everyday heroes

Man Buys $6 Million Super Bowl Ad To Pay Back the Heroes Who Saved His Dog

By | everyday heroes, Food for thought, heartwarming, news, stories, uplifting news

Anyone who has lost a pet knows how hard it can be, so it’s easy to understand why when David MacNeil’s 7-year-old golden retriever, Scout, was given a month to live, he refused to accept it.

Scout collapsed suddenly in the summer of 2019. MacNeil rushed his beloved dog to the vet, where a tumor was found growing on Scout’s heart. After diagnosing Scout with an aggressive form of cancer, a veterinarian told MacNeil his dog had just one month to live, according to NBC Madison, Wisconsin affiliate WMTV.

There he was in this little room, standing in the corner… and he’s wagging his tail at me. I’m like, ‘I’m not putting that dog down. There’s just absolutely no way.

David MacNeil to WMTV

He refused to give up on his dog

Local vets told MacNeil there was no hope for Scout, but MacNeil refused to accept that fate for his furry friend.

Seeking help elsewhere, MacNeil took Scout, who is also his company WeatherTech’s unofficial mascot, to the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine.

The vets there agreed that the dog had just a 1% chance of survival, but were determined to treat Scout anyway. They administered aggressive chemotherapy and radiation.

Throughout it all, vets say that Scout maintained his sweet, calm temperament, making them even more determined to restore Scout’s quality of life.

After just a month of treatment, they discovered that Scout’s tumor has shrunk by 78%– and today, it’s been nearly eradicated!

He found a way to give back

MacNeil was so grateful to the vets who saved his best friend that he decided to take out a $6 million ad during the Super Bowl to promote the resources that kept Scout alive. The 30-second spot, called “Lucky Dog,” opens with Scout running on the beach and tells the story of his survival.

The ad then advises people on how to donate to the veterinary school’s research program, helping the vets keep even more pets alive.

The research could save humans too

The dean of the school told WMTV that the ad will help all veterinary medicine and also cancer research that can also benefit humans.

“This is an amazing opportunity not only for the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the School of Veterinary Medicine, but for veterinary medicine worldwide,” said university dean Mark Markel.

He explained that the donations can also benefit cancer research that will benefit humans.

Research into animal cancers can teach doctors about human cancers too. “So much of what’s known globally today about how best to diagnose and treat devastating diseases such as cancer originated in veterinary medicine.”

For his part, MacNeil is so grateful to have Scout safe and sound that he wants to help others in turn:

“I hope it has a positive impact on cancer for animals and people, all over the world.”

Scout and MacNeil’s story reminds us that when we refuse to give up on hope and follow up through to the end, the results can help not just our nearest and dearest, but have a ripple affect throughout the world as well.

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Woman Fired For Act of Kindness Now Has Companies Lining Up To Hire Her

By | everyday heroes, Food for thought, news, stories, uplifting

Sometimes, we try to do the right thing and it ends up causing us trouble, which causes us to question that good deed in the first place. Imagine helping out someone, just out of the goodness of your heart, and then getting fired for it!

That’s what happened to one woman in Portland, but her story took a surprising turn.

She wanted to help someone in need.

Emily James was fired from a U.S. Bank call center in Portland when she made the decision to help a struggling client on Christmas Eve.

Emily was a senior banker. On December 23, she received a call from a man named Eugenio, a bank customer whose paycheck from a new job had been placed on hold.

This meant that he had no means to access the money, which amounted to over $1000. It left him broke before Christmas and he could not afford to buy presents for his kids. Emily said she spent more than an hour trying to help Eugenio, but unfortunately to no avail.

Eugenio had tried to visit his Clackamas bank branch in the morning, which was Christmas Eve, and ask that bank manager to verify the fund. Apparently, they weren’t able to lift the hold.

She could not leave him stranded…

On Christmas Eve, Eugenio called her again on the U.S. Bank 800 number. He was at a gas station, unable to even fill his tank as he had insufficient funds.

“I said, ‘I wish I had just $20 bucks to get home,’ ” Eugenio recalled. “And she said ‘Wait, hold on.’”

Emily knew that Eugenio was just a few miles away so she told him to stay put and that she’d be there within 30 minutes with some gas money.

“I didn’t want her to do it,” he said. “But I’m not proud to the point that I’m going to refuse help.”

Emily said that she did get permission from her supervisor before she left, and drove to the gas station.

I handed him $20 in cash, said ‘Merry Christmas’ and went right back to work.

Emily James

Eugenio was incredibly touched by her willingness to help, as he recognized the precarious position that he may have put her in.

It was like, ‘Wow, she really cares,” he said. “Most supervisors, maybe they would have tried, but nobody would have ever come out because I was stranded. She had a big heart. She believed what I was saying.

…but her act of kindness got her in trouble

Emily went back to work and finished her shift. But a week later, on New Year’s Eve, she arrived at work only to find the regional manager of her branch waiting for her.

“She said, ‘We’re sorry, we cannot keep your employment,’” Emily said. The manager cited an “unauthorized interaction with a customer,” as the reason for her firing. This was her first time she ever got disciplined at her job. She has always been an exemplary worker and received many accolades for her good work.

According to Emily, the reasoning behind the decision was that “they were worried about [her] safety” as “he could have kidnapped [her]” or harmed her in some way. But as Emily affirmed, “I wouldn’t have left or even tried to ask if that was OK if I thought that this person would hurt me.”

For her, there was no reason not to help someone in need, especially considering the fact that it was Christmas’ Eve. “I just don’t understand why you wouldn’t help someone if you had the ability to,” Emily said. She didn’t need to think twice.

It’s Christmas Eve, it’s already a rough time for people, and you’re going to leave someone stranded? I couldn’t in good conscience do that, knowing it was something I could fix, or at least get him home.

And yes, she would have helped Eugenio even if she had known that she would end up losing her job. “Had I known then that I was going to be let go, I would have just removed the hold on the check, because that absolutely would have gotten me fired,” Emily admitted.

Eugenio’s check did not clear until days after Christmas. “It was one of the saddest Christmases,” he said. “Promissory notes for Christmas gifts. And I can’t believe (Emily) lost her job over it. The only one who seemed to care was Emily, and she got fired for that.”

Companies heard of her story

While James originally hoped to get her job back, now she’s not sure she wants to go back to an environment that did not value or attempt to understand her act of kindness.

However, she’s so touched by all the support she has been getting.  “It made me cry, just the fact that people actually care,” she said. “I’ve had more people reach out and just have something kind to say in the last (few) days than in my whole life.”

Emily has had many job interviews with banks and other institutions, though she has not yet accepted any position. But as her story went viral, several companies have reached out to her on social media, looking to have her on their team.

Companies and owners are reaching out to Emily James over social media

Emily did not hesitate to help Eugenio because she knew it was the right thing to do, despite the unforeseen negative consequences of her action. Now, she finds herself in a better position than the one she was in, sought after by companies that actually value her kindness.

Her incredible story proves that no good deed goes unrewarded. While getting fired for helping out somebody could potentially detract people from doing the right thing, the ensuing events prove that kindness always manages to come back to you.

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Father Lost 40 Pounds To Save His Son’s Life From Rare Genetic Disease

By | everyday heroes, Food for thought, Motivation, stories, uplifting

Many reasons can motivate someone to lose a few pounds. Perhaps, we want to fit into that new outfit or look great for a specific occasion. Or, we want to be generally healthier and prevent complications in the future.

But for Sean Kelley, losing weight was about saving a life. And no, it was not his own.

A rare disease struck close to home

New Yorker Sean Kelley decided to lose the extra weight when he knew he needed to do so to qualify as a living liver donor for his baby son Sawyer.

The newborn received the devastating diagnosis of Alagille syndrome at birth and needed a transplant to survive, according to WYFF News 4. Alagille syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that causes liver damage and can also target other vital organs such as the heart. The only thing that could save him would be a transplant.

Kelley’s wife, Josie, also suffers from Alagille syndrome, which made her ineligible to donate any of her liver, making Sean the best, and maybe only, viable candidate.

“There’s no reason that I can’t get down to the weight that I need to see if could I be a match as well,” he told Good Morning America.

I didn’t know if I would be a match for Sawyer or not, but to even go through the evaluation process, I had to get my weight down to a certain point.

Sean Kelley to Good Morning America

Sean and his wife have six other kids. The condition already affects three of them. It was no difficult decision for Sean to make, when Sawyer’s condition was declared to be drastic enough to require an organ transplant.

“You want to see them thrive. You want to see them happy,” Sean said. “You want to give them every chance to succeed in life that you can. And this was an opportunity to do that.”

But was he a perfect match?

Sean started working out more in August 2019, and ultimately dropped 40 pounds, all the weight he needed to lose to qualify for the testing needed to become a donor.

Not only did he manage to lose the weight, but it turns out that he was a match for Sawyer. When he received the news, he almost couldn’t believe it.

She said, ‘Guess what? You’re a match. The surgery’s scheduled.’ And I literally had to sit down.

The transplant surgery took place on December 19 2020. It was “complex and challenging,” as Dr. George Mazariegos, the chief of pediatric transplantation at UPMC Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, told Good Morning America. However, the prognostic is positive.

“He will be much healthier, we believe, with this liver, and be able to withstand infections and withstand things that right now were really big setbacks for him,” the physician said of baby Sawyer.

The power of a parent

Sean hopes that his story will inspire others to donate. Even if the process was undoubtedly stressful, he still feels that there was also a lot of hope and positivity in the process.

It’s an incredible thing to even consider being evaluated and going through the process to see if you could be a match for somebody.

Sean Kelley

Sean’s story proves that we should never underestimate the difference one can make on oneself and others. Becoming a donor can save someone’s life, but also help others connect forever. Sean will be able to see his son grow up but so will the others whose children, spouses, family members or friends have been saved by organ donors.

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Elizabeth Smart’s Empowering Story of Life after Freedom

By | Elizabeth Smart, empowering, everyday heroes, Food for thought, profile, speaker, stories

To many people, Elizabeth Smart is best known as “the girl who was kidnapped.”

At age 14, a quiet, devout Elizabeth, who played the harp and loved horses, was kidnapped from her own bed by a fanatic named Brian David Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee.

It was a story that caught the world’s attention and horrified us all– but it wasn’t the end of Elizabeth’s story. It was just the beginning.

Elizabeth’s long road to freedom

Elizabeth was held captive for nine months during which she was forced to endure things no human being should. The man who took her “made” her his new wife. He repeatedly drugged and raped her until she was finally freed, in March 2003.

Her parents had never given up the search and ensured wide-spread media coverage of Elizabeth’s kidnapping kept her face clear in everyone’s minds, even as her captor forced her to appear in public in disguise.

One day a passing couple recognized her captor from a news report on the suspect and notified a police offer, who asked Elizabeth if she was Elizabeth Smart.

She couldn’t say anything at first, as her kidnappers constantly kept an eye on her and had already trained her regarding what she should answer in such circumstances.

Luckily, another officer took a different approach. He separated her from Mitchell and Barzee, and told Elizabeth that her family loved and missed her very much, and that they’d never stopped searching for her.

That’s when Elizabeth admitted her real name…

Authorities arrested Mitchell and his wife and returned Elizabeth to her family that same evening.

Coming back home after 9 months of living hell

When she found herself back into the arms of her loving family, Elizabeth had no plans to speak publicly about what happened to her. In fact, she didn’t want to talk about it at all, to anyone, but sometimes she had to — investigators and attorneys constantly interviewed her.

So Elizabeth became her own hero. Despite everything that had happened to her, she somehow managed to return to a relatively normal life shortly after she was reunited her family.

Moreover, she even hiked with them to the camp where she was taken by her kidnapper — the experience empowered her, it has made her feel triumphant.

Elizabeth returned to school and resumed her favorite activities; her greatest passion was playing the harp. So after graduating, she enrolled at Brigham Young University to study music performance.

Your past shapes you, but doesn’t define you

Elizabeth’s mother gave her a piece of advice that helped her redefine who she now was: a strong young woman that will not let her trauma steal more life and energy than it already has.

the best punishment you could ever give them is to be happy, is to move forward with your life. Because by feeling sorry for yourself, by holding on to the past, by reliving it, that only allowing them to steal more of your life away from you.


Six years after Mitchell’s arrest, Elizabeth decided to confront her captor during a trial and tell the story in her own words. After all, no one else knew more about the things she went through.

The ones who hurt Elizabeth had no power over her anymore and they had to know that they didn’t break her.

That’s not everything that happened — that’s not my whole story. Instead of leaving it to the courts to tell, I felt like I deserved to tell my story.

Rediscovering her goals and dreams

Elizabeth realized that she used to have dreams and goals and refused to give up on them.

She had grown stronger throughout her experience and decided not to feel sorry for herself without locking herself away from hope or potential.

By keeping a fresh attitude and emanating strength and grace, she became an activist on behalf of kidnapping survivors and child victims of violence and sexual abuse.

We have the choice to stay in bed and keep the covers pulled over us, or we have a choice to move forward.


Elizabeth has become a great public speaker who constantly encourages other victims to come forward and not give up on themselves. She strongly believes that hope and forgiveness can help anyone survive their trauma.

Forgiving and moving forward

Forgiveness is rightly seen as an act of kindness toward others, and it can be. But when we do it, we actually give ourselves a gift.

Forgiveness does not mean accepting what was done to us, but acknowledging everything and give ourselves a chance to start fresh, and above all, a chance to heal.

Elizabeth grasped the concept better than most and she is living proof that by forgiving we allow ourselves to move on.

As Elizabeth now travels and talks about her experience, people approach her and tell her what has happened to them, often in a whisper. It might not seem much, but this is a huge step for victims who are usually ashamed or afraid to talk about their abuse.

Living a healthy new life

From Elizabeth’s cruel experience flourished an intense desire of teaching others that bad things happen to all of us, but we do hold the power to change how they affect the rest of our lives.

There are two types of survivors. Those who didn’t die — and those who lived.


In 2008, Elizabeth helped to author the United States Department of Justice handbook for kidnapping survivors — You Are Not Alone: The Journey from Abduction to Empowerment; and in 2011 she launched the Elizabeth Smart Foundation, which aims to empower children and provide resources and trauma support for victims and their families.

While helping others, she also allowed herself to be happy and become the woman she dreamed to be as a little girl — and also found a man who loves her with whom she built a beautiful family.

In October 2013, Elizabeth released a memoir entitled My Story, and continues to advocate for sexual abuse survivors and vulnerable people everywhere.

She refuses to be defined by her past traumas or to allow others to label her. Instead, Elizabeth chooses to focus on moving forward into her free life, and helping others along the way.

Maggie Doyne Changed the World, Starting With Just One Girl

By | everyday heroes, Food for thought, goalcast originals, inspiring, profile, stories

Like many new graduates, Maggie Doyne was 18 when she took a gap year between high school and college, packed up a few of her belongings, and set out to see the world.

“I woke up one morning at 18-years-old and had a scary realization — I knew very little about myself and what I wanted in my life,” said Doyne.  

Fast-forward more than a decade later, she’s transformed the lives of hundreds of orphans in Nepal. 

Her very first step

Doyne’s story began when, after several months on the road, her travels led her to northern India, where she worked with poverty-stricken children at a school.  

At the time, neighbouring Nepal was nearing the end of a civil war, and refugees were pouring into the area. 

That is where Doyne became friends with a Nepali refugee, who’d been living in India and invited Doyne to visit her home village.

The remote Himalayan village where Doyne’s friend was from had been ravaged by the war. People were suffering from extreme poverty and Doyne felt powerless.

The little girl who changed everything

Walking along the road one day, she locked eyes with a little girl, whose job was to carry loads to and from the villages, every day. She earned two dollars a day to support her family.

It was a sight Doyne couldn’t unsee.

I looked at her and I saw every single piece of myself.

She said, “I was devastated. I thought ‘what have we done as a human family that our children are living this way?’”

Shocked by what she saw, she later found out that there were 80 million children across the globe living just like that little girl in Nepal.

Maggie’s bond with Hema

Soon after, Doyne met another little girl, named Hema.

7-year-old Hema broke rocks into gravel to earn money. Doyne went to meet her every day, and every day Hema greeted her with her big bright eyes, a radiant smile, and a warm “Namaste, sister!”

“I thought to myself for the first time, ‘Okay, Maggie, forget the 80 million, what if you just started with Hema?’” said Doyne.

Is there something you can do to change the life of just one child?

“I thought at 18, and as the entrepreneurial mind that I have — OK, I can do that. What if I just supported the education of this one child, how would her life change,” she said.

That’s when Doyne decided to take Hema under her wing and paid for her education.

One orphan becomes many

But helping Hema wasn’t enough for Doyne. There were still orphaned children, without families or homes and she wanted to make a difference in their lives.

“The world will change when our children and our women are educated. They have less children, they raise better families,” said Doyne.

So, she bought a small piece of land for $5,000 with her babysitting savings. Her goal was to build a shelter for orphaned children. 

Doyne continued to raise money and helped build a home for these Nepalese kids.

“The thing about this work that I do, is that it’s very addicting, so I thought, ‘Okay, one kid, if I can do one kid, why not 10?’” She continued.

What if my dream was to walk across this dry river bed one day and not see a single child breaking stone? That’s what I want.

The Kopila Valley Children’s Home welcomed 200 children when it first opened in 2007, and it continues to expand. Doyne has also opened a school in Kopila Valley, as well as shelters for women and girls, and a health clinic.

Your calling can start small and grow from there

“I don’t think you have to go 8,000 miles away to the foothills of the Himalayas, I think the beauty of all of us, is that we have talents, we have gifts, and this just happens to be mine, and I was just really lucky to have found it,” said Doyne.

Today, Doyne is the CEO and co-founder of the BlinkNow Foundation, a non-profit that is dedicated to empowering Nepalese youth.

I created my little slice of heaven, my little paradise, and I think that the world will change when we all find that for ourselves.

Maggie Doyne’s story is a great reminder that while we cannot solve all the world’s problems on our own, taking the first step of solving one problem you know you can tackle will empower you– and others– to make seismic changes in people’s lives.

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Two Years After Being Shot in the Head, Deserae Turner’s Walking Proudly as Homecoming Queen

By | everyday heroes, Food for thought, news, stories, uplifting

When 14-year-old Deserae Turner didn’t come home from school on February 16, she was reported missing. She was found, eight hours later, shot and nearly dead in a dry canal in her hometown.

Two teenage boys she believed were her friends asked to meet her in an isolated area, robbed her, and tried to kill her.

Luckily Deserae was discovered before it was too late, but doctors had to put her in a medically-induced coma to save her life.

She just wanted to be friends

When questioned on their motives, one of the boys joked about getting rid of Deserae because he was “tired” of her messaging him on social media. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Deserae had been chatting with the boys over Snapchat, and they lured her to the canal to hang out.

At the meeting place, they stole $44 from her purse, threw away her bag, and destroyed her phone and iPod. Then they shot her in the head and left to spend her money at a convenience store.

In court, it was revealed that Deserae was stunned when her dad told her the boys who she considered friends were suspects in her act.

“She was surprised. She had a look of shock on her face,” said Smithfield Detective Brandon Muir.

Deserae remembers very little of that day, but did recall messaging one of her attackers about meeting at the canal to “hang out.” The bullet fired at her pierced her brain, damaging her memory and reducing mobility in the right side of her body.

Deserae’s determination to recover

While Deserae has undergone 10 brain surgeries, chiropractors visits, and hyperbaric oxygen chamber sessions, her attackers have each been sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.

It would be perfectly understandable — and even expected– after a trauma like that for Deserae to close down and not trust people she thought were her friends.

But there is a happy ending to this story: in returning to school, Deserae instead did the most social thing of all – became homecoming queen!

She was welcomed home in style

Deserae Turner was recently crowned Homecoming Queen at her high school. She proudly walked to accept her own with the help of her leg brace– and her Homecoming King– as her classmates, friends, and townspeople all cheered her on.

She sported a silver gown, beautiful curls, and make-up– all donated by her supporters in the town– and spent the evening with her good friend, Logan, as her date.

“’I was just a homecoming queen, there’s nothing special about that,’” Deserae told CNN of her initial reaction to the news. “But if you think about what I’ve been through, yes — it’s very special. It is very awesome.”

Since the boys who attacked her took advantage of her friendly and trusting nature, many people in Deserae’s shoes would close themselves off to the world that hurt them.

Instead, she’s shown so much character and strength by still being a friendly and open-hearted person. She hasn’t lost that part of herself, and we can all learn from her determination to be true to herself and to shine her light on others.

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After Discovering She Was Abducted as a Baby, She Dedicated Her Life to Missing Kids

By | everyday heroes, Food for thought, Inspiring Stories, motivating, stories, uplifting news

There’s so many stories out there of children being kidnapped, and being in their teens before finding out their roots, if at all.

But imagine if that story went down a different path entirely and a woman was well into her more mature years of adulthood before she discovered who she really was.

That is the sad and heart-stopping to of Monique Smith-Person (not her birth name), who was a victim of child abduction, and didn’t find out until she was well into adulthood that her whole identity, and everything she believed about her life, was a lie.

Smith-Person was abducted as a baby and subjected to abuse by her new “mom.” When she found as an adult that she had been taken and the woman who raised her wasn’t really her mom, she was, and spent the next two decades trying to find out who she really is.

A life stolen

According to Smith-Person, the woman who claimed to be her mother falsified documents to enroll her in school and even gave her fake social security numbers. In fact, Smith-Person didn’t find out it was all a lie until she was an adult and tried to apply for a business license!

 “I’ve been a Jane Doe since 1967,” Smith-Person explained in an interview with WUSA9. “My sister told me the last time she saw me I was 1 years old. One day she saw me, the next day she didn’t and that was over 50 years ago.”

In the years since she discovered the truth about her upbringing, Smith-Person has dedicated herself to raising awareness for missing and abducted children, all while continuing the search for her true family.

It’s like I’ve been living in captivity for over 50 years and now I’m finally free!

She finally discovered where she came from

Monique Smith Person

The reunion took 50 years to happen, but came about as a result of a documentary about Smith-Person’s search for her true identity.

She discovered her given name was Symbolie and, though her real mom passed many years ago, she finally got the chance to meet one of her 6 siblings: her older sister.

“She’s amazing,” said Smith-Person of her emotional reunion with the sister she hadn’t seen for fives decades. “She’s loud, energetic, big smile just like me.”

The family resemblance between the two sisters is immediately evident, but Smith-Person has another “twin” in her family: her late mother.

 “To find out, out of all the children I’m the one who favors my mom,” Smith-Person explained. “To think all these years I’ve been looking for my mother, I’m staring into the mirror at the woman who birthed me!”

Learn from your pain

Just because this one woman found her identity doesn’t mean she is going to stop fight for those who weren’t as lucky. Smith-Person remains an advocate for missing children.

Smith-Person wants her story to stand as a lesson for those seeking their family or answers: never give up hope. It may take decades, but your moment can happen!

And in the mean time, you can do your best to help others who may be going through something you yourself have had to deal with in the past.

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How Lily the Barista is Changing Lives by Pouring Happiness

By | everyday heroes, Food for thought, heartwarming, Inspiring Stories, profile, stories

Many of us have fond feelings for the barista at our favorite coffee shop, but how many of us can say that their barista set off a seismic change in their life?

That’s the story Ryan Estis shared about Lily Olsen, a barista works out of a Starbucks in the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

The unforgettable cup of coffee

Estis, a business growth consultant, encountered Lily at her work and has been so impacted by her that he felt compelled to share his experience with the world.

Estis will never forget a cup of coffee he had when he interacted with Lily in that airport terminal on Christmas Eve, when she took the time to warmly greet him, introduce herself, and ask his name.

Hi, my name’s Lily… What’s your name?

It was more than about making a great cup of coffee or giving service with a smile– Lily took the time to talk to him and ask him about his day, where he was going, and actually showed genuine interest and care in her interactions with him.

Unbeknownst to Lily, Estis’ father had been diagnosed with a terminal illness. When he met Lily, he was heading home to spend a final Christmas with his dad– and he had no clue their conversation would change his perspective on life.

Who is Lily?

For over two decades – and that’s a long time to be at any job! – Lily has worked as a shift supervisor and barista at that airport Starbucks, taking the time to smile and greet every passenger and customer as they pass by.

What is your secret to making such meaningful connections over serving coffee?

Some might see being a barista as merely a stepping-stone to pay the bills before you join the big leagues, but this is the kind of job Lily has wanted her whole life.

“My dad had a store when I was growing up in Indonesia and I loved being able to talk to the customers every day,” she said in an interview with the Minnesota airport’s website.

Lily moved from Indonesia to the United States 25 years ago, and two short years later she found her calling as a barista.

I’m not serving coffee, I’m pouring happiness into people’s lives.

“I love to see all of the people come and go. There’s a lot of energy in the airport and it feels like a community—we’re all family here. There are so many different people from different countries passing through, and I want to hear all their stories about struggles and happiness.”

The impact of the people we overlook

One of the reasons many of us love to travel is we love to hear people’s stories and see how they live. The same experience can happen just by observing other people travel while staying in the same place… especially if that place is an airport coffee shop!

“Making people happy and building connections is my passion in life. I treat them like kings and queens so they come back again to see me. I want to learn their orders and personalize their drinks so they feel special. A smile goes such a long way!” said Olsen.

What we can learn from Lily

It wasn’t just providing great customer service or making delicious drinks– for Lily, her job is also about creating memories and making a connection with people. It’s about choosing to show up every day and make a meaningful impact in the lives of others whenever you get a chance. It’s about pouring happiness.

Lily is someone we can learn from in a big, important way.

As we go about our days, we interact with so many different people just trying to do their jobs, and often something like an airport coffee experience can seem forgettable and unimportant.

But when someone takes the chance to make interaction meaningful, by truly hearing and seeing you– that’s when lives can really change.

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This Little Girl Couldn’t Walk, So Her Teacher Carried Her on His Back

By | everyday heroes, Food for thought, Inspiring Stories, news, stories, uplifting

People with disabilities are often kept away from adventures, but with a little consideration and compassion, there’s no reason every child can’t experience the beauty and wonder of nature with their friends and classmates.

Ryan Neighbors is a 10-year-old 4th grader based in Kentucky with spina bifida. She uses a wheelchair to get around, but the class field trip was to Falls of the Ohio State Park, a non-wheelchair accessible site, so her teacher and her mom had to get a little creative.

“Normally with field trips like this, when they’re not accessible, we take an educational day and she and I go out and make our own field trip in the city,” her mom Shelly King explained.

This time, she planned on using a specially-designed backpack carrier to carry Ryan, and was talking to Ryan’s teachers about the plan.

He stepped up and agreed to carry the weight

That’s when Jim Freeman, Ryan’s science teacher, reached out and offered to carry Ryan on his back all day.

King wrote about that event on the “Team Ryan” Facebook page and it quickly went viral.

“Mr. Freeman stepped in and was like ‘Oh, I don’t mind carrying her, it’s completely fine,’” King said. “We were all just like ‘What?’ Like, fifty pounds of dead weight is kind of taxing on your body. He just stepped in out of nowhere and offered to do it.”

Because of this selfless act by Mr. Freeman, Ryan got to experience the day much like her classmates did. It’s a valuable lesson for us all about stepping up and doing what we can for those who need lifting up.

It’s also a valuable reminder about accessibility: we must be careful not to exclude people who are different than us and who need to experience things uniquely. It’s vital we find a way for everyone to be involved with the beautiful things in life. That difference is what makes life truly beautiful.

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Big Brother Loses 175 Pounds to Donate His Kidney and Save His Little Sister

By | diet and nutrition, everyday heroes, exercise, Food for thought, motivating, physical health, self, Self-Improvement, weekly column

When Jonathan Coronado found out his little sister, Denise, needed a new kidney, he became determined to help.

Jonathan found out he was a match to be a kidney donor for his then 13-year-old sister, only he was too overweight to qualify. At the time, he weighed 365 pounds.

Jonathan had always been what he considered a “big boy”

After watching Denise get routine dialysis for four years, he found the motivation to lose weight, both for her and for himself.

“I would never look at myself in the mirror,” the 31-year-old told TODAY. “We took a picture at my wedding and my wife posted it on Facebook and I got upset because she posted it… I didn’t know I was that big.”

Jonathan began his transformation journey by paying close attention to what he ate, and slowly started eliminating soda, cookies, and bread from his diet.

“I learned as I went,” he said. “The more I lost weight the more I got confident and doing more workouts. (Healthy) diets just became a habit.”

Wanting to become more active, he set reasonable goals for himself and started walking around a local park.

In the first six months of his journey, Jonathan crushed his original goal.

He was able to lose 100 pounds.

Feeling energized to see that his efforts and consistency paid off, he only became more driven to keep challenging himself.

“I felt like I needed to lose more, so I just re-adjusted my diet and calorie intake,” he said.

Jonathan also began weight lifting and added more cardio to his fitness routine, while watching what he ate. 

He lost another 60 pounds and felt healthier than ever, but was told he needed to lose a bit more to be considered a donor for Denise.

“I went all the way down to 195 pounds and that’s when I was eligible for donation,” Jonathan said.

On September 10, 2018, Jonathan donated his kidney

He was able to return home the next day. Denise’s recovery wasn’t as swift but today, she is a straight-A student and won a scholarship after scoring high on a standardized test, all thanks to her older brother.

“It was life changing for her. She started to be more happy,” said Jonathan. “She is starting to go out and have fun and do the things she couldn’t do when she was in dialysis … It makes me happy to see her that way.”

He’s proud of himself, not only for having been able to give Denise a better chance at living a normal and healthy life, but also for simply being able to lose so much weight and keep it off.

“You have to really want to do it if you want to lose weight,” said Jonathan. “It was easy when I wanted to.”

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