Blog Posts by Nadine Kalinauskas

  • Teen with autism gets visit from vacuum salesman, has the best birthday ever

    Dylan Johnson was never really into toys. Instead, since the age of 2, he’s been passionate about vacuum cleaners. 

    So Dylan’s mother, Jodie Greene, invited a vacuum salesman to his 14th birthday party, giving her son a birthday he’ll never forget.

    Greene wrote an email to the Kirby Company, explaining her son’s love for the brand’s machines. 

    “I am reaching out to you in hopes for an answer to an unusual request for my son who is autistic,” she wrote

    “He has always been obsessed with vacuum cleaners. His favourite is the Kirby. He spends hours every day watching videos on his tablet about different Kirby’s. When he isn’t watching videos about them, he is talking about them.”

    She continued:

    “I really would LOVE to get a demo done for him for his birthday. In fact, I am even getting him a cake made that looks like a Kirby vacuum. I am writing to you in hopes that you can get me in touch with a way to get him this demo. I want to be clear that I do not intend on purchasing a Kirby. I

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  • Inspired by Up, man floats away in lawn chair lifted by helium balloons

    Eric Roner, a professional skier, avid BASE jumper and adrenaline junkie from Northern California, recently channeled one of our favourite Pixar movies and took to the skies with 90 brightly coloured balloons. 

    “I mean, it’s kind of that childhood dream,” Roner said of the stunt.

    "It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time," he told Gizmag. “Who hasn’t thought of getting lifted off the ground by a bunch of helium balloons?”

    The Up-inspired stunt used 90 helium-filled balloons and lifted Roner about 8,000 feet off the ground in an old lightweight sun lounger. 

    To get down, he began shooting the balloons one at a time with a shotgun, then chose to free-fall off the chair. 

    Eventually he pulled his parachute and floated to the ground below. 

    That was epic!” Roner told Good Morning America after his flight. “It’s kind of like the dream of flying or ‘can that actually happen?’ So for the reality of pulling it off was pretty surreal for me.”

    Roner’s stunt reminds us of a more literal

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  • Little princess tells best friend she's getting a Make-a-Wish trip to Disneyland

    Juniper and Violet are best friends. 

    The 3-year-old girls first met in November 2013, when they were both battling retinoblastoma, a form of cancer in the retina, at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

    They quickly bonded over their mutual love of Disney characters: Violet wanted to meet Mickey Mouse, Juniper wanted to meet Minnie Mouse. 

    In fact, a plush Minnie Mouse was Juniper’s constant companion through her cancer treatments and recovery time, her mother told WDW Hints. 

    Violet got her wish in December 2013, meeting Mickey Mouse at Disneyland thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation

    Violet and Juniper (YouTube/Make-a-Wish Foundation)Violet and Juniper (YouTube/Make-a-Wish Foundation)

    Last fall, the foundation granted Juniper’s wish, too — and recruited Violet to break the news to her. 

    “Juni, you’re going to Disneyland!” Violet, dressed as Cinderella, squealed

    "You’re going to twirl like a princess," she said, twirling on camera. "And do your princess pose. And wave like a princess."

    Violet continued to prep her friend on what to expect, including “nose-kisses” from their favourites,

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  • Two big rigs crush Oregon man's pickup truck, and he walks away unscathed

     

    Kaleb Whitby, 27, is a very lucky man

    Early Saturday morning, Whitby’s Chevy Silverado was one of 26 vehicles involved in a pileup on Interstate 84, about 33 miles east of Baker City, Oregon. 

    His pickup flipped when it struck a jackknifed semi truck. Then another tractor-trailer slid towards him.

    "I got scared of the possibility it could have been the end," the young father recalled.

    Sure enough, the second truck slid sideways into the first tractor-trailer, crushing Whitby’s pickup between the two semi-trucks.

    "It was just metal crunching and glass. It was just all fast and loud,” Whitby told CNN.

    Sergio Karplyuk, the 32-year-old driver of the second truck that struck Whitby’s vehicle — he didn’t even see the crushed car at first — spotted Whitby amidst the debris and helped free him from the wreckage. 

    "I see this head and he’s just like, starts speaking," Karplyuk told The Washington Post. “It’s just this guy and he says, ‘I’m okay, I just can’t get out.’ He was just so calm

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  • Latest Bigfoot sighting video from Russia is most convincing-looking yet

    Has Bigfoot finally been spotted?

    Some Russian adventurers certainly think so — and they have the footage to prove it. 

    In the video, an imposing hairy creature appears to march through the snow in a wooded area somewhere in Russia.

    The exact date and location of the sighting is unclear, as is about every other fact needed to verify the sighting. Still, the Bigfoot video, whether real or fake — let’s face it, it’s probably fake — is among the most impressive we’ve seen yet.

    According to the Mirror, the Russian mountain rescue team went looking for the maybe-mythical creature after hearing reports of sightings in a remote region of the south-western Adygeya Republic.

    The adventurers questioned people at a mountainside lodge who claimed to have spotted Bigfoot. 

    "The creature was big, looking like a bear, but not a bear. From the door we’ve seen something big and shaggy,” eyewitness Ludmila Hristoforova told a local TV station.

    One senior search team member said that while he didn’t

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  • Teen’s balloon to late father gets sweet responses from city 400 miles away

    Photo of Ashlynn Marracino's balloon released in memory of her father. (Lisa Swisley/Facebook)Photo of Ashlynn Marracino's balloon released in memory of her father. (Lisa Swisley/Facebook)

    Every January 6, 16-year-old Ashlynn Marracino releases a balloon in memory of her late father, who died of a brain aneurysm in 2008. 

    January 6 was his birthday. 

    This year, like every other year, she released a star-shaped mylar balloon covered in a long message that described how much she loved and missed him, and caught him up on certain details of her life — and asked him to send her a sign.

    Part of her note read:

    “You have missed so much and I miss you. And I love you, miss you like crazzy!”

    It continued:

    “I don’t like how I never had you in my life. It’s not fair. Show me a sign please. Anything to let me know you’re there. I miss you so much and I want you back.”

    Read more of the note here.

    “I can write out stuff that I want to tell him,” Ashlynn told TODAY Parents. “It makes me feel like he would receive it — seeing it go up into the sky and disappear…it feels like a weight has been lifted off your chest.”

    On January 7, the balloon showed up in a restaurant’s parking lot in

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  • Twins come out to their father in moving viral video

    Twin brothers, models and YouTube personalities Aaron and Austin Rhodes kicked off the new year with a moment of vulnerability. 

    Having already come out to most of their family, it was time to tell their father — before he found out from one of their videos. 

    The nervous brothers, who recently moved from Ohio to Los Angeles, confessed their fears to their father over the phone:

    "I just didn’t want you to find out through YouTube and I just wanted to be able to have that conversation, because I feel like we’re close enough, and I finally feel like I’m at that point now where I’m able to tell you, and I just want to be able to have you behind us 100 percent," Austin told his dad. “I just don’t want you to not love us anymore.” 

    Fortunately, Mr. Rhodes doesn’t hesitate to reassure his sons, interrupting Austin’s speech:

    “Stop it. Would you just stop?”

    "It’s the way things are, you know," Mr. Rhodes told them. “You’re growing people. You grew up in a much different generation than me. I

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  • Philadelphia pizza shop customers pay it forward, feed the homeless

    Mason Wartman stands by the wall of 'pay-it-forward' Post-It notes in his store. (Imgur)Mason Wartman stands by the wall of 'pay-it-forward' Post-It notes in his store. (Imgur)

    In late 2013, Mason Wartman, 27, left his job on Wall Street to open up Rosa’s Fresh Pizza, a $1-a-slice pizza shop in Philadelphia. 

    "I had plateaued at my Wall Street job and had always wanted to own my own business," Wartman told ABC News.

    A few months later, a customer asked if he could buy a slice for someone in need. 

    Wartman had an idea: He drew a smiley face on a Post-It note and affixed it to the wall. The bright square became a voucher for a free slice, to be claimed by anyone hungry or broke. 

    It wasn’t long until “pay-it-forward pizza” took off. 

    "The homeless, they come in and say, ‘I hear you give out free pizza to homeless people,’” Wartman told The Salt.

    Mason Wartman samples some of his store's pizza (Imgur)Mason Wartman samples some of his store's pizza (Imgur)

    Since that first Post-It, Wartman has seen customers donate more than 8,400 slices, with 30 to 40 homeless people claiming slices every day. 

    Note left by a patron in Rosa's (Facebook)Note left by a patron in Rosa's (Facebook)

    "We keep our food reasonably priced so that our paying customers are able to pre-purchase slices that we give to homeless people in the area," Wartman said.

    "This is a

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  • Couple's sweet adoption announcement goes viral

    Cara and Eric Taylor announced their plans to adopt in an unconventional way. (Cara Taylor/Facebook)Cara and Eric Taylor announced their plans to adopt in an unconventional way. (Cara Taylor/Facebook)

    Cara and Eric Taylor are hoping to adopt from the state foster care system in 2015. 

    To announce their plans to expand their family, the Alabama couple opted for a twist on popular baby-announcement photos and posed in front of a row of six pairs of children’s shoes of varying sizes. 

    “Whichever one fits,” their holiday card reads. “It is our hope and prayer in 2015 to grow our family by adopting a child from foster care.”

    “It was a way to say, ‘We’re adopting’ in a fun, unique and almost baby-announcement way,” Cara, 31, a bank teller and photographer, told TODAY.

    "To me, sitting there with a little sign saying ‘We are adopting’ just didn’t’ do it. We wanted to bring attention to the foster care system as well, so that’s why we created it the way we did with all the little shoes," Cara told AL.com.

    When Cara shared the photo with Together We Rise, a nonprofit group dedicated to improving the lives of children in foster care, the group posted it on Facebook. People loved it.

    "It

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  • Alabama school arms its students with canned goods against school shooters

    Do these look like weapons against a potential attacker to you? (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)Do these look like weapons against a potential attacker to you? (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

    The can is mightier than the sword? Probably not. But parents of children at WF Burns Middle School in Valley, Alabama, are being asked to arm their children with them just the same. 

    While most schools are trying to ban any would-be weapons from its halls, these cans of beans and soup are being allocated as self-defence tools should an armed intruder enter the school. 

    "We realize at first this may seem odd; however, it is a practice that would catch an intruder off-guard," the letter sent home to parents read. “The canned food item could stun the intruder or even knock him out until the police arrive. The canned food item will give the students a sense of empowerment to protect themselves and will make them feel secure in case an intruder enters the classroom.”

    The school insists the canned-goods collection is all part of an active shooter response training offered by the ALICE Training Institute.

    (“ALICE” stands for “alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuate.”)

    The emergency

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