Double amputee runs a month of marathons, reaches goal of inspiring himself and others

Marine Corp veteran Rob Jones, who had both legs amputated after being wounded in Afghanistan, ran 31 marathons over 31 days in 31 different cities.

All month long, he was joined by other runners along his journey. On Saturday afternoon, the 32-year-old finished his month of marathons at the Lincoln Memorial with several dozen supporters showering him with cheers.

“I decided I would create this story of a veteran that was wounded and thrived from it. I think I accomplished that mission,” he said.

(Photo: Sean Dougherty, USA TODAY NETWORK)

Breakthrough in Gene Therapy is Already Saving Lives

As reported by NPR, a child in Europe who was born with a rare genetic disorder was on the verge of death until gene therapy reversed the disease.

In this disease, children are born with a flawed gene that prevents the outer layer of the skin, the epidermis, from binding to the inner layer. This can cause excruciating blisters to form all over these children’s bodies.

The child needed more than 60% of is skin to be replaced. Doctors had decided it was a lost clause when his doctors learned of researchers in Italy who were experimenting with a new treatment for this disease. Michele De Luca and colleagues at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia were genetically engineering skin cells to repair the genetic flaw.

De Luca used a virus to insert a healthy gene into cells taken from the boy’s skin. Some of those cells, stem cells, multiply indefinitely. So De Luca was able to grow entire sheets of engineered epidermis, which were shipped to the hospital in Germany.

The treatment worked and the young boy is now doing well.

Around 25,000 people in the U.S. suffer from this same excruciating and debilitating skin condition (epidermolysis bullosa) and an estimated 500,000 worldwide.

This is such great news for those sufferers and their families. And the area of gene therapy is an area that holds so much promise for further development to treat a variety of serious and chronic conditions.

 

Purpose + Impact MULTIPLIED — “Healing Land & People”

Recognizing an epidemic in Ohio’s forests as well as its communities, the North Central Ohio Land Conservancy Inc. is working to end both. The NCOLC works to protect land using conservation easements and land dedications, ensuing the protection of plant life and building and maintaining hiking trails.  Recognizing that “many of our donors give out of their compassion for people as much as much as for love of the land,” the organization’s Healing Land and People initiative is using its work on land conservancy issues to also help end the cycle of drug abuse in the surrounding community.

The initiative enlists recovering drug addicts to help cull out an influx of invasive plants in Ohio forests. For the last 7 months NCOLC has employed a recovering heroin addict who spent 10 of his last 22 years in prison, along with his son and his daughter, who is also a recovering addict. They say the work bonds them as a family and gives them a purpose, as well as a meaningful alternative to spending their time on drugs or in jail.

Check out the story and option to donate at https://richlandgives.razoo.com/story/2017ncolc.

 

 

 

In a Major Victory for Individual Liberty and Equal Rights, Women in Saudi Arabia Will Be Allowed to Drive!

Women in Saudi Arabia are celebrating the news that they will be able to drive, bringing the country in line with the rest of the world and  allowing women greater individual freedom, autonomy and ability to work. Saudi’s King Salman has issued a royal decree, and the policy will go into effect in June 2018.

As reported by CNN, the current ban means that women have to arrange for- and often pay-a driver for vehicle transportation. Besides being a major hassle, this takes up a large amount of money that they could otherwise spend on their children’s health or education. As one Saudi woman said, “I live in a country that I can’t explore. I’ve always wanted to explore the kingdom’s coasts… I can’t take someone I don’t know to drive me to these places and my brothers are too busy to take me on long trips.”

Under the new policy, she hopes that “life will be faster,” more spontaneous and more adventurous. One campaigner for the change has said: “Saudi Arabia will never be the same again. The rain begins with a single drop.”
Photo tweeted on Tuesday by Manal al-Sharif, one of the women behind the Women2Drive campaign in Saudi Arabia. In 2011, she was jailed and received death threats for posting a video of herself driving.  

Singer With Stunningly Beautiful Voice Transcends Deafness Before a National Audience

“When you see and hear a performance by Mandy Harvey, one of the final ten contestants in the latest round of America’s Got Talent, the first thing you notice is her voice. Look down at her feet, though, and you might also notice she’s not wearing shoes.” So begins an article this week from NPR.

Mandy Harvey sings using the perfect pitch she was born with and the feel of the vibration from the drums and the bass that she feels through the floor. In college, she completely lost all hearing in both ears, but working with her dad she found that she could still feel the music and sing.

The results are Flawless. Beautiful. Stunning.  An amazing example of the the way that the human mind is able to overcome biology and environment and how life so often finds a way to meet its fullest potential.

Inspirational Message: If there is something holding you back from meeting your fullest potential, think of creative ways to move past it and transcend your perceived limitations.

Watch video of Mandy below:

 

Scientists Can Protect DNA From Damage Caused by Aging

 

Scientists have recently identified a compound with anti-aging properties and have pinpointed how it likely works in mice to repair errors in the DNA aging process.

As reported by TIME Magazine, scientists saw very quick and obvious age reversal in muscle and improvements in DNA repair in mice exposed to the compound. “We can’t tell the difference between the tissues from an old mouse that is two years old versus a young mouse that is three to four months old,” said one scientist.

To see if such quick reversal of aging in tissues is also possible in humans, a company in Boston called MetroBiotech is developing and testing a human-grade version of the compound, which is a naturally occurring compound found in small amounts in foods like broccoli, cucumber, avocado and edamame.

“Sit With Us”- An app to help lonely teenagers find someone to sit with at lunch

A 16-year-old from California has developed and launched an app to help students find a kind and welcoming group to eat lunch with at their school. The app is called “Sit With Us.”

Natalie Hampton was inspired to create it after she was the victim of bullying and sat alone at lunch her entire seventh-grade year. The experience made her feel lonely and vulnerable. She suffered from stress, depression and nightmares. She wants to save others from this experience.

As reported by NPR and Ajax.com, Hampton said the new app is especially helpful because the electronic process prevents children from being publicly rejected and being considered social outcasts by their peers.

“This way it’s very private. It’s through the phone. No one else has to know,” Hampton told Audie Cornish on NPR’s All Things Considered. “And you know that you’re not going to be rejected once you get to the table.”

PSA to parents/future parents of middle and high schoolers- tell your child about this app, even if you think they don’t need it. Maybe you don’t know as much as you think or maybe they could help someone else in need. 

Diverted 9/11 Passengers Raise More Than $1.5M for Students in the Canadian town that Housed Them

On September 11, 2001, passengers on board Delta Flight 15 were diverted to Gander, Newfoundland, where they waited out the crisis and ensuing air traffic control nightmare in local high schools, community buildings, shelters, and private residences.

The passengers on this and 52 other planes grounded  in Gander were taken in for two days by the local residents and supported by local high school student volunteers.

When the passengers from Flight 15 got back together for the return flight, one of them got on the plane’s PA system to announce that he was starting a trust fund for the education of the high school students of the town and began collecting contributions.

The “Delta 15” fund now stands at more than $1.5 million and has already assisted 134 students in obtaining a college education.

To quote one of the flight attendants on Flight 15, “In spite of all the rotten things we see going on in today’s world this story confirms that there are still a lot of good people in the world and when things get bad, they will come forward.”

The full account of this amazing story is available at www.thecoast.net.

 

Photo credit to CBC.CA

80 form human chain to rescue family of 9 in riptide at Panama City Beach, Florida

An obvious addition to the PositiveNewsOnline treasure trove, CNN and others report that strangers on a beach formed an 80-person human chain to successfully rescue nine members of a family who had been caught in a riptide.

This is amazing and emblematic of the human spirit and human ingenuity.

Photo credit to theguardian.com.

The Language Barrier Will Soon Be a Thing of the Past

Forget the days of trying to talk to someone of another language and flipping through a pocket dictionary to find the right word, struggling through an awkward guessing game of various nouns, verbs and non-word sounds to try to communicate with the person. Today’s translation tools can provide real-time translation that you can carry with you in your pocket.

According to the Wall Street Journal,  translation tools of the modern age were developed by computing more than a billion translations a day for over 200 million people. With the exponential growth in data, that number is growing and the ever-evolving software is filling in the communication gaps in pronunciation and interpretation.

A pocket translator seems like fun in and of itself, but think of the possibilities in medical care, education, scientific collaboration, etc… when the communication barrier is removed, and we can communicate easily with people we would otherwise be cut off from. We will be more connected as a species. It’s almost biblical in proportions, isn’t it? Sayonara, language barrier!

Photo courtesy of wearbleo.com.