The week's good news: May 19, 2022
Passenger with no flight experience safely lands plane
Darren Harrison had no flight experience, but when the pilot of the single-engine plane he was riding in had a sudden medical emergency, he jumped out of his seat and took over the controls. Last Tuesday, Harrison was flying back to Florida on a Cessna 208, after a fishing trip to the Bahamas. The pilot said he wasn't feeling well and slumped over, and the plane went into a nosedive. Harrison moved the pilot out of the way and contacted air traffic control to explain the situation. The controllers guided Harrison into a gradual descent to Palm Beach International Airport. "I was pretty calm and collected the whole time because I knew it was a life or death situation," Harrison told Today. To the relief of everyone, Harrison safely landed the plane, and controllers instructed him on how to use the brakes. Grateful to be back on land, Harrison said he thanked everyone for helping him and then "said the biggest prayer I've ever said in my life."
1st grade students jump into action to help teacher during medical emergency
Tracy Hodges is a first grade teacher at Cedar Hill Elementary School in Ardmore, Alabama. Back in January, she noticed her vision becoming blurry, and lost consciousness. Hodges remembers asking for help before falling, and all 12 of her students rose to the occasion. Two kids remained in the classroom with Hodges, and the rest spread out, with some running to find the nurse and others looking for teachers. She was taken to the hospital, where she found out she had a COVID-19 induced seizure. Hodges told USA Today she had no idea she was sick, and was grateful to have been "at the right place at the right time, because they took care of me." Hodges is proud of her students' bravery, and the kids — now dubbed Hodges' Heroes — have been recognized by local officials and the Dole Food Company, which named them Healthy Heroes. They've received medals, certificates, and capes, but if you ask 6-year-old Dalton Widener, they didn't do anything out of the ordinary. "Any student would have done it if they were here," he said.
College student who gave birth before graduation surprised with ceremony at hospital
Jada Sayles received two special deliveries over the weekend. On Friday evening, Sayles went into labor, and she gave birth to her son on Saturday — the same day she was supposed to graduate from Dillard University in New Orleans. "I was scheduled to get induced Saturday at 5 p.m.," she told WDSU. "So after graduation, I was planning on heading to the hospital." Dr. Walter Kimbrough, the university's president, didn't want Sayles to miss out on the celebration, and went to the hospital to confer her degree. Sayles wore her cap and gown, and her family — including newborn Easton — witnessed the mini-ceremony. Sayles earned her bachelor's degree in criminal justice with an emphasis in pre-law, and her goal is to attend law school. She told WDSU other college students should know that even when it seems like the odds are against them, they can finish school. "You can do it with a kid. You can do it without a kid. You can do it pregnant. You can do it not pregnant. You can do it," Sayles said.
This 83-year-old has another Tough Mudder under her belt
"Muddy Mildred" is her name, and getting dirty is her game. Mildred Wilson, 83, completed her third Tough Mudder event earlier this month, finishing the Missouri 5K event. The Sikeston, Missouri, resident is the oldest person ever to complete a grueling Tough Mudder obstacle course. "I just enjoy them," Wilson told KFVS 12. "I've always enjoyed competition." Wilson said that after watching her son Danny compete in Tough Mudders, she didn't want to stay on the sidelines anymore. She finished her first course in 2019 at age 80, and completed her second Tough Mudder in 2021 as a tribute to her late husband, Farrell. This time around, Wilson used the event to raise money to install a freshwater well in Africa, bringing in nearly $3,000. She enjoys being active and staying on her toes, and hopes other people see what she's doing and give it a shot themselves. "There's a lot of people who think as they get older that they just have to sit down and quit," Wilson told KFVS 12. "It's not so."
Preschoolers auction off their works of art to help Make-A-Wish
Thanks to the kids at Learning Experience preschools across the United States, a lot of wishes are about to be granted. In April, the preschools launched a campaign to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which helps fulfill the wishes of children with critical illnesses. With the help of the characters Charity Chihuahua and Grace the Greyhound, Learning Experience teachers gave their students lessons on philanthropy, kindness, and inclusion. Rachel Phillips, a teacher at the Learning Experience in New Albany, Ohio, told Spectrum News 1 it's important for her students to learn empathy alongside numbers and letters. "It's the size of your heart that matters and not just your ability to do certain things," she said. "It's just about kindness and what you can do for other people." The students in her class were able to meet some children from the Make-A-Wish program, and for their fundraiser, they made art that donors bid on during a silent auction. Collectively, Learning Experience locations across the U.S. raised more than $1.5 million for Make-A-Wish.