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High School Football Coaches Give Sam, Student With Down Syndrome, Opportunity to Shine

Danielle S

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There are a few moments in life that stand tall, proud, and sparkling above the others. For one Sam Jordan, a senior at Lake Norman High School, that proud moment came when he got the call to come into the game for the football team by Wildcats Head Coach Jonathan Oliphant. Ostensibly a simple story of sports and opportunity, a closer look would reveal a student that wouldn’t give up and a coach who believed in his players.

Meet Sam Jordan: Wildcat Team Manager

Sam Jordan became the team manager for the Lake Norman High School Wildcats when he was just a freshman at the school. A huge fan of the sport and devoutly fascinated by the local team, Jordan would get the opportunity to grow alongside the group. Jordan, who has Down Syndrome, had flourished in the role, becoming an integral face in the locker room as well as on the sidelines.

On Thursday Night, Coach Oliphant decided to approach the varsity coach at Vance High School before their Senior Night Football game. Glenwood Ferebee, the coach at Vance, agreed with Oliphant that they’d do something nice for Jordan to finish his career with the team. As a high school senior, this would be one of the last times that Jordan would get the chance to join the team on the sideline for a game and now both teams wanted to see the kid succeed.

Ferebee and Oliphant would agree to let Jordan take the ball from the backfield before the game started during rehearsals. Ferebee and his squad agreed to let Jordan get a good run in so that he could try to score. Before kickoff of the I-MECK 4A conference game, both teams would line up with Jordan on the field and the moment was upon them.

A Touchdown to Remember

Jordan took the handoff in the backfield and quickly burst through the line, emulating the same cuts and runs he had seen countless times before. Various players on Ferebee’s defense dove for Jordan, often falling at the senior’s feet. Ferebee said, “It was great — my background in special education (…) I understand how special they are.” For his part, Ferebee would lead his team to the #1 seed in the Charlotte Observer’s latest Sweet 16 poll, coming off of a rallying win in their prior outing. So not only does it appear that Ferebee is a kind coach, he seems to be an exceptional one, as well!

The fans in the stand would go crazy as Jordan made his way into the end zone for a score, immediately getting mobbed by members of both teams. On the other side of the field Jordan’s coach, Oliphant, said, “The world’s a crazy place right now, and I think we made his night.” Oliphant went on to discuss how important it was to try and teach the players under his guidance how to be “good people” and “good husbands and dads”, highlighting that he tries to impart the ‘golden rule’ lesson upon his team as often as possible.

What’s next for Sam Jordan? While nobody knows that answer quite yet, one thing is for certain – Sam will never forget his touchdown scamper. Jordan said in an interview with Today, “It was heartwarming to me…” before finishing, “It was the best thing that ever happened to me.”

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Regenerative Gel Restores Paralyzed Mice Ability to Walk

Liz L

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Paralyzed mice could walk once more after one month, thanks to an injection of a special renewable gel at the location of the spinal cord injuries.

Gel replicates the component encountered around cells and provides a scaffold for cell growth. It also sends messages to the brain that encourage the development of new nerves.

Researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago have developed a substance that self-assembles into long strings of protein components, known as supramolecular fibrils, in liquid.

For mice paralyzed in their back legs, such fibrils infused into their spinal cords established a gel.

After the initial trauma, seventy-six paralyzed mice were given the fibrils or perhaps a hoax injection of saline solution. Compared to mice provided the placebo, paralyzed mice could walk four weeks after receiving the gel infusion.

Neurons with amputated edges could regrow using the gel, and the new growth diminished scar tissue at the wound area. Scar tissue is typically a hindrance to renewal. The gel also promoted the formation of blood vessels, supplying the spinal cord’s cells with far more nutrient levels.

“The amount of functional recovery and robust genetic proof of restoration we witnessed utilizing a model that truly emulated the significant human wound ends up making the treatment advantageous to other strategies,” says Stupp.

According to Stupp, other experimental drugs for paralysis that use stem cells, genetic material, or proteins are unproven in safety and efficacy.

The researchers used two methods to gauge the mice’s ability to walk. They evaluated the mice’s ankle motion, body consistency, paw placing, and steps initially. The gel-treated mice outperformed the sham-treated mice by a factor of three.

Researchers dipped colored dyes into the rear legs of the rodents, and they were then allowed to walk across a white paper-lined runway. The gel enhanced both the spacing and the distance of the step in this experiment.

“Further regrown axons [nerve fibers] innervating the thigh muscles might also correspond with a longer and wider stride,” says Stupp.

Brief patterns of amino acids connected to the edges of monomer proteins are responsible for the gel’s renewable properties. Neuronal outer layers of spinal cord cell lines receive tissue regeneration transmissions from these sequences of DNA.

They discovered that modifying the non-signal monomers of these monomers improved the restoration of mice, possibly because elevated motion facilitated signals to start engaging other receptors upon its cells and thus facilitated the healing process.

A researcher at the University of Aberdeen in the United kingdom suggests it would be intriguing if this discovery applies to humans. Still, the challenges of adjusting mouse treatments to human bodies will come as a challenging undertaking.

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12-year-old Launches Massive Blanket Creation and Donation Project for Hospital

Danielle S

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Children seem to be leading the charge in many aspects, more and more these days. They do not wait on adults to give them directives but act out of sympathy and sometimes empathy.

But where do they develop this level of kindness and assertiveness? Is it natural or derived from the actions of loved ones around them? Whatever the reason, a recent project has impacted many lives for the better, and 12-year-old Caleb Konopka has shown that children live what they learn and can significantly impact society.

The intention was to make the project a modest service initiative for the student council. To make up for his lack of supplies, Caleb made eight more blankets and vowed to satisfy the requirements for them at Primary Children’s Hospital.

In Caleb’s opinion, healthcare facilities are “a little unnerving” if you’re ill. It occurred to me at the time that it might be an excellent way of soothing a kid.”

He recalled a period when his brother spent a week in the hospital while he was a child. At that time, the hospital provided him with an orange duvet.

He began working on a much larger project after an employee gave him a rundown of the situation at the hospital, Caleb’s mother said.

The Care Coordinator at Primary Children’s hospital said, ‘I have to go upstairs and choose eight kids because these are the only blankets in the hospital,'” Caleb’s mom Pam recalled. “It was a tough job,'” she added.

During his stay at the facility, Caleb says he heard from an employee that 500 blankets had been the most significant contribution of that kind ever received by the hospital.

He had a new objective in mind right away: to donate 501.

We might surpass our target if we worked hard enough, Caleb stated “. There’s nothing wrong with going above and beyond our aim.

In September, the youngster began collecting resources for blankets and raising funds. To raise money, he started making brownies, pulling weeds, and cleaning out rubbish bins.

He and his relatives have also set up a GoFundMe* profile to raise funds to purchase supplies.

In total, he had made 450 blankets with both the aid of his family members and friends since about Monday night, and he had been hoping to generate more money and finish the remaining dozen or so.

According to Konopka, “Caleb hasn’t ever thrown in the towel.” You’ll understand, we’re so near already — it’s well within our reach.” “He’s often just tried very hard to do one more, and another, yet another, and you know we’re so near now — that is within our reach.”

It was not an easy journey for the 12-year-old, who admitted to having hesitations.

Numerous times, Caleb believed he wouldn’t make the target, but he persevered. To assist others, you feel a sense of “Alright, you’ve got to keep pushing,” “You’ve got to keep trying to make blankets for all of these kids,” “OK, you’ve got to continue.”

Now that the holidays are approaching, he anticipates making the largest donation yet, to the hospital.

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Giant Owl Believed to be Extinct, Spotted in a Forest

Jolie

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Questions have been raised recently about whether animals ever indeed go extinct. The debate began following the discovery of an owl that scientists believed had gone extinct for more than a century.

So, where was this rare sighting that has sparked a widespread interest? Ghana, Africa, where some of the world’s most extensive jungles are situated.

For many years, scientists have heard that people spotted the bird, but there has never been evidence to support those claims. Therefore, ecologists ended up with the belief that the bird might have truly gone extinct.

English researchers working in Ghana have captured the first-ever images of a 150-year-old species of giant owl in the jungle.

An owl known as Shelley’s Eagle Owl had been discovered on October 16 by environmentalists as a “spectacular finding.

The species became listed as endangered because there might only be several thousand left in the wild.

Dr. Joseph Tobias of Imperial College London’s Department of Life Sciences and Dr. Robert Williams, an ecologist from Somerset, caught a photo of the bird.

The owl’s daylight perch was noticed by the pair early last month after they had concluded that the bird had become extinct since the 1870s.

The birds’ distinguishable dark eyes, yellow bill, and enormous size all helped them identify it even though they only had about a 15-second glimpse of it.

Since it was so huge, Dr. Tobias initially believed it was just an eagle.

Because it perched on a low branch, we could get a good look at it with our binoculars. There isn’t another owl of that size in the African rainforests.”

When Curator, Richard Bowdler Sharpe, acquired a sample from a Ghanaian hunter in 1872, that’s when they got the first description of the bird. Since then, there have been sporadic reports of the Shelley’s Eagle Owl in parts of central and western Africa.

Sharpe works at the Natural History Museum with a focus on its bird collection.

“This is a remarkable breakthrough,” said Dr. Nathaniel Annorbah of the Ghana University of Environment and Sustainable Development. The discovery of this enigmatic bird in the eastern region’s ridgetop forests comes as a massive surprise after years of searching in the western lowlands.

Following on from risks of deforestation and bauxite quarrying, an environmental group, Friends of Atewa, is lobbying for the region to be designated as a national park.

Atewa forest’s significance for local biodiversity conservation is underscored by this sighting, according to Dr. Williams.

In the hopes of helping to save one of Ghana’s last remaining wild forests, the discovery of this magnificent and rare owl will be a significant boost.

Meanwhile, five million residents rely on the Atiwa forest for food and water because it is among West Africa’s largest untouched rainforest regions.

Due to its diverse ecosystems, the region has become a haven for some of Africa’s most endangered flora and fauna, including lush jungle with eight-meter-high tree ferns, marshes, and riverine environments.

Atiwa has been designated as a nature reserve covering 260 square kilometers. However, the forest’s biodiversity extends to its mineral wealth. The government plans to mine Atiwa’s meaningful bauxite reserves, which, unlike national parks, really aren’t secure from profiteering.

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A Small Gift for a Big, Often Thankless Job

Jolie

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COVID-19 has had multiple effects on people, not just with physical sickness. Millions found themselves isolated in their homes and away from contact through 2020, producing a rainbow of mental impacts as well. For Jennifer and Ron Taylor, missing out on the community connection they had enjoyed prior with their life in the City of Nelson, British Columbia, 2020’s isolation got to a point where it was a bit too much. So, the couple did something about the situation.

COVID was not a TV story or distance issue for the Taylors. Their grown kids had been infected twice during the year, so the effects were real and personal. The couple were also heavily disturbed by all the protesting targeting health-care workers in British Columbia just trying to do their job and save people’s lives, being unintended scapegoats for the anger about masks, lockdowns, and quarantines. At the same time, these people went to work every day trying to save the lives of patients in the various emergency rooms and intensive care units.

As 2021 grinded into reality, the protests and vilification of the health care workers in Nelson became more pronounced, and all the community talk about the same people being front-line heroes disappeared. The Taylors became disgusted by the behavior. That personal frustration for Jennifer percolated into an idea that would at least be a small gesture for the affected workers as well as a positive message to them. On September 16, 2021, the Taylors brought a big box to the Kootenay Lake Hospital. From it, they distributed gift cards worth $50 to different Nelson restaurants. Every one of the hospital workers was given a gift card. It totaled 322 cards, including everyone from the top administrators to the janitors. It also cost the Taylors a hefty $16,000 from their own pockets. Even more shocking, they kept no paperwork to deduct it from their taxes later at the end of 2021.

For Jennifer and Ron, just giving the gift and surprising the workers in a nice way was enough. However, at least 60 of the hospital employees wrote a personal thank you to the couple, expressing how much the gift meant to them. Some even went to the newspaper, the Nelson Star, to post their thank yous anonymously. The couple did hope that the rest of the Nelson community would look at the act and follow suit; that remains to be seen. However, for Jennifer and Ron personally, the impact they had on the hospital workers was real and substantial, and it likely also helped some of them pick up their boots and carry on saving another life another day.

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Mozambique Gets Its Cheetahs Back

Danielle S

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The Maputo Elephant Reserve in Mozambique is a stretch of land that incorporates wet swamp, coastal areas of lakes, and grassland. The most common large wildlife sight in the area tends to be elephants that have been protected from poaching. The other big population in the same location are antelope by the thousands, with sizable herds. That makes the Reserve also an ideal location for the release of four cheetahs that have been transplanted to the Reserve to bring back the big cat to the region.

As a joint project between the National Administration of Conservation Areas (ANAC) of Mozambique as well as the Peace Parks Foundation, four cheetahs have been introduced to bring into the mix of the reserve natural predation as well. The cheetah as a species used to populate the entire African continent. However, today, 90% percent of that presence is gone. The reintroduction program is focused on trying to reverse that condition by re-establishing the cheetah in the Mozambique reserve and grow its numbers again.

The four cheetahs brought to the Mozambique reserve were sourced from South Africa, and immediately adapt to the reserve with its plentiful supply of antelope. With a burst speed over 100km/hour, the big cats can easily hold up on their own hunting game, even the fast antelope. However human hunting, poaching, and disease have wasted the cats’ population dramatically over the centuries, and now conservation efforts are trying to restore their populations again.

Transported by plane and truck, the four cats have had to go through a transition period to get adjusted to their new locale. That included a holding phase in a local pen for a few weeks until they were ready to release into the wider reserve itself. Much of the adjustment helps the cats realize the smells and nuances of the area as well as become adapted to the weather and noises of the reserve day and night. The cats were also purposefully mixed from different private reserves where they were raised, increasing the diversity of their local gene pool in the hopes of stronger and better offspring as the cats eventually mate.

As soon as they were released, two of the cheetahs wasted no time zipping off into the distance of the new Maputo Reserve and celebrating their new freedom. It was exactly what the programs and conservation experts wanted to see when the cages were opened in the final step of the cats’ transport. Ideally, the partnership hopes that the cheetahs will add to the attraction of the reserve for visitors to see the wildlife, thereby turning the operation in a self-sustaining system in the future. That does seem doable given the addition of the cats as well as 5,000 other species via help from the World Bank’s Mozbio Programme. To date, the total wildlife population in the Maputo reserve is somewhere between 15,000 and 17,000 individual animals.

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