It wasn't all bad
March 19, 2019

With the support of Gus, Waffle, and Westley, Thomas Panek made history as he crossed the finish line at the New York City Half Marathon on Sunday.

Panek is blind, and instead of using human guides during the race, he relied on three guide dogs. This was the first time a visually-impaired runner completed the race supported by canines. "It never made sense to me to walk out the door and leave my guide dog behind when I love to run and they love to run," Panek, president and CEO of Guiding Eyes for the Blind, told CNN. "It was just a matter of bucking conventional wisdom and saying why not."

Gus is Panek's longtime guide dog, and Waffle and Westley are siblings undergoing guide dog training. They spent months preparing for the race, and on Sunday, the dogs were outfitted with special harnesses and booties to protect their paws. Each Labrador took a turn running 3.1 miles with Panek, who finished the race in two hours and 21 minutes. Gus' duties as a guide dog officially ended once he crossed the finish line, and he is now retired. It was "emotional," Panek said, as Gus has "been there with me the whole time." Catherine Garcia

March 18, 2019

As more and more wounded service members came home from Iraq and Afghanistan in 2006, Steve Peth knew he had to do something to help.

A Vietnam veteran, the newly retired Peth had the time to give back. Able to drive in from his home near Quantico, he became a Red Cross volunteer at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. — and when the hospital moved to Bethesda, Maryland, becoming the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, he followed. In the years since, he's formed tight bonds with patients in the Department of Rehabilitation's amputee program. "Anything you can do for them is really appreciated, and that's really amazing," Peth, 72, told The Week. "That's what motivates me."

After joining the Army in 1967, Peth was a medical evacuation helicopter pilot, a dangerous — yet rewarding — job. When his helicopter was hit 39 times by fire, he ended up with serious injuries, later earning the Purple Heart, in addition to the Silver Star and two Distinguished Flying Crosses. He says he remembers what it was like to be in the hospital and go through physical therapy, and can empathize with patients as they learn how to adjust to their new way of life. "It's a lot easier for me as a volunteer to talk to patients because I've been a patient, talk to a service member because I am a veteran, but you don't have to be wounded to be a volunteer," Peth said. "There are civilians that have just decided they want to give back."

Volunteers make up 90 percent of the Red Cross' workforce, and Peth determines which volunteers are a good fit for the amputee program and oversees them. There are about 75 volunteers, all ages and from different backgrounds, which keeps Peth busy. "In retirement, I get to do something that is valued," he said. "I don't get a paycheck — I get back a lot more than what I give." Catherine Garcia

March 15, 2019

Dylan Chidick refused to let anything get between him and his dream of going to college.

The 17-year-old high school senior from Jersey City, New Jersey, has been accepted to 17 colleges, a difficult feat even under the easiest of circumstances. Chidick came to the United States from Trinidad when he was 7 years old, and after his mother lost her job, the family — including his younger twin brothers, who have serious heart conditions — had to live in a homeless shelter. A local nonprofit, Women Rising, recently helped the family get on their feet, and they now have housing.

Through it all, Chidick excelled at Henry Snyder High School, serving as senior class president and a member of the Honor Society. "My family went through a lot and there has been a lot of people saying, 'You can't do that,' or 'You're not going to achieve this,' and getting these acceptances kind of verifies what I have been saying — I can do it and I will do it," he told CBS New York. Chidick, who will be the first person in his family to go to college, wants to study political science, and is waiting for the acceptance letter from his top choice: The College of New Jersey. Catherine Garcia

March 13, 2019

For the first time ever, scientists on a research mission in the stormy waters off the coast of Cape Horn, Chile, found and studied the mysterious Type D killer whale in the wild.

Robert Pitman with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says it is "highly likely" these animals are a new species of orca. The killer whales were spotted in January in a region that has the "world's worst weather," Pitman told National Geographic. The Type D killer whales have proven elusive; experts had never seen any live and had to rely on the few amateur photos taken of the orcas and descriptions from fishermen.

One fisherman told the team where he last saw a Type D orca, and they anchored their ship there. After a week, a pod of roughly 25 Type D killer whales came up to them, and they were filmed in and above the water. Using a safe method, researchers took a small piece of blubber and skin from one of the animals, and they will use this to study its DNA and determine if it is in fact a new species.

Pitman says there are noticeable differences between Type D killer whales and other known orcas: Their white eye patches are a lot smaller, their heads are more rounded, their dorsal fins are pointier and narrower, and they are much shorter in length. They've been hard to study because they live in subantarctic waters. "If you're a large animal trying to hide from science, that's exactly where you'd want to do it," Pitman told National Geographic. Catherine Garcia

March 12, 2019

It doesn't matter if you're walking through your neighborhood or at the beach on vacation — the "Trashtag Challenge" can be done anywhere, at any time.

The challenge is simple: Armed with garbage bags, people choose a spot and get to work picking up litter from the area. Once they're done, they upload before-and-after photos on social media, using the hashtag #trashtag. Over the weekend, the challenge went viral, with users from around the world showing the massive amounts of trash they cleaned up from parks, beaches, hiking trails, roads, and schools. Some said they did it as part of their birthday celebrations, others while they were on road trips or just looking for something to do.

The first challenge took place in 2015, BuzzFeed News reports, when a lighting company created the hashtag to remind people about the importance of picking up trash while spending time outdoors. Catherine Garcia

March 12, 2019

A proud son has turned his father's small Texas doughnut shop into a worldwide sensation.

Satharith By opened Billy's Donuts in Missouri City earlier this month. He came to the U.S. 20 years ago, a refugee from Cambodia, and got his start in the doughnut business in Southern California. On Saturday, Billy's Donuts was empty, and his son Billy By decided to send a tweet to drum up some business from family and friends. "My dad is sad cause no one is coming to his new donut shop," he wrote, adding a crying emoji. Almost immediately, people began responding, asking him where the shop was and promising to come down as soon as possible.

The empty parking lot was soon filled with cars, and customers were lining up to buy doughnuts and kolaches, pastries filled with fruit or cheese. On Sunday and Monday, Billy's Donuts sold out before the day was over. The tweet has been liked more than 718,000 times and retweeted 319,600 times, by people around the world. "You all are amazing," Billy By tweeted. "I can't thank everyone enough for coming out and supporting local businesses. This means so much to my family." Catherine Garcia

March 10, 2019

The telegram arrived on May 2, 1969 — one day too late.

Robert Fink had just graduated from the University of Michigan, with a degree in history and literature. Ben and Lillian Fischman, the parents of his old friend Arnie, sent him a Western Union telegram congratulating him on his accomplishment, letting Fink know they wished they could have attended the ceremony. The telegram arrived at the Ann Arbor apartment he once shared with three roommates just one day after he moved out to head back to New York for graduate school.

At some point, the telegram was put in a filing cabinet, which now stands in the office of an Ann Arbor digital marketing company. In December, Christina Zaske removed the bottom drawer and found the telegram crumpled underneath. Thinking that Fisk had seen the telegram 50 years ago and would like it back, she found his contact information online. Fink told the Ann Arbor News he thought it was a scam at first, and he was pleasantly surprised when the telegram arrived at his psychology practice in the Detroit area.

Fink said he was "touched" the Fischman family thought to send their well wishes, and also felt bad that he was never able to thank them. The telegram arrived at the same time he has heard from other people he hasn't seen in years, including a former student who now lives in Arizona. "The theme for me has been that the long arm of the past is reaching out and grabbing me, and I should take it seriously," Fink said. Catherine Garcia

March 8, 2019

When residents of Fair Haven, Vermont, voted for mayor, they weren't kidding around. They chose a Nubian goat named Lincoln.

With 13 votes, Lincoln eked out a victory over Sammie the dog, who received 10 votes. As the town's first honorary pet mayor, Lincoln will attend events throughout the year and already has plans to march in a parade on Memorial Day. He will officially take office on Tuesday.

Fair Haven is home to 2,500 people and does not have a human mayor. Town Manager Joseph Gunter heard about a town in Michigan that voted for an honorary pet mayor, and he thought it would be fun to do the same thing in Fair Haven. For just $5, residents could enter their pets in the race, with every dollar going toward the building of a community playground. Not only was $100 raised, Gunter told The Associated Press, but it was also "a great way to introduce the elementary school kids to local government." Catherine Garcia

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