The week's good news: Sept. 15, 2022
Stray kitten inspires company to redesign its packaging for the better
A stray kitten in Ellington, Missouri, inspired a company to completely reconfigure its packaging, making it safer for animals and the planet. Laura Baker, founder of the Itty Bitty Kitty City rescue in Ellington, said that in February 2021, someone called to report a kitten with what appeared to be a plastic ring around its body. The plastic was digging into the skin of the growing animal, and it needed help. Baker found the kitten and immediately took him to the vet, where he underwent surgery to remove the ring. It was determined that the cat had become stuck in the packaging of the Munchkin brand's Any Angle Cup. Baker wanted to make Munchkin aware of what happened, and sent a letter explaining the situation. Diana Barnes, chief brand officer and creative director of Munchkin, said it was "soul crushing" to learn what happened to the kitten, and even though the company had just rebranded its products and packaging, they went back to the drawing board. The new packaging is made from 60 to 70 percent recycled material that is fully compostable. Keeping animals in mind, it's also easier to tear. Baker and her volunteers are in awe over everything that has transpired since the kitten — who was adopted by Baker and named Munchkin — entered their lives. "What other name would there be for Munchkin?" Baker said.
High school football team helps rebuild Indiana bridge destroyed in storm
Without the help of a football team, several parents, and a few Cub Scouts, Todd Hagan would still be stuck at home, unable to leave due to a destroyed wooden bridge. Hagan lives in Switzerland County, Indiana, and on Sept. 3, flash flooding caused by heavy rains completely demolished the bridge, which is the only connection between his house and a main road. "Everybody knows everybody around here," Hagan told The Washington Post, and when his grandson's football coach, Ryan Jesop, learned about what happened, he started calling his players to see if they could help rebuild the bridge on Sept. 5. About 30 people showed up that day, ready to get to work. "The outreach of people was just mind-boggling," Hagan said. The crew worked efficiently, removing and replacing the wooden planks of the 60-foot bridge in less than three hours; Jesop estimates it would have taken Hagan a month to do the job on his own. Hagan, who wrote everyone who helped a thank you card and made a donation to the team, told the Post it was "just amazing" to see so many people come together, adding, "I couldn't be more thankful."
To honor Harriet Tubman, man takes 'incredible journey' following in her footsteps
This summer, Ken Johnston made several stops along the Underground Railroad, walking more than 400 miles as a tribute to Harriet Tubman. The 61-year-old from West Philadelphia started what he called his "Walk of Freedom" in July, visiting the Harriet Tubman Memorial in Harlem. From there, he walked through the Hudson River Valley, before crossing central New York and ending in Ontario, Canada. "I was amazed," Johnston told NBC News, calling his walk "an incredible journey." He visited several Black communities and made new friends, with one family inviting him to spend the night at their home. While in Auburn, New York, Johnston met Tubman's great-great-grandniece Judith Bryant and paid his respects at Tubman's grave. This was his second Tubman-inspired trek; three years ago, Johnston retraced the steps she took in 1854 while rescuing her brothers. Johnston plans to give his feet some rest, before setting off on his next journey: walking more than 1,000 miles along a slave trail that runs from Alexandria, Virginia, to New Orleans.
New York woman stuns even herself by becoming a triathlete
At 48 years old, Hilary Topper decided she was ready to get serious about fitness. In the 12 years since, she has gone from a self-described "couch potato" to an endurance athlete who is now training other triathletes. The Merrick, New York, resident said she spent years focusing on building her business and raising her children, and neglected her own needs. Because of her family's health history, she knew it was important to start making changes before she hit her 50s, and started off slow, going to the gym and walking on a treadmill. Soon, she moved her walks outside to the boardwalk, and ran her first half-marathon with her husband in 2011. She caught the exercise bug, and after finishing the 2016 New York City Marathon, set her sights on triathlons, which involve running, cycling, and swimming. She now trains between one to three hours nearly every day, and is also a coach. Topper wrote about her lifestyle change in a new book called From Couch Potato to Endurance Athlete: A Portrait of a Non-Athletic Triathlete, and told Newsday she aims to "show people that, as much as they get pushed down, if they reach within themselves, they can pick themselves up and do amazing things."
Rare okapi calf born at Oklahoma City Zoo
The population of the Oklahoma City Zoo just got a little cuter. Last week, a rare and endangered okapi calf was born at the zoo to parents Kayin and Bosomi. Okapis are found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and known for their zebra-like markings. The first okapis arrived at the Oklahoma City Zoo in 1973, and this calf is the seventh born at the facility. "We are overjoyed about the arrival of Kayin's first calf and welcoming this new generation to our okapi family," Tracey Dolphin, curator of hoofstock and primates, told Fox 23. "Kayin is being a very attentive first-time mother and demonstrating exceptional maternal care. Her new calf is healthy and strong, and meeting his milestones including nursing and bonding with mom." The calf is expected to make his public debut soon.