It wasn't all bad...

The week's good news: January 17, 2019

Catherine Garcia
Stem cells.
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Study finds stem cell therapy could stop symptoms of MS in some patients

A new study shows that stem cell transplants could stop symptoms in some people with multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that affects 2.3 million patients worldwide. MS targets the central nervous system, with the immune system attacking the protective sheath covering nerves. During the clinical trial, patients had their stem cells collected and stored, then received high-dose chemotherapy treatments, which wiped out their immune systems. Their stem cells were later infused back into their bodies, giving their immune systems a reboot. Fewer than 10 percent of participants subsequently reported that their condition got worse, versus more than 75 percent of patients whose disease progressed while taking medications for MS over a five-year period. One patient who participated in the trial, Amanda Loy of Alaska, said before the transplant, her arms were numb, she had bladder issues, and her balance was off. Now, she can run, and will participate in the Chicago Marathon. [CBS News]


Caffeine-loving couple saves the day by buying their favorite coffee shop

When software developer Michael Nieves found out his favorite coffee shop in Fresno, California, was closing, he decided then and there that wasn't going to happen — because he was going to buy it and keep the doors open. Nieves went to Yellow Mug Coffee five days a week, and when the owner told him one day last year he was drinking his last cup of coffee because they were going out of business, "I said, 'No, you're not,'" Nieves told The Fresno Bee. Three days later, Nieves and his wife, Belinda Bagwell, purchased Yellow Mug Coffee, and they officially took over on Jan. 1. This is new territory for the couple, but they're thrilled, and so are their customers: When they announced on Facebook the coffee shop was staying open, one commenter said the news was "so freaking exciting." [The Fresno Bee]


Hotel gives teddy bear luxurious stay after family accidentally leaves him behind

Being left behind in Hawaii wasn't so bad for Sutro, who extended his vacation with a trip to the spa and quality time in a cabana. Sutro is a teddy bear, and he didn't make it into the luggage as Anna Pickard and her family packed their bags to go home to the Bay Area. While emptying suitcases, Pickard realized her son's beloved bear was missing. She called the Grand Hyatt Kauai, and was told Sutro had been found in the laundry. Before reuniting Sutro with his family, the staff decided to have a little fun, taking him all over the hotel property and documenting his adventures. Pickard tweeted that her son was "delighted" and "enthralled" by the photos, and even asked how Sutro was able to afford a cabana. All vacations must come to an end, though, and Sutro made it home safely last week. [San Francisco Chronicle]


World War II veteran receives 50,000 cards for his 96th birthday

Wanting her father to receive more than just bills in the mail, Sue Morse went online and asked friends if they would send him a card or quick note for his birthday. Duane Sherman, a World War II veteran and Purple Heart recipient, lives in Southern California. He turned 96 on Dec. 30, and the well-wishes started flooding in before his birthday, and have yet to let up. He's received more than 50,000 cards and letters from 10 countries and every U.S. state. The Pittsburgh Steelers sent him a card, as did the secretary of the Navy. Elementary school students and prison inmates have written Sherman letters thanking him for his service, and several Navy officers took him out to lunch. Sherman told The Orange County Register he's "amazed, shocked, and appreciative. All the good comments people made ... it just brightened my day." [The Orange County Register]


New housing project seeks to help former inmates reintegrate into society

A new program is helping former inmates get back on their feet by pairing them up with people who have rooms to spare. The Homecoming Project, run by nonprofit organization Impact Justice in Alameda County, California, gives subsidies to people willing to rent a room to a recently-released inmate. The group covers the formerly incarcerated person's rent for six months and goes through a lengthy screening process to find them a good home. The organization aims to help former inmates return to a normal life, and hopes to fight misconceptions about ex-convicts in general. "Project Homecoming says you're a person and we're going to treat you like a person and give you the footholds and the scaffolding to be able to come back home and to be a full member of society just like anybody else," Alex Busansky, who runs Impact Justice, told NPR. [NPR]