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April 20, 2018

There was no hesitation — when Charlie Ball heard that his old high school classmate Kenneth Walker needed a kidney, he volunteered to donate if a match.

Ball and Walker both graduated from Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, D.C., in 1969, and while they weren't friends, Ball recognized Walker's name when he saw an email from him in his inbox. Walker, a journalist, learned when he returned to the United States from South Africa 18 months ago that he needed a kidney transplant, and tried everything to find a match. A high school friend suggested he send an email to their old classmates, and Walker figured it was worth a shot; in his email, he wrote that he completely understood if no one felt comfortable being a donor, and he was happy to at least spread awareness regarding organ donation.

Ball responded within 15 minutes with his offer. Doctors told him they usually don't accept donors over 60, but because he's in good shape, it wouldn't be an issue, and after a battery of tests, it was determined he was a match. This week, Ball and Walker underwent surgery at George Washington University Hospital, with Walker — who called this an "example of humanity" — eternally grateful for the gift of life. "I'm giving him a piece of my body," Ball told WJLA. "It's simple enough. God gave me two, I don't have to wonder why." Catherine Garcia

April 19, 2018
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Kristi Smith was born with a rare brain disorder called Phenylketonuria (PKU), and she understands what it's like to live with the condition. That's why it was so important for her and her husband, Matt, to adopt four children who also have PKU.

When it's not treated, PKU can lead to seizures and intellectual disabilities. Smith told Today she's been on a strict, low-protein diet her entire life, and that has helped her thrive. The Tucson resident and her husband knew they wanted to have kids, but when they discovered the complications that can arise when a woman with PKU gets pregnant, they chose to look into adoption. "I didn't want to potentially go through all that headache and heartache and stress when there are kids who need a family out there," Smith said.

Through an adoption agency, in 2015 the Smiths adopted two boys with PKU who lived in the same Chinese orphanage. Andrew and Luke, both 2 at the time, were treated for PKU, but other kids with the condition aren't as fortunate, and last month, the Smiths adopted one of those children, 14-year-old Ben, as well as 9-year-old Caleb. Ben has some developmental delays, Smith said, but all of her kids are now receiving the treatments they need to excel. "They came to us not knowing how to go up stairs or how to run and jump — they were overwhelmed, but now they are just flourishing," Smith said. "They're becoming kind and courteous, and it's just like a light bulb went on for everything." Catherine Garcia

April 17, 2018

Virginia State Senior Trooper D.H. Cepelnik can now add "bear cub rescuer" to his résumé.

Cepelnik was called out to a car accident in Franklin County last Thursday, and when he arrived, he discovered a bear had been hit by a vehicle and killed while crossing the highway. She left behind two cubs stranded on the side of the road, but Cepelnik was able to wrangle the active cubs and take them to Wildlife Center of Virginia in Waynesboro.

The cubs weigh about four pounds each, and are "dehydrated and mildly anemic," the center said. Once they are fully recovered, the cubs will be released back into the wild, but for now, they are enjoying playing with each other and skipping their bottles — the cubs prefer to eat wet dog food mixed with a formula designed specifically for black bear cubs. Catherine Garcia

April 16, 2018

Without her children pitching in to help and offering words of encouragement, Iesha Champs likely wouldn't be graduating next month from Texas Southern University's Thurgood Marshall School of Law.

The Houston resident had to overcome a lot of obstacles to get where she is today. Her father died when she was young, and her mother was addicted to drugs. When she became pregnant at 19 with her first child, Champs was homeless and had to drop out of high school and find a job. In 2009, she told CBS News, her life took a devastating turn: Pregnant with her fourth child, Champs lost her job, her home was destroyed in a fire, and the father of her children died from cancer.

Champs then met a pastor who told her she needed to get her GED. She did, and then went on to Houston Community College and University of Houston-Downtown, before taking on law school. As a child, she dreamed about becoming a lawyer, and her own kids helped that dream come true — they made flash cards for their mom, and served as a mock jury. Her eldest son, David, would also help his siblings with snacks and getting ready for school while Champs studied. To celebrate her pending graduation, Champs held a photo shoot with her kids, who held up signs reading "I helped" and "We did it." When she looks at the photos, Champs says, she sees "a woman who knew the odds were against her and she destroyed them." Catherine Garcia

April 13, 2018

Tucker Speckman was hoping his principal would see him on television, in the stands of Wrigley Field for the Chicago Cubs home opener on Tuesday, but Patrick Versluis saw him in person because he was playing hooky, too.

Speckman, a fourth-grader at Wells Elementary School, made a sign that read, "Skipping School. Shh! Don't tell Principal Versluis." He didn't make it on television — although Major League Baseball did tweet out his photo — but Speckman was able to show Versluis his sign when they ran into each other at the stadium. "I wasn't nervous because I know he's such a great principal he wouldn't be mad or anything," Speckman told WLS. Versluis said he had permission from his boss to attend the game on a school day and does not condone skipping class, but "I also believe in those experiences." Catherine Garcia

April 12, 2018

When Daisy Anguiano Miranda walked into the lobby of Nebraska Medicine in Omaha and saw hundreds of birthday cards and gifts, she couldn't believe what was in front of her.

"I looked shocked and wanted to faint, but I knew I couldn't," she said. "I'm so happy." Strangers from across the United States sent Anguiano Miranda presents as part of a campaign called "Daisies for Daisy," started by Ashli Brehm. Brehm, a breast cancer survivor, met Anguiano Miranda during treatment, and when she discovered the child had been diagnosed for the second time with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare bone cancer, she wanted to do something special for her.

Brehm asked readers of her blog to send anything daisy-related to the hospital, so Anguiano Miranda could be surprised on her 11th birthday. On April 9, she went through all of the gifts — including paper daisies, seeds, art supplies, and blankets — and cards she received, and even shared some of the flowers she had been sent with other patients. Catherine Garcia

April 11, 2018
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He only learned how to sew two years ago, but Dwight Goins, 89, has made up for lost time.

The retired landscaper from Upland, California, creates large care bags for the homeless, and smaller bags and pencil cases for foster kids. "It gives me something to do, and it makes somebody happy," he told NBC Los Angeles. He needed something to do after his wife of 40 years died, Goins said, and was inspired to take up sewing after grocery stores started charging for bags.

Recently, Goins made bags for the senior citizens at the Upland Rehab and Care Center, which they placed on their walkers and wheelchairs. "He's always been a very heart-sy person," his daughter, Cheryl, said. "I think he gives a piece of himself away every time he gives a bag away." Catherine Garcia

April 9, 2018
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What has short legs, a long body, and its own museum in Germany? The dachshund, of course.

The Dackelmuseum in Passau, Germany, opened earlier this month, the creation of two former florists who spent 25 years collecting all things dachshund — toys, artwork, statues, stuffed animals. They amassed more than 4,500 items, and they say their museum showcases the largest collection of dachshund-related objects on Earth.

"The world needs a sausage dog museum," co-founder Seppi Küblbeck told BBC News. "No other dog in the world enjoys the same kind of recognition or popularity as the symbol of Bavaria, the sausage dog." In the Middle Ages, dachshunds were bred to flush out badgers from their burrows in order to keep them from going after ducks and hens, and the dogs became known as good hunters. Catherine Garcia

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