- 1. Excited service dog meets his hero, Pluto, at Disney World
- 2. Big sister uses music to teach brother with Down syndrome his first word: 'Happy'
- 3. Military veterans band together to deliver supplies across Puerto Rico
- 4. Toddler meets 24 strangers who helped save her life
- 5. Couple gets 'married' after husband with Alzheimer's re-proposes to his wife
1. Excited service dog meets his hero, Pluto, at Disney World
It's not just kids who love meeting the characters at Disney World. Atlas, a golden retriever service dog, met his favorite fellow canine last Friday during a trip to Epcot Center. Atlas belongs to Julian Gavino, a 22-year-old college student who has a rare tissue disorder called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Gavino has an annual pass for Disney World, and goes once a week with Atlas. The dog has a stuffed Pluto that he plays with all the time, and when Gavino saw that Pluto was doing a meet-and-greet, he got in line. Atlas was all over his idol, wagging his tail with happiness. "I love to see him have fun," Gavino told Inside Edition. "Some days, he works long hours, so it's important for him to get to do this kind of stuff."
2. Big sister uses music to teach brother with Down syndrome his first word: 'Happy'
Bo Gray wasn't expected to start talking for a few more years, but his big sister Lydia changed all that. Bo, 2, has Down syndrome, and his parents, Amanda Bowman Gray and Caleb Gray, were told he wouldn't say his first word until after his third birthday. Last fall, Lydia, 11, picked up her guitar and started singing "You Are My Sunshine" to Bo. After three months of what the family calls "music therapy," Bo had a breakthrough one afternoon, and sang his first word, "Happy." Since that day, Lydia has taught Bo how to say nearly a dozen more words, surprising his speech therapist. "He is defying the odds," Bowman Gray told People. "He's defied the odds of what was possible with Down syndrome. These kids are often put in this box, but the lid is starting to open. They are capable."
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3. Military veterans band together to deliver supplies across Puerto Rico
With the exception of a quick trip back home to celebrate Christmas, Army veteran Jason Maddy has spent the last four months helping distribute much-needed supplies to people in remote parts of Puerto Rico hardest hit by Hurricane Maria. "They are Americans," he told NBC News. "They deserve help, they deserve support, and they deserve not to be forgotten." Maddy, who served in the Army from 2000 to 2015, came to Puerto Rico not long after Hurricane Maria hit last September, wanting to help in any way possible. He began by getting supplies to people in rural areas of western Puerto Rico, and not long after arriving he launched the nonprofit Veteran Disaster Relief. Maddy has since been joined by several other volunteers, who bring food, water filters, and medical supplies to people who still don't have electricity and are living in structures not considered habitable.
4. Toddler meets 24 strangers who helped save her life
They came from different backgrounds — one was a UCLA student, another the organizer of blood drives at her office — but their selflessness brought them together. Recently, a celebration was held at UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital for 2-year-old Skye Savren-McCormick and 24 of the 71 strangers who helped save her life. Around Skye's first birthday, doctors discovered she had a rare form of cancer called juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia. Without blood transfusions "she wouldn't have made it," her mother, Talia Savren-McCormick, told Today. Over the course of her treatment, Skye needed 77 units of blood, which were donated by 71 different people, as well as three bone marrow transplants. "Thank you doesn't begin to describe the gratitude we feel," Talia said. "They were a part of saving her life." Skye is now cancer free.
5. Couple gets 'married' after husband with Alzheimer's re-proposes to his wife
Linda Joyce was "absolutely overjoyed" when her husband of 34 years proposed to her earlier this month, not realizing she was already his wife. Michael Joyce, 68, is in the later stages of Alzheimer's, and he struggles with chronic memory loss. "He looked at me with tears in his eyes and with a stutter he said, 'will you marry me?'" The couple agreed to get "married" that weekend, and Linda was stunned when Michael remembered the next day. Family and friends hastily gathered for the vow renewal ceremony near the Joyces' home in Auckland, New Zealand. "On the day of our ceremony, [Michael] woke up and said to me 'today's the day' and he was so happy," Linda told The Huffington Post. "In his head and in his heart, it was what he wanted to do. He wanted to get married."
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