Fabrice Muamba Receives Honorary Doctorate on Behalf of Those Who Saved His Life

On March 17, 2012, Bolton Wanderers played the Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup quarter-finals. In the 43rd minute of the match, Fabrice Muamba, 23, collapsed on the pitch. The central midfielder had gone into cardiac arrest. Players frantically called for the paramedics and fans watched in silence. Five fully trained medical assistants and a St. John ambulance unit rushed to perform CPR on Muamba. Muamba’s heart had stopped for 78 minutes was in the hands of medical professionals and one fan, Dr. Deaner, who is a cardiologist,  rushed onto the pitch.

It was a scary and tragic moment around the soccer world. However, a joint effort from the medical staff on the pitch, Dr. Deaner, paramedics, and doctors, Muamba’s heart began beating again. The medical staff at London Chest Hospital and the medical staff at the match had saved Fabrice Muamba’s life. Muamba’s recovery was nothing short of remarkable as he was able to recognize his fiancee, son, and declared that he was “fine”. Two weeks after his collapse, Muamba posted a picture on Twitter of him smiling to show his fans that he was okay.

On May 02, 2012, Muamba returned to Reebok Stadium to watch his team take on the Tottenham Hotspur once again. Muamba was greeted by the staff and fans in an emotional return to the pitch since March 17. Chants of “Fabrice Muamba” echoed throughout stadium in a show of appreciation and love.

The University of Bolton is awarding Fabrice Muamba an honorary doctorate degree. Muamba’s recovery is an incredible accomplishment that was achieved through an amazing effort from the medical staff at the pitch to the doctors and nurses at London Chest Hospital. Muamba is a recipient of this degree as a way of honouring all those involved in his revival and recovery. The emergency treatment Muamba received saved his life and is an amazing accomplishment by all those involved.

Hopefully we can see Muamba lace up those boots for the 2012/2013 season of the English Premier League. Follow Muamba on Twitter!

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MasterChef’s First Blind Contestant

In it’s third season, MasterChef has returned with one of the most interesting seasons yet. A competitive cooking show which has the contestants presenting their dishes to the three judges. The nicest of the three judges, in my opinion, is Graham Elliot, a restaurant owner and chef. Many are familiar with Gordon Ramsay from his show Hell’s Kitchen. Lastly, Joe Bastianich may be one of the toughest judges these contestants will face. Bastianich’s sharp glares are enough to make any chef feel like a sub-par home cook. It’s these three judges that the contestants have to appeal to.

What sets this season apart from the other seasons is one contestant in particular. Christine Ha is the first ever blind contestant on MasterChef. Christine Ha is just 33 and has been diagnosed with Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO), a disorder were the person’s immune system attacks their optic nerves and spinal cord. Despite her condition, Christine is an amazing person with an amazing talent – cooking.

Instead of using sight, Christine relies on her other senses to cook. Touching the food, smelling the food, and tasting the food are the main techniques that Christine uses. What is even more impressive is that Christine gets little help from her guide. Her guide is only there to help her collect ingredients and to make sure she does not burn herself. The judges do not treat Christine differently either.

Christine possesses a remarkable skill in her ability to cook. However, when it comes to baking, there is a heavy reliance on sight. When baking a cake, one looks to see the cake rising. On Monday, the contestants were asked to bake an apple pie. Christine Ha was at a great disadvantage compared to her fellow contestants. What Christine accomplished is incredible and heart-warming.

Make sure you follow Christine Ha on Facebook and Twitter.  Tune in to MasterChef every Monday and Tuesday to watch Christine Ha cook!

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Stellar Stories is on Facebook and Twitter

It’s difficult to check this site periodically, I understand. However, if you follow Stellar Stories on Twitter or Facebook, you can receive updates every time a new story is published! So please, take the time to like Stellar Stories on Facebook and hit the follow button for Twitter!

There’s new content and pictures added to the Facebook site so I highly recommend you look it up! Don’t forget to tell a friend about Stellar Stories. The more people hear about it, the more these stories can brighten the days of others.

Thank you!

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Justin Blackmon and His Inspirational Friendship

Justin Blackmon, of the Oklahoma State University Cowboys, had an incredible performance in the Fiesta Bowl game on January 2nd. Blackmon was named MVP for the 2012 Fiesta Bowl after an overtime win. Blackmon had eight catches which totaled 186 yards and three touchdowns.

There is more to the wide receiver than just his on field performance. Justin Blackmon has an incredible friend who gives him strength. Olivia Hamilton, 9, is dealing with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Olivia is nearing the end of her 108 week treatment process. Nevertheless, it’s a horrible thing for any child to go through.

In a Coaches vs. Cancer at Oklahoma State, Olivia met Justin Blackmon. At first Olivia was shy and Blackmon was unable to receive a high five. A few months later, Blackmon tracked down Olivia and went to visit her hospital where he received a huge hug from Olivia. It doesn’t stop there, Blackmon would go and see Olivia in the hospital a few more times. From there, an amazing friendship was born.

When Olivia, for the first time, went to watch Blackmon play against Tulsa, she left two things for Blackmon in his locker. Olivia had made a sign for Blackmon as well as given him a pink silicon bracelet which read “Liv’s laugh beats ALL”. From that game on, Blackmon has worn the bracelet. Blackmon says that every time he sees the bracelet, he’s inspired. Olivia always cheers on her favourite player and watches to see her bracelet, as he celebrates every touchdown.

The friendship these two have is nothing short of beautiful and incredible. Both draw on the strength and inspiration of one another. Justin and Olivia send text messages back and forth, especially before games. Their story has attracted media attention, especially from ESPN. Watch the video below to hear their story, be sure to have a tissue box with you.

Wherever Blackmon goes in the NFL, the team has received an amazing athlete and an incredible person. I’m sure that wherever Justin goes, he will be bringing Olivia out to watch him play.

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Bringing in 2012 With Positive Messages

There were many great spectacles this year from fireworks lighting up over London’s River Thames or Sydney’s firework display around Harbour Bridge. Bringing in the new year is always an amazing spectacle set in cities and in neighbourhoods.

The ball dropping in New York is one of the biggest celebrations in the United States. With guests like Pitbull, Carlos Santana, Justin Bieber, and Lady Gaga (who dropped the ball), New York brought in the new year with a fun and excitement.

However, this celebration was more amazing than the performers on stage or the ball dropping. The best part was the confetti. Yes, one ton of tissue paper was dropped in the Big Apple is a cool thing. Most of us have been in a celebration where confetti has been dropped. This confetti was a little bit different.

From over 50 countries and thousands of people, messages were written on the confetti. Messages of wishes, hopes, dreams, inspirations, resolutions, and more were written on these small squares. This was a really great way for people to share their wishes and hopes for the new year with others.

Those of us who watched 2012 being brought in through the television never got to experience this. The organizers and the people behind this idea did a really amazing thing. It’s such a small act that allows people to share and experience the thoughts and feelings of complete strangers. It’s even better that thousands of people were involved from all over the world.

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2012! My wish is that everyone does their best to be a little kinder in everything they do. Have a happy new year!

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A Trip to Disneyland

I hope everyone had an amazing holidays! My apologies for not posting as regularly as I have but I have been very busy and let me tell you why!

This Christmas, I received the best gift I have ever received; I was going to Disneyland. So from the 19th to the 23rd, I was in Disneyland with my girlfriend. As much as I would love to talk about all the rides and all the characters, there was something better. Let me tell you about the people we encountered and their kindness.

The first day we were there, we were waiting in line for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. My girlfriend and myself were next up after this young girl. Before boarding the roller coaster, the girl turned to my girlfriend and told her, “you’re really pretty”. It was such a simple compliment, from a stranger, that made both our days.

The next person I would like to tell you about is the bus driver, from the hotel to Disneyland. On the first day of our trip, we found out that it’s cheaper to buy a ticket in the hotel for a certain amount of days, rather than paying daily. On the last day of the trip, there was a few people who boarded who paid cash. The bus driver told ever patron who boarded the bus that it’s cheaper to pay in the hotel. For every kid that entered with those families, he let them ride for free. He was also nice enough to get out of his seat to help a person out with their stroller. The person didn’t need the help, but it was still a simple and nice act.

The last kind act we saw was my favourite. As we were sitting in that monstrous airport known as LAX, we witnessed a young man giving an elderly woman a coffee. I believe he bought his friend a coffee who declined, so he offered it to the woman standing by herself. He had sugar and cream all laid out in his tray for her. She accepted and after a little bit, she went over and talked to him. Again, another great gesture that gave a wonderful trip a nice ending.

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Merry Christmas From StellarStories

I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone for reading my blog! If you read it on a regular basis, I’m sorry that I have not been posting regularly. For those of you who do not know me, it’s been a bit hectic with final exams and trying to find stories. But, it’s all done! I’m finished exams.

I will be away on holidays starting on December 19th and will not be back until the 23rd. New stories will be posted after Christmas! Until then, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas! Also, for my Jewish followers, have yourselves a happy Hanukkah!

Happy Holidays!

 

Secret Santa in Kmarts

In Omaha, Nebraska, six families have been touched by a Secret Santa in their local Kmart. The layaway department, in Kmart, got a very special visit from an anonymous young couple.

The couple wished to payoff a random layaway. The manager and an associate found an order with a few toys in it. The couple then paid off the bill leaving just one penny to keep the order active. Isn’t that awesome! Well, it gets even more awesome.

On Sunday, the following day, another young couple came in and wanted to pay off five orders at the same Kmart! One of the recipients of this kind act was Dona Bremser. “There is not a way to describe it and the person who did it, I just want to say thank you. You made this little one have the best Christmas possible,” said Bremser. For Dona Bremser, she wishes to pay it forward as well. In fact, Dona wishes to make this a family tradition!

As I was writing this story, I went to check the sources. I typed “kmart secret santa” into Google and I received a very pleasant surprise. Omaha’s Kmart is just one of many Kmarts that have been touched by a string of Secret Santas. The first Kmart to receive the random act of kindness was in Plainfield Township, Michigan.

It all began with one woman’s generosity in Plainfield Township’s Kmart. The woman, after buying a cart full of items for Toys for Tots, went into the Kmart and paid off three layaway bills. It was this one anonymous woman’s generosity that generated similar acts of kindness.

In just three days, 20 accounts had been paid for, totaling $3,500! But it doesn’t stop there! At the Hastings Kmart, a person, inspired by the stories on his or her local news channel, donated $5,000 to pay off layaway orders. The generosity, started by the one woman, has spread to many different states!

Many of the Secret Santas make one request. Their request is that they are not paying off layaways for things such as big screen TV’s. Instead, they request that they payoff layaways with items such as toys, clothing, and necessities.

It has touched people in numerous ways. “One was an older woman who learned her bill had been reduced to 40 cents. Her husband was laid off from his job the day before and the coming months were going to be a hardship” (mlive.com).

The acts of these anonymous Secret Santas is incredible and captures the true meaning of Christmas spirit.

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Defeating Hunger One Meal At A Time

Another initiative of the United Nations World Food Programme, WeFeeback is a neat way to look at how people spend their money and how it can help others.

Hunger is a serious issue that effects the lives of billions. Just think, every day we are bombarded with eating nutritious foods. There is a huge push to get high schools to only sell healthy snacks. Imagine in places like Africa and Brazil where kids don’t have the privilege to eat that healthy snack, nevertheless eat a proper meal. It’s very heartbreaking to see.

Have you ever been in a position where you could go home and make yourself a meal but instead you decide to buy something out of convenience and hunger sake? WeFeedback is a really neat program that shows you how far that purchase could have gone.

How does it work? Well, you go to the site, enter in a food item (perhaps your most recent meal), and what you paid. The calculator then tells you how many children you can feed based off of what you spent. For example, if I went out for a 17 dollar meal, I would have fed 68 children! That’s a lot of people.

Instead of just ridiculing you for what you spent on that meal, WeFeedback provides you with the opportunity to donate that money to help feed the children. The site also provides you with the opportunity to control how many meals you purchase. As a person who purchases my coffee, I can figure out how many children can be fed over the span of a week with this calculator!

Please, visit the website, calculate something for fun. The next time you contemplate buying yourself a snack, meal, or coffee, think about how that money could help someone who doesn’t have that option. If you were going to spend the money, why not make it go a little further. You have the ability to feed many children with this amazing site.

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Calgary Hitmen Teddy Bear Toss

The Calgary Hitmen, a Western Hockey League team, were hosting a game against their local rivals the Medicine Hat Tigers. This isn’t your typical hockey game though. On December 4, 2011, it was the 17th annual Petro-Canada Teddy Bear Toss Game!

How does it work? “Fans are encouraged to bring a small or medium sized stuffed toy to the game and toss it on the ice when the Hitmen score their first goal”. 50 different charities including: Salvation Army, Calgary Womens Emergency Shelter, Boys and Girls Club of Airdrie and the Alberta Children’s Hospital are recipients of the stuffed toys.

Pretty awesome idea right? To get into the Christmas and giving spirit, the Hitmen players wear a jersey that is slightly altered. Last year, the Hitmen wore a Christmas-red as opposed to their traditional red. This year, the players had snow on their numbers and their “hitman” wearing a Christmas hat!

Fans were eager to throw their teddy bears onto the ice as the first period passed. With two minutes left in the second period, Calder Brooks (in the picture above, on the right) gave the fans permission to toss the teddies.

The 2011 Teddy Bear Toss saw 25,003 teddies on the ice that night. Unfortunately for the Hitmen, they fell 2-1 to the Tigers. For the fans, they were able to have fun throwing their stuffed toys on the ice for a great cause. The players will go on to donate all the stuffed animals to the 50 different charities.

The Teddy Bear Toss isn’t exclusive to the Calgary Hitmen. Other teams around the league such as the Vancouver Giants and Portland Winterhawks have adopted the Teddy Bear Toss. If your local team hosts a Teddy Bear Toss, I recommend you attend the event! It’s a great cause and great fun!

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A Successful Christmas Pyjama Drive

Remember that story about Reese and his Surrey Christmas Pyjama Drive? Well, Reese’s goal of reaching 1,000 pyjamas was surpassed!

There has been an overabundance of support for Reese, his friends, and his cause. With Brown’s Social House helping out, just one of the restaurants was able to bring in 279 pairs! But it doesn’t stop there! 308 pairs were collected from Sea of Stars Elementary School. The King of Floors donated 101 pairs to Reese’s cause!

What was even more impressive were the people who sent pyjamas from places like Shuswap and Victoria! The story had not only affected people in the community but also in other places around the province. The story was so great that people mailed Reese cards, one with a Tim Horton’s gift card attached too!

So what is the total? 1,422 pairs of pyjamas! That’s incredible! What’s even more great is that people still want to drop off pyjamas and help this amazing cause. The pyjamas were dropped off at the Surrey Christmas Bureau and the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau. Reese is kind of a celebrity, he dropped off the pyjamas to the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau with the Kid Carson show on the Beat 94.5!

What’s next for Reese? Well, he’s heading back to headquarters (Tim Horton’s) with his “pyjama posse” and planning an even bigger and better next year! Reese is an amazing kid who is an inspiration to his fellow peers and to adults. Reese has shown what the true spirit of Christmas is all about.

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Student Shares His Free Throw Winnings

What comes to mind when you hear the words Compton, L.A.? I’m sure it’s not a very positive image. Court Crandall was inspired after watching his son play basketball with some of the Compton students. With a large racial and social divide, Crandall wanted to find a way to unite people. How could this be accomplished? A free throw shooting competition was going to be held in Compton to bring everyone together.

A pre-requisite for the free throw competition was a 3.00 or higher GPA. Crandall received 100 applications and 8 of the students were chosen, at random. The winner of the competition would receive a $40,000 scholarship and the runners-up would receive $1,000. Crandall’s “hope was that what started as a competition would become a collaboration with the kids supporting each other”.  However, it became much more than that. At first, I struggled to see how a free throw competition could foster support of the participants. After watching the clip below, it was the fans supporting the shooters in such a positive way that made me understand.

The winner, Allan Guei, 18, was a point guard on the senior basketball team with a full scholarship to Cal-State Northridge. What Guei did with his winnings is even more incredible. After three months of winning the competition, Guei donated the money to his seven fellow participants. For Guei, he wanted his fellow classmates to have their academic dreams come true. “I’ve already been blessed so much and I know we’re living with a bad economy, so I know this money can really help my classmates”. Guei says, “it was the right decision.”

The goal of Crandall was to create a sense of community and support. I can bet that Crandall did not expect the unity to spread in the way it did. Cal-State Northridge has picked up an amazing basketball player. Better yet, they managed to find an even finer human-being. You give someone the opportunity and it’s amazing what they will do with it.

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A Little More Good

I was fortunate enough, to get the opportunity, to meet the founder of A Little More Good, Katie Jeanes. Let me just say, Katie is the most down to earth person you may ever come across. Her positive and real attitude is definitely reflected in A Little More Good and I’d love to tell you how!

Starting in 2010, Katie set out with an idea for social change through her company, A Little More Good. This isn’t your typical site on social change though. To put it simply, A Little More Good is all about promoting the good. When I first saw this site, I thought it was all about extreme social activism. Boy, was I wrong! Instead, it’s a more realistic and feasible approach to doing positive things.

As Katie told me, it’s not about doing the extreme, it’s about the little things. Sometimes doing the right thing is as simple as recycling that can, shopping with a re-usable bag, or holding a door open for someone. A Little More Good provides people with a way to achieve that ideal “good” by profiling “good ideas, good causes, and good companies in Vancouver”. I’m going to be honest, I care about the environment but I still throw things in the garbage that I shouldn’t. However, A Little More Good doesn’t condemn those people. Instead, A Little More Good realizes that people are not perfect and makes doing the right thing a positive and fun experience.

How does A Little More Good possibly achieve all this? I’m glad you asked! A Little More Good makes it possible through hosting events in the community. The events are hosted once a month for a fundraiser for the charity of the month! Through these events, Katie hopes to promote change by bringing people together and having fun making a difference. You don’t have to be a hardcore social activist, as long as you care about promoting change, that’s all that matters. As Katie was telling me about the next event, she was super excited and I was just as excited! These aren’t your typical types of events, these are a lot more fun!

Let’s find out how we can get involved with A Little More Good. Signing up for the monthly newsletter is a good start! The newsletter is free and comes with “More Good in the Hood”. This e-book provides people with 100 ways to do a little more good in the community. Remember those events I was telling you about? The events, also, are a way to check off one of the acts in “More Good in the Hood”. For example, #73 dance!

To become even more involved, A Little More Good has a really great membership service. When Katie was describing the membership, I was looking forward to going home and signing up! Every event that is hosted, you get 40% off! You also get the inside scoop and first dibs on tickets to the events. Trust me, the next event sounds like a blast and I know I want to be a part of it! Here’s a few events for example: “snowtubing, board games, battle of the bands and spa nights”. The membership is only $20 which is basically paying itself off when you look at those awesome events! A Little More Good also offers companies a way to get involved through a membership.

I could go on and on and on about this incredible company. However, I recommend you take a peak at the website.

Make sure you follow A Little More Good on Twitter and Facebook. Also, don’t forget to read Katie’s blog and follow her on Twitter!

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Gift a Stranger

With the holidays right around the corner, nothing beats the feeling of giving. Gift a Stranger is a site created by the people at Happiness Brussels. Happiness Brussels is a communication agency that has created a really fun website. Gift a Stranger makes it possible to spread your holiday joy worldwide.

First, you’ll have to find a gift that you would like to send somewhere in the world! Using google maps, Gift a Stranger searches for a full address (at random) and then provides it for you. If you’re not happy with that address for whatever reason, you can search again. Once you’ve found a place you would like to send your gift, print off the address and put it on your parcel! Yes, you will have to pay the postage but think of the joy you’re giving to a complete stranger!

Gift a Stranger also allows you to view what other people have sent around the world. It’s truly an amazing and fun site. When you’re out doing your Christmas shopping this year, perhaps pick up a little something extra and send that gift to a complete stranger!

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Miracle on 22nd Street

Sarah Klein and Tom Mason, from Red Glass Pictures, came together to make a seven-minute documentary short. The New York Times ran the story in 2010.

The couple in the film, Jim and Dylan, have been the recipients of hundreds of letters addressed to Santa Claus. For this New York couple, throwing the letters out was not an option. Jim and Dylan brought a whole new meaning to Christmas spirit and you’ll just have to watch the video to find out how!

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