TECHNICIAN WILLIE GANTT, 42
Carrying precious cargo from a raging house fire
Working on his tax returns in the wee hours of Feb. 28, Willie Gantt was startled by an urgent banging at the door of his Wichita, Kans., home. It was a breathless Sharanda Beard, 12, clutching a baby and shaking with fear as she blurted out that the house next door, where she was babysitting seven younger cousins and siblings, was on fire. Gantt, 42, barefoot and in boxer shorts, dashed out the door and "leaped over the fence," says his wife, Vera, 32. "He looked like a lion." Opening the door to the neighbor's house, "the fire knocked me to my knees," says Gantt, the father of three. Racing to the side of the house and crawling through the basement window that Sharanda had broken to escape, Gantt found the children and carried them to safety one by one. The fire, started by clothes near a space heater, gutted the house. "A few more minutes," says fire investigator Don Birmingham, "we'd be talking about eight fatalities."
Jonathan Kitto Has Rescued 1,100 Greyhounds Over the Past 13 years
Back in 1999, Jonathan Kitto and his partner, Alonso Saldivar, were running a commercial cleaning company and were growing weary of the grind.
"I came home one day and said, 'I need a dog,' " says Kitto, 58, who is also an Anglican priest.
The next day they went to a local pet supply store, which was having a greyhound meet and greet.
"Alonso was a little scared of dogs," he says. "But a few minutes later I looked over and a big greyhound was sitting in his lap."
Her name was Gigi. They adopted her and took her home.
"She was a wreck," he says. "She was scared of everything."
They called the rescue group for advice about Gigi's behavior.
"They said, 'You need to get another one,' " he recalls.
Mister Buck, who was up on the table about to be put down, soon joined their family. Three more dogs followed. Inspired, Kitto formed Gbark http://www.greyhoundbark.org/ , rescuing 1,100 retired greyhounds who were bred to be racers, some of whom were abused or neglected.
"We have some very unusual cases," says Kitto, who now lives in Bloomfield, Ind. "From one dog that was kept locked in a closet for two years to another who has a joint disease that leaves him barely able to walk."
But he always found them homes.
"I have never met anyone like him," says Kathy Murray, 47, who adopted Moose through his rescue. "Everything he does is for the dogs. He has a huge heart."
Kitto eventually shifted the focus of the rescue to being a "last stop" for unadoptable dogs. He's kept 60 greyhounds and mixed breed rescues who were about to be put down over the years.
"Some were elderly or sick or had a leg amputated," he says. "In some cases they'd bitten somebody. When we get them, that's their last stop. They stay with us forever."
To keep costs down, Kitto began making his own dog food, which led to him starting Mr. Buck's Genuinely Good Pet Food Company, http://www.mrbuckspetfood.com/ named in honor of his now deceased dog pal, Mr. Buck. Proceeds from the sale of the food go to support Kitto's rescue efforts and other rescue organizations.
Nicole Graves, foster coordinator for American Greyhound in Hobart, Ind., http://www.americangreyhound.org/ met Kitto a year ago and has since sent three unadoptable greyhounds his way.
"Gbark is a great home for dogs that need a special home," she says. "Jon has just dedicated his life to caring for these dogs. I would be lost without him."
But Kitto says he is the lucky one.
"It's a huge selfish pursuit," he says. "I'm sure some people don't quite get that but these dogs, starting with the first ones, were life changing."
God bless Mr. Kitto and his partner and all the dogs they have saved.
What a great story!
Originally Posted by phesina
Good Samaritan returns $4K in cash left in Walmart parking lot
'It's OK to do something right,' he said
ANTELOPE, Calif. (KCRA) —What would you do if you found thousands of dollars in cash at a Walmart parking lot?
It happened to Paul Williams. He was leaving work last Thursday at a Walmart in Antelope when he stumbled upon a wallet in a shopping cart. Inside the wallet was $4,000 in cash, a $1,000 check and multiple credit cards.
"I was surprised to see that much money and no ID, no phone number. But there was a check in there with a phone number, so at least I had something to go on," Williams told KCRA 3.
He looked for a manager, but couldn’t find one, and had to catch the bus home.
His wife, Debra, was shocked when he told her about what he found.
"All I could say was, 'Wow!' And then I told him, 'Baby, you know we got to do the right thing,'" she said.
"Nowadays, people are losing their homes, not being able to pay. I wouldn’t want to be responsible for someone trying to pay a mortgage and had to miss it," Williams said.
The money belonged to Lynn Andries, who said it was to pay off her second mortgage. She had been planning to go to the bank while running other errands, and was in a rush while shopping at Walmart.
"I was just sick. I thought there was no point to even go back to the store. Lori, my sister said, 'You have to,'" Andries said.
She came back about an hour later, but couldn’t find the wallet. While she was in the parking lot, however, two Walmart employees told her a call came into the store regarding the wallet.
It was Williams on the other end of the line. He verified that it was indeed the person whose name was on the check. Andries arranged to meet with Williams and his wife.
"I looked at her right in the eyes and I asked, 'Is the money still there?' She said, 'Every single penny.' I just started crying and hugging them," Andries said. "It was absolutely awesome."
Andries said it gives her faith in humanity, in kindness from strangers like Williams.
Williams said he couldn’t live with himself if he didn’t return the money to its rightful owner.
"This is just to show people that there are some good people in the world that do the right thing. And it’s OK to do something right," he said.
How Troubled Teen Found a 'Forever Family' After 29 Foster Homes
There are cases of hellish abuse – and then there was Jed.
Born to severely mentally ill parents, he was found in rural Robeson County, N.C., at age 3, emaciated and chained to a bed, eating from a dog bowl on the floor. Child protective services tried to place him in foster homes – some good and others troubled – but the traumatized youngster stole, attacked his foster parents and ran away.
"One time Jed came to my office, crying and said, 'Won't I ever have a family? Won't anybody ever love me?' " says Denise Little, a social worker, who worked with Jed for years.
By the time he was 13, Jed had cycled through 29 families, including four who had initially wanted to adopt him. After his 14th birthday, therapists at the Alexander Youth Network (AYN), the Charlotte, N.C., treatment center where Jed had stayed on and off since he was 8, reluctantly concluded there was no more they could do for him and he was transferred to a mental institution.
When AYN volunteers Billy Maddalon, 46, a businessman who had himself spent two years at the facility during his own troubled youth, and his partner, Brooks Shelley, 46, heard Jed was being sent away, they knew they had to try to help him.
"It just felt like somebody had to save him," says Maddalon. "I said, 'We're the right people.' Even if 29 families thought the same thing, we're naive and optimistic. We believe in happy endings."
In October of 2008, after they were certified as foster parents, Jed came to live with Maddalon and Shelley.
"That first night we made spaghetti," Maddalon recalls. "He sat underneath the table and ate with his fingers. He didn't know how to bathe, couldn't write his name."
Despite finally living in a stable home, Jed often ran away.
"I was nervous. I didn't trust anyone," he says. "I didn’t think anyone would ever want me. Everybody had been saying I was a lost cause and I believed it."
But his parents didn't give up, formally adopting him two years after he came to live with them.
"One time he jumped on a train," says Shelley, "and we tracked him on the computer using the GPS on his phone. But when he ran away he would call around dinnertime and ask to come home."
Today, a high school junior at 19, Jed hopes to attend North Carolina State, Maddalon's alma mater.
"No matter how much I acted up, they said I wasn’t going anywhere," says Jed. "They gave me my first birthday party. It’s pretty straightforward. They care about me. I’m not going anywhere. This is my forever home."
Chicago – USA
A teenage girl is safe at home thanks to the help of a stranger who didn’t hesitate to act when he saw the girl in trouble.
A 49-year-old North Center man was sitting on his front porch late Monday night when he says he saw a man pushing a beat-up Dodge van down the street with a young girl steering the wheel.
The man went over to help push the van. Once they steered it to a parking spot the Good Samaritan turned to go back home. That’s when he says the young girl jumped out of the van and ran to him, begging for help. She told him the man in the van had tried to rape her.
The Good Samaritan rushed her into his home before her alleged attacker even knew she was gone.
The man is now being called a hero. He didn’t want to be identified but he says he gives all the credit to the teenage girl.
23-year-old Richard Velasco left to go get gasoline for his van and when he returned a short time later, police were there to arrest him. He is being held on $300,000 bail charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse and attempted criminal sexual assault.
The girl apparently told the man who helped her that she knew Velasco because he was a friend of her family. She said she thought she would be safe with him. The Good Samaritan had a chance to meet the girl’s mother at the police station.
He said she thanked him and said she was very grateful that he rescued her daughter.
POLICEMAN ERICH KESSINGER, 29
The right call saves a life
It was supposed to be a birthday celebration—a night of barhopping just after the stroke of midnight Aug. 24, when Kristine Lurowist would officially turn 21. In honor of the occasion, the Penn State University senior consumed 21 shots of booze—one for each year. Fortunately, by the time Lurowist staggered out of her last State College saloon that night, officer Erich Kessinger was on routine duty nearby. "I watched her go from stumbling and staggering to being held up by a guy on each arm to the point where her legs started to drag," says Kessinger. When he approached to help, Lurowist's companions put up a stink. "They said, 'She's 21. We're legal. Get out of here, cop,' " he recalls. Over her friends' initial protests, he called an ambulance. By the time it arrived she was unconscious. When he learned later that night that her blood-alcohol level was an astonishing. 682—more than six times the legal limit for driving—"I never envisioned that she was going to pull through," he says. In fact, she survived only because she was placed on emergency dialysis. In a letter to the local Centre Daily Times, Lurowist thanked Kessinger and wrote, "I am doing fine and am eager to make up the class work missed and pursue my studies." More gratifying were her personal thanks; when Kessinger visited Lurowist the next day in the hospital, she greeted him as the man who saved her life. "It's not like I took a bullet," says Kessinger. "But for someone to say that, well, that makes a career."
Man reunites with truck driver who saved his life (Indiana USA)
It was a night like any other along Interstate 65, as truck driver Adam Phillips followed the same route he takes every day. Instead, though, Phillips found himself face-to-face with a terrible car accident and a driver who needed help.
“Right about the time I got around the front of my truck, I could hear him screaming,” Phillips said.
Anthony Ingle’s car had hit a slick spot, spun off the road and slammed into a bridge. Ingle was trapped inside, pinned to the dashboard, as his car caught fire.
“I just kept thinking, ‘I’ve gotta get this kid out of here before it kills him,’” Phillips said.
It took Phillips and several other truck drivers, armed with fire extinguishers and a pry bar, to get Ingle out before the car went completely up in flames.
“I jumped up, grabbed him by the arm and yanked him out of the car,” Phillips said.
Phillips also gave Ingle his jacket, covering him with it as emergency crews arrived. He got back in his truck and drove away, leaving the jacket behind.
A week later, Fox59 spoke to Ingle in his hospital bed. He was hoping to find the owner of the jacket to thank him for his life-saving efforts.
The two got a chance to meet Monday, with Ingle handing over the jacket and thanking Phillips in person.
“I wouldn’t be here right now (without him),” Ingle said.
Phillips hopes other drivers will think about putting an emergency kit and fire extinguisher in their own car, so that if you happen upon an accident you have the tools to help, too. He doesn’t consider himself a hero, just someone who stepped up when it was needed.
“He alive, that’s all I care about,” Phillips said.
Ingle is out of the hospital and in rehabilitation. He’s hoping to get back to work soon.
Owner Invents Suit to Keep Her Blind Dog from Running Into Things
How a Dog's Blood Saved a Poisoned Cat
There's no furry rivalry here. When New Zealand resident Kim Edwards realized her cat Rory had ingested rat poison last week, she turned to a risky paws-ibility to save her pet's life: dog blood.
After bringing Rory to her local veterinary clinic, Edwards was informed the cat needed an immediate blood transfusion to save its life. With not enough time to send a blood sample to the lab to determine Rory's blood type, Edwards called upon her friend Michelle Whitmore for help.
The vet retrieved blood from Whitmore's black Labrador retriever, Macy. The risk at hand: Giving Rory the wrong blood type would lead to instant death.
"People are going to think it sounds pretty dodgy – and it is – but hey, we've been successful and it's saved its life," tending vet Kate Heller tells The New Zealand Herald.
Following the procedure, Rory appears to have bounced back with no further damage and has yet to show any side effects.
"Rory is back to normal," Edwards confirmed, adding jokingly, "and we don't have a cat that barks or fetches the paper."
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL STUDENT AUSTIN PAYNE, 8
With his principal in trouble, he applies a big squeeze
Bantering in the cafeteria last month with students at Northridge Elementary School in Oklahoma City, principal Ron Christy noticed a child wasn't eating his Tater Tots. So he asked for one. Then another. Christy's chatting and chewing prompted a pupil to wonder aloud if his mother hadn't told him not to talk with his mouth full. Too late. By now, Christy, 50, was in distress, a Tater Tot stuck in his throat. "I looked around for another adult," says Christy, whose face was turning blue, "and saw only a roomful of children."
With the other students oblivious, Austin Payne sprang into action. Rushing behind Christy, he wrapped his arms around the principal and gave a sudden squeeze, performing the Heimlich maneuver his father, Charley, 30, had taught him last year. Out popped the Tater Tot. A whirlwind of attention has since come the third-grader's way, including a visit to Late Show with David Letter-man. But the straight-A student and budding right fielder is most impressed by the Thank You pin Christy gave him. "He told me he thought he was going to die," says Austin, "and that he was real proud of me."
Darla and Jeff Garrison Give Formerly Conjoined Twins and Their Sister a New Life
Racing through the store, picking out new outfits with the money each received as a gift, the three 10-year-old girls still attract attention, just like any set of triplets. No one would ever expect that two of them were once physically attached to one another.
"When they encounter something they can't do," says their mom Darla Garrison, "they don’t dwell on it too long."
Indeed, Macey and Mackenzie – formerly conjoined twins who each have one leg – rely on prosthetics, but in every other way keep pace with their triplet sister Madeline.
Born attached at the pelvis with a shared third leg and entwined intestines, Macey and Mackenzie faced hurdles that would have challenged any family. Yet they carried an extra burden: Their birth parents, who had not seen a doctor during the pregnancy, had drug problems and were unable to care for them.
Enter Darla and Jeff Garrison. Over the years Darla, 42, a homemaker, and Jeff, 52, a construction worker, had welcomed several neglected or medically fragile foster children into their home, only to see each one move on. But they'd always wanted girls to expand their biological family of three healthy boys – Tyler, 20; Matt, 17; and Luke, 16.
Two years after doctors at Children's Hospital Los Angeles separated Macey and Mackenzie in 2003, the Garrisons adopted all three girls and moved from California to a farm in Indianola, Iowa. Their goal, as they told PEOPLE for a 2010 profile, was to create the kind of country childhood Darla and Jeff themselves had known and treasured.
Since then, Macey and Mackenzie have thrived, says Linda Kontis, cofounder of the foster-care agency that placed them.
"When you raise children who are handicapped in any way, when they're surrounded by people who treat them like regular kids, that becomes how they see themselves," Kontis says. "It wasn't just Darla and Jeff, they took in these girls as a family unit. And that's why they’re fabulous kids today."
A Bright Future
Macey and Mackenzie – who each weighed 2.2 pounds at birth – have overcome learning delays to be almost equal with their peers when they enter fifth grade in the fall.
"The girls have succeeded through hard work and the commitment by their family. Their progression is wonderful and inspiring," says Children's Hospital Los Angeles Pediatric Surgeon James Stein, who performed the multi-staged separation in 2003.
Macey, the quieter and more girly of the two, enjoys playing inside and coloring, says Darla. The outdoorsy Mackenzie helped a 12-year-old neighbor train for track last spring by running up and down the Garrisons' driveway.
And along with Madeline, all three girls have embraced household chores, including washing dishes, putting away laundry, feeding the cats and dogs to help out their mom, who was inspired by her experience with the girls to begin studying last year for a degree in physical therapy.
"I see them actually maturing," says Darla. "Now that I'm in school, I'm not as available, and they've really stepped up. They're pretty proud of that. They do a lot for 10-year-olds, really."
But 10-year-old girls they still are. "We used to have Bieber fever, but we've outgrown it," says their mom. "We're loving on Hunter Hayes these days. And also One Direction."
Macey and Mackenzie's rapid growth required them to swap out new prostheses three times this past school year.
"We're not to the point yet where they can just go out and about with their prosthetic legs," says Darla. "It's a balance issue. You have to train and train, and that's what we're doing with them at school."
Crutches are a constant, as are the ostomy bags that each of the girls must wear and change frequently – the primary excuse for their occasional down moments.
"Ostomies do upset your daily life," says Darla. "That's a lot of responsibility for a kid to make sure everything’s intact and they're not going to run into some trouble when they're out somewhere. The positive is that modern medicine has allowed them to be alive."
Darla says that her daughters do everything they can to participate in activities like other kids their age.
"Mackenzie wanted to buy Rollerblades or a skateboard," says Darla. "I couldn't let her do it. She was bummed for a little while, but she got over it and found some other interest, and to me that is amazing. We talked about a bike. I'm not sure we sold her on the bike yet."
Macey speaks up for her sister: "Are you out of your mind?" she says to Darla. "How are we going to ride bikes?"
"It's possible," Darla says. "We're going to make it happen."