The week's good news: January 5, 2017
It wasn't all bad!
Sisters reunite with long-lost mother after 40 years
After years of trying to find their mother, sisters Starla Medlock, 43, and Jeannie Toomey, 42, gave up, figuring the limited information they had would never lead them to her. Then, on Dec. 30, Medlock received a Facebook message from a man named Mark Szarmach — her mother's husband. Szarmach tracked Medlock down on social media after discovering her married name, and he recognized a baby photo she posted — it was the same picture his wife, Lani, has carried in her wallet for the past 42 years. When Lani and her ex-husband divorced in the mid-1970s, they were living in England; the girls' father received full custody and brought them back to the U.S., where they lost touch. The family reunited Tuesday in Kansas City, Missouri, and Medlock told ABC News when she locked eyes with her mother for the first time in decades, "It felt like time stood still. It just stopped."
Georgia boy grows hair out for 2 years to donate it to friend
After letting his hair grow for two years, it was finally time for Tyler Boone, 10, to chop it all off for a good cause. Boone's friend, 12-year-old Gabby Ruiz, was diagnosed at age 4 with alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss. After learning about alopecia, Boone decided he wanted to forego haircuts and let his hair grow long enough where it could be turned into a wig for Ruiz. On Dec. 29, Boone, visiting from Georgia, accompanied Ruiz to a salon in Brandon, Florida, where she was handed a pair of scissors and given the honor of cutting off his 12-inch ponytail. Boone — who now sports a buzz cut — said he shrugged off people asking him if he was a girl, because all he wanted to do was "make [Gabby] happy."
Woman leaves $1.2 million to Tennessee animal shelter
An animal lover throughout her life, Glenda Taylor DeLawder bequeathed her entire estate worth $1.2 million to the Elizabethton Carter County Animal Shelter in Tennessee. When announcing the "tremendous" donation on Christmas Day, Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey said it was one of the largest private gifts ever given to the county. The shelter will use $540,000 to expand the dog and cat holding areas, giving them more space to play while their pens are cleaned, and to purchase a new van to take dogs and cats to be spayed and neutered. "Carter County and the shelter are truly blessed and honored," Humphrey said.
Iowa cabinet company to send all 800 of its employees on Caribbean cruise
In 2016, Gary Bertch told the 800 employees of the Bertch Cabinet manufacturer that if they met certain goals for the year, each person would be rewarded with a cruise. The workers rose to the challenge, and next week, they're trading in the cold weather of Waterloo, Iowa, for the warmth of the Caribbean. "We finally got into the black again last year after we made it through the recession," Bertch told The Associated Press. Recovery from the economic downturn has been "very slow" in the cabinet industry, Bertch said, but things seem to be moving in the right direction. "We were anticipating we'd have better sales again this year," he said. "We just tried to get all of our people pumped up a little more to achieve the various goals, both customer-oriented goals and financial goals."
Idahoans rescue moose from frozen river
Idaho county judge Doug Payne was driving alongside the frozen St. Joe River late last month when he spotted a cow moose trapped in the ice. Determined to stop the animal from freezing to death, Payne went looking for help and found Fish and Game officer Julie Lininger. The pair flagged down a couple of drivers and together the four tied a nylon tow strap around the moose and began pulling. Thirty minutes later, the beast broke free and dashed through the rescue party toward her calf, which had been waiting on the riverbank. "We all went running off the ice," says Lininger. "But everyone went home with a great story."