9 Good News Stories: 'Embrace Your True Self'; Determination To Walk

July 14, 2023 0 By JohnValbyNation

ACROSS AMERICA — Dane Mautone always “felt like one of the boys” when and his twin sister, his musical partner, were growing up in Bloomfield, New Jersey.

As Patch’s Eric Kiefer reports, it was a truth that eventually took Mautone on a tough-but-rewarding journey that culminated with a coming-out video that he posted online after graduating from high school.

At 25 and transitioned to a transgender man, Mautone is excited to use his art to inspire other supporters of LGBTQ rights, including his proud twin, Stephanie, with whom he has been performing for more than a decade.

Find out what's happening in Across Americawith free, real-time updates from Patch.

“Witnessing Dane’s experience as a transgender man has taught me the importance of embracing your true self fully — I am so proud of him,” she said in the wide-ranging interview with Patch. “His journey has inspired me to be braver and more courageous when it comes to being myself with no apologies.” » A Patch Exclusive by Eric Kiefer for Bloomfield Patch

‘I Just Wanted To Get Back To Normal’

After he was critically injured in a car crash in February, Manhattan, Illinois, teen Brenden Wetzel set ambitious goals for himself, including to go to a couple of proms and walk across the state at Lincoln-West Way High School and pick up his diploma, even if he had to do it on crutches, that a concession to his medical team who had told him to manage his expectations. He gave physical therapy his very best effort, and just before the first prom, he got the OK to ditch the crutches. “I just wanted to get back to normal,”Wetzel told Patch’s Lauren Traut. “Get back to being an 18-year-old, experience one of my last childhood summers.” » A Patch Exclusive by Lauren Traut for Manhattan Patch

Find out what's happening in Across Americawith free, real-time updates from Patch.

‘I Would Be That Dork To Get A Laugh’

White Castle sliders aren’t everyone’s bun full of meat, but among aficionados, Levi Hunt stands out. “I would just be that dork who would wear White Castle stuff just to get a laugh out of everybody,” the 44-year-old Wisconsin electrician told Patch’s Jeff Arnold. “I would incorporate White Castle in everything I did.” That explains his White Castle-themed wardrobe and tattoos and even a photo of his newborn daughter in a slider case, a dedication to the brand that earned him a spot in the chain’s Cravers Hall of Fame. » A Patch Exclusive by Jeff Arnold for Across Wisconsin Patch

A Storied Barn Gets TLC

A storied North Fork, New York, barn that has been the backdrop for scores of social media shots, paintings and photographs but was beginning to crumble has been saved from an uncertain future, in large part because craftsman John Dickey followed his gut after reading a story on Patch about the precarious state of the structure. “The bones of the building were still in good shape, but most of the corner posts were rotted,” Dickey told Patch’s Lisa Finn, detailing the process to restore the barn that included digging and pouring new concrete footings and installing timbers salvaged from other New England barns of the same era. “There’s something special about that area,” he said of the barn’s location. “The air is crisp, the sunsets are stunning, and, of course, the barn is a beautiful part of the landscape.” » A Patch Exclusive Lisa Finn for North Fork Patch

‘Any Human Being Would Do The Same’

Jonathan Thompson won’t soon forget this image as he drove his tractor trailer to the main post office in Rockville Centre, New York, after finishing his shift: Two girls about 5 years old dressed in brown, fluffy jackets, wearing pajamas and holding teddy bears standing in the middle of the street. “They looked like they were confused or lost,” he told Patch’s Jerry Barmash. “I will never get that vision out of my head.” Worried they might get hit, he pulled over, an act that helped reunite the children with their parents and caught the attention of U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. It was no big deal. “I hope any human being would do the same,” Thompson said. “What, [should] we just ignore them? I wouldn’t do that.” » A Patch Exclusive by Jerry Barmash for Rockville Centre Patch

‘Pickleball Is Going To Save America’

One of the hottest tickets in New York City isn’t for a Broadway show, but for some pickle time on the always busy courts at Carl Schurz Park on the city’s Upper East Side (top photo). And it’s not just among older players, who brought pickleball into the mainstream as an alternative to the more physically demanding tennis, but people of all ages, Patch’s Peter Senzamici reports. The competition for time on the court has been intense at times, but a system put in place by neighborhood players seems to be working. “It’s a mess,” one player told Patch, “but it’s a beautiful mess.” Another said, “Pickleball is going to save America.” » A Patch Exclusive by Peter Senzamici for Upper East Side Patch

Another Glass Ceiling Shattered

A Cuban immigrant, Dr. Joanna Sesti of Basking Ridge, New Jersey, recently made history as the first female to serve as director of thoracic oncology surgery within the RWJBarnabas Health system with Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the state’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. As Patch’s Alexis Tarrazi reports, her family’s background in medicine spurred her interest in health care, but so did the intrigue of scientific inquiry. “As a surgeon, it’s a mix of intellectual challenges and the technical aspects of doing an operation,” she said. » A Patch Exclusive by Alexis Tarrazi for Basking Ridge Patch

How Children Thrive

Shireen Rhoades bought the ruse without question, showing up as directed for a meeting with the superintendent on Maple Street School playground in Vernon, Connecticut. As Patch’s Chris Dehnel reports, she thought it might be for a fire drill, but instead she was surprised with the Vernon Teacher of the Year award. A reading interventionist, Rhoades works with students who have trouble reading and writing, but gets them to their grade level, the superintendent said. “I know that children thrive when held to high standards and clear expectations,” Rhoades had written in her application for the award. “I love my students, and I Love planning lessons that address their specific needs in ways that keep them positive and engaged.” » A Patch Exclusive by Chris Dehnel for Vernon Patch

Parting Shot

The Smithsonian National Zoo is celebrating the birth of a western lowland gorilla, a critically endangered species. Scientists estimate that in the past 20 to 25 years, the number of wild western lowland gorillas has decreased by 60 percent. The baby has been clinging to its mother, Calaya, 20, who has been nursing, and zoo staff are “cautiously optimistic” the baby gorilla will thrive. The gorilla is the first born at the zoo in five years. » By Megan VerHelst for Washington, D.C., Patch

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