uplifting news

Devoted Father Builds $35-Million Theme Park for His Daughter With Special Needs — Allows Disabled People FREE Admission

By | amusement park, Food for thought, morgan's wonderland, special needs, stories, uplifting news

Having a family member with disabilities garners a lot of “I can’t imagine how you do it.”

And you know what’s a terrible feeling?

Having people tell you, “I can’t imagine how you do it.”

It’s my family member — not a burden.

The Special Need for a Special Place

Growing up with special needs can present certain kinds of challenges, both for the child, as well as for their parents or caregivers.

I know it did for my family.

My brother was diagnosed with Autism at two years old. He was non-verbal and something as simple as mealtime presented a whole new onslaught of challenges. He was unable to communicate what he wanted to eat from the fridge, so instead, he would curl up in a ball on the kitchen floor and cry.

In a laborious routine, my mother would pull out each individual item from the fridge and show it to him, hoping for some kind of tell. This wasn’t necessarily the most effective method, but it was all she had.

She would never say it, but I remember, sometimes my mother would cry too. It was a heart-breaking game for her. There were thousands of times when she just wanted to pick him up and rock him in her arms, but physical touch would send my brother into a tailspin (skin-to-skin contact traditionally presents challenges for those on the spectrum).

It seems like an exhausting cycle if you’ve never been exposed to it. Thankfully, my family and I were given plenty of crash courses from his therapists on why my brother reacted the way he did, and we learned new experiences can result in sensory overload.

The tricky part is, experimentation and new sensory introductions are necessary in order for the child’s brain to develop. So what is the parent or child’s caregiver supposed to do?

The Best Things Come From Unexpected Places

Believe it or not, Disneyland played a huge part in my brother’s therapy.

Research supports that when a child with special needs is exposed to a heightened sensorial environment like Disneyland (bright lights, vivid imagery, loud sounds) the experience can potentially have huge benefits — think of it like exposure therapy.

The blind spot is a place like Disneyland can get too crowded, too loud, and too noisy

While the Magic Kingdom has made accommodations over the years for differently-abled guests: like introducing the DAS Pass (Disability Assisted Services Pass), which provides certain wheelchair accessibilities and line cuts, Disneyland wasn’t actually built with an inclusive-forward mission in mind.

The park has been criticized for its relaxed DAS Pass Guidelines and special needs families have been petitioning for “quiet spaces” in the wake of a recent park-wide ban on wagons (a stroller alternative widely adopted by families with special needs).

Thankfully, it’s not the mid-90s anymore and we live in a world with philanthropists who understand the vital need for inclusive forward initiatives and accessible design–philanthropists like Gordon Hartman whose experience watching his own daughter, Morgan grow up, inspired his vision for Morgan’s Wonderland: The world’s first theme park designed with individuals with special needs in mind.”

Morgan’s Story : A Father’s Inspiration

It was in 2006, during a family vacation, when San Antonian Philanthropist, Gordon Hartman noticed his daughter Morgan, being excluded from playing with the neuro-typical kids her age.

All children have the tendency to be wary of what is unfamiliar–even neurotypical children. In the case of relating to their peers with special needs, these fears can be incredibly alienating and damaging to the self-esteem of a child on the spectrum.

Hartman recalls the other kids were “leery of Morgan” and her noticeable cognitive differences from them.

As a result, Morgan was left to sit out on the sidelines, while the other kids splashed around, showing off their handstands to each other. Can you imagine anything more heartbreaking for a parent to see?

Well, it’s a good thing the Hartman didn’t plan to just stand by and watch.

It was on the deck of that hotel swimming pool, where Gordon and his wife Maggie Hartman made up their minds: they were going to create a magical place for their daughter and all the other unique kids like her to play.

It was then the idea for Morgan’s Wonderland was dreamed and dreamed big!

The Hartmans set out to create the world’s first-ever theme park for kids with special needs.

On April 10, 2010, Morgan’s Wonderland became the world’s first ultra-accessible theme park designed with individuals with special needs in mind.

Against All Odds, They Succeeded

The Hartmans took over a 25-acre plot in North East San Antonio and began to put the plans together to turn an abandoned quarry into a state-of-the-art theme park. The project was no small feat.

In fact, the huge vision required a huge budget. The theme park was not only a multi-million dollar undertaking, but the first of its kind.

The Hartmans couldn’t guarantee the project would even succeed. But despite the odds stacked against them, they held onto their determination sparked that day at the hotel pool.

With the image of their daughter sitting on the sidelines and a vision for a better future, the Hartmans knew the essential need for a place like Morgan’s Wonderland.

The risk was sky-high — $35 million — but the reward was infinitesimal. Their instincts were right.

Morgan’s Wonderland: For Fun and Not-For-Profit

Today, Morgan’s Wonderland is thriving as the #1 Ultra-Accessible amusement park. The Wonderland boasts over 25 large-scale attractions, shows, and other inclusive entertainment programs.

In 2017 the theme park celebrated its expansion, Morgan’s Inspiration Island, honored in the “World’s Greatest Places” list by TIME Magazine.

From an aerial view, the park is constructed in the shape of a butterfly, a symbol of the unique theme park’s unique purpose.

Most notably, the park offers FREE ADMISSION to all guests with special needs. Morgan’s Wonderland and Inspiration Island isn’t just a theme park, it’s a non-profit organization, supported by The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation.

Changing the World One Wonder at a Time

With show’s reality like Netflix’s “Love on the Spectrum” and scripted series like “A Kind of Spark” making their splash in popular culture, as a society we are expanding our collective interest to better understand our neurodivergent members, and it’s beautiful.

My brother teaching a child with autism to skate (Credit: Canucks Autism Network)

We are daring to see the limitless potential in all individuals no matter how different they may be from us. As a result, we discover these children can be grown up to reach extraordinary heights.

The Hartman’s vision behind Morgan’s Wonderland was ignited by their belief that all kids deserve to have equal opportunity to just be a kid.

Their contribution to the special needs community isn’t just providing kids with a place to play–it’s giving families who live with all kinds of special circumstances, permission to dream and inspiring them to achieve those dreams.

No matter how different we may seem on the outside, in the inside we all have the same capacity for love, play, and even wonder.

Mom Steps Away From Her Six-Figure Job to Take a Gap Year — Her Boldness Inspires People Around the World

By | Food for thought, midlife, midlife gap year, mom, Motivation, uplifting news

At some point in nearly everyone’s life, a person stops, looks around at their life, and wonders, “Is this really it? Am I living the life I’m supposed to be living?”

Most of us chalk it up to a midlife crisis and continue on with the status quo. But what if we decided to do something about it instead?

What if, rather than living our lives, we chose to live our dreams instead?

Well, one mom set out to do just that. And man, it is inspiring.

Why One Mom Decided to Take a Midlife Gap Year

Feeling trapped in a job that wasn’t a good fit and burnt out from juggling all.the.things. 42-year-old Kym Wootton decided she’d had enough.

So, in January 2023, she quit the rat race. She gave up her six-figure salary job as a chief administrative officer at a consultancy agency. Her plan? To take an entire year to “reimagine” herself and focus on what she loves most.

She’s calling it her “midlife gap year.”

“Today is the first day of my midlife gap year,” she shares in a video posted to her TikTok account, @kymmersfullofsunshine.

She explains that the idea is similar to the gap year usually reserved for college-bound kids. The one where they just take “a year to work or travel or have fun or rest or relax or whatever,” first.

She continues: “It’s crazy to me that once we start working, we start our careers — that’s it. We work, we grind, until we are in our late 60s and we can retire, hopefully.”

She’s not wrong. Most of us will spend 40-plus years working, day in and day out, taking our two weeks of vacation a year (or more if we’re really lucky), never having the time or the energy to do the things we really want to do.

It’s not the kind of life she dreams of (does any of us? Really?). So, instead of grinding away at a soul-sucking job for the next twenty-five years or so of her life, she decided to take a leap.

It was now or never.

What One Mom Plans On Doing During Her Midlife Gap Year

“Even when I was with [my kids], I was thinking about work,” Kym told Good Morning America. “So the idea that I could just step away from it, that I could walk away from a successful career to reimagine what I wanted to do, and at the same time, getting the opportunity to be around my family all the time, that was really exciting for me.”

Kym says she plans on using the year to “slow down” and “take some of the rush out of life.” She’ll rest, exercise, write the novel she’s always wanted to write, and spend quality time with her family — sons Finn, 16, and Will, 13 — and husband, Mike, 49.

One thing is for sure, she has no plans of squandering it. She knows what an incredible gift it is. One that has the full support of her husband.

It’s a goal they’ve been working towards for years. They paid off debt and spent 7 months living off of Mike’s salary and saving her own in preparation for the financial toll her gap year would take.

As for her plans after the year is up? That’s TBD (to be determined) however she does know one thing; she has zero plans on returning to her life pre-gap year.

It’s a Midlife Gap Year, NOT a Sabbatical

(ABC News)

In another TikTok, Kym explains that, contrary to popular belief, she’s NOT on sabbatical. For her, there is no going back.

“A gap year is a reset. I am trying to dream up something totally new for myself. I’m not going back to what I did before. I am going forward,” she says.

And going forward means figuring out what she’s really meant to do in the world.

Turns out, Kym is not alone. Midlife gap years are a thing. She has received countless messages from other women who are either in the midst of taking one or are planning to take one.

Her TikTok comments are also filled with women sharing their own stories.

“i’m in a midlife gap year too! i start the PCT on monday,” one person writes.

“Yes, 42 and started this a year and a half ago. I honestly have never been happier.”

“Girl same sold my preschool moved out of state and bought 75 acres and another horse working on changing professions completely! Best decision ever!”

Another writes, “THIS ME! I just quit my job last month. I’m “rewiring” not “retiring”!”

How She Hopes Her Gap Year Will Inspire Others

(ABC News)

The biggest message Kym hopes people take away from hearing about her journey is this: “If you have an ache inside of you…if there is something in you that is saying you need to be doing this, will you please pursue it?”

Kym knows that not everyone can afford to take an entire year off. But she hopes that doesn’t stop people from pursuing their passions.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day responsibilities and routines and forget about the things that truly bring us joy and fulfillment.

So often, life gets in the way of our dreams. We put them on a shelf where they end up lost or forgotten. But sometimes, they’re not lost at all, they’re just waiting.

And it’s up to us to chase them.

Teen Forced to Wear Crocs for an Entire Year Because He Can’t Find Shoes for His Size 23 Feet — Then Shaq Finds Out and Steps In

By | Food for thought, Shaquille O'Neal, uplifting news

Any parent knows that trying to keep their growing kids outfitted in properly fitting shoes is a never-ending battle. But for one mom, the struggle is one of record-breaking proportions. Literally.

At 14 years old Eric Kilburn Jr. is already nearly 7 feet tall and wearing size 23 shoes. His feet are so large he’s in the running to beat the current Guinness World Record for the largest feet of a teenager. A record held by German teen Lars Motza, 16, whose feet are a size 21.

In a world where the average shoe size for men is 10.5 and most shoe stores only sell shoes up to a size 14, finding shoes to fit Eric Jr. is nearly impossible.

A Mom’s Search For Shoes For Her Teenage Son

(The US Sun)

It’s a struggle he’s known since elementary school. In grade one he was already fitting into his mom’s size 12 shoes (tall genes run in the family. She’s 6’2″). By the time he reached 7th grade, he was wearing a size 17.

Eric Jr. spent two years straight wearing Crocs because that’s all he could find that would fit.

For the past year, the high school freshman has been squeezing his feet into a pair of size 22 Nike sneakers that a family friend found at an outlet store. But even with having them professionally stretched, they’re too small, causing painful blisters, calluses, and ingrown toenails.

For Eric Jr.’s mom, Rebecca Kilburn, it’s been a heartbreaking road. She has spent countless hours scrolling the internet and calling various shoe companies, including Nike, Reebok, Adidas, and more, only to be told, “We don’t make that size.”

A Mother’s Plea For Help Goes Viral & Shaq Responds


“I have spent hours crying feeling like I’ve failed my child because I’m not able to find what he needs,” Rebecca said.

Desperate to find shoes to fit her son and with all other avenues exhausted, she turned to the media for help.

After her story was published in a local Detroit newspaper, Hometown Life, word of the teen’s plight quickly spread. It was picked up by various news networks and shared across the country.

And that’s when basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal walked in. Standing 7’1″ tall and with size 22 feet, he’s been in Eric Jr.’s shoes.

After hearing about the teen’s struggles, Shaq hit the ground running. “I got you big man,” Shaq wrote on the Today’s Show Instagram post. He wasn’t kidding. He decided to, quite literally, step in to lend a helping hand.

Just days later, a package arrived on Eric Jr.’s doorstep. It contained 5 pairs of custom-made Reeboks. Shoes originally made for the GOAT himself.

Reebok also included a handwritten note, promising more to come.

Rebecca shared photos of an ecstatic Eric Jr. receiving the gift in a Facebook post, and captioned it: “Reebok and Shaquille (yes Shaq!!! SO cool!!) had reached out saying that they would like to help Eric be more comfortable while he is waiting for his custom shoes, and that they had a few pairs of 22s made for Shaq in their inventory that they would like to send to Eric.”

She contined, “The package just arrived and he is in shoe heaven!”

And then Shaq called.

“I was flabbergasted,” Eric Jr. said. “My soul left my body for a moment, I was so shocked.”

He empathized with the teen, sharing his own experiences of struggling to find footwear growing up. He also offered to help in any way he could, including getting him in touch with a designer who makes dress shoes up to size 26.

But he didn’t stop there. The next day, Eric Jr. received a text from Shaq. It read in part: “There’s much more coming big man. Love you.”

Shaq’s Gifts Extend to More Than Just Shoes For One Teenager


Shaquille O’Neal is one of the greatest NBA players of all time. But his greatness extends far beyond the basketball court. Known for his generous philanthropic pursuits, the only thing bigger than the size of his feet is the size of his heart.

Over the years he’s been involved in various charitable endeavors, including partnering with Payless ShoeSource to donate shoes and backpacks and Samaritan’s Feet to launch the “Shaq’s Shoes” initiative, giving away thousands of shoes to kids in need.

In 2018, he bought 10 pairs of shoes for a struggling teen with size 18 feet.

And in 2019, he created his own foundation, the Shaquille O’Neal Foundation, to support underserved youth.

“I’m into making people happy. Whenever I leave the house, I just try to do a good deed,” he said.

Shaq Isn’t the Only One Coming to the Teen’s Rescue

Eric Jr.’s story has struck a chord with people across the country. People have come out in droves, donating over 24K to a GoFundMe campaign organized by family friend, Kara Pattison.

Initially, Kara wanted to raise $1500 — just enough to cover the cost of one pair of custom shoes. But donors quickly kicked it into high gear, raising nearly 20x that amount in just a few days.

The Kilburns plan to open a bank account dedicated to Eric’s future footwear and some specialized sports equipment.

Additionally, Reebok, Under Armour, and Puma are all currently working on creating custom shoes and cleats for the teen.

CAT work boots also reached out with an offer to make Eric Jr. boots. As did small company, City Slicker Shoes and Pingree Detroit who have 3D printing plans in mind.

Paying it Forward

(Hometown Life)

Overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support, Rebecca can’t quite believe the “wild ride.”

In a follow-up Facebook post she wrote: “We are so blown away by the support from not only our community, but the (am I dreaming?) nation, maybe even global!”

She also couldn’t be more grateful for the kindness Shaq has shown to not only Eric Jr., but his younger brother Graesyn as well.

“The icing on the cake for my boys was Shaquille O’Neal reaching out and showing them so much love. So genuinely kind, and not looking for the spotlight- just wanting to reach out and connect with Eric Jr.”

And Rebecca’s paying it forward. She’s started a Facebook group called Big Shoe Network for other families in the same boat. It currently has over 2.8K members.

“My hopelessness has been replaced with hope,” Rebecca told the Washington Post. “Now I want to give that feeling to others.”

Thanks to Shaquille O’Neal and an entire community of supporters, Eric Jr. will no longer have to endure the pain of wearing too-small shoes.

But beyond that, there is hope for others who are in his shoes, turning one small step of kindness for one person into a giant leap for many.

Active Soldier Pretends to Be a Patient at Hospital to Surprise His Wife at Work — Her Reaction Will Make You Cry Tears of Joy

By | Food for thought, uplifting news

There is something truly special about the moment a soldier reunites with their loved ones after months of separation. It’s a moment filled with pure joy and raw emotion, and it never fails to touch our hearts.

One video capturing this type of heartwarming moment has gone viral on social media, and for good reason.

The soldier in question, Damilare, concocted a clever surprise for his wife Elizabeth that will melt your heart.

An Incredible Moment Captured on Video

[embedded content]

Elizabeth works as a nurse in a hospital, and got the surprise of her life one unassuming afternoon. In the video, we can see Damilare sitting in a nondescript chair that you might find in any medical clinic or hospital, dressed in his uniform.

As the team of doctors and medical professionals enter the room, we realize that he is at his wife’s place of work, reclining as if a patient. He waits patiently as the team of doctors and nurses shuffle into the room. At the back of the group is Elizabeth, likely expecting another routine examination. When she peers over the chair and recognizes her husband’s face, her entire demeanor changes in a spectacular way.

She erupts into a loud exclamation, unable to contain what is likely a range of emotions. She runs out of the room and falls to her knees, while her coworkers look on adoringly. Damilare has a satisfied grin on his face after pulling off a successful surprise, and soon gets up out of the chair to embrace his wife.

The whole time, she is still sobbing, entirely overcome by emotion.

As they hold each other tightly, the room erupts in applause and cheers, celebrating the beautiful moment of reunion.

The Power of Love

The caption of the post sums it up perfectly: “Damilare surprises his wife, Elizabeth at work after being deployed overseas for 11 months.” In just a few words, we get a glimpse into the depth of their separation and the significance of their reunion.

It’s no wonder that this video has already garnered over 18,500 views and countless comments from people around the world. We can’t help but be moved by the pure love and emotion that is on display. It’s a reminder of the sacrifices that our military men and women make every day, and the incredible strength and resilience of their families.

A brief look through the comments reflects just how deeply this story resonated with total strangers. “This had me in tears” writes one Instagram user, while another adds “Been there. Thank you both for your service.”

The story of their reunion is also a reminder of the power of love and the beauty of human connection. Even in the midst of great challenges and separation, love has the ability to bridge the distance and bring people back together. It’s a message that we could all use more of in our lives, especially in times of uncertainty and hardship.

Father of Two Fighting Cancer Dreams of Singing a Duet With Tim McGraw at His Daughters’ Weddings — And Then News Reaches the Country Superstar

By | Celebrities, Food for thought, uplifting news

Country music is known for delivering many a gut punch to the feels, and this story is no different!

Grammy-award winning Country artist Tim McGraw is helping a Florida dad truly live one of his hit songs – Live Like You Were Dying.

In April 2022, Michael Hugo, 37, was diagnosed with stage four glioblastoma, the most aggressive type of cancer that originates in the brain. He has been doing his best to stay hopeful, knowing this form of cancer has a very poor prognosis for survival.

One of his biggest worries? Not being able to celebrate with his two young daughters when their wedding days arrived.

A Dream Duet

Hugo decided to do something about it and broadcast a social media plea he hoped would reach one of his favourite artists: Tim McGraw. His ask? To record a duet of the country star’s hit song My Little Girl to play when his daughters Brooke, 7, and Bridget, 6, were eventually married.

Inspired by the movie, P.S. I Love You, Hugo figured that McGraw was someone who would understand his situation.

“One of my dreams is to be with my little girls for their wedding” Hugo said in his Instagram video shared in early February. “But statistically, it’s going to be tough. And I’m going to fight hard to get there, but one of my dreams or goals is to do a duet [of] ‘My Little Girl’ with Tim McGraw and do a little video that we could play during their wedding.”

“So, if I’m there, it’d be awesome because it’s a beautiful song.” He explained. “And if I’m not there, then at least I can be part of that wonderful day that I hope happens…”

Flying Down to Nashville to Make It Happen

(WPBF 25 News)

Hugo’s social media appeal quickly went viral, and within a few short weeks, Michael, and his wife Vanessa, their two daughters and his mom, Lori were on a plane to Nashville to meet McGraw!

On McGraw’s Instagram, the singer shared a video with the Hugo’s, writing that they were “gonna make this happen!”

“Thanks to everyone who shared Mike Hugo’s video on social media and tagged me in the comments,” he captioned the post. “So glad we were able to actually get together in person, meet this amazing family, and make it happen! Mike is saving the videos for his daughters’ future weddings … what a special thing to be a part of.”

In a Facebook post, Vanessa Hugo described how the video had gotten to McGraw. It had been forwarded along to the head of the Tug McGraw Foundation, in honor of the country star’s father Tug McGraw, who died of the same form of cancer, glioblastoma, in 2004.

“Tim’s amazing management team arranged for a camera crew to film Michael dancing onstage at the Grand Ole Opry with our daughters, and also with his mom,” she wrote. “They then set up a special meeting for Michael and Tim to sing together. ‘My Little Girl’ for our girls, and ‘I Called Mama’ for Lori. The footage will be compiled into a video tribute for our family to keep.”

Vanessa thanked everyone involved in the incredible event, especially McGraw, gushing that he is “an amazing family man and #girldad, just like Michael.” McGraw, and his wife, superstar Faith Hill, are parents to three daughters – Gracie, 25, Maggie, 24, and Audrey, 21.

“You make the kind of music that touches people’s hearts and reminds them of what’s important,” Vanessa wrote.

Being Present for His Daughters Even if He’s Gone

(WPBF 25 News)

In his viral video, Michael Hugo explained that the median survival rate for his form of brain cancer is 14 months. “And that was about ten months ago,” Hugo said in his video, posted on February 9th. To help slow the spread, he has been been using Optune, an FDA-approved medical device worn on the head.

“I’m going through chemo right now, but we live scan to scan. Every 30, 60 days, we know that something could pop up and could go downhill fast.” Said Hugo.

To ensure he can pass along as much advice as possible, Hugo said that he’s been imbibing as much guidance as he can to his daughters to “spread over the next few decades”, including writing them birthday cards up to their 21st birthdays.

“What can I do so that, number one, I’m not a ghost to them [and] they know how much their dad loves them,” Hugo told Good Morning America. “There’s no second guessing.”

As the quote goes, “A father holds his daughter’s hand for a short while, but he holds her heart forever.”

Rich Actor Finds Little Boy in Dumpster and Invites Him Over to Her House for Christmas – He Ends Up Completely Changing Her Life

By | adoption, family, Food for thought, gratitude, inspiring, kindness, love, stories, uplifting news

Brazilian actor and former ballerina Carol Nakamura has many privileges in her life thanks to her career success.

So she tries to give back to the community whenever she can. That’s what she was doing one day when she encountered a little boy who would forever change her life.

An Unexpected Meeting

a man, a woman and a little boy

In 2019, Nakamura visited a poor community in Rio de Janeiro where the children didn’t have much to go on every day.

Many of them didn’t go to school or have basic necessities, so Nakamura was hoping to lift some spirits with her visit. But then she came across a nine-year-old boy named Wallace.

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Wallace was hanging out by a dumpster, and something about him struck a chord with Nakamura. According to AmoMama, Wallace had never gone to school but dreamed of becoming a veterinarian. As the actor learned more about this little boy and his history, she knew she wanted to help.

So she stayed in touch with Wallace and, that Christmas, she invited him over to her house to celebrate.

A Magical Holiday

That Christmas, Wallace had one of the most wonder-filled days of his life. Nakamura gifted him toys and other gifts, and his eyes grew wide at the furniture and amenities. “Does this water fall from the sky?” he asked at one point when he turned on the shower, according to Clarín.

Nakamura wanted that wonderment to continue and knew she wanted to keep putting a smile on the boy’s face. So she began the paperwork to adopt Wallace from his maternal mother in his hometown. She also asked for permission to enroll him in school for the first time.

Eventually, Nakamura and her partner Guilherme Leonel took the boy in full-time, although he would occasionally go back to live with his biological mother for periods, according to NewsBulletin.

RELATED: This Kind Man Secretly Pays for the Hospital Bills of Poor Patients Who Can’t Afford Them

The biggest surprise for Nakamura, however, was how much this little boy taught her about life.

“He taught us a lot, especially to be grateful. There are people who don’t even have something basic. When he took an elevator or used an escalator, he was surprised, thinking it was a toy,” Nakamura told Clarín.

“The first time he ate a cheese bread was after nine years! What you call ‘basic’ is much worse for other people. This made me understand the importance of simple, small things; to be listened to. It taught me to be more grateful and stop complaining about life. Wallace completely changed my life.”

A Short Time Together

While Nakamura wanted to help Wallace and felt like a mother figure to him, Wallace decided to return to live with his biological mother when he was 12. The child hasn’t spoken about it publicly and Nakamura is sad he made that decision, but she understands that it was his to make.

“We always sat down and talked a lot, but unfortunately, that was it. I’ve cried, I didn’t understand, but it was no use. All I can do is accept it,” she told NewsBulletin last year. “When I was younger, I didn’t have any money, it was all very basic. I let him choose everything, and that was it… I bought a uniform… It’s sad.”

RELATED: Poor Boy Collects Cans On The Street To Survive – Breaks Down When Stranger Places This In His Hands

These days, Nakamura is a fur mom to dogs, but she hasn’t forgotten the impact one little boy had on her life — or how she used to take things for granted.

“I always said that I can have five children, but none would love me like Wallace, and I would love like I love Wallace,” she wrote on social media, as per E! News. “The feeling is that a piece of me is gone, and there is an emptiness. But we need to respect! Not always the best for us is the best for each other.”

Honoring What We Have

They say people come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Well, that adage definitely seems to apply to the relationship between Wallace and Nakamura.

While Nakamura was heartbroken that the little boy no longer wanted to live with her, she couldn’t be upset at him for wanting to return to his hometown and biological family, either.

She also recognized that he came into her life for one very big reason: to show her just how much she has to be thankful for in life, and not to take it for granted.

It can be hard to accept when someone leaves, but as Nakamura reminds us, maybe there was a reason they came into our lives in the first place. Perhaps there is a lesson or a reminder we need to take away with us as we continue down our own paths.

At the end of the day, one of the biggest things this story reminds us is that it’s always best to be kind — not only to others but also to ourselves. Yes, a simple act of kindness may forever change someone else’s life. But it could also change yours if you’re kind enough to yourself to accept why and how.

Black Woman’s Family Thinks She’s “Crazy” to Quit Her Full Time Job – Proves Everyone Wrong by Achieving Her Dream

By | Food for thought, inspiring, stories, uplifting news

From a young age, Zandile Ndhlovu knew she belonged in the water. She was irresistibly drawn to the ocean: the sand, the sun and the pounding waves. Even now, she describes it as “an incredible world filled with wonder.” It hasn’t lost that feeling of discovery and adventure for Ndhlovu, and it probably never will.  

Ndhlovu didn’t just want to glance at the coastline from afar. She wanted to be out in the ocean. Swimming was good — but so was being out in a boat. And scuba diving was even better. It opened a new world for Ndhlovu. It was freeing — until people started using it to trap and label her. What was she doing out in the water? Black South Africans taunted her.

The Sea Belongs to Everyone

woman with blue hair sitting on a boat

“Why do you do white people things?” They would ask her with disgust and disbelief. Indeed, Ndhlovu found she was the only Black person out there. Her own family couldn’t understand what was so attractive about the whole thing. For them, the sea was where white people went to do white people things. Ndhlovu disagreed. The sea belonged to everyone. 

It called to her so strongly that she decided to give up her full-time job to become a diving instructor. She traded in her “normal”, quiet life for a wetsuit and told her family that she was going to work toward a freediving certification. Her family was shocked. 

“My grandmother thought I was crazy,” Ndhlovu remembers, “my whole family did!” But she laughs as she says it. She decided to follow her heart anyway, even if that meant that she’d be treading in unknown waters. When Ndhlovu started her training, there was not a single Black freediving instructor in the whole country.

Stay Out of the Water

That didn’t phase Ndhlovu. She’d become the first. Still, she struggled against perceptions and a history that told her Zulu people to stay out of the water.

“In South Africa, from when you’re young, you’re told endless stories about why you shouldn’t be in the sea,” said Ndhlovu. “Whether it’s stories about how our ancestors live at the bottom of the ocean, or there being a big snake down there, these narratives live in our bodies as Black people.”  

As she worked toward certification, though, Ndhlovu realized there was more to the story — a lot more. It wasn’t simply oral tradition and culture that had kept Black people out of South African waters for so long. It was also politics and racism.

During apartheid, Black people had been forcibly removed from their homes, many of which were along the waterfront. They were forced inland or pushed to the most dangerous beaches, unsuitable for swimming or launching boats.

When public swimming pools were built, the admission price was too steep for most Black families. “My mother just never had the money,” Ndhlovu remembers. “Proximity doesn’t equate to access.” Getting out on the ocean required the investment of even more time and money.

Rewriting the Narrative

As she dug deeper and deeper, Ndhlovu started to realize that there was likely even an inherited “historical trauma of the transatlantic slave trade” that kept her people off the shores. Rather than dissuade her, this information made Ndhlovu even more convinced that she had to break the cycle and follow her dream. 

Becoming South Africa’s first Black freediving instructor was the first step. But Ndhlovu wanted to do more to encourage more Zulu people to embrace the ocean. And so the Black Mermaid, as she is called, launched the Black Mermaid Foundation. One of the foundation’s first activities was to bring a group of children from Soweto to the ocean. Ndhlovu noted that, at first, the kids were all terrified of the water.

“It’s a wild terror,” she said. “I feel there’s a healing that needs to happen.”

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And so Ndhlovu chips away at that terror and shows Black children that the ocean is not a white thing. “That’s why I enjoy teaching: to see the fear leave their eyes and the wonder fill their bodies, and this relationship with the ocean being built.”

Besides access and familiarity with the ocean, Ndhlovu teaches the children how to care for the precious resource. They learn about plastics pollution and use some of their time at the beach to clean it up. By taking care of the ocean and the beach, the children feel a sense of ownership and pride.

“I’m allowing them to believe that this ocean belongs to them too,” says Ndhlovu. It’s not a white people thing — it’s an all people thing. Another step in the right direction for South Africa.

Struggling Young Man Thought He Could Get Away With Stealing Cash From an Office at Night — But What His Victim Does Next Totally Shocks Him

By | Food for thought, uplifting news

Desperate times call for desperate measures and for 22-year-old Rashawn times were desperate. He and his father were struggling to meet their most basic needs and rapidly running out of options.

Rashawn had to do something and fast. So, in an act of sheer desperation, he turned to crime.

A Desperate Man Makes a Wrong Decision

Rashawn decided to target the offices of All You Can, a non-profit organization founded by Harrisburg, PA city councilman Ralph Rodriguez. The organization, established in 2019, provides basic needs and emergency resources to at-risk families.

Rashawn was hoping to walk away with some much-needed cash.

What he wasn’t banking on was getting caught in the act.

The night of Rashawn’s b&e attempt, Ralph just so happened to be working late. He confronted Rashawn trying to break into a window and the would-be burglar took off running. All he left in his wake was a grainy image of a man, dressed in a hat, glasses, a mask, and gloves, on a doorbell camera.

It wasn’t enough to make a positive identification. It seemed, for all intents and purposes, to be case closed.

That is until a crisis of conscience changed everything.

Rashawn, unable to live with what he had done, reached out to Ralph on Facebook, confessing his guilt. He was prepared for the consequences, telling Ralph, “I have to be willing to face the consequences and that is what I’m ready to do.”

The ball was in Ralph’s court. He could call the police or he could call Rashawn. He chose Rashawn.

It was a phone call that would change Rashawn’s life.

Fighting Crime with Forgiveness

Ralph Rodriguez/

In speaking with Rashawn, Ralph realized that the young man was not a criminal, but rather someone who was desperate and in need of help.

“I actually took the time to hear his story, see the environment in which he lives in,” Ralph told CBS News. “And I get it. Poverty has a way of pushing you to do things that you would have never imagined you were even capable of doing.”

Ralph decided that the last thing Rashawn needed was a prison cell. What he needed was someone to give him a second chance. Instead of pressing charges, Ralph provided financial assistance, sending Rashawn money for food, clothes, and living expenses.

“Making sure he’s financially good and has some clothes on his back,” Ralph said. “Because what he doesn’t need anymore is any more disappointments. I’m pretty sure people have told him things in his life and dropped the ball 10 out of 10 times. It’s just not what I’m prepared to do.” 

But he didn’t stop there. He took it one step further.

A Desperate Man Finds Hope


Ralph also gave him part-time work, painting the very place he just tried to burglarize. Additionally, he helped him enroll in job training, further setting him up for success.

Rashawn’s life of crime was stopped before it even had a chance to start, all thanks to the compassion and kindness of his would-be victim. And he has no intention of wasting his second chance.

“I thought there would be no one willing to help me, but you never know, you just have to ask. I wasn’t willing to ask,” Rashawn told CBS News.

Desperation can drive people to do things they wouldn’t normally do, and in some cases, those actions can have unexpected consequences.

In the case of Rashawn, a desperate act of breaking and entering turned into a life-changing moment of kindness and support. Ralph could have easily lashed out in anger but he chose forgiveness and empathy instead.

He recognized that so often in life, we never know what someone is going through. Luckily for Rashawn, he did what so many of us wouldn’t — he took the time to find out. And in doing so, he made a dramatic difference in the young man’s life.

‘Everyone Is Welcome’: Man Gives Away Free Motel Rooms to People With Nowhere to Stay

By | Food for thought, homelessness, inspiring, kindness, social media, stories, uplifting news, work ethic

Don’t you just love it when a social media influencer uses their fame for good? That’s exactly what TikTok star Brian Arya has been doing!

“To turn your head away from people who are out in the street is the opposite of what we should be doing,” said Brian Arya, whose TikTok videos have led to an outpouring of donations for those in need, to PEOPLE Magazine.

The New Jersey Motel That Welcomes Everyone

exterior of a New Jersey motel

While Arya has high hopes for a career in showbiz, he helps pay his bills by running a New Jersey motel that was purchased by his dad decades ago. Arya’s dad, George, 83, immigrated to the US from India and been teaching his son the ins and outs of running a motel since he was a child. George has always been firm on “letting people off the hook” if they had trouble paying.

“What we’re doing here, and what we’ve always done at the Lincoln Tunnel Motel, is help people,” says Arya about the modest motel on a gritty stretch of North Bergen, New Jersey, where he grew up. The nondescript motel is just ten minutes from the famous Lincoln Tunnel that connects Weehawken, New Jersey to Midtown Manhattan in New York City.

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It was in 2019 that Arya discovered TikTok, starting an account about life at the @ltmotel and the daily drama and laughs he experiences.

Since the dawn of the COVID-19 pandemic, Arya, known on social media as “Brian the Motel Guy,” told his then near 500,000 followers (now close to a million) that the economy motel was being made available to anyone who needed room to quarantine or simply stay because they had nowhere to go.

“When the pandemic hit, people were losing their homes, and local shelters were filling up quickly and turning people away,” Arya told the New York Post. Arya, 34, grew up in a neighboring motel that his father also owns. “And I wanted to help get people off of the streets, so I opened the doors of the Lincoln Tunnel Motel to anyone in the area.”

Arya’s #FreeRoomForU hashtag has since gone viral on TikTok, with his videos reaching a whopping 31 million likes!

The Lincoln Tunnel Motel has now offered shelter to more than 100 disenfranchised people who needed a helping hand, serving the mandate of aiding the under-resourced rather than turning a profit.

“Sometimes they come just to kind of get away from really bad situations,” said Arya, whose dad has since gifted Arya partial ownership of the motel. “Maybe a domestic situation and kind of hiding from that person. And those you can kind of spot.”

“I’m empathetic to people who really are honest with me, telling me their situation,” said Arya. “I try to help them out the best I can.”

The married father of four has shared his own struggles to keep his bills paid but continues to keep his focus on those more deeply in need.

“To turn your head away from unhoused people or people who are out in the street is the opposite of what we should be doing,” he said.

Arya’s TikTok followers wholeheartedly agreed and have been sending donations of non-perishable food, clothing, essential toiletries, and even cash to help Arya with the costs of helping his guests. He has also started an Amazon wishlist for his guests.

How One Motel Owner Proved the Importance of Kindness

smiling man wearing a cap

The simplest items can make the greatest difference to those with very little.

“Do you know how valuable a clear toiletry bag is to someone out on the street that needs something to put their IDs and their documents in?” Arya explained to PEOPLE. “It’s just so useful for important papers you don’t want to get caught in the rain. We give those out like crazy.”

He also gives away donated soaps, wipes, and other toiletries.

RELATED: Kind Woman Spontaneously Strikes up Conversation With a Homeless Man — She Ends up Giving Him a Job and Makes a Lifelong Friend

“I also make a little bag for them, a little (toiletry) gift bag because we now have a surplus of these items,” he said.

“This motel will always be the affordable place where local people who need shelter can stay and get support and respect from me and my employees,” he said

“I want the Lincoln Tunnel Motel to be a beacon of hope for this community and for my followers all over the world,” Arya told the New York Post. “And if the best thing I can do to spread that beam of hope is give a room to someone in need, then I’m happy to do so.”

Arya chooses kindness each and every day. And kindness always wins.

Struggling Waiter Doesn’t Know How He Will Pay for College – Then a Famous Customer’s Tip Leaves Him Speechless

By | Celebrities, compassion, Food for thought, inspiring, jason derulo, kindness, restaraunt, stories, uplifting news

Anyone who has ever worked in the service industry knows that you live and die by your tips. This is why it’s so important for customers to reward good service.

While it’s customary to tip up to 20% of the bill, one restaurant-goer decided to show his appreciation to his server with a chart-topping 650% tip — to the tune of a staggering $5,000.

One “Exceptionally Lucky” Shift for a Nebraska Waiter

Singer-songwriter Jason Derulo is known for his smash hits and dynamic performances, but recently he’s made headlines for an incredibly generous act of kindness.

During a recent trip to Omaha, Nebraska, Derulo and his family dined at Charleston’s Restaurant, known for being “casual” and “upbeat.”

The party of 18, accompanied by security, racked up a bill of $795.99. Generally, this would warrant about a $160 tip. However, Derulo, impressed by the “really awesome” service tipped the unsuspecting waiter nearly 30 times that amount.

The waiter, Jordan Schaffer, was floored. Overwhelmed by the unexpected generosity, he took to social media to share the news.

In a TikTok video that has gone viral with over 300K views and 48K likes, Jordan thanks the musician and reveals that his generous act of kindness just paid for his semester of college.

Jason Derulo’s $5,000 Tip Goes Viral on TikTok

The clip opens with a shot of Derulo, presumably signing off on the bill, and a voiceover saying: “Jason Derulo tipped me $5,000 at Charlestons Restaurant in Omaha.”

The camera pans to Jordan as he tells Derulo, “Wow, my heart’s beating really fast.” Derulo responds, “You guys are really awesome, man.”

It then cuts to Jordan, giving a heartfelt shout-out to the pop star.

“Hey Jason, thank you. You just paid for a semester at my college.”

Jordan Schaffer

He continues, “I can’t say thank you enough so, you know, I hope your family has a wonderful time in Omaha and I hope you see us again.”

It ends with a close-up shot of the receipt and Jordan just shaking his head in disbelief.

Derulo showed up in the comments to respond, writing: “You seem like a great person. Thank you for taking such great care of our fam. Keep spreading the love bro.”

He also re-shared Jordan’s TikTok to his own social media accounts, captioning it: “Blessed to be a blessing.”

Jason Derulo’s Tip Couldn’t Have Come at a Better Time

Jordan ended up splitting the tip with his coworker, but he made certain to put his half to good use.

According to an interview with Fox & Friends, Jordan had just been hit with a $50 late fee for his college tuition a week earlier. He was scrambling to come up with the money and didn’t know how he was going to swing it. And then in walked Jason Derulo. Thanks to Derulo’s tip, Jordan was able to pay off the entire semester.

Not only did Jordan take home thousands of dollars that day, but he also came away from the experience with a valuable lesson. “I just learned that it doesn’t matter who you’re serving… if you give them the right kind of service, it might end up touching them in a way that you weren’t expecting,” he said.

And, to top it all off, he has a “crazy story” that he plans on telling for the rest of his life.