Dad Has Sewn Over 200 Dresses for His Daughter To Bond Through Creativity

Dad sews over 200 dresses for daughter
(Instagram/daddydressedmebymg)

For many of us, getting our kids dressed in the morning is little more than a necessary chore to fit into our already hectic days. But for one dad named Michael Gardner, his daughter’s wardrobe became something that helped the pair bond throughout the years. Helping his 9-year-old daughter Ava get dressed doesn’t mean laying out an outfit the night before – for this crafty dad, it means starting from scratch. In fact, Gardner has started from scratch over 200 times, and he has no plans to slow down.

“I decided to start sewing for Ava to teach her to be confident, have high self-esteem, and to believe in herself,” Gardner told The Dad. “I have been creative since I was a kid, I was in search of a new creative challenge and sewing became the catalyst to achieve my mission. My goal was to bond with her through my creativity, which is the most impactful way that I express myself.”

 

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A post shared by Michael Gardner (@daddydressedmebymg)

When Ava was younger, her dad took creative control. Gardner started sewing dresses for Ava when she was just 3 years old, but as she’s gotten older, Ava has become an essential piece of the creative puzzle. She helps choose styles, fabrics, and once her masterpieces are complete, she helps choose locations for photoshoots.

“Ava and I have been inseparable since she was born,” Gardner explained. “The journey of me sewing and her modeling strengthened our bond. It is truly a collaboration on all levels. We share ideas, inspiration and encourage each other throughout the process. It has also allowed us to have in depth conversations and simply have fun together.”

 

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Gardner is self-taught when it comes to sewing, and if he can do it, he truly believes that anyone can. Gardner learned to sew through YouTube videos and Pinterest, and last summer, he was named a brand ambassador for Janome Sewing Machines. This talented dad even started Daddy Dressed Me by Michael Gardner, a fashion brand and social media campaign. Through sharing the creations he and Ava have brought to life on social media, the creative duo has received support from around the world.

 

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A post shared by Michael Gardner (@daddydressedmebymg)

“Every time I am thanked for bringing joy, happiness and complimented for being a positive light in what’s been a challenging year I am truly amazed,” Gardner said. “Hearing that I am an inspiration as a creative and parent means so much to me.”

The bond between Gardner and Ava is immediately evident through their photos and videos, and since Gardner’s relationship with his own dad was less than ideal, being a great dad to Ava was especially important.

 

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“I want people to know that it is absolutely possible to be the parent you choose to be, regardless of the circumstances in your childhood,” Gardner expressed. “I am blessed to have an amazing relationship with Ava, it’s a totally different experience than I had with my parents. I put in the work, time and love into providing Ava with all the things I wish I had as a kid, I broke the cycle and for that I am proud.”

Thank a Teacher for Their Help in 2020 With a Free Card From Hallmark

Hallmark Teacher Giveaway
(Twitter/Hallmark)

Parents certainly understand the strain the pandemic has caused. Forget the professional costs (of which there are many), the added stress it’s caused for families as they navigate new school restrictions, and, in many places, remote learning has been intense. But we know that. One group feeling the other end of that strain this year? Teachers and school staff across the country.

Hallmark is honoring that group by giving away 1 million greeting cards to educators for the role they’ve played during the pandemic. We know how hard it is to get a kid to sit still for a Zoom class, imagine being the person responsible for actually teaching to 20+ kids via Zoom. And going just as hard in the paint as parents, teachers are going above and beyond to help kids through this weird time.

“For many parents, navigating their children’s education amidst a pandemic has been a difficult challenge,” a Hallmark spokesman told People Magazine.

“We’ve all seen so many teachers and school staff members rise to the challenge, working long hours and using their imaginations to deliver the best education possible from a remote, hybrid, or in-person learning environment. Despite these changes, one thing remains the same: the sincere connection between teachers and their students.”

Teachers, like parents, have had to get creative to connect and engage with little learners, and while the results may not always be pretty, WE ARE DOING IT. And it’s important to recognize everyone doing what they can to be as good to our kids as they can. If you’ve made your kid sit through a Zoom class, you know how much it sucks, and the endless patience required of teachers to completely re-learn how they teach and structure a classroom.

Is a Hallmark card (or, in this case, three) enough? Probably not, no. But it’s something you can do (for free!), by going through the Hallmark website, and sending some goodwill out to the educators and school staff helping us all through a schoolyear we would love to forget.

Young Aquaman Fan Battling Cancer Gets a Call From Jason Momoa

Jason Momoa Surprises Fan with Cancer
(Instagram/prideofgypsies)

While battling cancer is difficult for anyone, doing so as a young child is especially challenging. The obstacles that come with a cancer diagnosis are both physical and mental, but a unique difficulty for young children is that they often don’t fully understand what’s going on. They know they don’t feel well, and they likely realize that the adults around them are more stressed-out than usual. Fortunately, kids often have an admirable amount of perseverance and positivity, which allows them to fully embrace any distractions from their illnesses.

At just 4 years old, Danny Sheehan was diagnosed with Pineoblastoma, a cancerous and extremely aggressive brain tumor. Through his diagnosis and treatment, Danny remained strong. He maintained his enthusiasm for things he enjoyed, especially when it came to his favorite superhero, Aquaman.

The superhero genre is beloved by so many in part because it makes the impossible possible, and reminds us that there are still people fighting for us when things feel overwhelming (though they may not have Marvel-level superpowers, you don’t need ‘em to be someone’s hero). Through his treatments and far-too-long battle, Danny hasn’t wavered in his positivity, enthusiasm, or his love for Aquaman.

Recently, a video of Danny receiving an Aquaman action figure as a gift went viral for all the right reasons. The young boy’s enthusiasm is contagious, and his excitement is tangible. As he pulls the action figure and realizes his incredible fortune, his reaction is priceless.

Like many feel-good videos, it began to spread. In fact, it spread so far that it reached Aquaman himself, Jason Momoa. We all love celebrities that use their powers for good, and Jason Momoa is no exception. After seeing the video and learning about Danny’s admirable battle, Momoa decided to give him an even more unforgettable surprise – a call from Aquaman himself.

Momoa posted the heartwarming video to his Instagram with the caption, “So I just wanted to say thank you to the community, friends, and family on Instagram for reaching out and showing me this beautiful boy Danny who is going through chemo and has cancer,” the Aquaman star posted. “I saw his video online that made me want to get in touch and FaceTime him and spend some time talking to him. If you would like to help out and read more about his story and his family his go fund me is in my IG story and LINK IN BIO . Hey @wbpictures let’s get Danny a Aquaman Trident!”

“Hi Aquaman!” Danny says excitedly. “Can I tell you something very important?” leaving us all at the edge of our seats. “I. Love. Dolphins.”

 

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A post shared by Jason Momoa (@prideofgypsies)

Danny Sheehan has secured a place in all of our hearts, both because of his bravery and his passion for life. Watch the full video below, and visit Danny’s for regular updates on this amazing little boy.

Grandma Is Moved To Tears When She Finds Out She’s Moving in With Her Grandson

Viral Grandma-Grandson Duo are Moving In Together
(Instagram/stewiez71)

One thing that we can’t get enough of during this stressful time is uplifting content. Turn off the news news, and give me stories of kids getting adopted and grandparents being hilarious. We owe some very big thanks to those who have given us stories and videos to smile about, especially during such a challenging time. 87-year-old Bobbe Windham and her grandson Matthew Stewart went viral for being a heartwarming duo, and if anything, they’ve only picked up the pace in recent months.

Bobbe Windham, or GB as Stewart calls her, isn’t your average grandma. She’s sassy and hilarious, and her bond with her grandson is undeniable. The duo have nearly 160,000 followers on Instagram, and with good reason. They’re hysterical, of course, but they care so deeply for each other that it gives their content a whole new layer of meaning.

The high-energy pair are an unparalleled team, partly because of GB’s unfiltered commentary, but mostly because GB and Stewart would do absolutely anything for each other.

 

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When salons shut down and GB had to stop getting her hair done at the salon she’d visited weekly for 30 years, Stewart stepped up to become her new personal hairdresser. GB had been there for Stewart when he needed her, and now, he’s doing the same for her. Not out of obligation, but because he loves her so freaking much.

Recently, Stewart revealed even more uplifting news when he told GB she’d be moving in with him. In the Instagram video, the pair parks outside of an in-progress house as Stewart reveals that it’s their future home. Stewart talks about her sitting room, her accessible bathroom and connecting bedroom – she’s moved to tears because, she explains, “somebody wants me.”

In keeping with their lovingly snarky relationship, Stewart responds, “of course we want you … I guess.” GB and Stewart begin to laugh, a heartwarmingly perfect preview of the years to come.

 

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“We have a very close relationship and love each other very much,” Stewart explains, adding that his grandmother is “more like a mother to me than a grandmother,” according to CafeMom. “I spent much of my childhood with her and my grandfather, I guess you could say we’re a pretty good team.”

In Some Much-Needed Uplifting News, Will Smith and Original Aunt Viv Reconcile

Aunt Viv reunites
(Instagram/willsmith)

Kids who took a lot of sick days in the 90s have some pretty vivid memories of The Banks’s, their second family up in Bel-Air. The Fresh Prince was iconic, not only because it helped launch superstar Will Smith to fame, but because it was a classic in its own right. It put a new spin on the family sitcom genre, and addressed serious issues that other shows steered away from.

There’s been a surprising amount of news about the 30-year-old show recently, from a dramatic reboot to a highly-anticipated 30th anniversary reunion. The original cast was set to return for the reunion special, with a couple exceptions. James Avery (Uncle Phil) tragically passed away in 2013 from complications after open-heart surgery.

The other cast member nobody expected to see was the original Aunt Viv, Janet Hubert, who was replaced three seasons into the show. Hubert claimed that Will Smith was to blame for her removal from the show, and went on to say some, uh, less than kind things about the actor for how he treated her.

Nearly a decade ago, in an interview with TMZ, Hubert adamantly expressed that she would never participate in a reunion for the show. She still harbored resentment towards Smith for whatever happened all those years ago, and seemed ready to put the whole thing behind her.

In the uplifting surprise we all needed (nobody likes to see their family fight), Hubert appeared in HBO Max’s reunion special. Smith explained, “As a family, we have our things that we talk about and then we have our things that we don’t talk about. We never really, together, publicly talk about Janet. And what happened. And, for me, it felt like I couldn’t celebrate 30 years of Fresh Prince without finding a way to celebrate Janet.”

Regardless of what happened between them, Will Smith felt that the Fresh Prince family wasn’t complete without his original Aunt Viv. The heartwarming reunion showed Will Smith and Janet Hubert embrace, a hug that replaced 30 years of resentment and pain with support and understanding.

Hubert explained that she had been in an abusive relationship, which led to her getting pregnant during the third season of the show. With decades of life experience under his belt, Smith realized he’d approached the situation without the compassion it deserved.

After reuniting with Hubert, Smith took time to reflect and spoke to the camera about some realizations he’d made. Smith explained, “I wasn’t perceptive, and now that I’ve had three kids I’ve learned some things that I did not know at the time and I would do things very differently. But I can see where I made the set very difficult for Janet.”

After leaving the show (not because she was fired, but because she refused to accept an unfair deal), Hubert faced several difficult years. Being a Black female actress was difficult in the 90s, but after a star like Will Smith claimed she was hard to work with, it made pursuing her dream nearly impossible.

“And it’s hard enough being a dark-skinned Black woman in this business,” Hubert explained, “But I felt that it was necessary for us to finally move forward. And I’m sorry that I have blasted you to pieces.”

With all cards on the table, finally, the actors were able to put their difficult past behind them. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s 30th-anniversary reunion (which premiered a day early, another unanticipated gift) became far more than a chance for the cast to catch up – it became an opportunity for two important cast members to heal.

As if our hearts weren’t full enough, Smith offered the verbal equivalent of a peace treaty. He turned to his former co-star and said, “You’re still my Aunt Viv.”

Firefighters Surprise Colleague’s 4-Yr-Old Son While He’s Battling Cancer

Firefighters surprise colleague's son battling cancer
(Youtube/13News Now)

Firefighters are some of the first heroes we learn about as kids, the people we’re taught to call when we’re in trouble. Every single day, firefighters make the world a better and safer place by protecting their communities and saving lives. But when the son of one of their own got sick, a team of Virginia firefighters did what they do best – they decided to help.

Having a sick child is something no parent can prepare for. Each day is filled with anxiety and unknowns, something Levin Turner learned to cope with after his son was diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma in 2019. Levin Turner has been a Portsmouth firefighter for 14 years, and as such, his coworkers had been with him through the excitement of becoming a dad and the heartbreak of watching his son get sick.

Turner’s 4-Year-old son Nolan has been stuck in the hospital during COVID, making this time especially difficult for both him and his family. But for Turner’s colleagues at two fire departments, this difficult situation was also an opportunity to show up for their friend and his family. And as firefighters do, they showed up in a big, loud, unforgettable way.

With sirens and flashing lights, firefighters from Norfolk Fire and Rescue as well as Portsmouth Fire Rescue & Emergency Services Rescue showed up outside Nolan’s hospital room. They parked their trucks, raised their ladders, and climbed five floors to surprise the 4-year-old. The firefighters held signs both outside his window and on the ground several stories below – they even brought Captain America along to give Nolan some extra support.

(Youtube/13News Now)

“I have five kids and he’s the one who wants to be a firefighter, that’s his thing. It was so meaningful in so many ways,” Turner told WKYC. “There’s not a whole lot in this process that has brought the joy back to Nolan, this is about it. This has been a very high point for us. So, it was really appreciated.”

The child of the Chesapeake Fire Department’s captain is coincidentally staying In the room next to Nolan, so 15-year-old Jordyn Lee also got an uplifting visit from some big-hearted firefighters on Friday. Though both kids are facing challenging situations made even more complicated by the pandemic, they each got an incredible distraction and heartwarming show of support.

“I’ve been in the department for 14 years and they’ve always talked about a brotherhood and a family,” said Turner. “Since I’ve been through this, I’ve never felt more than a family unit. It’s been truly amazing.”

First Black Woman Brigade Commander Makes History at U.S. Naval Academy

First Black Woman Brigade Commander
(Twitter/NavalAcademy)

Accomplishing your dreams takes a huge amount of courage and determination, but when you’re the first to accomplish that specific goal, it takes a whole new level of drive. Midshipman 1st Class Sydney Barber from Illinois recently made history when she did exactly that – because of her hard work and strong resolve, she’s set to become the first Black female brigade commander.

The brigade commander position, the highest level of leadership within a brigade, is chosen through a rigorous application and interview process. In the 44 years that women have been able to attend the U.S. Naval Academy, only 16 women have been chosen for the prestigious position.

“Earning the title of brigade commander speaks volumes, but the title itself is not nearly as significant as the opportunity it brings to lead a team in doing something I believe will be truly special,” Barber said in a press release. “I am humbled to play a small role in this momentous season of American history.”

Only the top-ranked seniors are considered for the leadership position, and after detailed reviews of their qualifications and records, 30 are chosen for the interview process. Once the candidates are identified, they’re evaluated by the selection board. The brigade striper selection board consists of the deputy commandant of midshipmen, the six battalion officers, the brigade master chief, and the current brigade commander.

After the thorough evaluation and ranking of potential candidates, Barber was the top-ranking midshipman. Her accomplishments both in the U.S. Naval Academy and in her personal life demonstrate her fierce determination to improve the world. Barber coordinated a STEM outreach program to mentor middle school-age girls of color, completed an internship with the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, she even holds the Navy Women’s Varsity Track and Field team record for the outdoor 4x400m relay.

The current brigade commander, Midshipman 1st Class Ryan Chapman, expressed his confidence in Barber. “She is a catalyst for action,” he explained. “A visionary, a listener, a doer, and a person driven by compassion, by faith, by a fierce sense of passion and heart full of love. Sydney is the perfect person to lead the brigade.”

Bindi Irwin Expresses “Boundless” Love for Daughter and Husband in Baby Update

Bindi Irwin 20 Week Pregnancy Update
(Instagram/bindisueirwin)

It isn’t often that the world falls in love with an entire family. Of course, it started with the incomparable Crocodile Hunter, the man who taught us about the beauty of nature and helped us love wildlife as much as he did. In true family man fashion though, Steve Irwin brought his whole family along for the ride, graciously allowing us to pretend we were also part of his adventurous and loving family. And that’s exactly what he wanted.

Steve once said, “When I talk to the camera, mate, it’s not like I’m talking to the camera, I’m talking to you because I want to whip you around and plunk you right there with me.”

And watching him explore, listening to him speak (he spoke to you, not at you), that much is abundantly clear.

After we lost Steve Irwin, fans around the world turned to the Irwin family as they continued his legacy of conservation and wildlife education. Bindi Irwin, the 22-year-old daughter of the legendary crocodile hunter, has taken us all under her proverbial wing just as her father had done. She’s a conservationist in her own right, and just like her dad, invites us into her personal life to both mourn and celebrate with her. Thanks to Bindi, we’ve been able to continue pretending we’re part of the (very) extended Irwin family 14 years after Steve Irwin’s death.

 

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A post shared by Bindi Irwin (@bindisueirwin)

Bindi shared her wedding, her pregnancy announcement, and now, Australia’s sweetheart is sharing adorable updates on her pregnancy as if we’re far-away relatives eager to add another little one to the family. And honestly, we kind of are (at least in our hearts).

Last week, Bindi shared another milestone on Instagram – the young mom-to-be is halfway through her pregnancy. “Halfway there!” The photo’s caption read. “20 weeks pregnant and our baby girl is about the same size as a recently hatched emu chick. The love I have for my sweetheart husband and our beautiful daughter is boundless.”

 

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A post shared by Bindi Irwin (@bindisueirwin)

In the most lovably Irwin way possible, Bindi compares the size of her baby to the animals she loves so dearly. Leaning in close to her husband Chandler Powell, the couple holds up a sign that reads “20 Weeks.” And of course, they’re standing in front of some fully-grown emus. A must-have for every mom-to-be (at least, if you’re an Irwin).

As Bindi stated, her baby girl is already so loved – not just by the Irwin family, but by people around the world who cared so deeply for her Crocodile Hunter dad. Steve Irwin made an enormous impact on the world, and his wife and kids are doing an incredible job keeping his memory alive through continuing his legacy. And now, we cannot wait to welcome the next generation of Irwins to the world.

Celebs Like Gary Sinise Surprise Veterans With Campaign To Pay off Mortgages

Twitter campaign helps Veterans United pay off veterans' mortgages
(YouTube/Veterans United Home Loans)

Last Wednesday was Veterans Day, a day to honor and celebrate the veterans that have sacrificed and served to give us the safety and freedom we have in the United States today. Over the years, Gary Sinise has put a huge amount of effort into helping veterans, even starting his own foundation to further the cause. This year, Gary Sinise and several other celebrities have teamed up with Veterans United to give a life-changing gift to 11 heroes across the US.

Veterans United is the largest VA purchase lender, helping veterans and their families become homeowners. This year for Veterans Day, Veterans United started the Make it Mean More campaign, turning “thank you for your service” tweets into generous donations.

The Make it Mean More website explains, “This Veterans Day, every time someone tweeted, “Thank you for your service,” we backed up their words with $25 to pay off Veterans homes.”

Yes, you read that correctly. For every person who tweeted “Thank you for your service,” Veterans United donated $25. I know what you’re thinking – Twitter is flooded with tweets thanking our troops every Veterans Day. There’s no way they donated $25 for every single one. Well, you’d be half wrong. Twitter is indeed full of thanks to veterans, but Veterans United fulfilled their end of the deal. 90,943 tweets and $2,273,575 later, 11 veterans had the remainder of their mortgages paid in full.

If the generous gesture isn’t enough to warm your heart, the video reveals will do the trick. 11 veterans received surprise Zoom calls of a lifetime, as celebrities explained that paying off their home loans was no longer something they had to worry about. As you can imagine, the veterans’ responses to the life-changing news was nothing short of extraordinary.

Gary Sinise revealed the good news to Bill, a Navy veteran and single father of four:

Chef Robert Irvine helped surprise Brandie, a retired Navy hospital corpsman and mother of nine:

”We hope this action says what words will never be able to”

“We all see social media on Veterans Day overflowing with ‘thank you for your service’ posts,” David Whitney, a PR lead for an advertising agency who works with Veterans United told The Dad. “And while those words aren’t without meaning, Veterans United set out to make them mean a whole lot more. Thanks to more than 90,000 ‘Thank yous’ tweeted on Veterans Day this year, Veterans United was able to change the lives of 11 incredible veterans.”

Spice up Your Holiday Cooking With the Cheetos Cookbook

Cheetos Cookbook
(PepsiCo)

This has been a great year (stick with me) if you are a Cheetos fan. First, you got Cheetos officially jumping into the Mac and Cheese game, and now you have the very first Cheetos Cook Book, just in time for the holidays.

While many celebrate at home this year (grrr, 2020), at least we have some new delicious ways to do it, like with DIY Dunkaroos or an entire cookbook based on snack food. “BON-APPE-CHEETOS: A Holiday Cookbook by Chester and Friends” is in stores now and features 22 Cheetos-adjacent meals. The cookbook leans on the “friends” heavily, drawing inspiration and assistance from more than a handful of celebrity chefs.

 

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A post shared by Chester Cheetah (@cheetos)

According to the press release from PepsiCo, the cookbook focuses on holiday courses with “cheesy inspiration.” It includes appetizers, side dishes, entrees, desserts, and even one-of-a-kind cocktails (I bet you never considered dumping Cheetos into your booze before). Some of the dishes they are already touting as the standouts include the ‘famous Flamin’ Hot Friendsgiving Turkey’, ‘Chester’s Kickin’ Cornbread Dressing’, ‘Chester’s Cheesy Skillet Corn’ and ‘Good, Better, Best Pumpkin Pie.’

The brand is also raising money for the World Central Kitchen ChefsForAmerica COVID-relief fund with sales of the book. If you’re on the fence, Chester also threw a few recipes from the book online for you to try free, at More Smiles With Every Bite.

The online recipe hub is their way to help the 63 percent of Americans who are cooking at home more to get through the pandemic and are looking for unique recipes to try. A spokesperson said the ‘passionate fans’ of Cheetos have been using the snack food as an ingredient for years, so they wanted to return the favor with these special holiday recipes.

One thing is for sure, this holiday season will be unlike any other, so you might as well throw a Cheetos cocktail into the mix.

Man Takes His 95-Year-Old WWII Veteran Grandpa on RV Trip of a Lifetime

Grandpa's RV trip of a lifetime
(Instagram/sweetmarybus)

Getting old isn’t for sissies, according to my grandma. Your body doesn’t work quite as well as it used to, kids these days seem to be speaking a completely new language – it’s a lot to handle after a lifetime of effort. For 95-year-old Johnnie Dimas, a WWII veteran, getting older also came with significant loss. He lost his wife of 67 years, and if that wasn’t enough, he lost his full-time caregiver. With his caregiver, Dimas could continue living at home and maintaining a certain level of independence. Without a caregiver, Dimas’s future was unclear.

Losing your independence is one of the most underrated challenges of aging. Dimas and his wife swore they’d never enter a nursing home, but with his wife and caregiver gone, the elderly veteran’s options were limited. Dimas’s grandson, Roger Gilbert, knew his grandpa wouldn’t thrive in an elderly care facility. Gilbert took things into his own hands, moving his grandpa from Illinois to Arizona two years ago to live with him and his wife Jo.

For most, aging means having fewer opportunities to explore and experience all that life has to offer. But for Dimas, thanks to his grandson, his age and circumstances meant that there was no better time than the present. Dimas, or Grandpa Johnnie, had a bucket list of places he hoped to see one day. Last October, Gilbert, Jo, and Grandpa Johnnie, embarked on the RV trip of a lifetime to turn the bucket list into a reality.

 

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A post shared by Sweet Mary Bus (@sweetmarybus)

The trio documented their journey on Instagram, sharing photos of memories that would last a lifetime.

“We know this won’t be easy, but nothing worthwhile is easy. And we know this adventure is worthwhile!” the crew shared in an Instagram post. And with that, they were off.

 

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A post shared by Sweet Mary Bus (@sweetmarybus)

They visited national parks, Mardi Gras festivities, Las Vegas, and several WWII museums along the way. At The National WWII Museum in New Orleans, Grandpa Johnnie even met a fellow WWII veteran. Dimas struggled with severe PTSD after enlisting in the U.S, Marines at age 17, and was treated with shock therapy at a V.A. hospital after returning to the United States. Though he went on to live a full life, the trauma of his experience never fully left him.

 

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“I think it was deeply cathartic for Grandpa to be able to process everything that had happened at such a young age,” Jo told Good News Network. “It was such an honor to see how people respected his service in WWII, and how fascinated they were by him and his stories. As we walked down the street people would stop Grandpa, shake his hand and thank him for his service. They didn’t often stop long enough to see how Johnnie would always well up with emotion and gratitude for their kind words, it touched him so deeply every time.”

 

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A post shared by Sweet Mary Bus (@sweetmarybus)

On the Sweet Mary Bus named for Grandpa Johnnie’s late wife, the trio explored. They laughed, learned, grew, and filled their days with love. On August 16th of this year, at age 96, Grandpa Johnnie passed away. Rather than spend his final days in a nursing home, Grandpa Johnnie spent them living his life to the fullest. And it was all thanks to Roger, Jo, and his Sweet Mary.

Ryan Reynolds Responds To Tweet, Donates Winter Gear To Kids in Northern Canada

Ryan Canada Goose
(Twitter/KoonooHan Getty/Andreas Rentz)

Winter is coming. For some of us that means adding a layer or two, or finally admitting that it’s time to put away the sandals. But for kids in Nunavut, a territory of Northern Canada, winter means piling on every layer you own knowing you’ll probably still be cold. Temperatures in this sparsely-populated territory average around -30°C or -22°F in the winter, making proper cold weather attire a must-have. Unfortunately, many kids are under-equipped for the extreme temperatures.

When a singer-songwriter named Becky Han who grew up in the Arctic Bay contacted a local school to see if they needed school supplies, the principal hoped to address a different necessity.

According to CBS, Principal Gregg Durrant explained, “It’s pretty cold, and some kids don’t have the proper gear. We have kids among us who really didn’t have enough. Sometimes they would come in and we as staff would think, you know, that this kid really needs a new pair of boots or they need a proper parka.”

Han posted a tweet on behalf of her hometown school, requesting donations.

Though Han only expected a small response from her tweet, she soon got a message that she assumed was fake (because who wouldn’t?). The message read, “I saw the tweets and how can I help?”

After going to the account’s profile, she made a startling discovery. That was no fake profile – the simple message and offer of help came from Canadian-born sweetheart Ryan Reynolds.

“And I was just touched,” Han said. “I was grateful that, you know, people are listening and he wanted to help out … and that he has concern over Inuit in Nunavut.”

She gave Reynolds Principal Durrant’s contact information to determine what supplies were most desperately needed.

“Oh, yes, that was quite interesting,” Durrant recalled casually. “You know, I got an email saying, ‘This is Ryan Reynolds and what your needs are in terms of winter gear.’ And yeah, we started emailing back and forth and yeah, that was that.”

Reynolds then contacted some friends at Canada Goose to get them on board. According to Gavin Thompson, the vice-president of corporate citizenship at Canada Goose, Reynolds has been a friend of the company for over 10 years. In under a week, a shipment of 300 brand new Canada Goose parkas, boots, gloves, socks, and hats was on its way to the
Inuujaq school in Arctic Bay.

When the shipment arrived, the students were over the moon. Durrant recalled, “When the students were leaving the gym because they put on their parkas trying to make sure that whatever gear they were getting were suitable for them in terms of size, they were like, ‘Thank you, Gregg! Thank you, Gregg!’ I’m like, ‘Yes, it’s thank you, Ryan! Thank you, Ryan!’”

21-Year-Old Becomes First Person With Down Syndrome To Complete Ironman Triathlon

First person with down syndrome to complete ironman triathlon
(Instagram/chrisnikic)

Signing up for any race, whether it’s a 5k or a marathon, requires both mental and physical preparation. Training is often physically uncomfortable, and it takes a huge amount of perseverance and dedication to make it to the day of the race. For people without physical limitations, it’s a difficult and admirable pursuit. But when you’re pushing through additional physical barriers, the accomplishment is even sweeter. Not even necessarily because it’s more challenging physically, but because there’s a high likelihood you’ve been told that you can’t. You were told it was impossible, but you did it anyway.

The Ironman Triathlon is a race far beyond most of our physical capabilities. Even for people who consider themselves fairly fit, the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bicycle ride, and 26.22-mile run (yes, after you’ve completed the swim and bike ride, you have to run a full marathon. All in one day) would require a huge amount of training. Chris Nikic, a 21-year-old from Florida, made history this week. He trained and pushed and persevered just like any other athlete – because of his incredibly hard work, Nikic is officially the first person with down syndrome to complete the Ironman Triathlon.

Completing the arduous race was a long-time dream of Nikic, and he knew the only way to get there was to start working. Dan Grieb, an Ironman competitor, was paired with Nikic by the Special Olympics to help with his training. The athletes trained together, motivated each other, and on November 7, completed the triathlon side by side.

Reflecting on his accomplishment, Nikic tweeted, “A year ago I wrote ‘Chris World Champ’. Anything is Possible.”

As he crossed the finish line wearing a shirt that read “1% Better Every Day,” Nikic truly embodied the words “anything is possible.” He completed the Ironman Triathlon in 16 hours, 46 minutes, and 9 seconds. He set a Guinness World Record. He made history. But before Nikic even began working towards his lofty and admirable goal, he had some hurdles to overcome that most of us never have to face.

“From the time he was born, we were told by everyone that he’d never do anything or amount to anything or be able to accomplish anything [beyond] being able to tie his own shoes,” Nikic’s dad told Orlando Sentinel. “And we believed them for the longest time.”

Sadly, those with disabilities are told so often that they can’t. Rather than setting their own limitations, they may be told their limitations. With the support of his friends, family, and fellow athletes, Nikic set out to prove that whatever it is you think you can’t do, you’re wrong. If you put in the work, as he did, anything really is possible.