The week's good news: September 24, 2020

It wasn't all bad!

A waterfall.
(Image credit: Tammi Mild/iStock)

1. Minnesota 5-year-old finishes quest to visit 67 waterfalls

When Wynn Radke's mom Colleen told her to pick an outdoor activity they could do together during quarantine, the five-year-old came up with an ambitious plan to visit 67 waterfalls. "I told her we weren't going to sit around and watch YouTube all summer," Colleen Radke told KARE 11. When asked how she came up with the idea to see 67 waterfalls, Wynn said simply, "Just thought of it in my brain." The Radkes live in Minneapolis, and over the course of five months, they traveled across Minnesota and into western Wisconsin to visit waterfalls, starting at Fairy Falls in March and ending at Winnewissa Falls in August. Colleen recently went back to work after being furloughed, and is grateful for the five months she spent chasing waterfalls with her daughter. "It was just a really fun time for the two of us to bond and grow and heal together," she said.


2. Neighbors help harvest crops for farmer who had a heart attack

After word spread earlier this month that a North Dakota farmer suffered a heart attack while harvesting crops, dozens of neighbors showed up at his property with their combines, grain carts, and semis, ready to finish what he had started. The farmer, Lane Unhjem, lives near Crosby, and grows durum wheat and canola. While he was receiving medical treatment, around 50 or so farmers stopped working on their own farms to harvest his crops. The neighbors wanted to help Unhjem avoid a huge monetary loss, plus offering assistance is "just kind of the farming way of life," Unhjem's friend, Jenna Binde, told KFYR. "You help your neighbor out when they need it, and don't expect anything in return." It took about seven hours for the crew to harvest 1,000 acres of crops, and when they were done, another group of volunteers made dinner for everyone who helped out.

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3. Maryland dads spend their weekends building desks for kids in need

Several fathers in the Gaithersburg, Maryland, area are spending their weekends putting their carpentry skills to the test as they build desks for local students. Al and Jessica Berrellez founded Desks by Dads earlier in the summer to ensure educational equity for students at their daughters' school. Jessica asked Al to come up with a prototype for a desk that was inexpensive and easy to make, and after developing a blueprint for one that could be built in an hour at a cost of about $40, they shared the plans with others. Soon, Desks by Dads was launched. Al told Good Morning America that "every time someone drops off a donated desk to our house, we get to share ideas and build connections. It's also an opportunity to highlight the strengths of Black and brown dads, and show what we can contribute." So far, more than two dozen free desks have been delivered to students.

Good Morning America

4. Nun runs Chicago Marathon on treadmill to raise money for food bank

She's been running since age 9 and competed in college track and cross-country, but Sister Stephanie Baliga had never before experienced a marathon like this one. When the Chicago Marathon was canceled due to the pandemic, the 32-year-old nun decided she would still run the 26.2 miles, only it would be inside, on a treadmill in the basement of her church, the Mission of Our Lady of the Angels. Baliga spread the word that this solo marathon was going to be a fundraiser for the church's food bank, and a friend told her she should livestream it so people could support her from afar. At 4 a.m. on Aug. 23, Baliga started a Zoom call, and family, friends, clergy members, and even her childhood hero, Olympic marathon runner and 2004 bronze medalist Deena Kastor, were soon cheering her on. Baliga finished the treadmill marathon in three hours and 33 minutes, and raised more than $130,000 for the food bank.

The Associated Press

5. Michigan neighbors solve mystery of a postcard delivered 100 years late

The postcard addressed to Mrs. Roy McQueen finally arrived at its destination — 100 years after it was sent. Brittany Keech of Belding, Michigan, found the card in her mailbox on Sept. 8. "At first, I didn't think much of it, other than that it's old and interesting," Keech told The Washington Post. "But then I took a closer look." On the front there was a Halloween illustration, while on the back Keech saw a one-cent stamp and an Oct. 29, 1920, postmark. The card, written to "Dear Cousins," was signed by Flossie Burgess. Keech turned to a local Facebook group called Positively Belding for help tracking down the family. Two local genealogists discovered that in 1920, a man named Roy McQueen and his wife, Nora Murdock, lived at Keech's address. Murdock's niece was Florence "Flossie" Burgess. Keech is now in touch with a great-niece of Roy and Nora's, and she is "very interested in having the postcard," Keech said.

The Washington Post

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Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.