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Las Vegas shooting survivors from California announce engagement 

A California couple who survived the mass shooting in Las Vegas last October has announced their engagement, KNBC reported.

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Mykenzie Lane, 22, and Brandon Helmick, 21, were in attendance at the Route 91 Harvest music festival on Oct. 1, 2017, when a gunman opened fire, killing 58 people and wounding hundreds.

Lane was hit by a bullet, but was saved from further injury when Helmick used his body to shield her, KNBC reported. Lane was wounded in her left foot, The Orange County Register reported.

The couple has been dating for three years, and Helmick proposed on Friday.

The wedding date is set for Aug. 3, KNBC reported.

Mississippi sorority hosts 'last dance' for WWII Navy veteran

A sorority at the University of Southern Mississippi saved the last dance for a 92-year-old World War II Navy veteran.

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Members of Phi Mu hosted a dance for Paul Sonnier, who recently told a social work intern at SouthernCare Hospice Services in Hattiesburg that his final wish would be “to dance with a beautiful woman,” WDAM reported.

“He’d always ask me if I wanted to go to Ropers, the local bar,” Jessica Moreau, a social work intern at SouthernCare, told WDAM. "He says ‘I'll teach you how to jitterbug and the waltz.’"

Moreau, who is a member of Phi Mu, relayed that wish to her sorority sisters. They organized a dance for the ages.

"We as a chapter always like to get involved with the community," Phi Mu President Cameron Ponder told WDAM. "Since one of our members is a social work major at the University of Southern Mississippi, we just found this to be a great way to honor someone that has done so much for our country."

Because Sonnier is bedridden, he had to be brought to the dance on a gurney, WDAM reported.

Family members who watched the dance found it heartwarming. 

“We're super grateful, because he hasn't been out the house in so long," Sonnier’s granddaughter, Samantha Owen, told WDAM. “All these ‘pretty women’ get to come around him. He gets to hand out flowers and just be himself. He hasn't been himself for awhile. So, he's super happy.”

Sonnier said he regretted that he could not get up and dance, but appreciated the gesture. 

"It feels good to be with all these beautiful women," he told WDAM.

Police officer takes 84-year-old man to hospital to visit sick wife

A police officer in Pennsylvania has the serve portion of “to protect and serve” perfected.

Roger Baker, 84, had to get to his local hospital after his wife had a medical emergency. No friends or family could take him, so he called police for help, WHP reported.

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Deputy Chief Bentley from Montoursville Police Department responded, taking Baker to the medical facility, and escorted him to the building, WHP reported

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In the police department’s Facebook post, which has been shared more than a thousand times, the department said that Bentley held Baker’s hand, walking him to the building until hospital workers brought a wheelchair out for Baker and took him to his wife in the emergency room.

DJ Avicii’s family issues statement on his death, thanks supporters

The family of Swedish dance music DJ Avicii has issued a statement days after his death.

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Variety reported that the family of Avicii, whose real name was Tim Bergling, thanked fans and others for their support.

We would like to thank you for the support and the loving words about our son and brother. We are so grateful for everyone who loved Tim’s music and have precious memories of his songs.  Thank you for all the initiatives taken to honor Tim, with public gatherings, church bells ringing out his music, tributes at Coachella and moments of silence around the world.  We are grateful for the privacy during this difficult time. Our wish is that it continues that way.  With love,  The Tim Bergling Family

Bergling was found dead in Muscat, Oman, a city in the Middle East, April 20. The cause of death is not yet known, but authorities have ruled out foul play.

Officer retires from police force, makes emotional final call

Twenty-five years on the job is a lifetime for some, and to leave that life would be emotional to almost anyone. 

Dave Renteria knows something about that. After a quarter-century of patrolling the streets of Jackson, Michigan, Renteria retired this weekend, WILX reported.

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His final call at the end of shift was recorded Sunday, and the raw emotion is making it go viral. 

Renteria thanked his coworkers and the people of his city for his career, all the while trying to choke back the tears, WILX reported.

The video was posted by his son who also paid tribute to his father.

Renteria also responded to the well-wishes that have accompanied the video.

Beyoncé, Google announce more HBCU scholarships 

Beyoncé has partnered with Google to give more scholarships this year.

The singer’s BeyGOOD initiative initially announced a $100,000 donation to four historically black colleges April 16, just after Beyonce’s Coachella headlining set.

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The announcement last week said that $25,000 each will go to Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama; Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida; Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans; and Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, Ohio, as part of the Homecoming Scholars Award Program for the 2018-2019 school year.

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On Monday, BeyGOOD announced that Google.org will match Beyoncé’ original $100,000 grant with scholarships to benefit HBCUs at Texas Southern University in Houston; Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee; Morehouse College in Atlanta; and Grambling State University in Grambling, Louisiana.

Related: Beyoncé donates $100,000 to historically black colleges in four states

Texas Southern is in Beyoncé’s hometown, and Fisk University of the alma mater of her father, Mathew Knowles. Knowles is also a professor at Texas Southern’s School of Communication.

Dodgeball tournament raises money to fight leukemia

University students, faculty and community members in Pennsylvania teamed up for a glow-in-the-dark dodgeball tournament Friday night that raised funds for blood cancer awareness and research for cures.

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Robert Morris University was picked by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to be the first college to pilot "Dodge The Dark."

"We wanted to find a way where college students could become engaged in something they are passionate about and also in a way that they could feel like they were having a lot of fun," said LLS national director Kristen Ricks. "We feel when someone is diagnosed with cancer, it's the darkest day in their life, and our goal is to bring light to the darkness of cancer."

Fifteen teams of eight to 10 people, such as "Underdodge" and "Dodgefathers," played by the colorful lights of disco strobes in an otherwise dark gymnasium at RMU's North Athletic Complex. They donned glow sticks and stickers: red for his or her support of a friend, black for survivors and gold if he or she was "dodging" in memory of someone.

RMU student Ian Morrison was at the event, dodging in memory of his best friend friend who died from leukemia while they were both seniors in high school in 2014.

"The high energy of the place makes it really fun," said Morrison, who also participates in Light The Night walks. "It's a great way to raise funds."

Teens stop basketball game to take knees, pay respect during funeral procession

A group of teens hitting the hoops near Baton Rouge are going viral for a simple gesture of respect.

They stopped their basketball game in Franklinton, Louisiana, on Friday to take a knee, paying respects to the recently departed during a funeral procession, WAFB reported.

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Lynn Bienvenu and Johannah Stroud attended the funeral for their cousin, Velma Kay Crowe.

They were the ones who saw the teens stop their game and pause as the cars went past, WAFB reported

Bienvenu posted the photo to Facebook where it is getting noticed.

Bienvenu said of the teens, “They took a knee not out of disrespect but honor. There was not an adult in sight to tell them to stop playing. This meant a great deal to our family. May God bless each one as I feel they will achieve greatness.”

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

She told WAFB that one teen contacted her on social media to give his condolences for the loss of Crowe, whom the teens did not know personally.

They were identified to WAFB as Shimar Davis, Shimon Davis, Edward James, Brandon Burton, Qundon Burris, Stacy Ard, James Bickman, Avant Money, Malachi Martin and Kalarrian Dillon.

This is not the first time the teens have paused their game. Others have told Bienvenu that they have been seen doing the same thing for other funeral processions.

Many residents told WAFB that coaches and teachers at Franklinton Junior High School have repeatedly told students that they should show respect when a funeral procession drives by.

Stray dog named Publix rescued, then adopted by his guardian angel

A stray dog who lingered around a former Publix grocery store in metro Atlanta for a year has finally found a loving home. The story behind the adoption is heartwarming.

The animal shelter PAWS Atlanta posted Publix's story Friday on its Facebook page. Shelter staff said a woman came rushing to the office Thursday as it was closing, asking if they had Publix.

>> Read more trending news 

Publix was a dog that shelter staff and concerned residents had been trying to rescue for a year. In December, shelter staff were able to rescue the dog and house him at the shelter. The woman who visited the facility Thursday evening knew the dog well; she called him Buddy. She said the dog would visit her shop and she would feed him, and the two had developed a close bond. When the dog disappeared in December, she had feared the worst.

The woman was overjoyed to learn that the rescue organization had Publix, after a friend alerted her when she saw the photo of the dog on the shelter's Instagram feed.

Shelter staff said Publix was thrilled to see the woman who had been so kind to him, and that they'd never seen Publix so happy or animated.

The woman decided to adopt Publix, making for the happiest of endings for all involved. In an update posted on Instagram Monday, the happy new owner said that Publix is her “little shadow,” and goes to work with her each day.

Florida man, 19, wins $15 million playing lottery scratch-off ticket 

A 19-year-old Florida man claimed a $15 million top prize in a new scratch-off game, Florida lottery officials announced Wednesday.

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Quinn Kofler of Bonita Springs won the top prize in the Florida 100X the Cash scratch-off game, lottery officials said in a news release.

The scratch-off game, which costs $30, debuted on Feb. 26 and features eight top prizes of $15 million, which lottery officials said is the largest scratch-off jackpot in state history. There are also 20 prizes of $1 million.

Kofler traveled to lottery headquarters in Tallahassee and decided to take his winnings in a lump sum of $11,175,000, according to the statement. He bought the ticket at a 7-Eleven convenience store in Bonita Springs.

7-year-old cat who walked 12 miles to owners who gave him away finds forever family

A 7-year-old cat given away by his family walked 12 miles back home -- only to be given away again.

WRAL.com reported that, according to an April 4 Facebook post from the SPCA of Wake County, Toby, a fluffy orange and white cat, was given to another family but found his way back to his home.

>> Read more trending news 

“When he arrived, he was met with heartbreak,” the post said. “The family he thought had loved him took him to a shelter and asked staff to euthanize him. The shelter called us at the SPCA to ask if we could take him in and help him find a new family. Of course we said YES!”

The animal shelter said it took Toby in from a county shelter at the end of February.

Toby was adopted by his new mom, Michele, on Friday the 13, SPCA of Wake County communications manager Tara Lynn said in a blog post.

“It’s funny. He’s very sweet, but he didn’t get along with his (feline) roommate,” Lynn told People Pets. “We thought he’d need to be adopted out as the only cat in a home, but his new family has two other cats and he’s fine with them. He’s just been through a lot and wasn’t settled yet.”

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

Lynn told People that she wasn’t sure if Toby, who is FIV-positive, was given up by his family because of his disease, but it didn’t seem to impact interest from potential adopters.

“It’s cool, people were interested in him despite his FIV,” Lynn said.

Toby’s life with his forever family is captured on his own Instagram page, a.cat.named.toby. The page has more than 15,000 followers and includes a post supporting the SPCA of Wake County’s annual Dog Walk, which benefits all animals in the shelter.

Texas high school senior takes his mom to the prom

Taking your mom to your high school prom would raise eyebrows around school, but for a Texas high school senior it was a no-brainer.

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Joe Moreno said his mother, Vanessa Moreno, missed her prom because she dropped out of high school to give birth to him. When this year’s prom was scheduled at Collegiate High School in Corpus Christi, Joe made good on a promise he made years ago, KIII reported. Mom went to the prom as Joe’s date.

"I'm trying to persuade him, 'Hey, take somebody else. Take somebody. This is your prom. Like, we can have our memories somewhere else,'” Vanessa told KIII. “And he kept on. 'No, I'm taking you.'" 

Vanessa said her son has been saying he was going to take her to the prom since he was very young, but she never thought he’d go through with it.

"I really love talking about my family,” Joe told KIII. “It's something that I'm really passionate about. I'm really passionate about who I am. I love who I am; so, when I bring my mom, everyone knows I love my mom.

“I tell them about it, and they are all really supportive and really loving of the idea.”

Joe tweeted photos from the dance, and they went viral. His tweet has been retweeted more than 31,000 times and has more than 180,000 likes.

"Twenty likes. Then 100. Then 200. It just blew up. It was crazy,” Joe said. “To 1,000! Then when I woke up the next day, 12,000! That whole day just went crazy.”

Vanessa told KIII she has received many positive responses from friends and from mothers nationwide.

"I've had so many messages (from) mothers that can relate to my story, and say that I've raised a good gentleman, and that made me feel good," she told KIII.

Joe will graduate in May and plans to go to college to become an oncologist, KIII reported.

Cancer survivor finishes Boston Marathon 13 hours after start

The Boston Marathon showed great stories of perseverance, including a husband and wife team that crossed the finish line just after midnight – 13 hours after starting the race in Hopkinton, Massachusetts.

Mary Shertenlieb is a cancer survivor who ran to raise money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the doctors there that saved her life.

>> Read more trending news 

Just after midnight Tuesday, Shertenlieb crossed the finish line with her husband, Rich.

Shertenlieb said with Monday’s brutal conditions, she went into a medical tent in Wellesley around the 15.5-mile mark with purple lips, shaking, worried about hypothermia.

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

Shertenlieb said her husband convinced her to come home, get warm, have a nice meal and then, if she was up for it, to go back out together after the rain.

Around 8:30 p.m. they took a cab to the spot where Shertenlieb had to stop earlier in the day and finished the nearly 11 remaining miles of the course together, and where greeted at the finish line by cheering family and friends.

“Oh my goodness, that was crazy,” Shertenlieb said. “You can do anything. It may not be how you imagined it playing out, but you can still get it done.”

Smithsonian National Zoo celebrates baby gorilla’s birth

The National Zoo in Washington, D.C. is celebrating a new arrival that was almost a decade in the making.

Calaya, a western lowland gorilla, had a baby boy Sunday evening.

The Smithsonian made the birth announcement on its social media platforms Monday morning, WRC reported, and the video of mama caring for her baby boy is going viral.

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The zoo has named the baby Moke, which means junior or little one in Lingala language. 

Zoo officials said on Twitter that mom and baby are bonding and that she is cradling and caring for her new arrival. They told WJLA that they are hopeful that he will do OK.

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Moke, pronounced mo-KEY, is the first gorilla birth at the zoo in nine years, WRC reported. Meredith Bastian, the zoo’s curator of primates at the Conservation Biology Institute, told WRC Moke is “very special and significant, not only to our zoo family but also to this critically endangered species as a whole.” The western lowland gorilla is considered critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Boy with autism builds 26-foot long Titanic replica out of Legos

Brynjar Karl Bigisson played with his first Lego bricks when he was five.

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By the time he was 10, he fused his interest in the Titanic with the interlocking bricks, developing an idea that eventually became a 26-foot long model of the doomed liner.

It took 700 hours, 56,000 bricks and more than $10,000, donated by family and friends, to build. His grandfather, an engineer, helped him with the blueprints.

The giant, scale model took Brynjar, 15, who is from Reykjavik, Iceland, all over the world touring with the ship and talking about overcoming his autism.

“This whole journey has helped me out of my autistic fog. Although I’m still autistic and will always be, I have trained myself to be ‘as normal as possible,’” he said. “I was totally unable to communicate when I started the project and now I’m standing on stage and giving interviews. It has given me confidence. When I started the building process I had a person helping me in school in every step that I took, but today, I’m studying without any support. My grades have risen and my classmates consider me as their peer. I have had the opportunity to travel and explore and meet wonderful people.”

The Titanic Lego ship has been on display at the largest mall in Iceland, Sweden, Norway and Hamburg, before finding a final resting place at the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

“I never imagined my project would make such an impact,” Brynjar said. “Things just evolved and we followed the flow. But I’m very honored and happy that my project was an inspiration to so many others -- also motivation to follow your own dreams.”

Brynjar said his Lego building days are behind him but not his fascination with ships.

“I never built anything after the Titanic,” he said. “I turned more towards exploring ships and their stories because I’m interested in becoming a captain when I grow up.”

NFL player returns to hometown to take family friend to prom

Don Jones II took a break from the NFL to fulfill a promise to the daughter of a family friend. 

The San Francisco 49ers defensive back took Lindsey Preston to her prom, WBRC reported.

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Lindsey’s mom is friends with Jones and his family and has stayed in touch over the years. Last year she had a big favor of Jones -- if he would take Lyndsey to the dance. He said yes, and recently returned to Moulton, Alabama to fulfill the promise.

“Anything I can do to make some kids smile, I would be more than willing to do,” Jones told WBRC. “i think the most fun was all of the guys. I showed the guys about five or six new dance moves.”

“All of the guys followed me around all night and I was just glad I could dance and put smiles on the kids’ faces,” Jones told WBRC.

Big pig rescue: Ohio firefighters pull Winnie from cistern

Ohio firefighters had to rescue a 180-pound potbellied pig on Saturday after the animal fell into a cistern.

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Winnie was unhurt after firefighters retrieved her, WCPO-TV in Cincinnati reported.

Goshen Township Fire and EMS Station 18 posted photos of the big pig rescue on social media.

Kids skip school for Cubs home opener, run into school-missing principal at ballpark

Two boys from Illinois did what almost any diehard Cubs fan would do: They skipped school to get to the home opener this week.

Tucker and Gunner Speckman tempted fate with a sign that caught a lot of attention, WQAD reported. It said “Skipping school. S-h-h-h, don’t tell Principal Versluis.” The sign was intended to get them on television. It did its job and got the attention of the MLB, which posted it to its Twitter account.

But Tucker and Gunner weren’t alone at the game Tuesday . Little did they know Principal Patrick Versluis, the same principal on the sign, also skipped school. He actually called off sick so he could take his son to the first home game of the season.

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As much as the boys probably didn’t want to see the administrator, he didn’t want to see his students either.

“I saw him and I was kind of ducking down,” Versluis told the Chicago Sun Times. “I didn’t want him to see me either. I’m here with my son, Aiden, who’s in the fifth grade and I called out sick for the day.”

Versluis is part of a group of guys who share season tickets. This year he was the lucky one to get the opening day game. He said that while school and learning are important, so are some experiences that you can’t pass up.

“Attendance is important. But, we also learn from these experiences in life. Who’s giving up opening day? Come on,” Versluis told WQAD.

The boys are apparently good students, too. WQAD said they were given the tickets by their parents for straight A’s.

Tucker and Gunner did meet up with Versluis and snapped a photo of the trio of skippers.

The Cubs fell to the Pirates 8-5.

 

Father running in Boston Marathon to support center that treated daughter

Thousands of people will be running the Boston Marathon on Monday, all with their own reasons. But for one girl from Scituate, Massachusetts, and her father, the motivation is giving back.

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Maeve Kendall was 9 years old when she was diagnosed with a form of leukemia called acute lymphoblastic leukemia antigen, or ALLA.

“At first I was just worried about it. I was like, am I going to die?” said Maeve, now 12.

While ALLA is highly treatable, it was a long road for Maeve and her family with years of treatment.

“Injections in her spine to make sure the cancer doesn't go to her brain; a kid that age shouldn't have to go through that stuff,” said her father, Mike Kendall.

The family got through those difficult days with love, hope and the support of the Jimmy Fund and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

“I love doing everything they have there, they have crafts. It just makes the experience more easier,” Maeve said.

She’s now cancer-free, but Maeve’s bones are still weak from the treatment. Her dad is her strength.

“He's kind of like my legs, because I can't run. So that's what's cool about it,” she said.

Now her father’s legs are going to carry him 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston to raise money for Dana-Farber.

He his running “to make sure that the next kid or the next man or woman who comes along has a better chance and a better quality of life as their going through treatment,” Kendall said.

Seeing Maeve at the finish line will make it all worthwhile.

“I think about that moment a lot when I'm out there running. That's exactly what I'm doing it for to have that fulfillment at the end,” Kendall said.

The Kendalls are hoping to raise $15,000 for Dana-Farber. To learn more about Mike’s run and donate, visit the Run Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge website.

Clark Howard visits fallen officer's family, delivers nearly $40K in donations

After a Georgia police officer was killed in the line of duty in February, listeners of WSB Radio in Atlanta started asking how they could help.

>> Read more trending news 

And it was not long until WSB traffic reporter/talk show host Mark Arum and WSB-TV consumer adviser Clark Howard, host of the nationally syndicated "Clark Howard Show," jumped into action.

>> On WSBTV.com: Officer killed in line of duty was young father expecting 2nd child any day

Locust Grove Police Officer Chase Maddox was a five-year veteran of the force who left behind a son and an expecting wife, Alex.

Days after Maddox's death, Alex gave birth to the couple's second child, Bodie.

The Maddox family's story touched the hearts of people across Henry County, North Georgia and around the country.

>> On WSBTV.com: Hundreds gather to remember Officer Chase Maddox

Our hearts broke knowing the struggle that Alex Maddox will have now raising two boys on her own.

Arum spearheaded the effort, and partnered with Howard to set up a fund to assist the boys with their future education or other needs.

"My talk show listeners were looking for ways to help the Maddox family and the kids – now and in the future," Arum said. "There's no one better than Clark to handle the trust and the investments. He'll work with Alex (Maddox) to make sure the funds are properly invested and that she and the boys will get the most out of your donations.”

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

Last week, Howard drove to south Spalding County and visited with Chase Maddox’s immediate and extended family.

>> Get consumer advice on ClarkHoward.com

Following WSB Radio's campaign, the Maddox family put the fundraising dollars into Clark-Smart investments for the future.

– WSB Radio is owned by Cox Media Group.

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