First-Grader with No Hands Wins Handwriting Award

Talk about beating the odds: A first-grader born without hands who was adopted by a Pittsburgh familyhas won a national penmanship award. Seven-year-old Annie Clark was honored with the Nicholas Maxim Special Award for Excellent Penmanship at a surprise school assembly last week. Her mom says Annie was shocked to be presented with a trophy and $1,000 prize from Zaner-Bloser, the publishing company that sponsors the contest. “I could tell she was overwhelmed, but she was poised,” said Mary Ellen Clark.

Her teachers and family members say Annie can sometimes be shy, but she is always tenacious and diligent. “When she does any kind of writing, she wants to make sure that it’s clear and concise and she really takes pride in her work,” Annie’s teacher Laura Erb at Wilson Christian Academy said.

So how does Annie write, you ask? Erb says she holds her pencil between her forearms and sometimes has to stand to stay within the lines on the paper. Despite her disability, Erb says Annie never falls behind in class and is a quick learner. And her grit doesn’t stop at school work. “Annie has always been very, very determined, very self-sufficient in dressing herself and feeding herself,” Annie’s dad, Tom Clark said. “She can ride a bike. She swims. She is just determined that there’s nothing she can’t do.” She can also type, use an iPad, and even paint her toe nails.

Annie’s no stranger to overcoming obstacles. The Post-Gazette reports that her parents have three biological children and six adopted ones — like Annie — all of whom have physical or mental disabilities. The entire family is proud of Annie’s accomplishments and supportive of her dream to become an author. “This has given her a real sense of confidence,” her mom said. “She is just proud to be her and, as a parent, I’m just thrilled with that.”

Source: http://www.hlntv.com

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12-Year-Old Saves Grandma’s Home from Foreclosure

Seen here is 12-year old boy Noah Lamaide who helped to raise $10,500 thereby saving his grandmother’s home from foreclosure."Image from http://i.i.com.com/cnwk.1d/i/tim/2012/02/10/eve_0210_HARTMAN_480x360.jpg”

Seen here is 12-year old boy Noah Lamaide who helped to raise $10,500 thereby saving his grandmother’s home from foreclosure.(Image from http://i.i.com.com/cnwk.1d/i/tim/2012/02/10/eve_0210_HARTMAN_480x360.jpg)

Janice Sparhawk can’t say enough about her 12-year-old grandson, Noah. She calls him the light of her life. “I love that little guy,” she said. The pre-teen raised more than $10,000 to save her home from foreclosure.

Even though Noah is Sparhawk’s only biological grandson, she has many other people in her town that she considers her family. As a foster parent, she’s taken care of about a hundred kids over the years. Many of the kids were in emergency situations, dropped on her doorstep in the middle of the night. Sparhawk found herself in an emergency situation herself. Last year, the seventy-two-year-old woman’s house went into foreclosure. She was told to be out by Feb. 15. Though she had given much to the community, it didn’t mean much to the bank.

Noah found out about the situation from eavesdropping on a conversation between Sparhawk and her daughter. Deciding he wanted to help his grandmother out, he posted a message on a site called Noah’s Dream Catcher Network asking for the $10,000 needed to catch up on her payments. “I want to give her her home back for Valentine’s Day!! I need to raise $10,000 by the end of Jan to help her. It seems like sooo much money but if I have 400 friends who can spare $25.00 I can give her this gift!! Only 200 friends if they give $50.00,” he pleaded on the website. “She helps a lot of people, like foster children, and it would be more than me that just suffered,” Noah said.

This week, Noah showed up at his grandma’s bank with a boatload of checks. Signing them all wasn’t any fun, but by the time he was through, he had not only given his grandmother back her home but something else even bigger. “It restored my faith in family, friends, and community,” Sparhawk said. “So many of these checks I don’t recognize the names on.”

Previously, Noah had helped raise money for a girl whose mother had terminal cancer so the two could go to Disney World together. The mother passed away before they could go, but Noah was able to raise the money so she could go with her father. “I learned there’s a lot more good people in the world than I expected,” Noah said. “Normally when people think of the U.S. they think of a lot of greed — but really that’s not what it is, obviously.”

Source: http://www.cbsnews.com

Fall in Love With Oscar the Chimpanzee

Narrated by Tim Allen, Chimpanzee is an amazing true story of wild primates living in the African jungle. The film follows Oscar, a playful, mischievous 3-year-old chimp, and Freddy, the alpha male who adopts him when he is orphaned. It is a touching and beautiful look at these endangered creatures and their habitat and one that is perfect for adults and kids alike. For every ticket sold during the opening week, Disneynature will make a donation to the Jane Goodall Institute, through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, to protect chimpanzees and their habitats.

Source: http://www.vetstreet.com

Happy “Earth Day”

Photo of the Day: “Wisteria Tunnel” – Kawachi Fuji Garden

Old Man In Nursing Home Reacts To Hearing Music

In this AMAZING video an unresponsive nursing home patient reacts to hearing music that he loved from his era.

The Most Beautiful Public Libraries in the World

I’m a sucker for a beautiful public library. They’re places where anyone can enter and partake of knowledge they offer, where anyone can engage with history, literature and culture. And while we know it’s the books that are important, everyone likes to read in a beautiful space. Here are some of the most beautiful public libraries in the world.

Central Public Library, Vancouver, Canada

Central Public Library, Vancouver, Canada

Bristol Central Library, Bristol, UK

Bristol Central Library, Bristol, UK

Library of Alexandria, Alexandria, Egypt

Library of Alexandria, Alexandria, Egypt

New York Public Library, New York City

New York Public Library, New York City

Taipei Public Library, Beitou Branch

Taipei Public Library, Beitou Branch

Source: http://www.flavorwire.com

Spotlight on ‘Riders for Health’

Riders for Health is an award-winning social enterprise and an international non-profit organization that provides health-care to rural African villages using motorcycles and motorcycle ambulances. By providing healthcare door-to-door, the organization is hoping to help fight the spread of AIDS. The project has resulted in reducing the disease and illnesses by getting patients much-needed medicine. RFH works to make sure all health workers in Africa have access to reliable transportation so they can reach the most isolated people with regular and predictable health care.

Riders for Health was the idea of Barry and Andrea Coleman, a British husband-and-wife team without a medical background. Barry worked as a correspondent and feature writer for The Guardian newspaper in Britain. Andrea was a professional rider for five years. In 1986, with the help of racing legend Randy Mamola, they contacted the representatives of Save the Children, who told them that one of the biggest problems they had in getting the children immunized was reaching the ones in remote villages. The Colemans went to Africa and saw the woeful state of the roads. They also noticed a lot of abandoned motorbikes, left by the earlier aid workers that needed repair. Motorcycles are well-suited for harsh African landscape, where roads are often busted, rutted or simply non-existent. With the help of Linda Paterson, Save the Children, the local governments and money raised at bike rallies in England, they set-up pilot programs in Uganda and Gambia, and helped acquire motorcycles and train riders and technicians. They built a fleet of 47 bikes in Lesotho that delivered health-care services from 1991 to 1996 without a breakdown. At the end of that period, Riders for Health became an independent organization and expanded into Ghana, Zimbabwe and Nigeria. They have since diversified its fleet to include refrigerated trucks, minivans and ambulances and introduced a motorcycle ambulance fitted with a sidecar called the Uhuru that can be used as a mini-ambulance and double as a water pump when the bike is stationary.

For more information visit http://www.riders.org/us/default.aspx

Source: www.riders.org, http://www.en.wikipedia.org

The Beauty Of a Second

I know I’ve been posting a lot of videos lately – but there are just so many out there that are truly amazing. This video is from the  third round of The Beauty of a Second short film contest. It is beautiful.

Elderly Inspiration: 86-year-old Granny Stuns Crowd at Gymnastics Championship

An 86-year-old woman, recently stole the show from gymnasts young enough to be her grand-daughters at the 2012 Cottbus gymnastics World Cup in Germany. Johanna Quaas, a former member of the East German handball team, displayed flexibility that left the crowd at the championship stunned. The crowd watched in disbelief as she performed parallel bar and floor exercises, showing balance, strength, flexibility and endurance of a 20 year-old.