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Uplifting

    Leyana had planned her birthday to a T. She even picked the right outfit. Then, the waiting began. Despite handing out invitations to everyone in Leyana’s class, no one showed up for the first-grader’s party, except for the actress who was hired to portray Elsa from Disney’s “Frozen.” >> Read more trending news  Now, Lindsay Robert, who has been dressing up as Elsa and appearing at birthday parties, has reached out on Facebook to tell Leyana’s story. 'It was soul crushing. When I open the door, I’m used to all the kids running up to me. But she was just all by herself. Just looking down. Just so sad and she just launched herself into my arms,” Robert told KDVR. During the time  she was scheduled to arrive, there was supposed to be a house-full of kids. But it was only Leyana so she and Robert danced, sang and formed a friendship, KDVR reported. “I wasn’t kidding when I told you that every princess is smart and brave and kind, and you are all those things,” Robert told Leyana while KDVR videotaped the pair’s reunion. Robert took to Facebook to tell Leyana’s heartbreaking story. Not only is she sending a fairy garden to the little girl, “Because Elsa will never let you down,” she also visited Leyana with her “sister,” an actress playing Anna, and is planning another surprise for the 7-year-old.
  • Nearly a week after the Valentine’s Day shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school, George and Amal Clooney have announced they will participate in The March For Our Lives on March 24 and have donated $500,000 to the group. >> Read more trending news  The celebrity couple made the announcement in a statement from George Clooney. People reported the donation was made in the name of the couple’s 8-month-old twins Ella and Alexander. “Amal and I are so inspired by the courage and eloquence of these young men and women from Stoneman Douglas High School,” Clooney said in a statement. “Our family will be there on March 24 to stand side by side with this incredible generation of young people from all over the country, and in the name of our children Ella and Alexander, we’re donating $500,000 to help pay for this groundbreaking event. Our children’s lives depend on it.” Related: Gabrielle Union, Kim Kardashian, more celebs call for gun control after Florida school shooting On Tuesday afternoon, Oprah Winfrey said she would match the Clooney’s donation. “George and Amal, I couldn’t agree with you more,” Winfrey tweeted. “I am joining forces with you and will match your $500,000 donation to ‘March For Our Lives.’ These inspiring young people remind me of the Freedom Riders of the 60s who also said we’ve had ENOUGH and our voices will be heard.” The March for Our Lives event was announced by Students David Hogg, Alex Wind, Cameron Kasky, Jacqueline Coren and Emma Gonzalez, five survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. On Feb. 14, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz opened fire at the school, killing 17 people. Related: Florida school shooting timeline: Seven minutes, three floors and 17 dead Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. The March For Our Lives march will be in Washington, D.C. According to the group’s website, “the kids and families of March For Our Lives will take to the streets of Washington DC to demand that their lives and safety become a priority and that we end this epidemic of mass school shootings.”
  • Tahirah Lamont Brown made history in 2002 as the first African American woman hired by FedEx to be a pilot. Brown works with the company as an Airbus captain and line check airman. According to a Feb. 2 post on the FedEx blog, Brown first stepped into a cockpit in 1992. >> Read more trending news  “I still remember it vividly as it was exhilarating. I was 20 years old. My first flight was in a Cessna 172, a four-seat single-engine prop plane,” Brown said. “My instructor in college was with me, along with my supportive, yet reluctant father in the backseat. We took off out of Long Island and flew to Greenwich, Connecticut. I was on top of the world. I could not believe that my view was the sky.” To make her dream a reality, she had to work two jobs to pay for college and for flight training. She even asked her family for money at one point, promising she would pay them back after. Brown credits another history maker for helping her on her career path. “I met Bill Norwood, the first black pilot at United Airlines, while in Tuskegee, Alabama, at Operation Skyhook and he introduced me to OBAP, the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals,” Brown said. “That introduction provided me with the guidance I needed, and also helped me with scholarships for flight training.” “I felt like the world had no limits,” Brown said.  Read more about Brown’s experience at the FedEx Blog.
  • A former Texas jail guard still becomes emotional when he thinks about the day several prisoners helped save his life when he suffered a massive heart attack. >> Read more trending news “Instead of overtaking me and taking my gun, and killing me or taking a hostage and escaping, they looked at me as a human being,” Gary Grimm told WFAA.  Grimm, 52, was guarding prisoners in a basement holding cell at the Parker County District Courthouse on June 23, 2016, when he suffered the heart attack. “I just slumped and went out,” Grimm told WFAA. “Next thing I remember is looking up at the ceiling in the ER (emergency room).” The incident was captured on a courthouse surveillance video. 'They thought I was kidding,' Grimm told WFAA. 'I wasn't.' Inmates began shouting and banging on the holding cell walls, eventually breaking free from the cell. Their noise was heard by deputies in the courtroom, who called for paramedics after investigating the ruckus. Grimm, who worked for more than 20 years at Texas prisons and jails, retired in December because of his heart condition. He said he always treated most inmates with respect. “I don't care if they're a drug user, hot check writer, or child molester. They're still a human being. I don't have to like what they did, but it's not my position to be the judge and jury,” Grimm told WFAA. Grimm said he will undergo open heart surgery this week and will have a left ventricle assistance device installed. 'I need that for at least six months, and then maybe we can have a transplant,' Grimm said.  He will get the chance for surgery thanks to the inmates that did not take advantage of Grimm’s incapacity. 'I get emotional. If they wished harm for me, all they had to do was sit there and do nothing,” Grimm told WFAA.  Friends have started a GoFundMe page to help the family with extra expenses as Gary Grimm awaits a possible transplant.
  • In a recent interview with The Project, 49-year-old music legend Céline Dion got candid about the 2016 death of her husband and manager René Angélil. Dion described what it felt like to lose Angélil — who died at age 73 after a cancer battle —after decades of marriage. >> Read more trending news  “For three years, my husband did not have a sip of water or food. He was eating through a tube,” Dion said. “The only thing I hoped while he was in three years of agony: I wanted him to live in peace. I wanted him to feel so light and no worries. He had a little heart attack. It’s so quick; he didn’t even feel anything. I thought that he was like liberated from his pain.” “He’s the only man I’ve seen. The only man I’ve loved. The only man I’ve kissed,” the Canadian added. Angélil — with whom Dion shared sons René-Charles Angélil, 17, and twins Eddy and Nelson Angélil, 7 — died two days before his 74th birthday and days before the death of Dion’s brother, Daniel Dion. As Dion’s longtime music manager, Angélil had always had a role in her life personally and professionally. Dion has a bronze replica of Angélil’s hand that she brings along to every one of her performances. With two Las Vegas residencies that combined have spanned well over a decade and counting, she’s had many performances with his hand in hers since his passing.  Dion put her residency on hold during her husband’s bout with cancer, but it was Angélil’s constant support even through his illness that quickly led Dion back to the stage. “I shake my husband’s hand and knock on wood with him every night before every show,” Dion, 49, told The Daily Telegraph. “Even after he’s gone, I still talk to him.” A month before Angélil’s death, the longtime couple celebrated their 21st wedding anniversary. “My husband wanted me to go back onstage before he passed; that’s what he wanted the most,” Dion said. “So I went back onstage while he was still alive; he wanted to make sure I could keep going. So I did prove to him (that), yes, I could keep going. I told him I’ve got the kids and that he’s got to trust me, he’s got to relax. “He taught me so much. He did a great job; what he had been giving to me all his life and all my life will always be with me. He gave me his all. He mortgaged his house to pay for my first album. I guess before he left he wanted to make sure I was fine. I’m trying to prove to him every day I’m fine. Our kids are growing. We feel strong. We’re good.”
  • A Kentucky girl with Down syndrome qualified for a regional spelling bee, WLKY reported. >> Read more trending news Sosie Smith, a second-grader at Christian Academy of Louisville's Providence School, qualified after winning the bee in her class, with “joyous” the word that gave her the championship. She will compete in a regional event next week, WLKY reported. Sosie’s mother, Tara Smith, told WLKY that her daughter has always loved words and reading. 'My job as a mom is to find those little gifts and accentuate them and try to bring them out as best as I can,' she said. Smith told WLKY that she hopes Sosie's story will encourage other special-needs children. 'She keeps hitting these milestones and exceeding my expectations,' Smith said. 'I just hope to open their eyes a little bit and enlighten them that the capabilities are there.
  • The last thing Robert Crain remembered was visiting the emergency room to have his nagging cough checked out. >> Read more trending news That was on Oct. 3, 2017. Sixty-one days later, the 47-year-old woke from a medically induced coma. And on Feb. 14, 2018, he was discharged from Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse, New York. 'For me, it just seemed like I woke up from a nap,'' Crain told Syracuse.com. 'Then I realized I missed Thanksgiving and Christmas and all that time with my family.' Crain’s lungs and kidneys had shut down in October. He lost 50 pounds during his time in the hospital and now must use a cane to walk, Syracuse.com reported. “It was awful,” said Crain’s wife of 10 years, Marcela Crain. “My brain heard them say he wasn't doing well and wasn't improving, but my heart wouldn't accept it. I went to the chapel every day at the hospital and prayed, and my daughter and I prayed every night.” Robert Crain was kept alive by a heart/lung bypass machine, spending more time on it than any other patient in the hospital’s history, Syracuse.com reported. Crain said he remembered nothing from Oct. 3 until Jan. 8. His doctors pulled him out of his coma gradually. When he came to, Crain said he was “stunned” when a nurse told him what day it was, Syracuse.com reported. Robert Crain’s recovery and discharge from the hospital was a banner day for his wife and their 8-year-old daughter, Isabella.  'This is the most amazing, special day,'' Marcela Crain said. “Never give up hope. I always believed he would come back to me.' Marcela Crain said the family put Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas on hold, refusing to celebrate it without Robert. She told Syracuse.com the family would celebrate all three holidays into a single day when he is stronger.
  • A family’s pit bull protected a 9-year-old boy who was home alone, scaring off a burglar Wednesday afternoon, according to police.  >> Read more trending news The boy, who is not being identified, was upstairs while his mother went to pick up his siblings from school around 5 p.m. when the burglar entered the front door, according to the Linconl Journal Star.  The boy came downstairs thinking his mother had returned, only to lock eyes with the intruder.  “He started chasing me upstairs and I called my dog down and they started to fight when my dog got downstairs,' the boy told KLKN.  That’s when Baby Girl, the family’s pit bull, sprang into action. She jumped between the boy and the burglar, who ran from the house without taking anything, according to KLKN. 'The dude pulled the blinds down on my dog's head and then ran away and shut the door,' the boy told KLKN.  The boy ran to a neighbor’s house and called police.  Lincoln police said the parents of the 9-year-old will not be cited for leaving the child home alone.  Baby Girl was treated to a lollipop for her heroic actions.
  • Even the toughest of firefighters have a soft spot for babies.  Members of the City of Decatur, Georgia, Fire Department helped a fellow firefighter find out if he’s having a boy or a girl.  >> Read more trending news  As the YouTube post said, only the pump operator knew as buckets of blue-tinted and of pink-tinted water sat nearby. >> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news  Firefighter Tubbs and his wife manned the hose that first shot out normal water, then quickly changed to pink as the rest of the fire crews waited and recorded the special moment.  It’s a girl for The Tubbs family.
  • An 8 -year-old boy is being called a hero when he noticed a classmate was choking on a piece of candy. Andrew Ramirez knew just what to do when his friend Makayla Annis was in trouble. “My desk partner made me laugh too hard when I ate a gummy bear and then I kind of tried to swallow it and I started choking,” Makayla told KFSN. >> Read more trending news  Andrew said he saw her choking and grabbing at her neck so he gave her the Heimlich maneuver.  But his dad didn’t believe the story that Andrew told him. His dad’s a doctor in the area and was surprised that not only was the story Andrew told him confirmed by Andrew’s mother, but also that the boy knew what to do. Dr. Rene Ramirez said he didn’t realize that Andrew had practiced doing the Heimlich. “If they’re choking you get them right around here and you just push back like you’re giving them a really big hug,” Andrew explained to KFSN. And the medical knowledge Andrew already has may be the first step in a medical career. “I would like to be a doctor very, very much,” Andrew told KFSN. “I did let him know if he is to be an emergency doctor, he got his first save,” Rene Ramirez told KFSN.
  • It’s just what the GOP said we’d hear from a CEO after being handed a big tax break. But when Charles Scharf announced plans last month to spend his company’s tax savings on higher wages and technology, investors began selling. The Bank of New York Mellon CEO said he had a responsibility to “share the benefit” with workers and build the “company of the future.” But investors want to share in the tax bounty as well — through higher dividends and buybacks. By the end of the day, the bank’s stock was down 4.4 percent. The biggest tax rewrite in three decades was sold by its Republican backers as a way to help American workers, and there have been plenty of announcements about bonuses and plans to buy equipment and make other capital investments to improve productivity and raise wages. But much more money has been earmarked for dividends and buybacks. Retailer Lowe’s has authorized $7.1 billion in buybacks, triple the level planned before the tax overhaul. Radio giant Sirius XM has increased its program by a fifth to $12 billion. And Wednesday Cisco announced the biggest number of all — a $25 billion increase to its repurchase program. Buybacks, in which companies purchase their own shares and retire them, are popular with investors because fewer shares outstanding lifts earnings per share, the most watched barometer of corporate success.
  • Hearing from parents and students who lost friends and family members in last week’s school shooting in Florida, President Donald Trump said it was time for the nation to work together to better safeguard schools, as he advocated stronger security including the possibility of allowing teachers and administrators to carry concealed weapons during the school day. “It’s very difficult, it’s very complex, but we’ll find a solution,” the President said as he wrapped the over hour long listening session, which featured tears from parents and students. “I’m never going to see my kid again, I want you all to know that,” said Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was among those killed last week in Florida. “My beautiful daughter, I’m never going to see again,” Pollack added, flanked by his two sons. Andrew Pollack, father of Meadow Pollack: 'My daughter has no voice. She was murdered last week. She was taken from us. Shot nine times on the third floor.' Watch full video here: https://t.co/PTvTbB8sUn #ParklandStudentsSpeak pic.twitter.com/Qkp9WYVZcm — CSPAN (@cspan) February 21, 2018 The over hour long session was respectful on all sides, as parents and students pleaded with the President to do something to end school shootings. “I was actually in the second classroom that was shot at,” said Jonathan Blank, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. “In my mind, as a kid, nothing that horrible should ever have to happen to you,” Blank added. Echoing some of the calls for action by other Douglas students, Sam Zeif used his time before the President to make a tearful plea for change on powerful weapons like the AR-15. 'I lost a best friend. … I don't understand why I can can still go in a store and buy a weapon of war.' Sam Zeif was on the second floor of the Parkland, Florida, school where 17 people died after a mass shooting. https://t.co/ozoMFp0dU5 https://t.co/xsKZjl5Zna — CNN International (@cnni) February 21, 2018 “I don’t understand why I could still go into a store and buy a weapon of war,” Zeif said, fighting back tears. “I don’t know how I’m ever going to step foot in that place again,” Zeif said of his school. As for the President, he listened quietly as students and parents told their stories and made their requests – Mr. Trump said he’s still developing his plan to deal with school shootings, but seemed to outline a series of ideas that he backs: + Stronger school security, by hardening entrance points to schools. + Allowing teachers and administrators to carry a firearm in a school. + Stronger background checks on guns sales, though Mr. Trump has yet to define exactly what that would entail. + Raising the age to purchase a powerful weapon like an AR-15. + Doing more to provide mental health treatment to people – like the Florida shooter – who have been identified to authorities. “If you have a teacher – who was adept at firearms – you could very well end the attack very quickly,” the President said of the idea of concealed carry in schools, as he compared it to airline pilots being allowed to carry a gun in the aftermath of the Nine Eleven attacks. President Trump responds to the emotional stories of students and parents: “We don’t want others to go through the kind of pain that you've gone through” https://t.co/GtcRURoZo4 pic.twitter.com/JliJbQkJgr — CNN International (@cnni) February 21, 2018 “If these cowards knew that the school was well guarded,” the President said, “I don’t think they would go into the school in the first place.” “Thank you for pouring out your hearts, because the world is watching,” the President said as he wrapped up the White House event. “We’re going to come up with a solution.”
  • Evangelist Billy Grahamat his North Carolina home. Graham, who preached Christianity to millions around the world, was also a confidant of U.S. presidents from Dwight Eisenhower to George W. Bush.Here are some quotes from the man who became known as “America’s Pastor.”   Source: Brainy Quotes
  • The world's best-known evangelist, the Rev. Billy Graham, has died. He was 99. From the gangly 16-year-old baseball-loving teen who found Christ at a tent revival, Graham went on to become an international media darling, a preacher to a dozen presidents and the voice of solace in times of national heartbreak. He was America's pastor.           Graham retired to his mountain home at Montreat, N.C., in 2005 after nearly six decades on the road calling people to Christ at 417 all-out preaching and musical events from Miami to Moscow. His final New York City crusade in 2005 was sponsored by 1,400 regional churches from 82 denominations.          Presidents called on Graham in their dark hours, and uncounted millions say he showed them the light. He took his Bible to the ends of the Earth in preaching tours he called 'crusades.' Even now, anywhere a satellite, radio, TV, video or podcast can reach, his sonorous voice is probably still calling someone to Christ.          Though Graham's shoes could likely never be filled, his son, Franklin, has taken over in some aspects—leading The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and becoming a confidant of President Donald Trump, including speaking at his inauguration.          But Franklin's message has swayed from his father's, leaving a mixed legacy for the Graham name. Franklin has mocked both Islam and LGBT rights. He uses his following on social media to raise funds for 'persecuted Christians,' boycotts businesses that use gay couples in advertisements and blasts the separation of church and state as as the godless successor to Cold War communism.          But his father's words for years offered peace and perspective. On the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance following the 9/11 attacks, Billy Graham spoke of the 'mystery of iniquity and evil,' of 'the lesson of our need for each other' and, ultimately, of hope.          'He was so real, he made Christianity come true.' observed Susan Harding, an anthropologist at the University of California-Santa Cruz. 'He was homespun, historical and newsworthy all at once. He could span the times from Christ to today, from the globe to you, all in one sentence.'          Grant Wacker, a Duke University professor of Christian history, says Graham represented, 'what most decent churchgoing people thought and ought to think.'          His reputation was untouched by sex or financial scandals. When anti-Semitic comments came to light as transcripts of conversations with Richard Nixon surfaced, Graham was promptly and deeply apologetic.          He never built a megachurch, set up a relief agency, launched a political lobby or ran for office. Yet he redefined American Protestant life by popularizing Christianity's core message — Christ died for your sins — downplaying denominational details and proclaiming the joys found in faith.          Graham was, however, drawn to power. Eventually, he met, prayed with, comforted and joked with 12 U.S. presidents, and Graham learned to walk a tightrope.          He found a fine balance that allowed him to become America's pastor, Democrat or Republican. North or South. When President Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky came to light, Graham called for forgiveness. Clinton told Peter Boyer of The New Yorker, 'He took sin seriously. But he took redemption seriously. And it was incredibly powerful the way he did it.'          Former president George W. Bush has said it was a conversation with Graham that turned him from his drinking ways when he was young.          'I've never called him on a specific issue but his influence is bigger than a specific issue, as far as I'm concerned. He warms your soul,' Bush told an ABC 20/20 special on the preacher and politics.          Graham emphasized the joy to be found in belief, in contrast to evangelists such as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson who routinely issued glowering condemnations of politicians or blamed natural disasters on modern culture. However, Graham did take an uncharacteristically political stand before the 2012 presidential election. He authorized full page ads in major newspapers in October urging people to vote for politicians who opposed same-sex marriage on 'biblical principles.'          He brought to the microphone a 'corny but effective humor,' Wacker says, which made him a convivial talk-show guest. Graham logged more than 50 radio or television interviews with Larry King alone. YouTube has a tape of Woody Allen interviewing the evangelist, who draws almost as many laughs as the caustic, agnostic comedian.          The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association he founded, now led by his son, Franklin, used every communications innovation possible to carry the Gospel to any willing heart on Earth. More than 214 million people in 195 cities and territories heard God's call in Graham's voice and witnessed him deliver the Gospel in person or by satellite links. His projects included founding             Christianity Today magazine in 1956 and writing more than 30 books.          High among his numerous honors: The Congressional Gold Medal awarded to Billy and Ruth in 1996, the Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded to him in 1983, and the Templeton Foundation Prize for Progress in Religion in 1982. He even has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.          'Fundamentalists saw him as excessively liberal, and liberals saw him as too literalist in talking about sin and salvation. His wonderful balance between them is critical to his legacy,' says John Wilson, editor of             Books & Culture, a sister publication of             Christianity Today magazine            .  Graham's last decades were slowed by illness and injury. He was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1989, felled by broken bones, bouts of hydrocephalous and rounds of pneumonia.          Age, illness and bone-breaking falls had left him struggling to deliver 20-minute sermons.   Graham's last crusade, in June 2005 in New York City, drew 242,000 people to Flushing Meadows; 8,786 made a new commitment to Christ and thousands more renewed or rejoiced in their faith.          Then he retired to his Montreat, N.C., mountaintop log cabin home (where his five children grew up mostly without their traveling father) to spend his days with his beloved wife, Ruth. They shared Bible study, devotions and an endless recycling of the movie musicals she loved to watch. Those were bittersweet days, with Ruth bedridden and Billy relying on a walker. Their frequent prayer was, 'Help me, Lord.'          At her funeral in June 2007, Graham called Ruth the finest Christian he ever knew. Graham lived through the explosion of religious diversity in America, the rise of the human potential movement and the trend to personalized spirituality. He also lived to see many tire of lonely seeking or a high-minded hopscotch from church to church, religion to religion.          Yet he remained steadfast in his response. In 1996, when he and Ruth were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, he once more shared his faith in God with some of the most powerful men on Earth:          'As Ruth and I receive this award, we know that some day we will lay it at the feet of the one we seek to serve.
  • The Rev. Billy Graham, who transformed American religious life through his preaching and activism, becoming a counselor to presidents and the most widely heard Christian evangelist in history, has died. Spokesman Mark DeMoss says Graham, who long suffered from cancer, pneumonia and other ailments, died at his home in North Carolina on Wednesday morning. He was 99. Graham reached more than 200 million through his appearances and millions more through his pioneering use of television and radio. Unlike many traditional evangelists, he abandoned narrow fundamentalism to engage broader society.