The week's good news: May 27, 2021
It wasn't all bad!
Judge who gave former drug dealer a 2nd chance swears him in as a lawyer
In 2005, Edward Martell was in Wayne County Circuit Judge Bruce Morrow's courtroom, waiting to hear his fate — he was 27 and facing up to 20 years in prison for drug dealing. Morrow believes "everybody needs love," and gave Martell three years probation, imploring him to become "a CEO of a Fortune 500 company instead of being out here selling drugs." Martell accepted the challenge, earning his GED and enrolling in community college, then undergrad and law school. His criminal record did not immediately disqualify him from being admitted to the Michigan Bar, but Martell told Deadline Detroit he worried about "chasing a dream with no guarantee." He didn't need to be concerned — earlier this month, Morrow administered the oath swearing Martell in as a member of the Michigan Bar. He hopes his story will "provide some of these young men and women with some motivation. You plant a seed, and hope it will grow."
Florida man finds his purpose while watching the sunrise every day from the same spot
Every day from 6 to 8 a.m., you'll find Al Nixon sitting at his favorite bench in St. Petersburg, Florida, drinking coffee, listening to music, and providing a comforting presence to the other park regulars. Nixon first came to this park seven years ago, looking to clear his head. Watching the sunrise over the ocean, he was at ease, and he started coming to the park several days a week. One day, a woman walking by told Nixon when she sees him sitting there, she knows everything will be okay. Nixon was overwhelmed, he told The Tampa Bay Times, and "for the first time, I knew there was more of a purpose to me being out here." Nixon now never misses a morning at his bench, spending much of the time talking with others. "Mostly people just want to be heard," Nixon said. "I've heard a thousand stories. I don't consider myself all that smart, or debonair, but I'm a good listener."
After going back to college, great-grandmother inspires relatives to continue their education
Vivian Cunningham's love of learning brought her back to the classroom in her 70s, and this retired great-grandmother of three has inspired several of her younger relatives to further their educations. The 78-year-old earned her associate's degree while working at the Alabama Power Company, but she wanted to keep going and get a bachelor's degree. Six years ago, Cunningham enrolled at Samford University, taking night classes. It wasn't easy, Cunningham told Today, and at times she felt like quitting, but her family was behind her "100 percent." They were also motivated by Cunningham — after seeing their mom and grandmother giving it her all at school, Cunningham's daughter enrolled in the PhD program at North Carolina A&T and her grandson went to earn his master's at the University of Miami. Earlier this month, Cunningham graduated from Samford with her degree in liberal arts. "If I could have done cartwheels across the stage," Cunningham told Today, "I would have."
New treatment restored limited vision to people with degenerative eye disease
Researchers report that a new treatment for retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a previously irreversible degenerative eye disease affecting millions worldwide, was able to restore partial vision to patients. Researchers looked at ChrimsonR, a protein that triggers electrical activity and makes cells able to absorb light. The team wanted to use ChrimsonR to boost the light sensitivity of the cells in the retina, and were able to "genetically manipulate a harmless adenovirus so that it carried Chrimson," Time reports. "The virus was then injected into the fluid-filled portion of the eye behind the lens." One trial participant, a 58-year-old man diagnosed with RP four decades ago, started the study with the ability to perceive some light. A dose of the altered virus was injected into his eye, and he wore goggles to regulate incoming light. Researchers tested him to see if he could determine objects in front of him, and he could detect items and people after four months.
Celebrity hairdresser brings the salon to elderly New Yorkers, free of charge
Hairdresser Roberto Novo believes his scissors have the power "to bring happiness," and he's been taking them to apartments across New York City to give elderly people free haircuts. Novo has worked for celebrities, but after visiting a client who was so excited to see him after being in isolation during the pandemic, Novo decided to help people who aren't in the spotlight. He asked his client to spread the word to her elderly neighbors, letting them know he was available to come to their apartments and cut their hair. He's a package deal, bringing along his French bulldogs Machitwo and Tulula. New client Madelon Spier told The Associated Press that Novo "has a way of looking at a person and knowing what's right for them." That's exactly what Novo wants to hear. "It doesn't get any better than that — bring some joy to senior citizens in these hard times," he said.