Watching your child miss out is never easy. Sometimes the solution is as simple as talking with their school or another parent. Things get a little more complicated, though, when your child has a disability. Don’t get me wrong, there has been an enormous amount of progress in inclusiveness over the years. But any parent of a child with disabilities will tell you, there is still a long way to go.
Many parents have even taken it upon themselves to make the world a more accessible place for their children. There was the dad who ran marathons with his son who had a disability, allowing him to experience the rush of crossing the finish line. And who can forget the dad who built a wheelchair accessible igloo for his nine (NINE) adopted kids, who all have special needs. Gordon Hartman of San Antonio, Texas joined the ranks of MVPs (Most Valuable Papas) when he built his daughter, Morgan, her very own amusement park.
Morgan was born with both physical and cognitive disabilities. From a young age, Hartman had to watch his daughter miss out. Morgan missed out on things that every child should experience, that most of them take for granted. Sometimes she was unable to participate due to physical limitations, but other times, she was intentionally left out by other children her age. Children who didn’t know Morgan often kept their distance – they simply didn’t understand that in more ways than not, Morgan was just like them.
The family was on vacation in 2006 when they decided to go for a swim at the hotel pool. As any other kid would, Morgan wandered towards a group of kids around her age playing nearby. Instead of inviting her to join in, the other kids quickly grabbed their things and left the pool.
Hartman was heartbroken. Watching the disappointment wash over his daughter was a call to action. Morgan needed somewhere to go, where she would never be left out. Kids like Morgan needed a place that was built specifically for them, in a world where very little is. And just like that, Morgan’s Wonderland was born.
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Hartman, a retired home builder, poured his heart into the project. In 2010, Morgan’s Wonderland opened its doors. The park has 25 fully-accessible attractions, including things like wheelchair swings, a carousel, and an off-road adventure. Morgan’s Inspiration Island, a companion water park, opened in 2017. The water park even has waterproof wheelchairs. Hartman stresses that while the park was built with accessibility in mind, everybody is welcome.
“While other theme parks accommodate people with disabilities and/or special needs, Morgan’s Wonderland was created with them in mind,” the San Antonio park’s website explains. “Our vision is to play an instrumental role in helping establish more ultra-accessible places where those with and without disabilities can come together for fun and a better understanding of each other.” The park even offers free admission to anyone with a disability.
The park is closed for the remainder of the 2020 season due to the coronavirus but hopes to reopen soon after.
Hollywood is littered with tragic stories of talented people dying young. We recently shared information about a documentary on Chris Farley, the beloved comedian and Saturday Night Live star who’s star burned incredibly bright for a few short years before he succumbed to his demons. Before him, there was John Belushi who had a similar story.
In between those two heartbreaks is the tale of John Candy, the Canadian comic force whose larger than life talent is often forgotten by today’s generation. But Candy was a huge star, coming up on Canada’s answer to SNL, SCTV, with Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, and Martin Short, making iconic appearances in early 80s comedy classics like Stripes, Vacation, and Splash, before eventually graduating to headline hits like Summer Rental, Uncle Buck, The Great Outdoors, and Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.
The man had range too, as evidenced by his heartbreaking turn with Steve Martin in Planes, Trains, and his charismatic part in Oliver Stone’s sprawling JFK. Unfortunately, he died too young, at just age 43, on the set of Wagons East.
Joe Ramoni of the Hats Off Entertainment channel on YouTube recently made a brief documentary showcasing Candy’s prolific comedy skills and larger-than-life charisma, and whether you’re new to the man or not, it’s a wonderful tribute.
Check it out:
And the hits just keep on coming.
Earlier this year, before the world went crazy, Netflix released its Tiger King docuseries, about Joe Exotic, Carole Baskin, and the bizarre, sketchy, seedy world of big cat enthusiasts. The story captivated the country and birthed countless memes, many of them revolving around the feud between Exotic and Baskin, which had many layers and included a music video in which Exotic accused Baskin of feeding her husband to her tigers. With such a bizarre story, Nicholas Cage was quickly tapped to play Joe Exotic in a TV series.
2020 has been straight-up bonkers, y’all!
The series ended with Joe Exotic in jail for attempting to hire a hitman to murder Baskin, and now Baskin is taking control of the Tiger King’s Oklahoma property, leaving Exotic’s partner Jeff Lowe a month to vacate the premises.
According to Courthouse News, a federal judge gave Baskin ownership of Exotic’s cat compound after ruling that Exotic had fraudulently transferred the properties to his mother to avoid paying $1 million for trademark infringement.
“Big Cat Rescue’s constructive trust and equitable lien in and to the buildings shall survive any physical or title transfer of the building and shall follow any proceeds, except as to a good faith purchased for value,” the 11-page order states.
This is a victory of Baskin, but she’s not exactly free and clear of suspicions about her own activity. A judge recently found that her missing husband, whose death many suspect Baskin is responsible for, had his will forged. This news certainly won’t help Baskin avoid rumors of her participation in her husband’s disappearance.
Things get even weirder when you hear what Exotic’s partner, Jeff Lowe, has to say.
Lowe has a month to vacate the Oklahoma property, but he’s not leaving without stirring up some more shit. He went on TMZ to say Baskin can have the property, and the dead bodies he claims are buried on it.
“Lauren and I tried to donate it to the Indian Nation about a year ago,” Lowe told TMZ. “Because we knew there were the remains of a young American Indian boy buried here. We thought that the Nation should have the first opportunity to protect this land and his grave.”
You couldn’t make this stuff up.
The NBA is going to Disney World. A sentence usually reserved for Super Bowl champions, but it feels like a win for all sports fan as the NBA becomes the first of the big four professional leagues to announce a return to live-action.
The NBA has approved a plan to play a truncated finish to the regular season with 22 teams playing 8 games, and then the league will have an accelerated playoff. The entire finish to the season until the possible end of the NBA finals will be a little over 70 days. The league settled on 22 teams by selecting the 16 currently in playoff position and then any team within six games of the final qualifying spot.
Are there logistics to work out, and players that need to get back to their cities and get back in shape? Absolutely. But it’s still a great day for sports fans, as they finally have something major to look forward to.
The NBA seemingly has cleared the major hurdles that commissioner Adam Silver wanted to see before resuming action. All 22 teams will be finishing out the regular season in Florida at the Wide World of Sports at Disney World.
The NBA meets Walt Disney World ✨ pic.twitter.com/Roy4jsJ3nm
— ESPN (@espn) June 4, 2020
When you wish upon a star …
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 4, 2020
The league will use three facilities to play a ton of games in a short amount of time, which will be great for sports fan viewing. Because there is still this whole global pandemic thing going on, there obviously won’t be any fans at the games. Players, coaches, and other personnel, basically anyone in “the bubble”, will be tested every single day. Everyone is staying at the same hotel, and there will be limited ability to leave “the bubble.”
The league is trying to create a single, isolated site to keep everyone as safe as possible. Basically, it’s going to be an NBA playoffs camp, which still sounds pretty awesome to a sports-starved nation.
LET’S GOOOOOO! The NBA is returning 🕺 pic.twitter.com/k3RSBukQw1
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) June 4, 2020
THE NBA IS BACK‼️
— SLAM (@SLAMonline) June 4, 2020
Teams will start to come together for a minicamp before going to Florida in early July. On-site, the teams will have a few weeks of practices and scrimmages before games ramp up on July 31st. The NHL is also planning a late-summer return, with an expanded 24-team Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Props to the commissioner and the players union for getting this deal done, with far less drama than Major League Baseball.
Sports are back.
Ever catch yourself wondering how your grandpa pulled that coin out of your ear? Or how your fifth grade best friend got those rings to separate? Magic tricks stick with you, especially if you saw them as a child. Now that you’re the magical, mysterious grown-up, it’s officially your chance to mystify the kids in your life.
Here’s the thing about magic: Magicians don’t like to give away their secrets. If you step into a magic shop, the salesperson will likely repeat the same thing over and over again, “We’re not selling you the trick, we’re selling you what you need to do the trick.” Meaning, in order to know how to do most of the magic stuff out there, you’re going to need to buy-in. All is not lost, though. We managed to find some solid info on the internet to help us show you how to whip up some magic in your life. And, if it goes well, we’ve included stuff to buy to expand your repertoire of tricks. According to the Magic Masterclass, there are ten kinds of magic, so we’ve labeled things accordingly. Hope that helps!
Making something appear “out of thin air.”
1. Pluck A Coin From Thin Air
You’ve seen this trick done. But, can you do it yourself?
2. Pull A Card Out Of Nowhere
Make your audience gasp by this single-card production trick and pull a card out of thin air.
3. Flower-Filled Wallet
Turn an “ordinary” wallet into a bouquet of flowers with this awesome trick.
Making something disappear.
4. Disappearing Coin
That coin pulled out of an ear? Make it disappear with simple sleight of hand.
5. Vanishing Toothpick
You got this. Just follow along with this super simple video and you’ll wow everyone.
6. Disappearing Pencil
Wanna wow your kids with their new school supplies? The disappearing pencil trick is relatively simple and a ton of fun.
7. Blooming and Disappearing Flower
You’ve seen the blooming and vanishing silk flower in a million birthday party magic shows. Why not invest in your own?
Turning something into something else. (Like a rat into a goblet.)
8. The Bending Spoon
Is it possible that this is the oldest trick in the book? Uh… probably not. But, it’s pretty old school and super popular with little kids.
9. Transforming a Marker/Pen into a Magic Wand
This is showy and fun — Magic at it’s finest.
Destroying an object, then repairing it.
10. Magic Can Restore/Repair
Wanna blow the mind of your kiddos and/or drunk friends? Refill a can. This video uses a beer can, but it’ll work with any can.
Making an object appear to move from one spot to another.
11. The Sugar Cube and the Magic Number
All you need are a friend, a sugar cube, a pencil and a glass of warm water to make your friend’s lucky number “magically” move from the sugar cube to the palm of your hand.
12. Moving A Pencil With Your Mind
Really all you need for this is a very light pen or pencil and the ability to expel air without making a face like you’re blowing out candles.
Similar to transportation tricks, except you making multiple items move.
13. Linking Paper clips
All you need for this trick is two paper clips and a piece of paper — a dollar bill works best.
14. Coin Pyramid
Okay, okay. Once you show this trick to someone a time or two, they’ll figure out that it’s actually super easy to do on their own and isn’t actually magic at all. They’ll certainly feel like it is the first time they watch. Little kids, especially, will be in disbelief.
15. Parting The Pepper
Before you start the trick, privately put some soap on your finger. Sprinkle some black pepper into a glass of water and have your friend stick their finger into the water. Nothing will happen. When you put your finger into the water, the soap will cause the pepper to scatter and separate from your finger.
Escape tricks are the ones everyone wants to do and not many people can figure out. There’s usually an air of danger or a sense of urgency involved.
16-18. Houdini’s Top 3 Escape Tricks
YouTuber Nadjib Haffaf broke down three of Houdini’s most popular escape tricks here. These might be a little too involved for the average dad. However, we wanted to include them so we didn’t leave anything out.
Making the magician or something/someone appear to float.
19. The Magnetic Pencil
Make a pencil appear to float behind your hand.
20. Levitating Card
You’ll need to do a bit of prep work for this trick, but it’s sure to blow minds.
During times like these, we could all use a momentary distraction every now and again.
It’s not always easy to laugh when the world is on fire, and the past week, not to mention the past few months, have been downright harrowing, and that’s even without a parallel universe springing upon us. 2020 is wild.
Normally, we might run to the movie theater to get a break, or watch sports, but neither of those things are back from the COVID-19 quarantine break they’ve been on. But we do have the internet, and on the internet, there are countless TV shows, movies, YouTube clips, and more to keep us occupied and entertained when we need to step back from real life.
Having a laugh is one of the best ways to not only escape reality for a minute but to boost your mood. And over the past thirty years, few entertainers have been as funny or provided as many belly laughs, like Chris Farley.
The comedian’s career exploded on Saturday Night Live with sketches like the Chippendales try-out, Matt Foley, Motivational speaker, Gap girls, and more. Unfortunately, he died prematurely, a tragic loss that impacted many, especially his close friends and SNL colleagues Adam Sandler, David Spade, and more. A few years ago, Adam Sandler performed a touching tribute song on his comedy special, and now there’s a mini-documentary about the late comedian on YouTube.
Created by Joe Ramoni, who previously made a similar mini-doc about John Candy, the doc runs about 20 minutes and uses a variety of clips from Farley’s movie and television projects.
Check it out, and try not to laugh!
The city of Minneapolis has been at the forefront of protests surrounding racial inequality and police brutality. George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody sparked the protests there and around the nation. And the protests have had some unintended effects, including causing many stores to temporarily shutter to prevent damage and looting. This has left some communities without the grocery stores they depend on.
When one middle school in the city realized their community had suddenly become a food desert, they partnered with a non-profit to quickly organize a food drive. They hoped to receive around 500 bags of food to help feed the hungry in their community. They ended up receiving more than 29,000.
Residents of the city came out in droves after posts about the food-drive went viral. Cars lined up for blocks, temporarily causing a traffic jam of people who wanted to give back and help their community.
“The thankfulness was palpable,” Rob Williams, the director of the nonprofit, The Sheridan Story, told Good Morning America. “This area became a food desert in 24 hours with no warning, and people really needed this food immediately. There were tears all around.”
In Minneapolis, Sanford Middle School asked for food donations, after several supermarkets were looted or damaged during the riots.
This is what happened.
Cars were backed up for more than ten blocks — all from people who came to dropoff food. pic.twitter.com/RFT1P2YT7D
— Goodable (@Goodable) May 31, 2020
The principal of the school said the donations were ‘incredible’ and covered the parking lot, the field, and the entire surrounding area. She said they came from people who wanted to do something tangible to help.
They were left with a surplus of food that is now being donated at other points throughout the city to help feed the hungry.
“This all happened organically through other Minnesota families and locals who care about them as people,” Williams said. “That is what a community is supposed to be, you rally around each other with your time, food or whatever is needed, and get it to those who need help.”
“I met Edward when I was two years old. He was a young man with no children of his own and he took on the responsibility of taking care of my mother and raising me as his stepson.
I remember him having a couple jobs at one time in order to give us the best life that he could. He was determined to care for my mother and myself with unconditional love.
As I grew into my teens, I would test that love, on numerous occasions. I was a handful but Edward didn’t give up on me. He would ground me and lay down rules but I always had a tough time listening. As any stubborn teen would, I soon developed bitterness towards him and his strictness.
I moved out as soon as I could.
Once I entered the real world, I understood what he was trying to prepare me for. All the lectures about cars, bills, taxes, responsibilities, and even children; they all stuck to me. As I went through my own challenges, I realized I knew what to do, that he had given me more than just rules and tough love. He had given me the lessons, experiences, and confidence to get through what he had already been though: life.
I learned that I probably wouldn’t be where I am today if he had chosen a different life. So I called him and apologized, and told him I appreciated every single lesson, lecture, and punishment he felt I needed.
I am now a father of three and pray that I can be as patient and loving as he is. He is my hero and I am eternally grateful for him.
I love you, Dad, with all my heart.”
– Jonathan Montano
Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email [email protected]
Check out the previous editions of Father Figures here.
The country is in a tough spot right now. The coronavirus has everyone on edge, and just as things seem to potentially be slowing down, a long-simmering firestorm exploded over the weekend.
After George Floyd, a fellow dad who deserved the same treatment the most privileged among us are privy to, was unjustly killed by an overzealous (at best) policeman, an outraged, fed-uo population took to the streets. They’re out there protesting not only Floyd’s murder, but the countless similar incidents in which people of color have been mistreated, taken advantage of, marginalized, and destroyed.
The scenes of unrest taking place all over the country are unpleasant to watch, but not unprecedented, and certainly not unwarranted. Unfortunately, protests that were meant to remain peaceful turned violent thanks to bad actors on both sides, including an aggressive and intimidating police force that too often seems to strike first, especially when it comes to conflict in black and underprivileged communities.
Not all policemen, of course. Some, maybe even most, seem to understand that what’s needed now is empathy, understanding, unity, compassion, and collaboration.
One police force in Flint, Michigan is leading the way with a heartening example of how we should all be responding to the justified outrage of our most marginalized people.
Faced with a mob of protesters, Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson decided to listen. He took off the intimidating riot gear police are wearing, stood up in front of his community, and told them, “We wanna be with y’all, for real. I took my helmet off, I laid the batons down. I wanna make this a parade and not a protest!”
Those who were marching in anger responded with cheers and chants of ‘walk with us!’ as the sheriff embraced his community, recognized their valid complaints, and marched alongside them.
It gives you chills just watching. And makes you wonder how different this weekend might have gone if more policemen empathized with their communities the way Sheriff Swanson does. We’re all in this together.
Watch the video:
Amazing scene unfolding in Flint, Twp, Michigan. Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson has joined protesters in a peaceful march. Read More: https://t.co/4ioyUnymNv @MichStatePolice @GovWhitmer pic.twitter.com/nMCVuXQ0TZ
— Mid-Michigan NOW (@midmichigannow) May 31, 2020