9 Good News Stories: Lucky '22'; Butterflies For Beth; Boxer's Rise

July 17, 2023 0 By JohnValbyNation

ACROSS AMERICA — Oh, to have been in 11-year-old Isabella Avila’s shoes at Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour concert at Chicago’s Soldier Field on Friday, June 2.

First off, the Oak Forest, Illinois, preteen had no idea what was in store for her that night. Her parents didn’t have the kind of childhoods where concerts by a reigning pop star were even possible. Isabella’s mother, Tina, bought the tickets on the sly.

“Being able to do this for her, it’s everything,” she told Patch’s Lauren Traut.

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“Everything” falls short in describing all Isabella experienced that night. She and Swift’s mother exchanged hugs and friendship bracelets. Isabella and her own mother had floor seats. Then it happened: Taylor Swift walked toward Isabella and crowned her with a “22” fedora hat, something she does at every concert.

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“It was just such an amazing moment,” Isabella said. “I’ve always loved Taylor as a person, and as a singer. It was just an amazing moment. I was just in the moment.” » By Lauren Traut for Oak Forest Patch

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Identity For The Nameless

For thousands of disadvantaged, poor and nameless citizens of Milwaukee County’s past, a proper burial was anything but guaranteed. Often, their bodies were buried in small plots at the Milwaukee County Poor Farm with little more than a number tag as a marker. An estimated 5,000 to 7,500 people were buried there from 1882 to 1995. When possible, genealogists like Judy Klimt Houston are determined to return the dignity of a name to the remains. Some have been identified over the years, including most recently a soldier who entered the Civil War at age 11 and another who hardly spoke English when he was mustered for the Union Army. It’s an issue close to Houston, who had a grand-aunt and other family members once buried at the poor farm. » A Patch Exclusive by John Quinnies for Wauwatosa Patch

‘Every Part Of It Screamed Beth’

If you were a child learning the English language, let alone navigating a strange, new school, Beth Webster was your best friend. She was the first to greet new teachers and staff, and show them around the Ridge Lawn Elementary School building in Chicago Ridge, Illinois. The building principal, Fran Setaro, told Patch’s Lorraine Swanson the 47-year-old dedicated language specialist was “a light,” a sentiment echoed many times over by Webster’s colleagues after her unexpected death in April following a brief illness. Webster often talked about her spirit animal, the butterfly, a symbol of transformation, hope and faith, and on Tuesday, declared “WDay” at the school, her spirit was omnipresent. A butterfly poster with all her students’ fingerprints hung on a memorial wall. The entire school sang Lizzie Snider’s “Butterfly” as a photo montage chronicling Webster’s life beamed on the gymnasium wall. Afterward, students joined their beloved teacher’s daughters as they released 115 painted lady butterflies (top photo). “The tribute was so perfect,” said Jennifer Taulbee, an instructional math coach. “Every part of it screamed Beth.” » A Patch Exclusive by Lorraine Swanson for Oak Lawn Patch

‘Find Something Else To Light Up Your Life’

A smoldering cigarette. Scenes of a graveyard. A muffled voice saying, “He’s in the hospital.” A dial tone indicating that no one’s available. In just under a minute, the point of Baker Hanshaw’s anti-tobacco video is crystal clear. The Danville, California, teen, who just finished eighth grade, won the top prize in a contest sponsored by Contra Costa County to highlight the dangers of tobacco. A self-taught film buff has been recording videos of his family since fourth grade and making full films since sixth. A fan of sci-fi and paranormal films, he told Patch’s Michael Wittner that he wanted to tell the story in a frenzied, anti-chronological and atmospheric way. At the beginning, he said, someone is walking in a graveyard “but you’re not quite sure.” The film ends with the somber truth: 480,000 people die every year from tobacco use. “Find something else to light up your life,” the film implores. » A Patch Exclusive by Michael Wittner for Danville Patch

‘A Lot Of Hard Work’

Leo Ortiz’s climb to the top-ranked boxer in Team USA Boxing’s bantam (85 pounds) weight class started six years ago with a fight he lost. He didn’t like it, either. The 11-year-old Orland Park, Illinois, math and science honor student, set a goal to make a name for himself on the national level. On Friday, he was scheduled to compete in the national semifinals in Lubbock, Texas. “It takes a lot of hard work,” Leo told Patch’s Jeff Arnold when asked how someone who was “not very good” at the beginning of his career became one of the nation’s best. “Sometimes, it’s not easy (not having a normal schedule), but it’s worth it at the end of the day.” » A Patch Exclusive by Jeff Arnold for Orland Park Patch

A Dime At A Time

For 13 years, Cari Mae Bulthuis saved every dime she made in tips as a server at Abby’s Cafe in Hemet, California, her eye on a high school graduation trip to Hawaii with her daughter, Violet. She worked every shift and customers, who were aware of her goal, often left her fistfuls of dimes. When the dimes were turned into the bank, the grand total was more than $5,000. In July, Mom and daughter are set to leave for a week in Oahu. » By Lucas Combos for Banning-Beaumont Patch

‘Welcome To The World, Baby Jack’

For New Jersey Troopers Michael Morreale, Ryan Arsdale and Anthony Makhnin, May 21 was anything but a routine day when they were called to a medical assist for a woman in labor on the side of Interstate 287 in Bridgewater. It was clear when they arrived the baby wasn’t going to wait until his parents could get to the hospital. Mom Paulina can be heard on recently released video screaming, “the baby’s head is out.” Dad Michael helped deliver his son, and though there were a few anxious moments before the baby cried, everyone is doing fine now. “Welcome to the world, Baby Jack,” police said with the release of the video. “And thank you Troopers for an awesome job well done!” » By Alexis Tarrazi for Bridgewater Patch

This Kitty With A Great Backstory

Why should firefighters get all the glory for rescuing cats from trees? Police in Howard County, Maryland, recently proved themselves to be feline friendly and saved a tiny gray kitten from an unusual predicament: It had darted into traffic and somehow ended up stuck in the engine of a passing car. The driver called 911. Video of the rescue shows the officers sweet-talking the kitty — and lots of frantic meowing. The kitten is now available for adoption or anyone who wants a cat with a great backstory. » By Kristin Danley-Greiner for Columbia Patch

This Dear Deer

A fawn had its own quandary in New Jersey last week. After hearing a loud thump, people working at the Westfield Police Records Bureau heard a loud thump followed by an unfamiliar whining. When they turned around to investigate, they saw a fawn that had fallen 8 feet into a basement window well. Outside, they find the mother deer looking down on the window well. She bolted with the activity, and once freed by firefighters, the fawn trotted off to look for her. » By Alexis Tarrazi for Westfield Patch

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