A recent University of Miami law school grad has become the first known attorney with autism to be sworn into the Florida Bar.
According to the Sun-Sentinel, 24-year-old Haley Moss, originally from Parkland, was admitted to the state bar Jan. 11 and works as an associate attorney at Zumpano Patricios in Miami. She's also known for her art, books, public speaking and advocacy for people with autism, her website says.
Moss added another honor to her resume Saturday when she received the Occhigrossi Family Youth in Service Award from the Unicorn Children's Foundation, a nonprofit that advocates on behalf of "individuals and families challenged by special needs and neurodiversity," according to its website. Learn more about the award here.
Moss has a message for companies that have hired or are considering hiring someone with autism.
“To employers, I would say, ‘Don’t put limits,’ and, 'You’re investing in what someone can do, and you need to look at what people can do as opposed to what they might not be able to do,'" she told the Sun-Sentinel. “A disability generally is not all-encompassing; it is just part of who someone is, not everything they are."
They met two decades ago as third-graders in Louisiana, and a week before Valentine’s Day, they returned to their school for a career day program.
But Nate Pierre was not thinking about his career when he visited Folsom Elementary School in Covington. He had a lifelong commitment in mind. After reading a very personal love story to Mindy Schayot’s third-grade class, he motioned for his girlfriend, Darcey Crawford, a physical therapist technician who was videotaping the event, to come to the front of the classroom.
Pierre then got down on one knee and proposed, in the same room where they met 16 years ago, WGNO reported.
St. Tammany Parish School District posted a video to its Facebook account Tuesday showing the surprise proposal. Pierre, who works in real estate, hatched the plan with Schayot, a family friend, and cleared it with the school’s principal, the Times-Picayune reported.
As part of the plan, Schayot’s students were told to boo when Pierre asked if they wanted to learn about real estate. Instead, they asked him to read a Valentine story, the Times-Picayune reported.
The plan was set, and Pierre did the rest, reading a story he wrote about his relationship with Crawford and then proposing to her.
Crawford, who began crying, said yes and kissed Pierre. The groom-to-be then high-fived the students, the newspaper reported.
The couple has not set a wedding date yet, WDSU reported.
Lawmakers in North Dakota pitched in and donated a car to a parking attendant who is a recovering addict, KX Net reported.
Members of the North Dakota House of Representatives bought a car for Mark Johnstone, who had been homeless for more than 30 years, the website reported.
Johnstone’s car broke down earlier this week, and he said he was having trouble getting the vehicle to work, KX Net reported.
It is Johnstone’s second legislative session as a parking attendant. Rep. Jon Nelson was responsible for raising the money to buy Johnstone the car.
"I met Mark, I think it was three sessions ago. He came here. He was struggling in life, he was a recovering addict. He was homeless when he first got a job here. And he just became part of the family,” Nelson told KX Net. “He was a good friend. He's been helping people since I've known him."
A Massachusetts police officer was forced to protect a different kind of mammal when a seal pup ended up in the middle of a road in Salisbury.
The Seacoast Marine Mammal Rescue Team posted on Facebook that the seal, "likely newly weaned from mom and trying to figure out things on his own," followed the beach access path that many use to access the beach.
The seal ended up in the middle of the street Wednesday, and homeowners in the area and a Salisbury police officer kept the animal safe, closing down the road until the Seacoast Marine Mammal Rescue Team arrived.
"We got the call while we were up in the science center, and it was actually a neighborhood resident who called it in," Ashley Stokes, rescue manager at the Seacoast Science Center, said.
Police borrowed cones from a nearby Verizon worker, then an officer and a homeowner waited for Stokes' team.
"We immediately collected the seal so we could move it off the side of the road," Stokes said.
The seal traveled an estimated 200 yards before it settled in its spot in the middle of the road.
"It's not a lot for you or I, but when you don't have legs and you are just relying on your front flippers to scoot you along, it's a long way," Stokes said. "It could have been very dangerous. Just beside us is a main road.”
The pup is estimated to be one to two months old, and was given a full health assessment. The team said the seal was skinny, slightly dehydrated and had a slightly cloudy right eye, but "was very feisty when handled; as a gray seal should be!"
The team administered fluids to the seal pup and tagged him on his hind flipper, and he was then relocated to a quiet spot before returning to the water.
"Thank you to the residents, police officer, and the Verizon worker, for closing down the street and keeping the animal safe until we arrived!" the team said.
Stoeks said it's very important for people in coastal areas to steer clear of seals and call animal rescue groups or police if one is in trouble.
"They all want to get that perfect photo, and it's just not safe for them," Stokes said. "It's extremely stressful for the animal."
A spokesman with the New England Aquarium said the gray seals are wanderers, and said it's not uncommon to see them on roads or in parking lots.
Annie Berry turned 105 on Jan. 18, and Thursday she got to experience the thrill of holding her great-great-granddaughter, WUSA reported.
Five generations of Berry’s family gathered at the Genesis Larkin Chase Center in Bowie, Maryland, to watch their matriarch hold 1-week-old Olivia, the television station reported.
“I think she’s cute like Grandmama,” Berry told WUSA, winking and laughing as the baby cried.
Berry was born in Meridian Mississippi in 1914 and recalled picking cotton, shucking corn and milking cows.
“She said before I leave this earth we will see a black president,” Berry’s granddaughter, Annie Sewell, told the television station. “I didn’t think it, but it came to pass.”
Berry migrated to North Carolina where she worked as a caretaker. She got married and worked as an administrator for a school system before retiring and moving to the Washington, D.C., area to live with family members, WUSA reported.
Berry told the television station that her longevity is due to "obedience to the Lord.”
A Virginia church is making sure college students at Howard University don’t have to worry about their student debt.
Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, paid the school debts of 34 students at the HBCU, The Washington Post reported.
Some of the full-time students chosen to get the windfall owed as little as $100, others owed thousands of dollars
In total, the church members paid $100,000 to clean the financial slate of university seniors, “Good Morning America” reported.
The congregation also gave $50,000 to Bennett College, the Post reported.
But how was a church able to raise so much money and why?
About 4,000 church members participated in a 30-day fast of not only food but social media and money. They were asked to not spend anything extra, and then donate the money saved to a worthy cause, the Post reported.
The Rev. Marc Lavarin had the idea of donating to Howard University during a prayer.
“I thought, ‘What better way to celebrate Black History Month than investing in the young, black heroes of HBCUs?’” Lavarin told The Washington Post.
Church members thought they would raise $25,000, but by the end of the month, they had $150,000, “Good Morning America” reported.
The church has had a long connection with HBCUs. About 60 percent of members attended one of the country’s historic black colleges and universities and the church holds an annual event for prospective HBCU students.
On Jan. 31, the students were told about their award via an email from the financial aid office about a “special financial aid opportunity,” the Post reported.
When they reported to the Interdisciplinary Research Building, the ministers from Alfred Street Baptist were there with the university’s financial aid staff to give the seniors the good news.
About 95 percent of students at Howard University get financial aid to pay the $24,966 annual undergraduate tuition, according to the Post.
A Kansas couple helped a woman in distress during a domestic dispute by calling the front desk at a Topeka hotel.
While hotel officials paid for Susan and Rodger Doherty’s room for their quick thinking on Feb. 3, a letter from the distressed woman was much more precious, KSN reported.
"I will always save this note," Susan Doherty told the television station.
"Thank you for saving my life last night, from the helpless lady in room 211, I can never thank you enough," the woman wrote.
On Feb. 3, the Dohertys were in their hotel room when they heard a commotion across the hall, KSN reported.
"I said, ‘Boy somebody is having a fight with each other across the hall,’" Susan Doherty told the television station.
The argument escalated, Susan Doherty said.
"I suddenly heard. ‘Help me, stop it,’" she told KSN.
That’s when the Dohertys called the front desk. Police arrived and arrested a man, the television station reported. The man was charged with aggravated domestic battery and criminal restraint, according to the Topeka Police Department.
A funeral home is a somber place, where families gather to pay their final respects to a loved one. Emotionally, it can be a draining experience.
However, a Minnesota funeral home has found a way to ease the sting caused by death.
Jackie is a therapy dog that greets patrons at Gearhart Funeral Home in Coon Rapids, WCCO reported.
“She loves being around people and she looks forward to going to work in the morning,” Gearhart funeral director Ryan Scharfencamp told the television station. “Most people aren’t expecting to see a dog, so it’s like, oh, it makes them feel at home.
Jackie, a 1-year-old lab mix, has been trained to comfort grieving families.
“Her trainer even mentioned that she’s a natural for it,” Scharfencamp told WCCO.
Jackie seems to sense when a soft touch is needed and responds accordingly, Scharfencamp said.
“It’s just one of those things you have to see,” Scharfencamp told the television station. “She’ll see someone and just go up to them and put her head on their lap or just lay down in front of them.”
Based on reaction to Jackie, Scharfencamp said he may add a second therapy dog.
“I anticipate the way it’s going, and continuing to go, that down the road, we will add additional dogs. That’s my hope,” Scharfencamp told WCCO.
Three boys at a middle school made sure that every girl felt special on Valentine’s Day.
It’s not surprising that one of the Kansas cupids was named Valentine.
Eighth-grader Tristan Valentine, seventh-grader Kyan Rice and sixth-grader Lincoln Holmes pooled their money to buy flowers for all 270 girls and 70 female staff members at Summit Trail Middle School in Olathe, KMBC reported.
The three boys got to school early Thursday with buckets of carnations and passed out the flowers to every girl at the school.
“We wanted every girl to feel important and special on Valentine’s Day,” Valentine told KMBC. “We worked hard to make sure it was going to be a surprise to everybody. I only told a few friends, and the girls seemed surprised and happy.”
"I thought it was a great opportunity to give back because being able to make every girl in school at Summit Trail happy on Valentine's Day means a whole lot to everybody," Rice told KSHB.
Summit Trail Principal Sarah Guerrero knew about the plan in advance and eagerly approved it. She told KMBC it was “refreshing to see three young men go out of their way to make others feel happy.”
“I got chills seeing it happen,” Guerrero told the television station. “The ladies were so excited. It gives them something to look up to and feel good about themselves.”
Holmes said other boys said they wished they had thought of the idea.
“One guy even tried to buy a flower for $5 from me,” Holmes told KMBC. “Summit Trail is a special school. And who knows, maybe we started a new tradition here.”
It’s official: Two senior citizens from Louisiana received a certificate proclaiming them the longest married couple in the state, KATC reported.
Wallace and Gladys Menard, of Duson, have been married 80 years, according to the Louisiana Family Forum.
The couple met in 1937 and were married Sept. 17, 1938. When they were married, Wallace was 19 and Gladys was 16, according to the forum.
The state of Louisiana issued a certificate to the couple to honor their long years of marriage, KATC reported.
"LFF honors these couples in a celebration of marriage. Countless accomplishments are recognized in society today – why not celebrate the one that requires the greatest effort of all? Marriage requires hard work, intentionality, and selflessness,” Louisiana Family Forum president Gene Mills told the Franklin Sun. “A successful marriage takes heroic levels of dedication. These couples remind us that lifelong marriages are not only for days of old. In fact, they're happening all around us."
What is the secret for the Menards’ longevity?
“You have to take the bad and the good,” Gladys Menard told KATC.
“When she needed me I was there, when I needed her, she was there,” Wallace Menard told the television station.
As lovers exchange Valentine’s Day cards, candies and flowers today, they will be hard-pressed to top the efforts of a New Mexico man.
Lonnie Anderson, of Albuquerque, needed a crane to hoist his wife’s gift -- a 100-pound piñata crafted out of three donated refrigerator boxes, KOB reported.
“It's something positive,” Anderson told the television station. “I love my wife."
Anderson’s wife, Anne Bolger-Witherspoon, was positively floored when she saw the piñata hanging outside their home.
“Oh my goodness,” Bolger-Witherspoon told KOB. “Day One, I think we were maybe six months into dating and he pulled off his first valentine.”
Anderson has been creative on Valentine’s Day. One year, he sent his wife a 30-foot tall bouquet of flowers, the television station reported. Another year, he wrote a poem on the ground that she could read from a helicopter.
There is no indication what Anderson will do when Valentine’s Day rolls around in 2020. But it is certain to be a labor of love.
A random act of kindness from a stranger helped a family that wanted a power wheelchair, WKRN reported.
Rushing to visit her dying mother in early January, Susan Scates and her son, Travis, were driving from Raleigh, North Carolina, to Duncan, Oklahoma, the television station reported.
The two travelers stopped at a Cracker Barrel in Dickson, Tennessee, and after dinner, Travis was using his manual wheelchair to look around the restaurant’s store. That’s when a man approached Scates, WKRN reported.
"There was a gentleman standing there with his wife and he approached me and he said 'How does your son like his wheelchair?' and I said. ‘We don't love it, we are looking to get him a new one,’" Scates told the television station. "He said, 'Would you like a power chair for him?' And I said 'Yes, that is where we want to go with him eventually,' and he said, 'No, would he like a power chair because I have one and I would like to give it to him.’”
Scates said she was stunned.
"What do you say to something like that?" she told WKRN.
Scates had to continue to Oklahoma, but she arranged for her brother to pick up the power chair several days later, the television station reported. She said Travis was excited to get the new chair, asking if it had a jetpack.
"For his life and circumstances, he is limited and so for us and him it was this stranger who was able to give something that adds such value to him,” Scates told WKRN. “It is very meaningful to us and incredibly meaningful to my son as well."
Scates said she was able to tell her mother, Lahoma Fay Mason Greenwood, about the new wheelchair before her death in Duncan on Jan. 9. Greenwood was 84.
The man who donated the power chair said he wanted to remain anonymous, WKRN reported.
Rapper 21 Savage was released from a federal immigration detention center Tuesday, according to one of his attorneys.
Born She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, the musician was granted a $100,000 bond during a closed hearing in an Atlanta Immigration Court Tuesday. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested him earlier this month, saying he’s a U.K. citizen who overstayed his visa. Since his arrest, 21 Savage had been held at the Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Georgia.
“He is pleased with the outcome and his family is elated, of course, that he is returning home after days of stress and uncertainty,” said Tia Smith, one of his immigration attorneys.
21 Savage’s deportation case is still pending in Atlanta and may not be resolved for a couple of years, his attorneys said.
Authorities said the musician was arrested Feb. 3 during a “targeted operation” aimed at Young Nudy, whose real name is Quantavious Thomas. DeKalb County police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were involved. 21 Savage happened to be with Thomas.
ICE declined to comment on 21 Savage’s case Wednesday, though the federal agency has previously said it focuses on detaining and deporting people with criminal records. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that 21 Savage has a 2014 felony drug case in Fulton County, but Charles Kuck, one of 21 Savage’s attorneys, told The New York Times that conviction was vacated and the charges were dismissed in 2018.
BuzzFeed News reported the Department of Homeland Security attorneys dropped an aggravated felony charge against the rapper in immigration court Tuesday.
“I think this case is emblematic of a lot of cases where people are detained for not correct reasons, but they don’t always have resources to fight the system,” Kuck told BuzzFeed News. “This case is very emblematic of what happens in immigration court and detention.”
The Fulton County District Attorney’s Office said it could not confirm or deny whether he was convicted, citing Georgia’s first offender law, which allows records to be expunged and sealed.
“ICE continues to focus its limited resources first and foremost on those who pose the greatest threat to public safety,” the agency said in a statement issued Feb. 3, the day 21 Savage was apprehended. “ICE only conducts targeted enforcement and does not conduct any type of indiscriminate raids or sweeps that target aliens indiscriminately.”
According to The Blast, 21 Savage boarded a private plane with his mother upon release from the detention center. He flew home to his Atlanta residence about 200 miles north.
The power of social media. It can be a bad thing or a good thing.
For a New Jersey middle school teacher, it was a great thing.
Actress Kristen Bell has pledged to highlight a teacher each week on her Instagram page.
Friday, it was Jacquelyn Campbell’s turn to be the “featured teacher.” Campbell was nominated by her sister Elyse, who, according to Bell’s post, said Campbell “dedicated her life to the education of special needs children.” Some of Campbell’s students have behavioral issues, autism or Down syndrome. Campbell is also a foster parent and has two adopted daughters. The school she teaches at has 80 percent of its students on free or reduced lunch programs.
Bell posted Campbell’s classroom wish list on Friday. Shortly after, Campbell started getting boxes of supplies for her students, sent to her by strangers. By Monday, she had received more than 150 deliveries.
Included in the shipments, everything from crayons to markers to Chromebooks and iPads, WCAU reported.
Campbell opened the gifts with her students.
“I brought all of the packages in ... and they kind of looked at them and they were asking what’s this? And I said ‘This is for us, guys,’” Campbell told Southern New Jersey Today.
Country singer Luke Bryan and his wife, Caroline Bryan, have a new addition to their family.
According to the shelter, an 18-year-old pup named Poochie was in the shelter after his family gave him up because they became allergic to him.
“We often step in and pull seniors, sickly and injured animals who are likely to be overlooked,” Lavonne Redferrin, the shelter’s director and founder, told People.
The shelter expected Poochie to be a hospice foster, but when Luke Bryan’s family got word about the dog, they sent in an adoption application.
Caroline Bryan came to the shelter to finalize the adoption Saturday.
“After reading about Poochie on our social media, Luke Bryan and his beautiful wife, Caroline applied and adopted Poochie this past Saturday,” the shelter said.
“We are so thrilled for Poochie and know he is in great hands,” Redferrin said. “Caroline Bryan has graciously given us updates on our sweet boy. Their adopting this sweet old guy will allow us the chance to save yet another.”
The senior dog will spend the rest of his days on the Bryan family farm.
A Texas school district is investing in its kindergarten students for the future.
The Lancaster Independent School District, which recently was awarded $50,000 for winning the HEB Excellence in Education Award, has given each of its 500 kindergartners $50 to open 529 college savings accounts, WFAA reported.
"Kids with college savings accounts are three times more likely to go to college, and four times more likely to graduate," Mark Hamm, of United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, told WFAA.
Lancaster is the first school district in Texas to place seed money for each student enrolled in the program.
"We want them to know that they are going to college and that we are helping them achieve that goal," Lancaster Assistant Superintendent Pamela Brown told the television station.
School officials said their goal is for each student to have $500 in their accounts within two years, WFAA reported.
Two North Carolina boys' heartwarming display of patriotism has gone viral.
According to WFMY-TV, Roseboro Fire Department Chaplain Bobby Herring was raising the American flag over the fire station Friday when the boys stopped, placed their hands on their hearts and began to say the Pledge of Allegiance.
"It really touched my heart," said Herring, who snapped a photo of the moment and posted it on Facebook.
The picture quickly went viral, with more than 4,100 shares by Tuesday morning.
Commenters lauded the boys – and their parents.
"That pic gives me goosebumps and tears!!" one woman wrote. "Thanks parents for teaching your kids respect and manners."
"WAY TO GO KIDS!" added another commenter. "We're so proud of you!"
Two Missouri firefighters, realizing that icy road conditions were going to make it difficult to take an injured woman to the hospital, improvised and pushed the woman on a stretcher 1 mile to the emergency room, KSDK reported.
A photograph of the two first responders pushing the patient to the hospital has since gone viral, the television station reported.
"We just had to deal with it and kind of make do with that we had," Shaylor Taetz told KSDK.
Taetz and his partner were called to a crash on I-270 on Sunday morning, but the slick roads made navigation difficult.
"It was pretty bad. Even driving there we had to take it really slow," Taetz told KSDK.
Taetz’s vehicle slid on the interstate and hit a guardrail, so they decided the fastest -- and safest -- way to transport the woman injured on the bus was to do it on foot.
"We realized how icy the roads were because they were progressively getting worse as the morning went on," Taetz told KSDK.
The firefighters avoided drivers trying to maneuver around them, and braved several hills before delivering the woman to an area hospital, the television station reported.
"The stretcher definitely lost traction. It wasn't willing to work with us as much as possible," Taetz told the television station. "We did cover her up because it was sleeting or icing and we made sure that not of that was hitting her in the face."
Paramedics said the woman did not suffer any serious injuries, KSDK reported.
A dog that nearly died is recovering thanks to a postal worker and a pet rescue organization in St. Louis.
A postal worker found the pup, now named Faust, not moving and nearly frozen to death on a sidewalk.
Stray Rescue of St. Louis’ Dr. Sarah Frei told KTVI Faust’s body temperature was so dangerously low that their thermometer couldn’t detect it.
Frei said, “We’re not a hundred percent sure what caused it, but she was found on cold pavement at pretty freezing temperatures, so it did not take long for her temperature to drop to dangerous, life-threatening levels.”
The organization posted Faust’s progress on Facebook, saying they administered care, but she ultimately needed more help.
Faust was taken to Veterinary Specialty Services, where she is continuing to recover.
The organization is reminding everyone to be vigilant about keeping an eye out for pets left in the cold.
If you would like to help out, click here.
After a devastating fire blazed through his home, a veteran is finding comfort in what he believes is a message from above – his grandfather's Bible, still in one piece.
According to WALA and Fox News, Scot Byrd of Baldwin County, Alabama, lost his home to a fire last month. He and his family were not there when the fire broke out, destroying their belongings and killing their kitten.
"Today was a devastating start to the new year," the father of four wrote in a Jan. 7 Facebook post. "We lost our home of 22 years due to a Christmas tree fire in our living room, but I thank God we [were] at church."
Among the ashes, a firefighter spotted the Bible and was moved to tears, Byrd told WALA.
"He said, 'You're not going to believe this. You've gotta come see it for yourself,'" Byrd told the news station. "This Bible did not have one scorch mark on it.”
Members of the community have since rallied behind Byrd, whose 7-year-old daughter, Shelby, is in remission following a battle with leukemia. Thanks to their donations, the family, who are staying in Gulf Shores, have clothes, beds and the supplies the children need for school.
"We don't give up," said Byrd, who wants to rebuild his home, WALA reported.
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