It's the season of family, friends and fellowship; of big homemade dinners and road trips and cookie swaps and holiday pageants and festive get-togethers and (shudder) office holiday parties. With all of that socializing, when's the last time you actually got a few peaceful moments alone? No, holing yourself up in the basement to wrap gifts doesn't count. Please, I beg of you, try and find at least one of those peaceful moments this weekend. Those gifts will be there when you come back. And if you run out of time, hey, stick 'em in a bag, wad up some tissue and call it a day. No one will judge you.
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All hands on deck
Running a small business is hard enough, but when the unthinkable happens, it can become nearly impossible to do it alone. Dave McAdams and his wife Tina own The Local Coffee Company in Oak Grove, Oregon. Sadly, Dave has terminal cancer, and recently entered hospice care. Obviously, the last thing anyone wanted to think about was coffee, so the owner of a nearby coffee shop decided to step in and support the family. Tina says Pixie Adams, the owner of Moonlight Coffee, closed her shop for a day and ran the McAdams' shop, free of charge. It turned out to be a record day: Coffee lovers lined up for their usual lattes, cappuccinos and treats, and ended up raising $3,000 in sales and donations. Adams says she'll keep raising money for the McAdams' at her own shop. As a breast cancer survivor, she understands what it's like to just need some help. "I fought hard for more birthdays, and I want to do the very best I can for my community with as many years as I can," she said.
Dash away, all!
Mena Hawkins is the definition of grit. This week, the 17-year-old crossed the finish line of the Las Vegas Great Santa Run in her walker as friends and family cheered her on and showered her with confetti. Mena has cerebral palsy,and uses a manual wheelchair and a reverse walker to get around. She first participated the holiday race six years ago but was so behind the rest of the pack officials had to open the course to traffic. She finished anyway and vowed to try again. "I felt like it was a huge achievement," she said. She started training for the race in March, walking various routes with hills and inclines even though the 110-degree summer heat. In the run-up to the event, Mena decided to use her journey to inspire others. She created a fundraising page to raise money for Opportunity Village, a non-profit that helps people with disabilities find jobs or pursue their dreams. With one personal record smashed, she's now looking for new challenges. "Be confident in yourself," she says. "Achieve your end goal. And be happy about it."
They go together
How do you surprise song and screen legend Olivia Newton John? How about buying her iconic black leather "Grease" jacket for $243,200 and ... return it to her as a gift? That's what an anonymous buyer did recently at a charity auction. Newton-John's reaction when she's presented with the mystery package is priceless, but it's what the buyer said afterward that will really leave your heart fluttering: "This jacket belongs to you and the collective soul of those who love you, those for whom you are the soundtrack of their lives. It should not sit in a billionaire's closet for country club bragging rights," he said. "For this reason, I humbly and respectfully return it to its rightful owner, which is you." The jacket was part of a huge collection of memorabilia Newton-John, a breast cancer survivor, auctioned off to raise funds for her cancer center. So now, the cancer center gets the money, and Newton-John gets the jacket, which she said she will proudly display in the center's halls.
Raise a glass to...
The quartet of newly-crowned pageant queens whose victories mark a beautiful milestone in the pageant world. For the first time ever, Miss USA, Miss Teen USA, Miss America and Miss Universe are all black women. Let's get to know them:
Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi hails from South Africa and has launched a social media campaign against gender-based violence.
Miss USA Cheslie Kryst is a North Carolina attorney who is working to reform America's justice system.
Miss Teen USA Kaliegh Garris is from Connecticut and smashed pageant beauty standards by competing in her natural hair.
Miss America Nia Franklin is an opera singer from North Carolina who wants to inspire children to succeed through the power of music.
Congratulations to these lovely ladies!
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Tell us something good
Thank you to Carla Stoner for sharing this story.
The holiday season always brings out the best in people. Here are a few more quick, fun festive stories we loved this week.
Shameless animal video
There's always time for cute animal videos. That time is now.