A New Jersey man called Jimmie Smith was watching TV one day in May when he saw a news report about a $24.1 million dollar New York Lottery prize that had yet to be claimed and was soon to expire. Out of curiosity, he went to his closet and checked the pocket of an old shirt, where he had stuck a stack of tickets – and sure enough, he had the winning ticket.
2. Religious Communities Come Together
Last January, the Victoria Islamic Center, a mosque in Texas, burned down under mysterious circumstances. Here’s the good news: Churches and synagogues offered money, helping hands, and space – raising more than $1 million dollars to rebuild the mosque.
3. Music Behind Bars
Rhiannon Giddens is well known for being the powerful voice of the Grammy-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops or for being part of the TV show Nashville. In February, she paired up with Carnegie Hall’s Musical Connection program to run a music-education workshop for inmates at Sing Sing prison. At a performance after the workshop, Giddens performed with a workshop student who had written a song about domestic abuse.
He broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball and was a hero in the 50s – not just as a Brooklyn Dodger player, but as a tireless activist for civil rights. For years, the Jackie Robinson Foundation, founded in 1972 by Robinson’s family, has been working toward opening a museum in lower Manhattan, and in April, they started the process of bringing their collection of memorabilia to the public.
5. Adopted Twins from China Reunite
The adopted parents of Audrey Doering gave their daughter some information about her past as a Christmas gift – they found out that she had a twin who had also been adopted by an American family. They tracked down Gracie Rainsberry and her family, who were living a few states away. The delighted ten-year-olds met for the first time on Good Morning America.
6. Frog vs Swine Flu
Doctors have been looking for ways to combat the influenza virus, and a frog that was just recently discovered in Southern India might just hold the key to doing that. Scientists tested a gooey substance from the frogs’ back and found an amino acid that literally makes viruses explode. If it’s safe for use in humans, we might all become frog-powered virus-killing machines soon.
People who love their puppies and kittens know that pets can lift spirits and calm nerves. Recent studies now offer scientific proof that interactions with dogs, horses, fish, cats, and even crickets can help to improve mental health over time. Just the act of caring for something else – especially if it’s furry, grateful, and warm – seems to make all the difference.
8. The Eclipse
The anticipation for the eclipse was amazing. People bought special glasses, made special lesson plans, and booked trips to the Path of Totality. Even where it was overcast and partially viewable, the eclipse captured the entire nation’s attention and for a glorious, enchanted couple of minutes in August, all our eyes went skyward.
9. Detroit’s Tiny House Revolution
In August, a non-profit organization in Detroit bought vacant lots and filled them with tiny houses. These sweet houses can be rented to low-income Detroiters, who are then supported with community services to help keep them moving on up.