August 26, 2017 was a devastating day for the city of Houston, Texas. Hurricane Harvey ravaged the city causing almost $200 billion in damages and taking an estimated 88 lives. It has been considered one of the deadliest hurricanes in the contiguous United States, tying Hurricane Katrina. Over the next four days, the Texas city, with a population of more than 2.3 million people, received more than 40 inches of rain. Thousands of people were displaced from their homes due to the never seen before flooding.
J.J. Watt, who is a defensive end in the NFL for the Houston Texans, had to do something to help his city. He couldn’t stand by and watch the effects of Hurricane Harvey destroy Houston. Despite dealing with his share of injuries that ended his season early in 2017, including one that left him with a broken leg, he felt compelled to do something. He made a video that went viral asking for donations for the victims of the hurricane. From that video, he created the J.J. Watt Relief Foundation.
His original goal was $200,000 for hurricane relief. People were moved to continue to give to this shining light in the face of tragedy and one year later, he had raised $41.6 million. All of the money was distributed to eight non profit organizations.
The organizations used the funds for many different projects, including the cleanup and repair of more than 600 houses. They reconstructed 420 child care center and after school programs, resulting in service being restored to 16,000 children. The organizations were able to reinstitute physical and mental health services, which was able to help 6,500 people. They were able to distribute medicine to more than 10,000 people. The Houston Food Bank and Feeding America were desperately trying to keep up with the high demands. J.J. Watt’s Fund enabled them to serve 26 million meals.
Despite all the money raised and all the amazing accomplishments, the J.J. Watt’s Foundation does not plan to stop there. J.J. has plans for the future. Included in those plans are restoration of more houses, continued physical and mental health support and continued support to the Food Bank. The foundation also plans to help provide hurricane resilience in the city and continue to restore Boys and Girls Clubs Centers and repairing homes with Habitat for Humanity.
The Foundation has had its share of detractors claiming that people aren’t being helped, but J.J. stands by his foundation and the amazing work it’s doing. The need is great and they are helping as many people as they can as quickly as they can and they plan to continue to help.
Many see all the great work J.J. is doing. He was awarded with the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for all of his fundraising efforts.
Travis Baker Flies Again More Than a Decade After Surviving Fatal Plane Crash
Sometimes it isn’t easy to get over a minor thing that happened to you, whether in childhood or adulthood. It’s hard to fathom going into an airplane again after being in one that ended up in a fatal crash. Travis Barker has defied what most people would consider impossible, but he did not do it alone. Let’s delve into how he managed to accomplish this significant feat after more than twelve years.
The 45-year-old drummer with Blink-182 traveled on Saturday, August 14, the first flight since his horrific 2008 plane crash that saw four of his colleagues dying and Barker surviving with third-degree level burns.
Girlfriend Kourtney Kardashian accompanied Barker aboard Kylie Jenner’s private plane as they traveled to Cabo. Kris Jenner and her boyfriend, Corey Gamble, were also said to be on board, according to the outlet.
Barker was caught sporting a white tank top, gray jeans with a black belt studded with metal studs, and a black beanie on his head for the outing. Kardashian, 42, meanwhile, looked stylish in a black dress and black sunglasses.
“Travis flying to Cabo is a marvelous thing. Many years ago, a plane disaster was incredibly traumatic. To reach this point, he’s had a lot of aid, according to media reports. Kourtney has been immensely helpful. She never urged him to take to the air. They’ve been able to travel around the United States without flying, and Kourtney appears quite comfortable with it.
Barker and longtime partner DJ AM (Adam Michael Goldstein) escaped an aircraft accident more than a decade ago while flying from South Carolina, where they had just performed. A year later, Goldstein died of a prescription drug overdose.
The disaster killed Barker’s security officer Charles “Che” Still, his aide Chris Baker, pilot Sarah Lemmon, and co-pilot James Bland.
After the accident, the musician had a hard road to rehabilitation, both mentally and physically. He had third-degree burns covering 65 percent of his body and had to undergo many operations and skin grafts. In addition, Barker was abusing “excessive” marijuana and prescription drugs.
Barker declared his plans to return to the skies in June. On Twitter, he proclaimed, “I might fly again.”
When Goldstein died, Barker said in an interview that he decided to stop using medications and flushing medicine, “even stuff that I needed,” after his opiate tolerance began to rise with each surgery.
“Everyone usually asks, ‘Did you go to rehab?'” the drummer said to the publication. “‘No, I was in a plane crash,’ I answer. That was the extent of my rehabilitation. Have you ever lost three pals and come close to dying? That served as a wake-up call for me. I would not have quit if I hadn’t been in a car accident.”
In the same interview, Barker expressed his desire to be a writer “If I succeed in overcoming [flying], and the angels above assist me in my trips and keep me safe, I’d like to come back and [inform my children], ‘Hey, I just went here, and then I came home.’ And everything turned out OK.’ I have to inform them since I was about to abandon them. That is a perfect day.”
After the crash, the drummer’s dread of flights grew to the point that he remarked, “I used to be afraid of planes.” “I wasn’t able to go down the street. I was convinced that if I saw a plane [in the sky], it was going to crash, and I didn’t want to see it.”
“The closer I got to it, the more it seemed like I was getting closer to the terrible stuff than the beautiful stuff. I felt more akin to attempting to flee, to be in an accident and being burned, to trying to save my buddies from a burning jet, “Barker continued.
Logrolling Crows in Real Life
Darren Hudson has spent his entire career in the outdoors, so interacting with nature is a standard for the lumberjack. And, among all the wildlife Darren would deal with regularly, crows were extremely common given their preference for trees. When he’s not busy cutting down trees for the lumber yard, Darren is also a champion logrolling expert, with a seven-time title streak to his name for the best in the lumberjack sport. Interestingly, both nature and his talent would end up being a combination of life experience for Darren after his cutting down a particular tree.
As it turned out, one of the trees he had taken down recently had a nest in it. When the tree was felled and Darren surveyed the results, he found that his cutting had also managed to destroy a nest for three fledgling crows. Feeling bad for the young birds, Darren made a makeshift nest out of a box, and set it up again so the parent birds could find the fledglings and feed them. Darren then made a point to come back a day or two later and check on the fledglings. Unfortunately, the mother crow never connected back with the fledglings, leaving Darren with no choice but to adopt two of the young birds and leave the third with the Wildcat’s Mi’kmaw community.
Over time, Darren raised the birds to full status, but the crows adopted Darren as family and stuck with him instead of leaving. So, he now has two crows for pets, which is not an uncommon occurrence in the countryside parts of Nova Scotia. And, as it turned out, the crows also adopted Darren’s sport, logrolling. The birds had a habit of following Darren everywhere he went when not driving. And, while he was practicing his logrolling skills, the birds would land nearby and try to figure out what he was doing. Eventually, they got on the log with him and learned how to stay topside as well. It’s not always a success, but for the most part, the crows fend for themselves and roll along just fine as Darren is moving the log.
Even with speed, the birds keep up with Darren, even if sometimes they seem to get a bit close to the water themselves. In one display for a local news media team, it was Darren, not the bird, that ended up the water falling off the log, a bit ironic all things considered. Darren brushes it off that the birds “cheat,” using their claws to hold on which he doesn’t have himself. Again, in Nova Scotia, pets have a habit of copying their masters. Dogs have learned to logroll, so why not crows?
Interestingly, Darren’s crows, Vic and River, are entirely free. They have no leashes, no restraints, and no clipped wings. Essentially, the two birds can split town anytime they want and forget about Darren and humans altogether for that matter. However, they have bonded with him as an adopted parent, and follow Darren wherever he goes around the homestead.
The adaptive ability of crows and their learning capacity is well-recorded. The birds are exceptionally smart in the bird world, and many crow owners have trained their birds to do a number of different activities. Even wild crows can be trained to retrieve specific items they see while flying if they associate a reward with the work.
Vic and River regularly interact with other wild crows and fly around regularly as visitors approach. However, the two birds remain connected to Darren and won’t leave him regardless of migration patterns, at least so far. Darren knows at some point the birds might leave, and that’s the end of it, but he’s enjoying their company as long as it lasts.
From Teacher to TikTok Star: The Story of Mr. Hamilton
Technology has fundamentally changed the way that we connect with one another. The era of instant communication and social media outreach has made us more intertwined than ever, giving otherwise unknown faces the chance to shine in front of millions if not billions of people. For Casey Hamilton, aka @MrHamilton on TikTok, social media allowed the teacher to transition into one of the biggest performers on the internet.
Let’s explore the rise of Mr. Hamilton and his journey from teaching in Plant City to winning over TikTok audiences around the world!
Casey Hamilton: Chaotic Positivity
Were you to run across one of Hamilton’s TikTok videos on a whim, you’d likely not assume he was a teacher. The 25-year-old TikTok star began his career on the platform by selling what everyone loved about him in his classroom, his personality. Hamilton embodies the young-and-fun generation of TikTok stars that are taking over the pop culture world. Hamilton dresses in his favorite crocs, a joke in itself, while matching the rest of his outfit to the caricature of a cartoon-loving pre-teen.
Hamilton’s TikTok currently has more than 5 million followers and that number is climbing by the day, but for what reason? More than just childish fun, Hamilton brings boatloads of energy to his impersonations and sketches. One sketch that garnered Hamilton millions of views was his version of Plankton, a hit with the Spongebob generation. Impersonations aren’t restricted to celebrities, as Hamilton has made videos impersonating, well, everything.
When Hamilton isn’t giving his fans a show through impersonations, he’s sharing his soaring vocals. Covering All Star by Smash Mouth brought in views but so did Hey, Delilah – a song about a stripper. Dance moves of all types join these performances and one thing is certain throughout them all: Casey isn’t afraid of being the center of attention.
From Plant City to Tik Tok Stardom
Hamilton worked at Plant City High School as a TV Production Teacher, developing a morning show with his students. The environment allowed Hamilton to flex his creative chops and amiable positivity, inviting students to fall in love with sketches, comedy, and creating artistic entertainment of all types. Students watched with glee as the morning news at school slowly transitioned into a fun mashup of entertainment.
Jennifer Hamilton is Casey’s mother and she had more than enough to say about her son. Casey said, “I don’t think it was everyone’s cup of tea…” Still, Jennifer had to admit that the show was a hit with Casey’s students. Jennifer said, “He turned our TV show around, the students appreciated the humor and would pay attention.”
Still, Hamilton’s electric personality caused him to become a quick favorite among students. It was only natural to transition into comedy outside of school. Born and raised in Plant City, Hamilton used his upbringing as well as the close-knit community from his hometown to build his brand, but in the most natural way possible. Perhaps that is the most intriguing thing about Hamilton. His success is organic from the ground-up.
Then And Now: Meet The Cast of ‘Dazed and Confused’ in 2021
When Richard Linklater released his future cult classic Dazed and Confused in theaters back on September 24, 1993, he had no idea what the world had in store for him. The coming-of-age flick followed a group of students in the Texas suburbs as they prepare to initiate a group of incoming freshmen. While the film can now be seen through the lens of the many stars on its roster, at the time it was a risky flick with little fanfare behind it.
A certifiable cult classic, now is the perfect time to look back at the cast that made Dazed and Confused the iconic film that it is today!
Wesley Chapel Local Is ‘Heading to Hollywood’ in ‘American Idol’ Stint!
Do you remember where you were when the first episode of American Idol aired on Fox in 2002? While the platform may seem a little dated at this point in time, with more singing shows than aspiring singers it feels like, the program offered singers the chance to change their lives in front of a huge audience of American voters. Now 19 seasons later, performers like young Alanis Sophia are getting the chance to strike out for Hollywood for the opportunity to become America’s next idol.
The most recent name that has everyone talking is young Alanis Sophia, a contestant from Wesley Chapel, Florida, who was named after the famous singer, Alanis Morissette. Sophia appeared on the program in late February to raucous applause from the star-studded cast of judges, including glowing praise from Katy Perry herself!
Alanis Sophia Sets Sights on Stardom
For Alanis Sophia, appearing on American Idol in 2021 was all about making the most of a second opportunity. Still just 19-years-old, Alanis wasn’t even born when American Idol began airing. Originally staking her claim to the music scene at the age of 11, Alanis would appear on and land second place in the Spanish-language iteration of The Voice, titled La Voz.
After coming so close to tasting victory, Alanis would focus on curating her skills while plying forward with her work at school. Sophia would attend Pasco School and graduate from the institution in 2019, paving the way for Sophia to focus entirely on improving her skills and preparing for a second chance at Idol-fame when the program returned to Florida in 2021.
Upon arriving at the show, Sophia would get her chance to perform in front of Lionel Ritchie, Katy Perry, and country musician Luke Bryan. A visibly confident Sophia would explain to the judges that she had been gifted an American Idol microphone as a child and that she had clung to the hope of ‘going to Hollywood’ ever since. Sophia also explained to the judges that American Idol would operate as a bonding point between Sophia and her mother, often pointing to how music helped them during tough times back in Puerto Rico.
The Performance of a Lifetime
After explaining a bit about her story, Alanis would set forth with her own rendition of Anyone by the esteemed and incredibly talented Demi Lovato. Sophia kept the gifted American Idol microphone in her hand throughout the touching rendition, bringing smiles to the face of Katy, Luke, and Lionel. By the time the song had ended, it was clear that Sophia had won over not just a single judge, but all of the judges.
Katy Perry would open up the discussion regarding Sophia with instantaneous effusive praise saying, “She is the best we’ve seen today.” Such high praise from one of the most successful pop artists of all time should go a long way toward Sophia’s confidence in her skills, but that wasn’t all the judges had to say.
Lionel Richie would pile onto the praise that Sophia received after Perry finished gushing over the performer. Richie pointed out that Sophia had a ‘purity’ to her voice and that Sophia’s personality ‘requires nothing but exactly who you are’. Ritchie would go on to say that Sophia had huge potential and those words were quickly echoed by Luke Bryan.
Now on her way to Hollywood for another chance at stardom, Alanis Sophia and her family are hoping for a finish at the top of the competition. Yet with such high praise from music legends like Richie and Perry, it feels like Sophia is already on the way to victory.
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