Connect with us

Amazing

Virtual Music Program Helps Children Discover And Hone Music Skills

Jolie

Published

on

ADVERTISEMENT

Zoom and Skype have brought together 52 children and teenagers of the Gary Sinise Foundation Snowball Express in musical harmony quite literally. These kids from various regions of the world have honing their musical skills this summer with the help of trained musicians, including members of the Lt. Dan Band and Gary Sinise. 

Training and lessons on one of many instruments including the trumpet, piano, drums, guitar, violin, and so on, started at the end of July. Some vocal lessons were also thrown into the mix. 

The search for instructors to virtually teach musical lessons once a week to kids living across multiple timezones wasn’t as difficult as it sounded. James Stuckmann explained that he only had to reach out to network of musicians, including the Lt. Dan Band. 

Stuckmann has been with the band since 2004. He worked with the foundation’s events and Snowball Express teams in organizing the six-week-long program.

The program was a life-changing one for many of the students, but for Vlada Golin, it helped her discover a natural talent in playing the guitar. Her father, Mihail, a Green Beret lost his life in Afghanistan, 2018 when she was only six years of age. 

“She’s so focused and so determined on doing it and doing it well,” explained her teacher, Gina Gonzalez, “I told her, ‘If you really stick with it, I think that you could have a nice, long career playing the guitar.’”

Alongside Vlada, Gonzalez taught lessons to seven others in either the guitar or vocals. She’s been singing with the Lt. Dan Band since 2004, and like her fellow band members, has been teaching music to students for many years.

One Wednesday evening session in particular, Vlada was trying to learn how to strum several chords together, but she kept on running into trouble with the C chord and her fingers were hurting.

“This is a marathon, not a sprint,” Gonzalez said to her. 

Vlada continued strumming four chords, one after the other, at moderate tempo- and soon enough, she reached harmony. 

“I get used to it, and I get the hang of it,” Vlada said about learning tricky chords. At the end of the day, she wishes to attend the School of Rock and start a rock band.

The wave of the pandemic has forced a nationwide shutdown of K-12 schools and the onset of online education, with some taking a hybrid approach involving both virtual and classroom classes on different days of the week. 

The global economy has taken a heavy hit due to the pandemic, which has led many administrators to cut costs in order to stay afloat, but at the expense of arts and music education.

New York sixth grader and trumpet player Michael Hansen opted for online classes instead of the hybrid approach offered by the sixth, which means he hasn’t had access to band practice since March. 

Michael’s father, Dennis Hansen suffered fatal wounds from an IED explosion during a tour in Afghanistan in 2009. Sadly, Michael has no memory of him since he was young when the tragic incident occurred. 

Michael developed some anxiety ahead of his first lesson. He was scared of heavy criticism of his playing abilities from his instructor, as well as, impossible homework activities. 

But to his surprise, his instructor, Kirk Garrison wasn’t all that he feared. The jazz musician and composer had an exquisite sense of humor that made it easy for both parties to connect instantly. “When you teach these young people you want to get that bond,” Garrison said. He spent nine years playing in the United States Air Force Band, and has been touring with the Lt. Dan Band since 2005. 

According to Garrison, virtual learning with private lessons is just as good as physical lessons for students to become better at their craft, which include reading music and harmonizing rhythms. 

“They’re on their own now, and this teaches them to do that and get the answers for themselves by actually reading the music and imagining the sounds and then making the sounds without having someone else spoon feed it to you or teach you by ear.”

“He doesn’t care if I mess up,” Michael explained about Garrison’s teaching style. “He encourages me not to get mad if I make a mistake.”

Some students took the music program as a way to retrace their steps back to a passion that had withered away. 

James House was only a few months old when his father, John Daniel House, a Navy corpsman, died in a helicopter crash in Iran back in January, 2005. 

Currently a high school sophomore, he began his journey to guitar mastery two years ago, with his grandfather playing musical instructor for the basics. He picked up a few things about playing the guitar, but lost passion along the way due to lack of inspiration. 

James possesses a few treasured items from his late father, including homemade videos of John playing impromptu concerts for his family with the same guitar he now uses in his virtual sessions with instructor Gina Gonzalez. 

“I don’t have quite a lot of things that I can look at say, ‘this was something that he loved and held and played as well,’” James said of the guitar’s significance. “It’s a really special experience having that guitar that was his and knowing that he played just the same as I am now.”

His grandfather’s birthday is just weeks away, and he has a special surprise in store for him to honors his father and the connection they all share playing the guitar. James is now close to mastering Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising,” the song his grandfather tried teaching him years ago.

“Him seeing me play,” James said of his grandfather, “will really mean something to him.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Amazing

12-year-old Genius Harbors Plans Of Being An Astronaut And Working With Elon Musk

Danielle S

Published

on

In few years from now, 12-year-old Caleb Anderson will become a college graduate. But that isn’t the main story here.

It’s his passion of becoming an Astronaut. Currently majoring in aerospace engineering at the Chattahoochee Technical College, Caleb behaves like most kids his age. He loves collecting Beyblades.

“I like collecting transformers. I like collecting these Japanese toys called Beyblades. I like watching anime,” Caleb said.

But he’s quite different. Shown by his career path.

“Since I was one, I always wanted to be an astronaut. I wanted to go to space and explore, study,” Caleb, the oldest of three, explained.

His parents had seen the signs that their sons was talented.

“When he was about four weeks old, he was mimicking some of the stuff I was saying,” his mother Claire Anderson explained. She then got her certification in sign language so she could teach him.

“He just picked it up and then he just started reading. By the time he was six months old, he could sign words he had seen,” she described.

The Andersons marveled that Caleb had understanding of the United States Constitution at the age of two.

Time has passed since then but his parents realized that for him to become better, he had to be enrolled in an environment that could facilitate his learning skill. At his Marietta private school, Caleb was bored.

“He’s always had this hunger and thirst for knowledge,” his dad Kobi Anderson explained.

“It was just work, work, work, work. And, again, I wasn’t learning anything,” Caleb mentioned.

Now Caleb is juggling both high school and college courses at his new school, his mother says.

“He had already taken the ACT and those exams and then we went to Chattahoochee Tech and he took the entry exam. I think they needed a 300 or something and he got a 275,” Claire explained.

Caleb made remarks about how the school perceives him. Saying University doesn’t “see me an anomaly. They see me as a person.”

His family sees him in the same light too and believe the society is full of kids who unfortunately don’t have the same chance as Caleb.

“Kids, they have a lot of innate potential, so let’s foster that. You really don’t know unless you expose them to different things,” Kobi Anderson explained.

When Caleb finishes from Chattahoochee Tech, he has dreams of advancing his studies at Georgia Tech. After that, there’s an aspiration of getting into MIT.

In all, he would love to work with Elon Musk.

Continue Reading

Amazing

Read How Billionaire Inspired Bill Gates & Warren Buffet By Doing The Unthinkable: Giving Away His Entire Fortune

Liz L

Published

on

By

In 1982, at a time finances of people were not quite high, and most spent money on frivolities, a wealthy businessman secretly established a philanthropic foundation.

His dream? To quietly dash away his entire wealth. It’s been 38 years and now he has accomplished his mission at age 89.

Chuck Feeney became wealthy engaging in duty-free shipping trade, accumulating about $8 billion in the process.

Being an Irish-American, he was careful with his spending and was also humble irrespective of his wealth. Surprising is the fact that he doesn’t have a car and lives in a small rented house. Also, he only flies economy class and while many might expect him to have a large collection of shoes, he owns only a pair. Shocking.

Feeney being rich, had to keep his charitable missions in secrecy from the public for about 15 years not until in 1997 when his philanthropic activities became public knowledge when he sold his shares.

Feeney would go on to live a quiet life till 2005 when the chance came to harness his publicity.

He agreed with a journalist, Conor O’Cleary to write his biography, mainly preaching the message of “giving while living” as an example to other wealthy people. The book was launched in 2007 by former Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern.

News however emerged this week that his foundation, The Atlantic Philanthropies has expended all available money.

Feeney was however glad on finally achieving this feat. With this in mind, he persuaded wealthy people to give; now they’re still alive to feel that joy that comes with giving.

Speaking to the Guardian on what propelled his kindness, the business mogul said “Wealth brings responsibility. People must define themselves, or feel a responsibility to use some of their assets to improve the lives of their fellow humans, or else create intractable problems for future generations.”

Much of Feeney’s donations went to higher education institutions, with about $1 billion given to Cornell University alone, the school he studied for free under the GI Bill after serving in the Air Force during the Korean War.

Other organizations Feeney’s wealth went to included various human rights groups whom he donated $870 million and $1.9 billion to assist several projects in Northern Ireland and the Republic Ireland, where he helped establish the University of Limerick.

Feeney’s grandparents were natives of County Fermanagh in the north who settled in America.

Motivated by Feeney’s exemplary actions, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett set up the “Giving Pledge” for the world’s wealthiest people.

People who take this pledge consent to donating about half of their fortune to charity. Buffet particularly had much respect for his friend’s actions, saying “Feeney is my hero and Bill Gates’ hero—he should be everybody’s hero”.

Continue Reading

Amazing

Kansas Chiefs & Kansas City Community Makes Historical Donation To Ronald McDonald House Charities

Liz L

Published

on

By

The last eight years of the annual Red Friday Sales had raised over $2.8 million. Yearly, flags of the Kansas City Chiefs are made available on a day that has been named “Red Friday Sales”.

Money recouped from those sales are donated to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kansas City (RMHC-KC) to assist in providing adequate medical care to households in times of need.

This year alone, the Chiefs and Kansas City community amassed $1 million for the RMHC-FC through the usual Friday sales.

This year’s edition, the Red Friday kickoff edition held on Wednesday September 9. And it proved to be different. Apart from the record amount raised, a partnership was formed with McDonalds to sell the flags—specially designed SuperBowl LIV Champions edition—in all Kansas City and St. Joseph area McDonald outlets. Flags were also made available at Kansas City Hy-Vee stores for a minimum donation of $5.

Overall, these efforts yielded results. Physical sales of the flags notched up higher and online sale figures eclipsed the previous year’s. This year’s donation is the highest Red Friday flag sales contribution since the club started the sales of flags before the 2014 season.

RMHC-KC CEO, Tami Greenberg was excited about the impact of this year’s sales. “Red Friday is the most important day of the year for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kansas City, and this year, more than ever, we really needed Chiefs Kingdom to show up in support of sick kids and their families. And show up they did,” RMHC-KC CEO Tami Greenberg said. “It’s extraordinary that this generous and caring community came together to make such a meaningful donation to RMHC-KC, all through $5 flags! Red Friday is a testament to the strong leadership and commitment of Clark Hunt and the Hunt family, the entire Chiefs organization (on and off the playing field), our corporate partners – especially McDonald’s – and the giving spirit of Chiefs fans near and far. During all the challenges of 2020, RMHC-KC never stopped keeping sick kids and families close to the medical care they need, and with this support from Red Friday we will keep going strong.”

The aim of this year’s donation is to help diminish the effect of children’s illnesses on finances of families. 

Knowing that most families don’t earn much income, more than $2.8 million has been diverted to assist the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kansas City in providing adequate medical care.

“We were cautiously optimistic about our goals for Red Friday this year. Despite the challenges, we knew we had to find a way to hit that seven-figure amount for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kansas City, and Chiefs Kingdom helped us do that,” Chiefs President Mark Donovan said. “Year after year we’ve seen the people of Kansas City, and Chiefs fans throughout the country, step up to show their amazing support for this team through Red Friday, as well as show their appreciation for the work that RMHC-KC does here in our community. This was certainly the most unique flag we’ve done in the past seven years as it was our Super Bowl LIV Champions flag, and we hope to #RunItBack, have another champions flag, and raise even more next year.”

Another highlight of the Red Friday sales was the edition holding in Springfield, Missouri for the fourth consecutive year. Collaborating with Red Friday in Kansas City, Red Friday flags were made available at 55 McDonald’s locations in Springfield and surrounding areas for a minimum donation of $5.

Sales in this area generated about $65,000 with all flags sold out. All revenue will be directed to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Ozarks. Nine Topeka-area McDonald’s locations sold the Red Friday – Kickoff edition flags with nearly $25,000 coming in as the revenue. These will however be given to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northeast Kansas.

In addition to this, Red Friday holds a legacy of selling team branded magazines around the region to make funds available for local charities established by Chiefs founder Lamar Hunt and the Chiefs Red Coaters.

It’s amazing to note here that since the launch of Red Friday, figures from the sales of flags, newspapers and magazines have totaled $3.3 million for local charities, with an emphasis on assisting youths in need.

Continue Reading

Amazing

No Dog Left Behind Scurries To The Gulf Coast To Rescue Homeless Dogs

Danielle S

Published

on

The Hurricane Laura ravaging in the gulf region has rendered many homeless in the past few weeks. People have had to flee the area to somewhere safe leaving their animals in the process.

Hope has however beamed on these animals left behind as they’ve been rescued by the No Dog Left Behind organization. The team flew the dogs to Pittsburgh over a 1,500 mile road trip in their Mahindra Airvan. The trip took 15 hours.

Instead of returning the dogs to the owners, the homeless animals were relinquished to a local animal shelter in Louisiana. The dogs owners felt it was better this way. The owners reasoned the dogs might not get proper care as their properties had been destroyed by the hurricane. Thus, the dogs could experience a tumultuous life with them.

“My heart just breaks for these families. To say goodbye to a pet they love, even if they know it’s the right thing to do, has to hurt so much. It’s nothing short of heroic. I want all of them to know: I give you my word that we will take care of your pups like they’re our own, and find them safe homes in Pittsburgh,” said Jonathan Plesset, Co-Founder of No Dog Left Behind. “Our team stands with the people impacted by this devastation,” explained Brad Childs, Co-Founder of No Dog Left Behind.

The rescue mission was made possible by the Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team. This was their 49th rescue mission so far in 2020. If there’s anyone willing to donate to assist No Dog Left Behind’s efforts, visit www.nodogleftbehind.org.

About No Dog Left Behind

No Dog Left Behind is a non-governmental organization that helps to rescue and provide care for at-risk animals. Co-founded by Jonathan Plesset who owns Shayside Home Apartments in Pittsburgh’s Shadyside neighborhood, and Brad Childs, owner of The Dog Stop Upper St. Clair, a luxury pet resort and spa. Since inception, PAART has helped over 12,000 animals, assisting them to safety. The company’s headquarter is situated at Allegheny County Airport in West Mifflin. To get more information, visit www.nodogleftbehind.org or contact Jonathan Plesset, No Dog Left Behind, at jon@nodogleftbehind.org

Continue Reading

Amazing

Introducing The Armless Archer

Jolie

Published

on

By

When you think about the art of arching, the first parts of the human body that naturally come to mind are the arms, right? But what if we told you that one of the best and highly-rated archers in the world was born without arms and he uses his feet instead? It’s quite shocking and phenomenal. 

37-year old Matt Stutzman of Fairfield, Iowa is one of the world’s best archers, and his awards over the years are evidence of his rare skill. 

“The last time we looked into it, 1% of archers in the world make a living shooting a bow,” he said. According to him, January, 2010 was when he decided to become the best archer in the world, and he might just have achieved it. By 2011, he had already made the U.S. Team, and went ahead to win Silver in his first games in 2012. These achievements are mind-blowing, but what makes it more special, and quite unbelievable is that he did it all with his feet.

In describing his transition in the world of archery, he said, “When it first started, it was ‘Look at this guy without arms!’ And now it’s like ‘Uggh, Matt’s here.’” His prowess and reputation spans across all aspects of the game. He is feared and revered by Paralympics and able-bodied opponents who have “tasted” the pain of his archer’s paradox. 

It can be hard sometimes to hit anything with an arrow as an able-bodied person, but Stutzmann does it flawlessly with his feet. How? 

Well, he uses a strap wrapped around his chest to pull back the bow spring.

“At this point, I’m adjusting my strap to make sure it’s in the same place,” he said. “That way when I draw the bow back, I push my leg away from my chest. I bring my right shoulder up and I set. Bring my face down to my release… and then I set it.”

“If I can take a bow that’s not modified for me and I can compete against people that have arms and beat them at their own sport, well, the, what’s everybody else’s excuse?”

At competitions, he’s always the center of attraction- the different contestant because he’s usually the only one sitting down. The truth is, he loves and basks in the attention. “For me, I’m used to being looked at all the time,” he said. 

Shockingly, Stutzman says he never wished he had arms. Not even once. He doesn’t see himself as disabled. He can do basic things such as eating and cleaning up, and the more complex things like unscrewing a lug nut to change a tire without needing any help. He can also drive a non-modified car and motorcycle- he even has a permit for it, so it’s absolutely legal. 

His health complications started right after he was born. His birth parents discovered something wrong with him, and it was too much for them to handle, apparently. “Based on what the doctors told them, that was too much for them,” he said. 

At only two-months of age, Stutzman was put up for adoption by his own parents. Shortly after, he met Jean and Leon Stutzman, and they helped change his life. 

In his interview with Jean, Lee Cowan, CBS correspondence asked him if he remembered the first time he saw him. 

“Oh, yes,” said Jean in reply. “Here was this little curly-haired blonde head guy, and he just kinda sat up like, Well, here I am!” It was more like love at first sight, so they took him in and raised him alongside their seven kids without segregation or bias. 

They even got Matt prosthetic limbs, but it sat on the shelf most of the time- he was so independent and bent on living the way he was. They also decided to stick with his decision and backed out from modifying anything in their home for him. “”We decided not to do anything just because he’s not going to live in a handicapped world. He’s going to live in a world where people expect he has to adapt to those kinds of things. So, that was the philosophy that we took- figure it out.”

He got better at doing things just like every other person and was willing to do more- but no one gave him a chance. 

He couldn’t find a job. 

“I even went to try to do a typing job, because I was that desperate to try to figure out something,” he said. 

Now he has found his niche in being an amazing at archery!

Continue Reading
ADVERTISEMENT

Trending