The week's good news: February 3, 2022
Activist aims to plant 1 tree for every home in Senegal
Environmental activist Modou Fall has set a goal for himself and his team: to plant one tree for every home in Senegal. Fall lives in Guédiawaye, a suburb of Dakar. Trees help with climate change and provide desperately needed shade in a region that regularly sees scorching temperatures, and that's why Fall found a way to not only plant more of them but also do something with discarded tires. He turns the tires into planters, which are then delivered — along with trees or seeds and wire fencing, to keep animals out — to homes and schools. Arona Faye told The Christian Science Monitor that the new tree outside his Dakar home is already making a difference. "Without the tree, it was hot," Faye said. "It was difficult. The whole neighborhood has trees [now]. We're thanking God." The trees being grown include lime, mango, moringa, and gmelina, and are for everyone; Fall told the Monitor it doesn't matter where a person lives or what they do for a living — anyone can plant a tree.
Idaho man says he spent 2021 breaking 1 world record every week
David Rush had a year like none other after setting out to shatter one world record a week during 2021. An author from Idaho, Rush also travels to different schools to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). "STEM is hard and when a student struggles with science or fails at math they may say they can never be an engineer," Rush told NPR. He decided to start breaking records "to create a tangible example for folks to show that if you set your mind to a goal, believe in yourself, and pursue it with a passion, you can accomplish nearly anything." Some of his records include most marshmallows caught by mouth in one minute, fastest 100-meter jog with three objects while blindfolded (male), and most kiwis sliced on a balance board in one minute. Guinness World Records confirmed that Rush set 43 Guinness World Records titles in 2021, and he still has 10 others under review.
Message in a bottle sent from Scotland washes up in Norway after 24 years
While at the beach in Gasvaer, Norway, in the summer of 2020, Elena Andreassen Haga found that a moment in time from 1996 had washed ashore. She discovered a green bottle containing a letter written 24 years earlier by Joanna Buchan. Buchan was 8 years old and living in Peterhead, Scotland — 800 miles from Gasvaer — when she dropped her message in a bottle into the sea for a school project. She addressed the letter to the "discoverer," and talked about her love of sweets, Charlotte's Web, and her dog. She ended the note by saying, "By the way, I hate boys." Haga tracked Buchan down on Facebook and sent her a message, which Buchan just saw last week while looking through her inbox. Now 34 and a doctor living in Australia, Buchan told BBC Scotland she got a kick out of her letter, saying that when she first read it, "I just died laughing. There's some really lovely lines in there, like what was important to me at the time."
These wild donkeys are getting a new lease on life
A herd of wild donkeys will get to spend the rest of their lives eating, roaming, and braying at their new home in Southern California. The herd is mostly comprised of mother donkeys and their offspring. They were relocated from Redlands, California, to nearby Reche Canyon, where they now reside at DonkeyLand, a 2,000-acre rescue, sanctuary, and wildlife preserve. The donkeys were moved for their own safety; due to overpopulation, loss of habitat, and people feeding the animals, members of the herd were coming closer to cars and railroad tracks, and last year several were hit by trains or vehicles. San Bernardino County Animal Care and Control worked with the Animals aRe First Fund (ARFF) to carefully move the donkeys — more than two dozen — to their new home at DonkeyLand. The sanctuary was founded 10 years ago with the goal of saving wild burros and their habitat, and is run entirely by volunteers, who ensure the rescued donkeys have the peace, love, and privacy they deserve.
Study finds gene therapy treatment for leukemia still effective 10 years later
Doctors at the University of Pennsylvania say that 10 years after treating two leukemia patients with an experimental gene therapy, both men were still in remission. The doctors wrote about the cases in a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature. The one-time treatment is called CAR-T cell therapy, and involves genetically changing a patient's T cells so they immediately attack cancer, The Associated Press reports. The cells remain in the body for years, and as they evolve, they keep the cancer at bay. This was the first time the therapy has been studied for 10 years, the doctors said, and based on the results, "we can now conclude that CAR-T cells can actually cure patients of leukemia," said Dr. Carl June, an author of the study. Doug Olson, one of the men who received the gene therapy, was first diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia in 1996. He told AP he is doing "great" and remains "very active. I was running half marathons until 2018. This is a cure. And they don't use the word lightly."