The week's good news: August 18, 2022
Thrilled mom honors daughter with a billboard to mark her graduation
Now this is how you celebrate a graduation. Kendra Busbee rented a digital billboard in Camden, New Jersey, to let the city know how delighted she was that her daughter, Dr. Kristine Smalls, had earned her doctor of psychology degree in July from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. "I am the proudest mom knowing that I have the most awesome daughter," Busbee told Good Morning America. "I can't even explain the feeling that I have right now. She has done everything that a mother could wish their child could do." Busbee got the idea to rent a billboard after Smalls mentioned in passing that a friend's mom had done something similar. Busbee drew her vision in a notebook, and then on the day the billboard went live, invited family and friends to meet in a parking lot to see it. When Smalls saw her photo alongside the words "Let Me Re-Introduce Myself … Dr. Kristine S. Smalls. Dr. Smiles. Look what good came out of Camden!" she "just stood there in shock," Busbee said. This proud mom might want to take out another billboard celebrating Smalls' career move: This fall, she starts a post-doctorate program at a mental health practice in Pennsylvania.
Message in a bottle launched 33 years ago connects family with late son
Billy Mitchell is a salvage diver, and while on the water he keeps an eye out for interesting artifacts. Recently, a green bottle caught his attention, and when he pulled it from the Yazoo River, Mitchell found it contained a message. Mitchell and his boss, Brad Babb, got the tattered paper out of the bottle, and began reconstructing the message, written in a child's scrawl. They figured out a few words, including "1989," "Dahl," "Oxford, MS," "please," and "thank you." Mitchell and Babb made it their mission to find the writer, and got a lead when they posted a photo on Facebook. By connecting with Eric Dahl, they learned the message had been written by his son Brian when he was a sixth-grader in Oxford, Mississippi. Brian, a cancer survivor, died in an accident at his home when he was 29. His sixth-grade teacher, Martha Burnett, told USA Today Brian and his classmates dropped their bottles in the Tallahatchie River during a field trip. Brian's traveled 200 miles to Vicksburg, which stunned Burnett. "Who would ever have imagined this would happen?" she said. "I think it brings him back to life in a way." Eric, his wife Melanie, and son Chris went to Vicksburg to meet Mitchell and Babb, and he said it feels like they are all now family. Brian "was victorious in his life because of the relationships he established, the bonds with other people," Eric told USA Today. "And he continues to inspire connections."
Airline employees surprise 104-year-old customer with birthday party at her house
She had to cancel her birthday trip to Las Vegas, but that didn't mean Jane Smith had to miss out on a party. Smith turned 104 in March, and to mark the occasion, she had planned to fly from San Francisco to Las Vegas to celebrate. She ended up getting sick just two days before her flight, and had to stay home. Four years earlier, Smith celebrated her 100th birthday in Vegas, and on the way there befriended two Southwest Airlines employees: Bryan Dal Porto and Nisha Chinn. It was a great trip, with agents singing "Isn't She Lovely" to Smith at the gate and the entire plane singing "Happy Birthday" mid-flight. Unable to fly in 2020 and 2021 because of the pandemic, Smith was looking forward to seeing Dal Porto and Chinn — who have kept in touch with Smith and her family — again, and was sad to cancel her trip. Her spirits lifted, however, when her old pals arrived at her home, surprising Smith with a cake, an orchid, and some Southwest swag.
Georgia high school football players rescue woman trapped in car
Six members of a Georgia high school football team are being hailed as heroes after they quickly came to the rescue of a woman involved in a car accident by their campus. Last Friday morning, players Cesar Parker, Treyvon Adams, Antwiion Carey, Messiah Daniels, Tyson Brown, and Alto Moore were on their way to Rome High School when they saw the crash. Smoke and fluids were coming out of one of the vehicles, and "we weren't worried about ourselves, we were worried about the lady," Brown told WFLD. Math teacher Luis Goya wrote on Facebook that the car door was "jammed and in terrible shape," and the teens "literally started using their strength to pry the door open, so the lady could be released." The woman sustained cuts and bruises and was taken to a local hospital. John Reid, the Rome High School football coach, told WFLD he's amazed by the selfless act committed by his players. "Are they heroes? I bet they are to that woman and her family," he said. "We're just really proud of them."
This 99-year-old Pennsylvania woman just welcomed her 100th great-grandchild
As an only child, Peggy Koller always wanted to have a large family — and the 99-year-old from Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, got her wish. Peggy recently met her 100th great-grandchild, a boy named in her honor: Koller William Balster. When she learned that the baby had the name Koller, "She was absolutely ecstatic," Koller's mom, Chrissy Balster, told 6 ABC. Just days after welcoming her namesake, another baby joined the family: Peggy's granddaughter Colleen gave birth to her 101st great-grandchild. Peggy has 11 children and 56 grandchildren, and told WPVI that she applied to become a nun while in high school, but her future husband William talked her out of it. "I wanted to have a big family," she said. "I think it's difficult being an only child. It's lonely." The Koller family has several teachers, real estate developers, lawyers, and a mortician, and Peggy joked that she wanted a doctor "but never got one."