Quick thinking and calm under pressure made a Volusia County school bus driver a real-life hero last week. Mayrelyn Lopez, while attending to a minor bus backseat ruckus, noticed a third-grader struggling for breath, turning alarmingly purple. Without hesitation, she sprang into action, saving the boy’s life with the Heimlich maneuver.
Lopez, like many bus drivers, is trained in first aid and emergency procedures. But nothing beats firsthand instinct. As she swiftly walked back to the front after resolving the disturbance, she spotted the boy, Levi Holder, gasping for air and clutching his throat. “I say, ‘Hey, what’s going on?’ Grab him and just do ‘this’ so fast,” Lopez recounted, demonstrating the Heimlich maneuver.
Her quick action dislodged the piece of candy stuck in Levi’s throat, sending it flying. Relief washed over both of them as air returned to Levi’s lungs. “Thank God, I [stood] up at the right moment,” Lopez admitted, shaking her head. “I was scared.”
Thanks to Lopez’s bravery and her training, Levi is back home and doing just fine. The eight-year-old, still shaken but recovering well, had only words of gratitude for his rescuer. “She was very nice,” Levi said, his voice tinged with awe. “Thank you for saving my life.”
For Lopez, the simple act of helping a child in need was all the reward she needed. “I’d want somebody help my kids if they are in that situation,” she said, her voice thick with emotion. “It’s just something you do.”
Her quick thinking and heroic deed resonated within the community. School officials lauded Lopez’s professionalism and heroism, and parents expressed their heartfelt gratitude for her swift action.
From Jail to Harvard: The Inspiring Journey of Aurora Sky Castner
Imagine being born in a place where hope seems distant, and then, years later, finding yourself on the path to one of the most prestigious universities in the world. This is the story of Aurora Sky Castner, a remarkable young woman from Texas, who has done just that. Aurora was born in Galveston County Jail but didn’t let her challenging start define her future. Now, she’s heading to Harvard University to study law, after finishing third in her class at Conroe High School.
Aurora’s life changed significantly after her birth in jail. Her father, stepping in as a single parent, picked her up from the jail and raised her on his own, as Aurora had no connection with her mother. Growing up in Montgomery County, Aurora moved around but stayed in the area, showing resilience and adaptability from a young age.
Teachers early on spotted Aurora’s potential. In elementary school, she was paired with a mentor, Mona Hamby, through the CISD’s project mentor program. Mona learned about Aurora’s interests and values from a simple piece of paper that included her admiration for Rosa Parks, her love for Dairy Queen tacos, and her passion for reading. This paper was a window into Aurora’s bright and curious mind, which Mona still treasures.
Mona Hamby didn’t just assist Aurora with academics; she was there for personal milestones too, like choosing glasses and getting haircuts. These moments were crucial building blocks in Aurora’s life, teaching her valuable lessons outside the classroom. Aurora appreciates every experience, acknowledging the importance of both the hardships and the guidance she received from Mona.
The decision to attend Harvard became clear to Aurora after a visit to the campus with Mona and her husband, Randy, in March 2022. The visit, which was meant to explore the university, ended up cementing Aurora’s desire to study there. Her excitement and determination only grew stronger after the trip, as noted by Mona.
Aurora’s journey to Harvard was not just supported by Mona but also by James Wallace, a professor at Boston University. He played a crucial role in helping her craft her application essay, which began with the powerful statement, “I was born in prison.” This sentence alone captures the essence of Aurora’s story—overcoming adversity and rewriting her destiny.
Kindness in the Sky: Flight Attendant and Passengers Save Flamingo Eggs
In August 2023, a heartwarming story unfolded aboard an Alaska Airlines flight from Atlanta to Seattle, where a flight attendant and compassionate passengers came together to save six precious flamingo eggs. The eggs were being transported by a Woodland Park Zoo keeper from Atlanta to Seattle in a portable incubator, but midway through the flight, the incubator malfunctioned, putting the eggs at risk.
When the zookeeper sought help from the flight attendant, named May, she sprang into action. May quickly gathered rubber gloves and filled them with warm water, creating a makeshift nest to keep the eggs warm. Passengers nearby also offered their coats and scarves to help maintain the eggs’ temperature. May monitored the eggs throughout the flight, replacing the gloves with new warm ones as needed.
Thanks to May’s quick thinking and the kindness of the passengers, the flamingo eggs survived the journey. Joanna Klass, a Woodland Park Zoo animal care manager, expressed gratitude for the creative solution that ensured the safe transport of the eggs.
The six flamingo chicks hatched at the Woodland Park Zoo in September, marking a significant milestone as the first Chilean flamingo chicks to hatch at the zoo since 2016. Following their hatching, the chicks were carefully hand-raised by expert bird keepers, who fed them and took them on daily walks for exercise.
Months later, May received a special invitation from the zoo to meet the flamingos she had helped save and to name one of them. She chose to name the male flamingo “Sunny,” in honor of her newborn granddaughter. The other five flamingos were named Bernardo, Magdalena, Amaya, Rosales, and Gonzo, bringing a heartwarming conclusion to a remarkable story of compassion and cooperation.
Cambodian Entrepreneur Transforms Plastic Waste into Brooms
In Cambodia, a man named Has Kea has found a creative way to tackle plastic pollution. He recycles tons of plastic into brooms, helping his community and the environment.
Every day, the city where Has lives produces up to 38,000 tonnes of waste. To reduce this, Has collects plastic strips from empty bottles. He bundles these strips on a machine, softens them in hot water, and slices them evenly. Then, he sews them with metal wires onto bamboo sticks.
The result is a sturdy broom that doesn’t easily break. Suon Kosal, a 26-year-old monk, bought 80 of these brooms for his temple. He appreciates that they help reduce pollution and encourage people to collect plastic bottles. By selling these bottles to Has, they can earn more money for a better living.
Has Kea’s innovative idea not only cleans up the environment but also creates economic opportunities for people in his community. His story shows that with creativity and determination, we can find solutions to big problems like plastic pollution.
New Kiwi Hospital in New Zealand’s Bay of Islands
New Zealand, known for its stunning landscapes and unique wildlife, is home to the kiwi, a flightless bird and the country’s national icon. The kiwi is a curious and endearing bird, with a long, slender beak, soft brown feathers, and a round body.
In rural Kerikeri, a new kiwi hospital has been established by the conservation group Kiwi Coast to care for injured kiwi. This hospital is a vital addition to the region, as the kiwi population is on the rise in areas where communities are actively engaged in intensive pest control efforts.
Andrew Mentor, the coordinator of Kiwi Coast, explained that the increasing kiwi population is a positive sign but has led to more injured birds. These injuries often occur due to interactions with dogs, cars, and ponds. Currently, injured kiwi are taken to the Bird Recovery Centre in Whangārei for treatment and recovery. However, the long travel time to the centre adds extra stress to the already ailing birds.
The new kiwi hospital, built on land provided by a local farmer in cooperation with Puketotara Landcare and local hapū Te Whiu, features nine pens, each equipped with a nesting box and native ferns and grasses. Additionally, a clinic with three brood boxes is available for quarantine and intensive care.
The hospital anticipates receiving kiwi in need of care due to factors like drought, climate change, or attacks by dogs or feral cats. Being able to stabilize and rehabilitate these birds locally will greatly reduce stress and improve their chances of recovery.
The establishment of a dedicated kiwi hospital in the Bay of Islands is a significant step forward in conservation efforts. As a stronghold for kiwi, this region will likely see more kiwi and, consequently, more incidents requiring rehabilitation. Having a local facility will ensure that injured kiwi receive prompt and effective care, ultimately contributing to the preservation of this iconic species.
Heroic K9 Biza Saves the Day in Freezing Cold
In a remarkable story of bravery and skill, a K9 police dog named Biza became a hero in Auburn, Massachusetts. Biza, a female German Shepherd with the Auburn Police Department, played a crucial role in finding a 12-year-old who went missing in the freezing cold weather.
The adventure began late at night, around 10:30 PM, when the young child left home without their mother’s permission and no way to contact anyone. With the temperatures dropping and concern growing, the police were called in to help find the missing youth.
Enter K9 Biza and her handler, Auburn Police Officer David Ljunggren. Together, they set out into the cold night with one mission: to bring the child back home safely. Biza, with her keen sense of smell, was given something to sniff to pick up the child’s scent. Before long, she was on the trail.
Imagine trekking through the night, following a determined dog who is your guide, your hope. Biza tracked the scent for over two miles, leading the officers through the dark. Her training and instincts were put to the test, and she passed with flying colors. The officers found evidence along the way that the child had passed by there not too long ago, thanks to Biza’s incredible nose.
Finally, Biza’s hard work paid off. With additional officers joining the search in the area Biza had led them to, the missing child was found a short time later. Thanks to Biza and the police team’s efforts, the story had a happy ending, with the child being safely located and returned home.
Deputy Chief Richard Mills of the Auburn Police had high praise for Biza, saying, “Biza is a good dog.” This simple statement speaks volumes about the trust and bond between K9 units and their handlers, and the incredible work they do together.
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