Officer cycling 1,000 miles for childhood cancer

MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The coronavirus pandemic has forced closures and cancellations of mostly everything in our lives and that includes fundraisers. But that is not stopping one City of Miami Police Officer who is pedaling for a purpose.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and for years police officers and first responders have been hitting the road on their bikes riding hundreds of miles in honor a very special little girl. Bella Rodriguez-Torres, who lost her battle to cancer in 2013 when she was only 10 years old.

Unfortunately, like everything else, the pandemic forced them to cancel this year’s bike ride where they raise awareness and support the Live Like Bella Foundation and their mission to end childhood cancer.

However, Joe McCrink a City of Miami Police Officer is not letting the coronavirus get in the way of his goal.

“My goal is to ride 1,000 miles the month of September. 1,000 is my goal to raise $15,000,” explained McCrink to CBS4 News.

“I’ve been a police officer for 23 years and I have never seen the community, young people so upset with what’s going on in the world with policing.  There are a lot of good police officers out there that care about their community and I wanted to do something where I could give back to my community and something that affects everyone. It doesn’t matter how old you are, black or white, it affects everyone,” said McCrink.

In years past, officers have ridden in a group to Key West and Orlando for Bella, whose unstoppable attitude inspired the bike ride.

Bella Rodriguez-Torres (Source: Raymond Rodriguez-Torres)

But this year due to the circumstances, Officer McCrink is riding alone and believes while we are all still socially distant, we can still do our part to Live Like Bella and help put an end to childhood cancer.

“We’re upset we can’t go to a movie or large gatherings and football games but what about the children that need cancer treatment and can’t get it or it gets pushed back or delayed.  Stuff like that fills my head when I ride,” he explained.

Unfortunately, this year’s Bella’s Ball has also been canceled, but they are asking all Bella Believers to join their first ever virtual “Get active for kids with cancer” event on September 26.

For more information on how to register, go to the Live Like Bella website.

You can also support Officer McCrink’s fundraising effort by clicking here.

7-yo broadcasts news from porch

— As coronavirus affects everything — school, work and free time — all second grader John Wortman wants to do is keep people informed and tell interesting stories.

The 7-year-old attends Ephesus Elementary in Chapel Hill but has spent his first week of school learning from home. Each week for the past four months, he has recorded a newscast, which he has branded “John News,” from his porch.

Friday marked his 16th episode.

Thomas Wortman said his son loves watching science videos on YouTube and has always wanted to have his own channel. When school stopped in the middle of March, John decided to make a newscast.

“I think he was a little bit bored,” said Thomas, who said he helps his son with logistics but gives John full editorial control over his newscasts.

Each week, the pair teams up to come up with stories, write a script and arrange virtual interviews. John’s most recent newscast is focused on back-to-school and features interviews with his school principal and school nurse.

“I feel really strongly about fostering John’s independence,” said Thomas. “Of course I have my suggestions, but he has full veto authority.”

John uses an iPhone on a tripod and an external microphone to record his newscasts. He and his dad even use a word processing app to time out each newscast and create an iPad teleprompter that’s placed below the camera.

John News has a strong local following, but even people in other countries know about the show. John has viewers in Canada and in Indonesia, where he recently spotlighted an orangutan rescue operation.

“That foundation got hold of the newscast and shared it worldwide,” Thomas said.

The family even made “I Love John News” T-shirts to give away to family and friends. The shirts were so popular that viewers wanted them, so now John sells them for $20 and donates proceeds to Table, a food bank in Chapel Hill.

So far, John’s T-shirts have raised $250 for Table.

In an interview with WRAL News, John said his favorite part of making the newscast is recording it and seeing it come together. He also loves interviewing people.

Although John would be a fantastic reporter one day, his father said he is most interested in teaching. He also loves to go rock climbing.

You can find all of John’s newscasts on his family’s YouTube channel.

4-year-old boy helps clean up the city, loves doing it

DES MONIES, Iowa — A neighborhood in Des Moines’ southside got extra help cleaning up debris from the derecho, but it wasn’t from anyone employed to do so.

That’s where you’ll find 4-year-old Enzo, decked out in his neon-yellow safety vest, parading around the street with his mother and grandmother, cleaning up trash.

His mom, Candace Alvarez, said since Enzo was young, he was particularly fixated on garbage he would see lying around — just about everywhere.

“He said ‘why is it there?’ and ever since then he’ll say ‘Mommy there’s trash, we gotta go get it now,” she said.

Alvarez and her mother, Dena Wallace, said even though he has an unusal passion for picking up bottles and straws he’ll see in the street, they try to teach him that he should not have to, because people should properly dispose of their garbage.

Nonetheless, from dawn until dusk, Enzo will merrily prance around the neighborhood, cleaning up whatever he can find and putting a smile on others’ face while doing so.

“We would have never thought it but he just absolutely loves it. He gets so happy and excited and tells all the neighbors about it,” Wallace said. “He’s just been a sweetheart from day one.”

Teen organizes hot meals, kits for families recovering after storms

— A week after a deadly EF-3 tornado ravaged the rural community of Windsor in Bertie County, people have responded with healing hands and creature comforts. That tornado, spawned by Hurricane Isaias, killed two people and injured many others.

On Wednesday, a special delivery came from a food pantry in Mount Olive — an act of kindness that showed making an impact has no age requirements. Home-schooled, 16-year-old Mackenzie Hinson is the visionary behind this life-changing social impact.

“Since the pandemic started, we’ve done over 33,000 hot meals and over 200,000 pounds of food have come out of here,” said Hinson.

When she was only 10 years old, she founded this non-profit called “Making a Difference” because it bothered her that people in Wayne County were going hungry.

Make a Difference Food Pantry

It bothers her, too, when bad things happen to innocent people – like a tornado.

“It felt like a gut punch, if that makes any sense, ’cause I know what it feels like to be on the other side when it feels like your whole life has been destroyed. We completely understand,” she said.

Hinson herself felt the same pain and struggle when Hurricane Florence flooded her old building.

Team Rubicon, a disaster relief group, helped her recover, just as the team is now helping the people in Bertie County.

Hinson is sending them toiletry bags for their seniors, and turning plastic bags into cornucopias full of peppers, eggplant, onion, potatoes, blackberries, apples and oranges.

Stopping hunger – one meal at a time, one family at a time: This is her motto.

When she was only 12, the governor dropped in on her first and much-smaller site outside Goldsboro.

Make a Difference Food Pantry

She’s grown her operation and now works out of a warehouse more than 10,000 square feet in size.

“We never, ever, ever imagined it would be this big when she started,” she said.

But that’s how change happens and grows – one small act at a time.

'Princess Parties' spread joy during pandemic

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – A local company is making wishes come true during the pandemic.

Princess Parties is bringing some virtual magic to events across Hampton Roads.

Leslie North, the owner of the company, told News 3 how special it is to have a positive impact during this time.

“So many children, their dream is to meet this magical person that they’ve seen on screen over and over and over again. It’s really fulfilling something wonderful and magical for them. What I started doing were FaceTime calls or Zoom calls – whatever the client wants – where they get 15 minutes with the princess live in person, and the princess will chat with the child for 10 minutes or so and sing their song, the signature song,” explained North.

You can find more information about availability on the Princess Parties Facebook page.

Click here for full coverage on open businesses.

Teen builds sanitizing boxes, donates to hospitals

“We’re orienting the boxes in a place where our staff can have access to them, which allows them to put their personal items in there just to give them that extra feeling of security, making sure these items are sterilized,” said Jeff Mosley, vice president of facilities and construction at Our Lady of the Lake.

Waitress given $650 tip from stranger participating in Venmo Challenge

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Between the hustle and bustle of serving hungry customers at Commune in Virginia Beach, you’ll find small pops of beauty.

That beauty took on a new form on Friday when Dan Pew walked through the doors.

He was visiting from Ohio with his fiance and said he wanted to spread love and positivity during his time in the Resort City.

A few days before vacation, he was scrolling through the social media platform Tik Tok when he came across the Venmo Challenge.

It’s the latest craze on social media that’s encouraging people to give back to their community.

“You ask your social media followers – [it can be] your friends, your family, or businesses or anybody and you say ‘hey if you want to donate through Venmo Challenge tag ‘the awesome human being’ or ‘for the food service worker’ and then you donate and then you surprise a food service worker with a tip,” Pew said.

Pew was inspired by the videos of people surprising waiters and waitresses, so he took the plea to his followers on social media.

In a message he said, “We’re going to Virginia Beach for vacation this week and we want to surprise a food service worker with a huge tip.”

After putting the challenge out there, the internet got to work. Pew racked up hundreds of dollars in his Venmo account in just a few days.

Then on Friday, after being helped by Aubrey Seykerbuyk at Commune, Pew pulled out $650.

Seykerbuyk recalled the moment that made her jaw drop to the ground, “He had like a wad of cash and started counting it out in front of me and I honestly didn’t know like what was happening. I didn’t know if it was like a social experiment to see if I would take it or not.”

It was no experiment. The young waitress was nearly brought to tears.

She told News 3’s Erin Miller that the act of kindness couldn’t have come at a better time. She said, “My vision has been clouded by so much negativity just by everything going on recently and that little glimmer of kindness that I received yesterday was just enough to remind me that there is still good people, there are still good people in this world and we need more of them.”

Even better, the other servers got a piece of the pie.

Chelsey Miller is the front house manager at Commune who was working when the surprise took place.

“We all tip share so it kinda went to all of us and they didn’t even realize that was going to be the case either so it was really awesome,” she said. “We’re all really grateful to be apart of one of those pay-it-forward things.”

Miller said the $650 was split between the 5 servers working.

“They had the means and they decided to help which is all anybody can ask for right now,” Seykerbuyk said.

Before making his exit from town to share the love elsewhere, Pew said “It’s not about me, it’s not about the money, it’s about the message of spreading positivity and love.”

Miller said it’s awesome to see people appreciating restaurant workers and helping out after their businesses have been closed down due to COVID-19.

Town for sale: This old west town in New Zealand can be yours for $7.5 million

Wild West enthusiasts and wanderlusters alike can now own a piece of American frontier history with the purchase an entire old west town… in New Zealand.

Mellonsfolly Ranch — situated within a 900-acre lot in the North Island of New Zealand — is on sale for $7.5 million and comes complete with 10 period themed buildings and a Manuka honey business. 

The tribute town was built in 2006 by cowboy enthusiast John Bedogni as an homage to an 1860s Wyoming frontier town.

New Zealand’s 20-bed Mellonsfolly Ranch is for sale for $7.5 million.

New Zealand Sotheby’s International Realty

It features an “authentic and licensed saloon,” a courthouse that doubles as a cinema, a sheriff’s office and a billiards lounge, according to the listing from New Zealand Sotheby’s International Realty. There are also three homes — the main residence plus two rental houses — that accommodate up to 22 people, it said.

Old West business opportunity

Located about six hours by car from Auckland, while also accessible by helipad, the site currently operates as a boutique hotel, with nightly hire-out rates starting from $5,000. But it also presents other possible business opportunities.

Sotheby’s Ben Hawan told CNBC Make It they had already seen enquiries from parties who understand the “substantial potential in the Manuka honey operation.”

Mellonsfolly Ranch is home to 10 themed buildings.

New Zealand Sotheby’s International Realty

The native honey has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years due to its unique taste and perceived health benefits.

In 2019, the ranch produced 15.5 tons of Manuka from around 600 hives, according to its current owner Rob Bartley. “There’s a lot of money there. Especially with China coming back, now they’re paying big money for it,” he told Bloomberg.

A simpler way of life

The property, which is home to various outdoor activities like fishing, swimming and hunting, also offers a spot for sanctuary, said Hawan. 

“New Zealand has been in the limelight of late due to its success in battling Covid-19. But even prior to this, New Zealand has long been a desirable place to live due to the enviable quality of life here,” he said.

Mellonsfolly Ranch was designed by its original, cowboy enthusiast owner.

New Zealand Sotheby’s International Realty

Early last month, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the country had eliminated the coronavirus. It has since recorded a handful of new imported cases from residents returning to the country from overseas. Overall, 22 people have died from the virus in the country. 

“New Zealand, down here in the Pacific, enjoys a certain level of insulation from the comings and goings of the world at large. With Covid still rampant in many parts of the world, many buyers view New Zealand as somewhat of a safe haven,” Hawan added.

So far, the listing has seen interest from buyers in Hong Kong and a number of states in the U.S, as well as domestic purchasers.

Residents of Australia and Singapore are allowed to purchase property in New Zealand. Restrictions apply to other overseas buyers. However, business people who invest NZ$10 million (approximately $6,430,000) over three years are eligible to apply for a so-called “Investor 1 Residence Visa.”

Don’t miss: Hong Kong ranks top among 10 most expensive cities to be an expat

Like this story? Subscribe to CNBC Make It on YouTube!

Valedictorian never missed a day of school

MOUNT VERNON, New York (WABC) — Congratulations are in order for a graduating senior from Mount Vernon who is not only her class valedictorian, but she has also achieved perfect attendance her entire education career.

Ashanti Palmer is a graduating senior at Nellie A. Thornton High School and the Performing & Visual Arts Magnet Program.

She has been on the honor roll every semester since Kindergarten and has never missed a day of school from pre-K all the way through high school — that’s more than 4,650 days.

“I’ve never had a bad teacher, my teachers made it easy for me, made me enthusiastic to go to school,” Palmer said.

Now she has received multiple scholarships worth more than $430,000 to cover all expenses related to her four-year pursuit of a biomedical engineering degree at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Mount Vernon City School District Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Hamilton said Palmer is an example that other young girls of color will look up to and he’s not sure if she even realizes how prolific it is to be in her position.

“Ashanti’s achievements in the Mount Vernon schools have been nothing short of remarkable,”Hamilton said. “We strive to ensure our students graduate from here college- and career-ready, and Ashanti is a testament to that goal. Her perfect attendance record throughout her many years in the District have helped build a foundation of academic excellence that she will utilize in the next chapter as a student of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.”

Although this year’s graduation looked different due to the coronavirus pandemic, Palmer said her valedictorian speech was broadcasted earlier in the day on June 20.

“Being named valedictorian feels good because it shows that all the hard work I’ve put in over the years has paid off, and that effort is being celebrated in a big way,” said Palmer. “In terms of my perfect attendance, it wasn’t something that I sought out. I knew that showing up to school every day was important, because even missing one day can set you back. It wasn’t until 10th grade that I realized I hadn’t missed a day, and then I wanted to keep up the streak.”

Palmer plans to pursue a degree in Biomedical Engineering and Medicine, following RPI’s pre-med track. She says that students following RPI’s pre-med track with good grades are eligible to continue their education by pursuing an M.D. from Albany Medical College. However, RPI also has a high rate of acceptances to Ivy League medical schools, and Palmer hopes she is able to continue her studies at one of the eight prestigious schools with that distinction.

She eventually wants to open her own research company that focuses on employing women of color in STEM fields.

“It’s something about her as a young person, she saw enough role models, or read enough books or saw enough people, she knew that was the path she wanted to journey,” said principal Dr. Evelyn Collins.

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