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Preschool teacher donates kidney to save 4-year-old student

A mother is thanking a preschool teacher donating a kidney to save her 4-year-old daughter’s life.

Four-year-old Lyla was diagnosed with microscopic polyangiitis in October 2015. The disease can can cause organ damage. Her family has been waiting for months to find a kidney donor.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

Earlier this month, teachers the Kids Express Leaning Center in Madison, Wisconsin, planned the big surprise for mom Dena Carreyn, who showed up for a parent-teacher conference. She was sitting down with Lyla’s teacher, Beth Battista, when she got the good news, which she later shared in a Facebook post.

I have been sitting on this INCREDIBLE news for nearly a week, and I'm SO happy to finally share it with all of you . ....Posted by Dena Carreyn on Thursday, September 15, 2016


A video posted to Facebook shows the touching moment. Battista handed Carreyn a short letter that read, “I may just be her teacher now, but soon a little piece of me will be with Lyla forever. I’m Lyla’s kidney donor.”

Carryen immediately broke down in tears, hugging Battista and thanking her.

Watch the heartwarming  moment in the video below.

Posted by Dena Carreyn on Thursday, September 15, 2016

Man walks U.S. perimeter to raise money for homeless vets

A Virginia man has spent more than two years walking around the country to raise money and awareness for homeless veterans in America.

Leroy Bailey, 54, started walking in Virginia Beach on June 30, 2014. So far he has traveled 10,000 miles around the perimeter of the United States.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

"This is what God said, if I wanted to build hope centers around America I had to walk around America," he told WFXT. "I want to build places where people feel like they have space, they have their identity, like they're a human being.”

On Tuesday, he passed through Boston.

"It's ridiculous in this country that we care more about animals than we do people and it's really ridiculous that we are more willing to take in refugees from other countries and house them but we don't take care of people that serve this country it's the saddest thing in the nation," he said.

The journey hasn't been easy for Bailey, though.

"I've sprained my ankle, I've had stress fractures in both my feet, lost my backpack in San Francisco somebody stole it, I lost my wallet in Seattle had to wait there 10 days for my wife to mail me my new ID, broke my glasses," he said.

Bailey said he's gone through several pairs of sneakers so far on the journey, and has strict orders by his wife to be home by next month.

His goal is to get one-million people to donate $10 each month so a new hope center can be built every month.

More information on Bailey's journey can be found at the Servants of God Ministries website.

Knott's Berry Farm closes Halloween attraction after complaints

The famous Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, California, holds its annual Halloween Haunt in the form of Knott's Scary Farm every year since 1973, but one seasonal attraction won't be active this October.

KABC reported that a virtual reality component of the Halloween Haunt called FearVR has been removed from the amusement park following complaints that the ride is insensitive about mental health.

>> Read more trending stories

According to KABC, the attraction included a storyline about a possessed patient running around in a hospital. Park visitors are strapped into chairs and take part in the attraction with VR goggles.

The attraction had the option to press a panic button if the ride became too upsetting for them.

The Orange County Register reported that the original name of FearVR was FearVR: 5150, which is a section of the California Welfare and Institutions Code that authorizes a qualified officer to involuntarily confine a person who is suspected of having a mental health disorder and is presenting themselves as a threat to themselves or others.

The name was changed when mental health advocates left emails and phone calls with Cedar Fair, Knott's parent company.

Kay Warren, wife of megachurch pastor and author Rick Warren, whose son died of a suicide after battling mental illness, also called out Knott's in a Facebook post Monday.

The park released the following statement:

California's Great America is proud of its popular annual Halloween Haunt event. For nine years we have delivered unique and immersive haunted experiences to our fans and loyal guests. Our evening attractions are designed to be edgy, and are aimed at an adult-only audience. Over the past week we have heard from a number of people expressing their concern that one of our temporary, Halloween attractions - FearVR - is hurtful to those who suffer from mental illnesses. Contrary to some traditional and social media accounts, the attraction's story and presentation were never intended to portray mental illness. As it is impossible to address both concerns and misconceptions in the Halloween timeframe, at this time we have decided to close the attraction.

California’s Great America in Santa Clara, California, also cancelled the attraction.

Father waltzes with daughter on wedding day despite debilitating burns

A father who suffered terrible injuries in an accident has finally fulfilled his promise to his daughter to walk her down the aisle on her wedding day.

Vance Easter suffered severe burns in 2011 in an explosion at his welding shop, CBC reports. He spent almost a full year at a hospital in Halifax, Nova Scotia, recovering from the devastating injury that left him legally blind. His entire body was covered in burns.

Doctors thought he would never be strong enough to live at home again.

But through perseverance, he proved those doctors wrong.

“To me, you’ve got to have the willpower, and when somebody tells you you’re going to be this way for the rest of your life, well, you’ve got to prove them wrong,” Easter told CBC.

In 2014, his daughter, Jewel MacLennan, told him she wanted him to walk her down the aisle on her wedding day. She delayed her wedding by two years to make it happen. Easter promised to fulfill her wish and started the long fight to regain his strength.

“I didn’t think I was going to do it, but I said, ‘If I thought I wasn’t, it wasn’t going to happen,'” Easter said. “She was determined that I was going to do it, and I was determined.”

For the next two years, he walked around his neighborhood every day, slowly regaining strength.

Three weeks ago, Easter finally fulfilled his promise.

Photos show him walking Jewel down the aisle, and even twirling with her on the dance floor at the reception.

Easter has new goals in mind now. He says he’s working on his eyesight, and hopes to get his driver’s license back soon. He also plans to reopen his welding shop when his hands get strong enough.

“You gotta believe in yourself that you can do things,” Easter said.

Posted by Jewel MacLennan on Friday, September 23, 2016

Pulse survivor on Capitol Hill: I think my voice is going to be heard

A Pulse nightclub shooting survivor is the latest in a long line of people impacted by gun violence to lobby lawmakers on Capitol Hill to change the nation’s gun laws. Angel Colon was shot six times when a gunman opened fire in the crowded Orlando gay club, killing 49 and injuring dozens more. He took his first steps only last month, but said preventing other families from going through what he went through led him to Washington, D.C.

>> Read more trending stories “It’s very important for me because having a voice, joining other people that have the same ideas, helps prevent the things that are going on in the world right now,” Colon said. “One of the main things is gun violence and I think we can save lives.” Colon joined advocates with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence as well as Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, and Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania. They called on Congress to pass legislation that would keep guns out of the hands of suspected terrorists and domestic abusers. Colon said he also supports expanding background checks. Casey is introducing a bill that would stop anyone convicted of a misdemeanor hate crime involving violence from purchasing a gun. “Why would we wait for someone’s hate to develop and manifest itself,” Casey said. “If someone is engaging in hateful conduct and it involves use of force, we should make sure we take action earlier.” Gun advocates have opposed gun reform legislation saying it violates Second Amendment rights. Republicans have opposed bills preventing guns from being sold to those on the terror watch list until it can be assured innocent people aren't on the list.

Democrats and Republicans have blocked any bills sponsored by the opposing party in recent months.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) recently sponsored a bill that would alert the government if anyone on the terrorist watch list over the last ten years tries to purchase a gun. He believes it has enough support to pass if it comes up for a vote.

“This is just part of it,” Rubio said. “It won’t solve every problem but I certainly think it’s better than what we have today.”

Democrats say the Rubio bill doesn’t go far enough to stop guns from getting into the wrong hands.

Survivors and their family members from past mass shooting incidents, including Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech and San Bernardino, have made similar pleas to lawmakers leading up to gun votes. They’ve been unsuccessful, but Colon believes his story can make a difference. “I think my voice is going to be heard,” Colon said, with his mother by his side. “It’s something that I would never wish upon anyone in this world.” Congress is not expected to vote on any gun legislation before Election Day.

National Coffee Day: Deals and freebies on Sept. 29

As if there wasn't a National ____ Day for just about everything, here's another: National Coffee Day. 

Chances are, more people excited and willing to partake in enjoying this "holiday" than many of the other nationally recognized topics. 

>> Read more trending stories  

Looking for a way to celebrate?

Check out these deals and freebies, which will be offered on Sept. 29:

Caribou Coffee: Caribou customers can get a complimentary medium brewed coffee with the purchase of 1lb of Amy's Blend coffee, the sales of which will go to support CancerCare. The chain will also donate a free cup of coffee to caregivers at health facilities and hospitals across the country when people purchase a cup of Amy’s Blend coffee, according to USA Today. 

Welcome back Amy's Blend! Get a complimentary medium brewed coffee when you buy 1lbs of Amy's Blend (Sept 26- Oct 2) #CaribouCoffeePosted by Caribou Coffee on Monday, September 26, 2016

Cumberland Farms: Cumberland Farms is offering a free hot or iced coffee of any size to those who text "FREECOFFEE" to 64827 on Sept. 29.

Dairy Queen: For DQ's Hardest Working Happy Hour, customers can receive a small iced coffee for $1 or a small ultimate frappé for $2 between 2 and 5 p.m.

Talk about a power trio. Visit the DQ Hardest Working Happy Hour weekdays from 2-5pm for a $1 small iced coffee, $2 small ultimate frappé, or $2 small premium fruit smoothie.Posted by Dairy Queen on Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Dunkin Donuts: Dunkin' Donuts customers can receive any medium-sized cup of the brand's signature hot coffee for 66 cents at participating Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants nationwide to mark the company's 66 years in business.

Keurig: Keurig will offer 20 percent off Green Mountain Coffee recyclable K-cup pods and 15 percent off other beverages, like the Original Donut Shop, with the code GREENSAVINGS at checkout online.

Krispy Kreme: Any guest who visits a participating shop on National Coffee Day will receive a free small coffee and a free Original Glazed doughnut. 

Peet's Coffee: Peet's will give away a free medium-sized drip coffee with the purchase of any fresh food item at participating locations.

Pilot Flying J: Get one free small cup of Pilot coffee, tea or cappuccino using an online coupon.

Stop and smell the coffee this Thursday, Sept. 29 with a cup on us! In celebration of National Coffee Day, we’re offering one free small cup of Pilot Coffee – or any small hot tea or cappuccino of your choice.Posted by Pilot Flying J on Sunday, September 25, 2016

Starbucks: Starbucks isn't offering any deals, but for each cup of brewed Mexico Chiapas coffee sold at participating U.S. Starbucks stores on Thursday, the company will donate one rust-resistant coffee tree to Latin American coffee farmers in need.

Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett announce retirement

Former Boston Celtics star Paul Pierce announced on The Players Tribune that this season will be his last as a player in the NBA. 

>> Read more trending stories  

"It's time to move on from the game of basketball," he wrote. "Just like any difficult decision, I think you've got to be at peace with yourself. I'm at peace with retiring, but I've got one more ride left. One more season. One more opportunity."

Pierce, 38, was originally selected by the Celtics in the first round of the 1998 draft, with the 10th overall pick. He played 15 seasons in Boston, winning a championship in 2008 and returning to the NBA Finals in 2010.

He was traded to the Brooklyn Nets along with Jason Terry and Kevin Garnett in 2013 and spent one season in Brooklyn, before playing with the Wizards in 2015 and the Clippers in 2016. 

"After 18 NBA years, it's hard to believe I'll be playing in each arena for the last time," Pierce wrote. "So I'm going to enjoy every practice, every bus ride, every team dinner, every time running out through the tunnel. I'm going to do my part to give us a shot at the ultimate goal."

Pierce was named MVP of the NBA Finals in 2008,  when the Celtics beat the Lakers for the championship. He teamed with Garnett and Ray Allen to form "The Big Three" that led Boston to the title. 

He is a 10-time NBA All-Star. 

Pierce's announcement came three days after Garnett posted a video on Instagram, saying, "farewell" and "thank you" after 21 seasons in the NBA.

The Associated Press reported that the Minnesota Timberwolves plan to waive Garnett so he can collect all of his $8 million salary for next season.

"I'm just thankful, man. I can't ever put that into words. I'm just thankful," Garnett said in the video. "I'm just thankful for everybody, and the love, I never would've thought that people would love me like this, but for it to be reality is just something else. Man. We gonna be (all right), man. I don't expect this to be easy, but so far, so good. Stay tuned." 

To be continued... A video posted by Kevin Garnett (@tic_pix) on Sep 23, 2016 at 2:42pm PDT <script async defer src="//"></script>

Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan are among other notable athletes who retired this year.

South Carolina school shooting: Suspected shooter called family members

Authorities say they believe the teenage boy who was taken into custody following a shooting at the Townville Elementary School first fatally shot his father.

Capt. Garland Major told a news conference that the shooter used a handgun and that one of the students was shot in the leg and the other in the foot. He said a female teacher was shot in the shoulder during Wednesday's shooting at Townville Elementary.

Anderson County Sheriff's Lt. Sheila Cole said the teen was apprehended by veteran firefighter Jamie Brock, and she confirmed news reports that the shooter was never able to make it inside the school.

Two children and an adult were injured Wednesday afternoon when a gunman opened fire at the elementary school in South Carolina, according to multiple reports.

>> Read more trending stories  

Authorities responded to the active shooter situation around 1:45 Townville Elementary. The school, near South Carolina's border with Georgia, evacuated students to Oakdale Baptist Church, according to WYFF.

Townville Elementary has more than 280 students in grades pre-kindergarten through sixth grade, according to The Greenville News

Nearby schools were also put into lockdown.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

<iframe src="//;border=false" width="100%" height="750" frameborder="no" allowtransparency="true"></iframe><script src="//;border=false"></script>[View the story "Shooting at South Carolina elementary school" on Storify]

Tim Tebow homers in first professional at-bat

Football star turned baseball player Tim Tebow homered Wednesday in his first at-bat in the instructional league in Port St. Lucie, Florida. 

>> Read more trending stories  

Tebow, who signed a pro contract with the New York Mets organization, homered to left-center off left-hander John Kilichowski. Kilichowski is a member of the St. Louis Cardinals organization. 

ESPN posted a video of the home run. 

Tebow, 29, is a 2007 Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL quarterback. 

The 255-pound outfielder received a $100,000 bonus when he signed with the Mets in an arrangement that allows him to maintain his commitment as an analyst for the ESPN-owned SEC Network.

Before signing with the Mets, Tebow hadn't played organized baseball since 2005 during his junior year at Nease High School in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, USA Today reported.

Clemson University bans Harambe memes for promoting racism, rape culture

Clemson University is putting the kibosh on all public displays of Harambe, the oft-memed gorilla who was shot and killed in the Cincinnati Zoo in May, claiming that his image promotes racism and rape culture.

>> Read more trending stories

In an email obtained by Campus Reform, Clemson Graduate Community Director Brooks Artis informed resident advisors that "We are no longer allowing any reference to Harambe (or any other spelling) to be displayed on doors, halls, billboards, or windows."

"Harambe should not be displayed in a public place or a place that is viewed by the public," the email said.

>> Related: RAs criticized after sending email telling students not to make Harambe jokes

Artis, who claimed that Harambe memes have been used to "add to rape culture" and can be a "form of racism," said that the announcement was spawned after a Harambe meme was used maliciously toward a student, though he did not get into further detail about that incident.

Artis also threatened that anyone who violated the new rules would "get in some trouble" and may be reported to the Office of Community and Ethical Standards or Title IX for the use of biased language.

>> Related: Cincinnati Zoo deletes Twitter account after being trolled by Harambe memes

"While we are not banning the word, I want to encourage you to think about what you are saying and how someone who may be a different gender, race, culture, or sexuality than you may take the comment," Artis wrote.

The one exception to the Harambe meme display ban, Artis clarified, is in dorm rooms, "where people would have to be invited into the space to see said decoration."

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