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10 Uplifting Stories To Get You Through The Week (4/21/19)

by Radu Alexander
fact checked by Jamie Frater

A new week is on the way, and we want to help you start it off on a happy note. That’s why this list has some of the most positive stories that happened over the last few days. If you would like to read about bizarre and outlandish occurrences instead, check out the offbeat list right here.

We have a few inspiring animal tales this week involving a unicorn sheep, good news about the rising population of kakapo, and a dog rescue in the middle of the ocean. There are also stories that praise human tenacity, such as saving someone’s life on top of Everest or running an entire marathon in heels. Lastly, we look at some of the positive stories to come out of the fire that ravaged Notre Dame Cathedral.

10 The Marathon Mutt

Photo credit: Gear Junkie

The Marathon des Sables took place last week. Touted as the “toughest foot race on Earth,” it is an ultimate endurance challenge that sees competitors travel 226 kilometers (140 mi) over a six-day period in Southern Morocco through the unforgiving Sahara Desert. Without a doubt, this year’s breakout star was a dog who enthusiastically joined the race and ended up becoming the first canine to run the marathon.

Runners named the pooch Cactus. Technically, he did not complete the Marathon des Sables because he joined halfway through Day Two. However, everyone seemed happy to overlook this minor issue. Fan interest in Cactus reached a point where the organizers gave him his own race number (“000”) and a collar with his own GPS tracker so that people could monitor his progress at will.

The dog made short work of the “long stage,” the hardest part of the marathon that requires runners to finish a 75-kilometer (47 mi) stretch in less than 31 hours. Cactus did it in 11 hours.[1] He has been well-cared for throughout the race, being provided with food, water, and belly rubs at all checkpoints. The medical team also checked up on him at the campsites to ensure that he was healthy. At the finish, Cactus was presented with his own special medal.

9 Helping The Community

Photo credit: Anna Gustafson

A 12-year-old boy from Michigan received a citation from the mayor for his diligent work to fix the potholes in his neighborhood.

One day, Trinell Scott and her son, Monte, were driving through their hometown of Muskegon Heights, trying to avoid all the potholes that littered the road. Inevitably, they hit one which was so deep that it took out their car’s tire and axle.

Monte did not want this to happen to anyone else, so he took it upon himself to fill the potholes. As his mother taught him, he had a responsibility of helping his community.[2] Trinell did not know about her son’s plan. She found out when a video of Monte’s good deed showed up in her Facebook feed.

Both of them were recently commended by Mayor Kimberley Sims. Trinell was honored for her parenting, while Monte was cited for his roadwork.

8 Joey The Unicorn Sheep

Photo credit: ABC Online

An Australian man traded two cases of beer to save a “unicorn sheep” named Joey.

Last February, stock agent Michael Foster was at the farm of one of his clients near Hallett, South Australia. There, he saw a sheep unlike any other. Instead of two horns, he had a single horn coming out of the top of his head like a unicorn.

Foster wanted the animal and offered to purchase it from the farmer. The latter told him he could have the ram in exchange for beer, so Foster traded him for two cases of Great Northern. Just in time, too, as the sheep was destined for the feedlot.

Back home, the stock agent’s two daughters immediately fell in love with the unique animal and named him Joey.[3] The plan is to keep him as a pet but also to bring Joey to pageants and agricultural shows so that other people can see the “unicorn sheep.”

7 Paint Your Heart Out

Photo credit: Facebook

Firefighters from Florida wanted to give back to the community, so they spent last weekend painting the house of a blind World War II veteran.

It had been 17 years since 89-year-old William Velez last painted his house. He wanted to give it a new coat of paint but was unable due to his impairment. Fortunately for him, dozens of members from the Hillsborough County Fire Rescue and their families volunteered to help him out. They painted his home and, as a bonus, installed new smoke detectors inside.[4]

The initiative was organized by Paint Your Heart Out Tampa, a volunteer organization that aims to “enrich lives and renew our community . . . one paint brush at a time” by giving snazzy makeovers to the homes of veterans, seniors, and disabled people.

6 Rescue Mission At 10,000 Feet

Photo credit: Neal Kushwaha

A mountain climber abandoned his ascent of Mount Everest to rescue an injured Sherpa he encountered along the way.

Like most climbers, Neal Kushwaha from Saskatoon, Canada, dreamed about one day conquering the world’s highest peak. As he was scaling the mountain, he saw a Sherpa in need of medical attention. He was bleeding from the head after being hit with a rock. Unfortunately, the sight of bodies is common in the Himalayas, so other climbers simply passed him by. However, Kushwaha realized that the man, named Chhering Dorje, was still alive.

In that oxygen-deprived environment, just taking a few steps can be physically exhausting. Somehow, Kushwaha was able to carry Dorje on his back while another man carried his pack. Later, they encountered two other climbers who were willing to help. Together, they brought Dorje to a wide, flat plateau where they could radio for a rescue helicopter.[5]

This is the point where most people would call it a day, but Kushwaha actually started climbing again after a quick break. By evening, he had reached his team’s camp. The next day was clear and sunny, and the crew successfully reached the summit. When he climbed down to base camp, Kushwaha found Chhering’s brother waiting for him with hot tea and news that the injured Sherpa survived and was convalescing in the hospital.

5 Kakapo Population On The Rise

Photo credit: Mnolf

There is good news for the kakapo, as the bird has experienced a record breeding season, and scientists are hopeful that this could signal a reversal of fortune for the critically endangered animal.

Endemic to New Zealand, there are only 147 adult kakapo in the world. They were actually thought to have gone completely extinct until a small population was found on Stewart Island in the 1970s. Since then, the world’s fattest parrot has been subjected to one of the most intensive breeding programs on the planet.

It seems that the efforts of conservationists have paid off. This year, 76 kakapo chicks have hatched as 49 of 50 adult females laid eggs.[6] Around 60 birds are expected to make it to adulthood, which is a huge increase over the previous record of 37 fledglings set in 2016.

The secret to this success has been an abundant food supply. Conservationists have seeded the New Zealand bush with Rimu trees that produce the fruit most favored by kakapo. The eventual goal is to reintroduce the parrot to mainland New Zealand, but scientists want a population of at least 500 before considering this step.

4 Saving Boonrod

Photo credit: Vitisak Payalaw

When you work on an oil rig over 217 kilometers (135 mi) from the shore, there are some things that you do not expect to see. A swimming dog is one of them. And yet, that is exactly the sight that greeted workers on an offshore platform in Southern Thailand.

The pooch swam toward the oil rig and clung to the beams beneath the platform. With the animal partially submerged in water and the sea getting rougher, workers knew they only had a brief window if they wanted to save the dog. In about 15 minutes, they managed to lower a rope, secure the animal, and pull him up to safety.

They named the dog Boonrod.[7] At first, he was exhausted and in a state of shock, but some fresh water and pieces of meat helped him regain his strength. The workers set him up with a kennel. After a day and a half, Boonrod was happy and playful and had already become the most popular member of the crew.

Nobody is really sure how the pooch ended up there in the first place, although some have speculated that he fell or jumped off a fishing boat. Boonrod has since been taken to land, and one of the workers announced that he intends to adopt him permanently when he returns from the rig.

3 World Record Set In Style

Photo credit: The Local

A French woman ran the Paris Marathon while wearing high heels and broke the world record by almost an hour and a half.

The race took place last Sunday. Among the runners was Christelle Doyhambehere, a 34-year-old nursing assistant from the city of Pau. She got the idea of doing the marathon in heels after her partner mentioned it jokingly. She looked it up and discovered that the world record of 7:27:53 was set by American Irene Sewell back in 2017.

Christelle started training five to six times a week. When race day arrived, she was wearing a pair of salsa pumps with 7.6-centimeter (3 in) heels, fitted over taped ankles, running socks, and calf compression sleeves. Other than a few minor setbacks, the race went smoothly, and she finished with a time of 6:04:07.[8]

Christelle’s bizarre feat of endurance had a second purpose besides setting a new record. She also raised money for Koala, a charity which entertains children in hospitals, including the one in Pau where she works.

2 Cupcakes And Cardio

Photo credit: KATU

World War II veteran Fred Lawrence turned 98 years old this week. He planned on spending it like any other Wednesday by working out at the gym. However, club employees were ready with a surprise birthday celebration to honor their oldest, most dedicated member.

Despite his age, Fred works out three times a week and has been going to the 24 Hour Fitness Club in Gladstone, Oregon, for the last five or six years. He serves as an inspiration to other regulars like Jeramy Ybarra, who appreciates his perseverance and his gratitude for life.

This week, when Fred entered through the doors of the gym, he saw that the whole place had been decorated with balloons and signs. Employees had made Fred his favorite treat, vanilla bean cupcakes, and also presented him with an oversized birthday card signed by everyone there.[9] The retired Marine enjoyed his surprise party and afterward proceeded with his regular 90-minute workout.

1 Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life

Photo credit: Louis H.G.

At the start of the week, the world stood stunned as it watched the Notre Dame Cathedral burn. The fire devastated the 12th-century structure, causing tremendous damage to the roof and leading to the collapse of the spire. However, this is the kind of list that looks at the positives, even in tragedies.

Notre Dame will be rebuilt. Already, companies and private citizens have donated around $1 billion for its reconstruction. Conveniently, just a few years ago, a team led by Professor Andrew Tallon from Vassar College used laser scans to create a 3-D map of the cathedral that is accurate within 5 millimeters. That is, of course, if they plan to rebuild it as it was. French President Emmanuel Macron has already announced a challenge to the world’s architects to design a new spire.

Most of the priceless treasures inside the cathedral survived the fire. The trio of 800-year-old Rose windows has been saved. The Great Organ which still contained pipes from the Middle Ages was also safe. One heroic priest named Jean-Marc Fournier rushed into the blazing building to save the Crown of Thorns, one of Notre Dame’s most cherished relics.

Perhaps the story that resonated most with people was that of American tourist Brooke Windsor. Just an hour before the fire broke out, she snapped a photo of a father and daughter playing carefree in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral. The image soon went viral, although nobody knew who the mystery duo were. On Thursday, Windsor confirmed that the father contacted her, thanking her for a beautiful photograph and assuring her that they “will find a special place for it.”[10]


Read more upbeat stories you might have missed from April 14, 2019, and April 7, 2019.

fact checked by Jamie Frater