently started to enjoy the water when they heard someone calling for a lifeguard.
They saw a girl on a “pink flamingo floaty screaming for help,” as reported by Independent.ie. The current was pulling her away from the shoreline.
Walter is a health services technician for the United States Coast Guard. He decided to remain on the beach while the rest of them tried to reach the child.
“As we swam out, I realized that if this girl needed to be revived or needed any medical attention, I had to be in my best shape to provide first aid,” Walter said.
Portmarnock beach in Dublin, Ireland. Photo from the Creative X Digital Ireland Agency Facebook page. Credit to Tauseef Sarwar.
“You could see the brave little girl fighting for her life. She was doing everything she could to stay alive. Luckily, she gave it her all and Eoghan had enough time to grab her.”
Presently, Declan and Alex also reached the girl and assisted Eoghan in bringing her back to the shore.
“There’s not enough words out there to describe the exact moment,” Eoghan said, “but when I saw her in the vastness of the sea struggling to keep her head above water, all I could do was to reassure her that people were out there for her and to ask for her to keep strong.”
The ordeal took its toll on the girl.
“When we finally got there, she was a nervous wreck. Luckily, I was able to take her mind off of the matter by talking to her, asking her when her birthday was, what her favorite color was and other things.”
As the stress of the event increased, Alex thought of the baby girl he and his partner are expecting in October.
“The main thing I was thinking about was we couldn’t lose that little girl. I’m expecting a daughter in October and was empathizing with the father’s fear. I just couldn’t imagine the pain he and the family would have felt had she gone under.”
Declan said he was “grateful” that the group decided to go to the beach that day and were in a position to “help that unfortunate girl out.”
“I’m so glad that she has the chance to see life now, and hope she can truly enjoy it,” he said.
The girl was taken to a children’s hospital and her condition has been described as non-life-threatening.
The girl’s father, who did not give his name, told The Irish Mirror: “Only for them, my daughter wouldn’t be here today.” He said that he was screaming for assistance “helplessly” as the situation unfolded.
“They were so brave. They should get an award,” he said.
“My daughter was taken to hospital, but she is safe and well at home now. I’d really like to thank those men.”
Read the Irish News story here.
Note: The young girl has been reported to be both 5 and 6 years old. Her age is thereabouts.
From left to right: Eoghan Butler, Alex Thomson, Walter Butler, and Declan Butler. Photo from The Irish Times.
A woman from North Carolina, who had just started the procedure of a chemical abortion, had a sudden change of heart that saved the life of her babies.
When she was six weeks pregnant, she entered a Preferred Women’s Health Center, an abortion center in Charlotte, with the intention of terminating her pregnancy.
“Oh, twins,” commented a technician performing an ultrasound, as reported by Fox News. The pseudonym “Alexis” was used by Pregnancy Help News to protect her identity.
Those two words were all Alexis needed to hear. She didn’t even see the ultrasound. She had always dreamt of giving birth to twins. However, she had already started the process of ending her pregnancy. She had taken the first “abortion pill” of RU-486 and was handed the next pill to take within 48 hours. Mifepristone stops the natural hormone progesterone and makes the lining of the uterus let go of the unborn baby. Misoprostol invokes contractions to deliver the dead little one.
Alexis walked out of the abortion facility in a daze. Then she recalled something a sidewalk counselor told her: “It might not be too late for you—AbortionPillReversal.com—they can still help you save your baby.” Just a moment later, she was talking on the phone with HELP Pregnancy Center, frantic to find out if she could go back on her decision.
“We got her started on the abortion pill reversal treatment extremely fast,” said Courtney Parks, abortion pill reversal coordinator for HELP Pregnancy Center.
Directly after administering the treatment by Heartbeat International’s Abortion Pill Rescue Network, Parks and Alexis wept as they viewed the ultrasound.
“If I had known what I know now, and I had seen how the Lord has provided for these babies,” Alexis told Parks. “I would have never even walked into that clinic.”
A baby shower was provided by the pregnancy center and several months later Alexis gave birth to two healthy babies.
Andrea Trudden, director of communications and marketing for Heartbeat International, told Fox News that she hopes more women find out about the life-saving protocol.
“Abortion Pill Rescue truly is the last chance these women have to choose life for their babies,” Trudden said. “These twins represent just two of the more than 750 lives that have been saved through abortion pill reversal since 2012.”
Read the Fox News story here.
An 11-year-old boy from El Paso responded to the recent shooting on Aug. 3 by starting the “El Paso Challenge,” with the help of his mother. The goal of the social media campaign is to encourage people to give back and spread kindness, in order to bring about healing.
Rose Gandarilla posted a photo of her son, Ruben, on Twitter, and a picture of his plan for the El Paso Challenge. The goal: honor the people killed in their city. The idea: challenge each person in El Paso to do 20 good deeds.
Ruben jotted down a few examples such as mowing someone’s lawn, visiting a nursing home, paying for someone’s lunch or dinner, taking flowers to the hospital, or simply telling someone how great they are.
“How to convince everyone to join the El Paso challenge: Hold up posters, pass out flyers, send it to Facebook,” Ruben’s note read, as reported by CBS News. “This will show the world people from El Paso are kind and care for each other.”
Ruben’s idea was successful: In about a day, more than 1,400 people were talking about the El Paso Challenge via Twitter. Almost 3,000 people shared his mom’s Facebook post.
Ruben Gandarilla’s challenge. Photo from Rose Gandarilla’s Facebook page.
Many people on social media, from Texas and other areas, started pledging 20 random acts of kindness with the El Paso Challenge hashtag.
Ruben didn’t just challenge strangers on social media—he also shared his idea in person. When he was in Taco Bell with his mother, he came up to a group of people and explained the challenge.
“This courageous young man came up to us at Taco Bell and challenged us to make El Paso a better place, the challenge is to do 20 good deeds in memory of the 20 who were killed in the Walmart shooting,” El Paso native Chris Castaneda wrote on Facebook, sharing a photo of his group with Ruben. “I challenge you to fulfill this challenge and share this on your page to challenge others.”
Some on social media who took up the challenge decided to pledge 22 acts of kindness – one for each victim of the shooting that happened in an El Paso Walmart.
Prosecutors are initiating a civil rights hate crime investigation and domestic terrorism charges. They will seek the death penalty for the suspect.
Read the CBS News story here.
Army Pfc. Glendon Oakley was shopping for a jersey Aug. 3 at a store in El Paso, Texas, when a child entered and said there was a shooter at the Walmart close by.
Oakley told CNN no one in the store, including him, paid attention because they didn’t understand what the child was talking about. Oakley said he then walked to another store.
Then the trouble started.
“I just heard two gunshots and a whole bunch of people started running around and screaming,” Oakley said.
As disorder reigned during the next five to seven minutes, the armed Oakley was going to go with others who ran out of the store toward the gunshots.
“But I see a whole bunch of kids running around without their parents. Only thing I think of is pick up as many kids I can as possible,” Oakley said.
He and a different man started gathering children together. There were about 13, Oakley said, but he could only hold three.
“I was just focused on the kids, I wasn’t really worried about myself. So just put my head down and just ran as fast as I could,” he said. “They were anxious, when they were in my arms, they were trying to jump out of my arms but trying to keep them as tight as possible. They are kids, so they don’t understand what is going on.”
When he saw the police, he said he let the kids go and took out his phone “in case they were going to shoot me and started recorded while I was running.”
Oakley said he wasn’t concerned with his safety, rather getting the children out of harm’s way.
“I was just thinking about if I had a child and I wasn’t around, how I would want another man to react if they saw my child running around,” Oakley said.
Oakley told CNN affiliate KFOX that he did what he was supposed to do, and he doesn’t want the limelight on him.
“I understand it was heroic, and I’m looked at as a hero for it, but that wasn’t the reason for me …,” he said as he broke down in tears Aug. 4. “I’m just focused on the kids I could not get and the families that were lost. It hurts me, like, they were part of me. I don’t even know the people that died or the kids that I took with me … I want to reach out to the families that were lost and the families that lost their children because the focus should not be on me.”
CNN tried to contact the soldier on Aug. 4.
Oakley said the media’s focus should be on the world and the shooting in Ohio.
“The spotlight should not be on me right now,” he said. “I need the media to go out to the families and make sure they’re OK … I understand what I did was heroic, but I did that because that’s what I was trained to do and that’s what the military has taught me to do.”
The El Paso shooting left 20 people dead and 26 wounded, according to CNN.
Read about Oakley here.