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10 Uplifting Stories To Get You Through The Week (7/7/19)

by Radu Alexander
fact checked by Jamie Frater

If the week has got you down, this list might help lift your spirits. We looked at all the positive, inspiring, and amusing stories that made the headlines over the last few days and put them into one list. It goes well with a side of offbeat quirkiness.

Music plays an important role in this week’s list. We learn about the “Singing Doctor” who serenaded each baby he ever delivered and the man who performed an impromptu saxophone concert for a herd of cows.

There is also a bit of romance between two 100-year-old lovebirds, a tale of friendship between two travel buddies, and a source of hope from a medical procedure that can help quadriplegics move their hands again.

10 The Singing Doctor

Photo credit: CBS News

The city of Pittsburgh has declared May 16 to be “Dr. Carey Andrew-Jaja Day” in honor of the “Singing Doctor” who has retired after 40 years in the medical business. Dr. Andrew-Jaja became known for serenading all the newborns in his care with some of his favorite songs.

The “Singing Doctor” delivered around 8,000 babies during his time at Pittsburgh’s UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, and he crooned for every single one of them. According to the doc, this habit started when he was still a resident. There was an older ob-gyn on staff who sang to the young children and advised Andrew-Jaja to do the same. When the older man retired, Andrew-Jaja considered it as a passing of the baton.

There are two songs that Andrew-Jaja loves to perform: “Happy Birthday” and “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong. He feels like the first symbolizes the miracle of life, while the second evokes the beautiful world into which these children were just born.[1]

9 Bigger And Better

Photo credit: CBS News

At the start of the year, we told the story of 11-year-old Ruby Chitsey who became a hero to the elderly of Arkansas. She went to work with her mother at a nursing home. There, she discovered that she could really improve the quality of life of residents with simple items such as fresh fruit, books, or new shoes.

With the help of her mother, Ruby started a fundraiser. She used the money to make the wishes come true for the residents of five different nursing homes in the state.

Since that time, the donations have kept coming in and Ruby has continued her work. She now has a charity called Three Wishes for Ruby’s Residents.[2] She visits elder care facilities and goes from room to room, jotting down everyone’s wish list. On a different day, she returns with bags and wheelchairs full of goodies.

Ruby’s idea proved to be so simple yet so effective that she has helped to start additional chapters of her charity in other states. She has even given a few public speeches where she advocates on behalf of the elderly, but her true passion remains the home delivery of the items that bring joy to the people she cares for.

8 Sax-Crazed Cows

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With over a million shares and likes on social media, Rick Herrmann’s first concert was a smashing success. The videos of the man from Lafayette, Oregon, went viral after his daughter shared a clip of him using his newly acquired sax skills to entertain a herd of cows.

Last week, Herrmann and his wife were driving past a field of bovine. They are curious animals by nature, and Rick wondered if they would react to his saxophone playing. Only one way to find out, so the couple pulled over and approached the fence.[3]

Herrmann might have been playing only for seven months, but his skills were enough to impress the herd. As soon as the first notes of “Isn’t She Lovely” rang out, the cows stopped their grazing and looked up at the saxophonist. They slowly made their way toward Herrmann, and he had an audience of dozens of bovine by the time he switched to “Careless Whisper.”

For an encore, Herrmann played “Tequila.” At that point, even one of the farm’s neighbors joined in on the fun and lent their vocal talents.

7 An Aged Affair

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Kensington Residence, an assisted living facility in Sylvania, Ohio, had a centenarian wedding on its hands last week. Hundred-year-old John Cook married his sweetheart, 102-year-old Phyllis, after dating for a year.

The lovebirds are keen to show that it is never too late for love. They know that it sounds “a little bit far-fetched” for people their age, but they became smitten with each other after discovering that they were compatible in a lot of ways and enjoyed each other’s company.

The Cooks tied the knot on Wednesday and had a celebration at the retirement home the next day. They like to spend their time enjoying meals together and sitting in the sun. At the same time, they plan to keep both of their apartments because they understand the importance of personal space.[4]

6 Granny Delivery Service

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For 2019, Italian brewery Birra Moretti has a unique way of bringing people together around the dinner table. It launched a “Deliver-a-Nonna” service which provides a genuine Italian grandmother to come cook a meal for you.

The nonna will arrive at your home in a special Moretti car, packing everything she will need to prepare a lavish and authentic three-course feast. She will also readily share her wealth of knowledge of cooking tips and secret recipes so that aspiring chefs will be able to master Italian cuisine and prepare meals of their own for their guests in the future.

The service is free but only available to people in London. The nonna will make house calls between July 22 and 27, so those who want the grandmothers to pay them a visit will have to book them now.[5]

5 Farewell, Frida!

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Last week, the Mexican Navy bid a fond farewell to Frida the rescue dog who retired after almost 10 years of service.

Frida first gained global recognition in 2017 after a massive earthquake hit Mexico. People found hope and inspiration in images of the pooch wearing protective goggles and boots while searching through rubble for people in need of help. Frida became a symbol of positivity for Mexico when the country really needed it. She was immortalized in several murals and even a statue.

As it turns out, the Golden Labrador has had quite a prolific career as a rescue dog going all the way back to the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti. During her retirement ceremony, Frida was credited with taking part in 53 rescue operations in four different countries and saving the lives of 12 people.

Deputy Naval Minister Eduardo Redondo said that Frida always brought relief “in moments of pain and uncertainty.”[6] During the ceremony, the rescue dog was given a standing ovation and presented with a new chew toy.

4 The Travel Buddies

This week’s feel-good moment comes courtesy of a stranger’s random act of kindness toward the boy seated next to him on an airplane flight.

Alexa Bjornson was nervous as her seven-year-old son, Landon, was boarding a Southwest Airlines flight from Las Vegas to Portland to visit his dad. Landon has autism, and this was his first time flying solo in a plane.

His mother was worried that he might tire out his seatmate by regularly asking, “Are we there yet?” She wrote a note explaining her son’s condition and included a $10 bill as a “thank you” for helping Landon feel safe and comfortable.[7]

As it turned out, no incentive was necessary. Landon and his seatmate, Ben Pedraza, got along just fine. Pedraza said that the boy was a great “travel buddy” and even snapped a photo of them together to send to Alexa and ease her worries.

In fact, it was Pedraza who was starting to tire out Landon because he kept making “dad jokes.” Pedraza donated the $10 to an autism charity in Landon’s name.

3 The Boy And The Frog

Dad Designs ‘Frog’ Device to Help His Toddler Crawl

Two-year-old Brody Moreland has gained the mobility of an average toddler his age thanks to a device called “The Frog” that was invented by his father.

Brody has spina bifida, meaning that his spine did not form properly in the womb. Multiple surgeries and physical therapy did not improve his mobility as he is basically paralyzed from the waist down. When he is on the floor, he has enough strength in his arms to push himself up, but he cannot crawl.

His parents used various devices to see if they could help Brody get around. First, they tried a baby wheelchair, but it wasn’t easy for the toddler to reach his toys. Then they put him on a scooter board, but Brody would get his hands caught underneath it.

Finally, his dad, Taylor, thought that he could build something better that was specifically designed for his son’s needs. The end result was “The Frog,” a device made from foam core plastic with wheels taken from one of Brody’s toys.

According to Taylor, it took the toddler a while to get used to it. But once he did, there was no stopping him. “The Frog” has not only improved Brody’s mobility but also given him more independence and a “stronger personality.”[8]

Since that time, Taylor has built a few more “Frogs” for other young children in Brody’s physical therapy class. Taylor has turned his invention into a business and is awaiting the patent. The device costs $300, but the Morelands have launched an online fundraiser to provide “Frogs” for free to families who can’t afford them.

2 Lion Of Mosul Roars Again

Photo credit: BBC

Google Arts & Culture used 3-D printing and crowdsourced pictures to recreate one of the most significant ancient artifacts destroyed by ISIS when it took control of Mosul: the 3,000-year-old Lion of Mosul.

After Iraqi troops finally pushed the terrorist group out of the city, officials found that the giant Assyrian statue which had once guarded the entrance to the Temple of Ishtar had been smashed to bits with sledgehammers.

The original lion might be gone, but a faithfully recreated copy now exists courtesy of Google Arts & Culture. This division of the technology juggernaut normally digitizes and creates 3-D models of famous works of art. That way, they can be enjoyed by people who might otherwise be unable to visit the locations where the real artworks are on display.

For the first time, though, Google Arts & Culture’s efforts did not stay in the digital realm. The company used the incredibly accurate 3-D model of the Lion of Mosul to print out a physical copy of the statue which now sits in London’s Imperial War Museum. The project will be part of a new season called Culture Under Attack which explores the impact of war on our cultural heritage.[9]

1 Nerve Transfer For Quadriplegics

Photo credit: BBC

A new study published in medical journal The Lancet highlights the success of a Melbourne-based research team who used nerve transfer surgery to restore movement to paralyzed hands.

The procedure involves “rewiring” the nervous system in quadriplegic patients who have suffered spine damage. Nerves are cut and reattached to other working nerves that control different muscle groups. For example, if the nerves that allowed the patient to turn their palm up still worked, they could be “rewired” to extend and bring together the fingers of the hand.

As a crucial requirement for this procedure to work, the patients still must have some movement in their upper arms prior to the surgery. Therefore, it is not available to all quadriplegics and will certainly not restore fine movement.

But it can drastically improve the quality of life. Patients will be able to grab and hold items, allowing these individuals to perform daily tasks such as handling money, putting on makeup, or using a computer.[10]

The Melbourne team performed 59 nerve transfers on 16 patients. The procedure failed on four occasions, and two patients even lost some sensation in their arms. The timing of the surgery is important as it has the highest success rate 6–12 months after the initial injury.

Even though it comes with caveats, the procedure has been deemed a “huge advance” by experts and “life-changing” by the people who have benefited from it.

Read more uplifting stories you might have missed from June 30, 2019, and June 23, 2019.

fact checked by Jamie Frater