It wasn't all bad...

The week's good news: April 29, 2021

Catherine Garcia


Neighborhood surprises retiring mail carrier by filling mailboxes with presents

On Brett Wittwer's last day at work before retiring, the tables were turned. Wittwer, 69, spent 35 years as a U.S. Postal Service mail carrier, and was used to handing people packages. But on March 26, residents along his mail route were giving him gift bags and boxes filled with goodies. "It was crazy," Wittwer told Good Morning America. "It kind of brings a tear to your eye." Most of his career was spent delivering mail in the Cincinnati area, and when word spread he was going to retire, people along his route used a neighborhood Facebook page to plan a surprise sendoff. They decorated their mailboxes with balloons, and filled them with presents and notes of appreciation. Waiting for him at the end of his route were several neighbors, standing under a "Happy Retirement" banner. The sign was made by Glenna Weber Stricklett, who told GMA she appreciated Wittwer's work ethic and how he was "always friendly." [Good Morning America]


Hundreds of people named Josh gathered in Nebraska for the title of The Josh

Armed with foam pool noodles, Joshes from across the U.S. flocked to Lincoln, Nebraska, on Saturday to determine who is the country's top Josh. It started last spring, when college student Josh Swain was bored in quarantine and sent a joking Facebook message out to every other Josh Swain he could find, inviting them to meet on April 24, 2021, in Nebraska to decide who is the ultimate Josh Swain. His message went viral, and soon, the invitation was extended to all Joshes. About 1,000 people attended the event, dubbed JoshFight, with some driving hours to get there. "I can't describe it," Swain told The Wall Street Journal. "It's so heartwarming, so incredible." About 70 Joshes duked it out in the pool noodle fight, and the title of The Josh went to Josh Vinson Jr., 4, of Lincoln. He wasn't the only winner — participants donated $10,000 to Omaha's Children's Hospital & Medical Center Foundation and hundreds of items were collected for a food bank. [The Wall Street Journal]


Georgia 4th graders plant trees on their campus — and around the world

Where most people saw an empty field at Satilla Marsh Elementary School in Brunswick, Georgia, four students instead envisioned a beautiful, tree-filled space — so they got to work making it happen. The fourth graders — Boston Riley, Griffin Goldstone, Abbott Johnson, and Tanner Lochstampfor — launched Green Leaves, a club that is not only planting trees on campus, but also promoting global reforestation. They have partnered with Forest Nation, and are planning a fundraiser to sell trees for local residents to buy and plant at home; for every tree sold, another will be planted in Tanzania. Proceeds will also go to the Glynn Environmnent Coalition. The group's executive director, Rachel Thompson, is excited, telling The Brunswick News, "Youth are our future, and the fact that these young men have come out and decided to actually take an action to do something to better our environment and support or organization, that's kind of just a plus." [The Brunswick News]


Son finds a way for his late father to bowl a perfect game

John Hinkle Jr.'s father loved to bowl, and though he came close, never had a perfect game. Last week, his son was able to change that. John, 39, is a school counselor in Peoria, Illinois, as well as a former NCAA bowling champion. After his dad died in 2016, John wanted to honor him by putting his ashes inside of a bowling ball, and after several years, was able to find a company that would help. On April 12, John went to his local bowling alley and, using his new ball, was once again able to bowl with his dad. John has had a lot of perfect games, but after realizing he was about to have one with this ball, "I had tears in my eyes in the 11th and 12th frames," he told WMBD. Bowling a perfect game with the ball was "special," John added. "Dad shot 298, 299, never had a 300. I had goosebumps, chills. He was there." [WMBD]


New malaria vaccine could 'have a major public health impact,' trial suggests

University of Oxford scientists have developed a malaria vaccine which, in a trial, surpassed a key goal of greater than 75 percent efficacy, Bloomberg reports. In a trial consisting of 450 children in Burkina Faso between the ages of five and 17 months, this vaccine candidate was shown to be 77 percent effective against malaria. It also showed a "favorable safety profile and was well-tolerated." The study, published in The Lancet, has not yet been peer-reviewed, and the vaccine is set to be studied further in larger clinical trials with 4,800 children in four African countries. This is the first vaccine against malaria to show greater than 75 percent efficacy, the World Health Organization goal for such a vaccine. The most effective malaria vaccine to this point showed 55 percent efficacy in trials with African children. Adrian Hill, director of the University of Oxford's Jenner Institute, told BBC News that the trial suggests this vaccine "has the potential to have a major public health impact." [Bloomberg, BBC News]