Reindeer Glass Ceiling; The Thanks 'Is To Live': 7 Good News Stories

ACROSS AMERICA — You know Dasher and Dancer, Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen — but do you recall Twilight, the most easily distracted reindeer of all?

Adam Woodworth, 52, executive director of the Children’s Museum in Oak Lawn, Illinois, and a professional Santa Claus, has just written a new illustrated children’s book, “Twilight: A Reindeer Story,” about a young reindeer who’s determined to be the first doe on Santa’s sleigh team but finds it hard to focus on tasks at hand.

“Twilight has a problem,” Woodworth told Patch. “You have to have an obstacle, and her obstacle is that she gets easily sidetracked by shiny things and pretty colors. She struggles with reindeer games and doesn’t do well.”

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The story was inspired by a short writing that his daughter, Alyssa, 21, wrote when she was 5 or 6 years old, about a reindeer named Twilight.

“It was during 2020 when the world shut down and I was going through boxes in the basement,” Woodworth said. “My daughter barely remembers writing it. I thought the name was kind of cool. I thought I’d love to do something with it some day.” » A Patch Exclusive by Lorraine Swanson for Oak Lawn Patch

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Speaking Of Glass Ceilings …

April Florie was up to her elbows in Pine Sol, cleaning her house in Toms River, New Jersey, a couple of weeks ago when her son called her.
“Have you been on Twitter?” Mike Florie asked excitedly. “My phone is blowing up.”

The reason? April Florie’s photo was being circulated by the Pro Football Hall of Fame on its Twitter and Facebook accounts, along with a blurb that read, “You love to see it! 57-year-old mom of two April Florie is a teacher at Toms River High School East. Despite never having coached football before, she volunteered as an assistant coach and became the first female football coach in the history of New Jersey’s Shore Conference.”

And guess who joined in the congratulations? Tennis legend Billie Jean King, who’s shattered a few glass ceilings in the world of sports herself. » By Karen Wall for Toms River Patch

The ‘Thank You’ Is Living

On “death’s doorstep” last year, Madeline Moritz, 49, was saying goodbye to her husband, Bill, their children and other family members. At the same time, Bill was facing the possibility of kidney failure after fighting disease for more than a decade. She was planning to donate a kidney to Bill when she got the acute myeloid leukemia diagnosis.

What a difference a year has made for the Farmingdale, New York, couple. She’s in remission after getting a blood and stem cell transfusion from her sister, and he has a new kidney, donated by Madeline’s friend and co-worker Jen Kaiser donated a kidney.

Gratitude doesn’t begin to describe the family’s intense joy.

“You think, ‘OK, this person just gave me a kidney, and how can I ever repay this person? What can I do?’ ” Bill told Patch. The bottom line, he said, “is to live.”

Madeline feels the same.

“By the grace of God, I made a turnaround with the help of my physicians,” she said. “I’m just thankful every day that I’m alive. … I’m just grateful every day that I’m here, that I feel well, and I can be as present as I possibly can.” » A Patch Exclusive by Michael DeSantis for Farmingdale Patch

Reclaiming Their Names

The grounds of a prison is the last place you might expect to find an accomplished harp player creating a stirring atmosphere of contemplation.

A gathering of dozens on a frosty November morning, including well-known political figures and community leaders, in the shadow of razor wire guard towers, likewise, seems out of place at first blush, but in this quiet corner of Bedford, New York, the relationship between the two nearby New York State prisons and the town they call home is uniquely neighborly.

The crowd came together at a small wooded graveyard to remember those who came to Bedford as inmates and never left the prison. They were there to bear witness that those who reclaimed their names, rather than prison numbers, only in death, are a part of the community. They came to let the women behind bars just steps away know that although they didn’t come to Bedford by choice, they are neighbors just the same, and they came to say that in this community, all are worthy of respect.

“It sometimes seems like we are more divided than ever,” New York State Assemblyperson and former Bedford Town Supervisor Chris Burdick said. “But in our little corner of the world, we are coming together to demonstrate a shared humanity … to celebrate that a humanity that was denied has been restored.” » A Patch Exclusive by Jeff Edwards for Bedford Patch

The Dividends Of Generosity

Walter “Uncle Willie” Green’s business was saved by an unlikely source: his own generosity. His Uncle Willie’s Wings restaurant in Newark, New Jersey, had been open only a few months when the pandemic hit, and as the coronavirus crisis dragged on, the future looked grim.

It looked grim for everyone around him, too. Many of his neighbors were out of work, sick and financially hurting. So he put the resources of his restaurant behind an event called “Willie’s Day” and fed about 300 people.

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His generosity didn’t end there, or even in Newark. Before long, Uncle Willie’s Wings was preparing meals for essential health care workers and postal employees, and donating to children’s cancer organizations.

The good vibes have translated into dollars, with Willie’s Wings’ bottom line sweetening up like one of Green’s barbecue sauces. Now, with business thriving, Green is opening a second location. » By Eric Kiefer for Newark Patch

A Reminder Of Unity

Two Hillsborough County, Florida, deputies are on the mend after they were run down by a car on Nov. 9, and the community they serve is solidly behind them. The county sheriff recently presented each of them — sheriff’s Cpl. Carlos Brito and Deputy Manny Santos — a $20,000 check to help with their medical expenses.

“Community support leaves me humbled. Now, Cpl. Brito and Deputy Santos can focus solely on recovery,” Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a statement. “This contribution lightens their financial burden, offering support to their families during the holidays. It’s a powerful reminder of our community’s unity and compassion in times of need.” » By D’Ann Lawrence White for Tampa Patch

Message In A Bottle

A bottle with a message filled with questions tossed into Nantucket Sound 26 years ago washed up on a beach this summer on a beach at Les Sables-d’Olonne, Vendée, France, where it was found by 71-year-old fisherman Hubert Eriau as he cleaned trash from the beach. Finally, a fifth grader in Massachusetts got the answer to his scientific query. » By Beth Dalbey for Across Massachusetts Patch

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