More than two years after Wanda Roberts and her family threw a message in a bottle into the Pacific Ocean, it was found by Edward Paulino, thousands of miles away in Guam.
Roberts' late father, Bob Mahan, loved to camp out by the ocean, and on Sept. 9, 2015, the family gathered on the beach in Navarro, California, sending a message in a bottle out to sea. It ultimately reached the shores of Malojloj, where it was discovered on Feb. 3 by Paulino. Paulino's daughter, Gerika, told the Pacific Daily News her dad likes "collecting interesting items on the beach," and when he found the bottle he urged her to contact Roberts. "It's amazing that the bottle traveled such a long distance," she said.
The faded pink bottle contained a letter from Roberts, explaining why she had thrown it into the ocean, and a small container of bubbles sporting a picture of Mahan's favorite cartoon character, Mickey Mouse. Gerika Paulino messaged Roberts, who lives in Washington, on Facebook to let her know the bottle had arrived in Guam, and Roberts was thrilled. "Social media is a wonderful outlet connecting us to another part of the world," she said. "This brought back fond memories, and all of the family agrees that my dad would have loved to know we did this." Catherine Garcia
As a child, writer Mike MacEacheran's father would regale him with tales about his youth summiting peaks throughout the Alps. As an adult, MacEacheran wanted to experience the mountains with his dad, now 74, and suggested they embark on the 10-day, 110-mile Tour du Mont Blanc.
Writing about their journey last summer for BBC Travel, MacEacheran said he briefly considered that the long-distance hiking trail might be too strenuous for his father, but "that first sunlit afternoon, it was instantly obvious we'd made the right decision." Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in the Alps, and the Tour du Mont Blanc takes hikers through France, Switzerland, and Italy. As they made their way along the trail — they took their time, getting up late and enjoying beers with their lunches — MacEacheran realized what he thought was his dad's "unhealthy obsession with the mountains revealed itself to be a bond I never knew we had."
By the final stretch, his dad was "enthusiastically swearing with every rung," and when MacEacheran stopped to take a photo, it hit him that he was taking a picture identical to one he saw of his dad years ago, his smile and the ridges of Mont Blanc the same. "For a split second," MacEacheran wrote, "it looked like nothing had changed." Catherine Garcia
An act of kindness helped Chris Mazdzer take silver at the Winter Olympics. The American luger fell into a rut before the Games and slid down the world rankings. But while training in Latvia a few weeks ago, a Russian luger offered Mazdzer his sled — something lugers never do — saying it might give him a boost. That display of "friendship was really moving," Mazdzer told Reuters. "It shows we care about each other and there is this human connection which crosses countries and cultures and sport is an amazing way to accomplish it." The sled proved too small, but the gesture kicked Mazdzer out of his slump. He improved his times, and this week became the first American man to win a luge medal at the Olympics. Christina Colizza
I’m still processing what happened last night. It honestly doesn’t even feel real yet! All I know is that I have an amazing group of people in my life that stick with me even when times are tough and sharing this high with them is one of the best ways I can say thank you back. It honestly has taken a village... actually make that a few villages to put me into the position where when I was on the handles for that fourth run everything just felt right. I wasn’t nervous, I was just ready and I think you can see a little smile through my game face because for some reason I knew I could do it even before I began that run. It’s been a hell of a ride and all I can do is say thank you to all the people who supported me and helped me develop as a person along the way. To my amazing teammates who always push me to be my very best. To my coaches who always believed in me and would stop at nothing to get me on that podium. To my incredible family who has been my emotional rock and has the unfortunate task of always having to deal with me. To my friends around the world who support my crazy ways! All I can say is thank you and we finally did it!!!! #teamusa #itsforamerica #pyeongchang2018 #silver #feelslikeawin #olympic #medalist #first #american #menssingles #medal #believe #achieve #inspire #icamesecond
For seven months, Trenton Lewis would walk 11 long miles to work, getting up way before dawn in order to arrive on time for his 4 a.m. shift.
When he was hired for the job at a UPS facility in Little Rock, Arkansas, Lewis, 21, didn't have transportation and "was banking on my feet," he told CNN. A single father to 14-month-old Karmen, he never told his coworkers about his trek, because "my pride is strong," he said, and he would do whatever was necessary to provide for his child. Despite his attempt to keep this under wraps, coworker Patricia "Mama Pat" Bryant found out Lewis was walking 11 miles each way to and from work, and she quietly came up with a plan: She would raise enough money to buy Lewis a car.
Their colleagues pitched in, and the team came up with $2,000 to purchase a used car. Bryant's husband, Kenneth, fixed a tiny blemish on the bumper, and the 2006 Saturn Ion was ready for Lewis. His co-workers told him to come outside for a quick union meeting, and that's when they surprised him with his new wheels. He thanked everyone for their support and promised he was "never going to forget this, ever." As for his first trip, it was to pick up Karmen so they could eat lunch together. Catherine Garcia
For several decades, Keith Limbert's wife drove him wherever he needed to go, and now, it's his turn to be the chauffeur.
Married for 58 years, Keith and Anne Limbert live in West Yorkshire, England, and although he took driving lessons when he was younger, Keith never ended up getting his license. Anne, who got her license in 1972, was happy to drive him around town, but when she suffered a stroke in 2015, she had to hang her car keys up. That's when Keith, 79, decided it was time to step up and take over the driving duties. "She has looked after me long enough and I think it's about time for me to look out for her now," he told the U.K.'s Metro. "I owe her."
About 18 months ago, Anne was diagnosed with breast cancer, and now that he has his license, Keith is able to drive her to treatment. They also enjoy just parking the car so they can "watch the world go by," Keith said. Their daughter, Shelly Bennett, said her mother's stroke changed their lives, but now that her father can drive, it's "given them a new lease on life." Catherine Garcia
He lost 26 pairs of shoes and 42 pounds, but gained $120,000 for Parkinson's research.
Over the course of 67 days, Bill Bucklew walked across eight states — Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California — to raise money for The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. Six years ago, Bucklew, then 43, was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson's, and not long after, his father was told he also had the debilitating disorder. Knowing that his young son could one day be diagnosed with Parkinson's is what pushed Bucklew to raise awareness and money for research, he told Megyn Kelly on Today.
Bucklew has always enjoyed running marathons and climbing mountains, and his 2,594-mile trek was just as exciting. He started Nov. 24 in Georgia, finally arriving at his final destination, San Diego, on Jan. 31. Along the way, he was joined for some stretches by other people with Parkinson's, and he had some memorable encounters: In Texas, it rained for "11 hours straight" during one leg, and he was also followed by coyotes. "I could hear them howling from all sides of the road," he said. "Some were just a few feet away." He had blisters most of the time, wore through 26 pairs of shoes, counted 16 dog attacks, and while walking during a windstorm, he said, "a giant mailbox flew right over my head." Catherine Garcia
It has been more than 40 years since he designed one of Disneyland's best attractions, and Bill Watkins can still remember everything it entailed — from finding the right material for the wheels (nylon was too fast, so he had to go with polyurethane) to the math he used for the fastest curves.
Watkins, 87, was the first person to ever go on Space Mountain when it opened at Disneyland in 1977, but he hadn't been on it for 13 years. That changed on Wednesday, when Disneyland opened early so the Long Beach, California, resident and his new friend Kyle King could go on a private journey through space. "This will probably be my last ride," Watkins told The Orange County Register. "I suppose it's goodbye."
Watkins built his first roller coaster as a kid back in Indiana, using a ladder and red wagon — while testing his creation, he broke his arm three different times. He started a career in the aerospace industry, but in 1966 he responded to an ad for an amusement park designer. He impressed the people at Disney, and was hired at a rate of $328 per week, working on the People Mover, Autopia cars, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
When Watkins and King, who became inspired by Watkins' work after he read about him as a child, arrived at Disneyland, the lights were on inside the normally dark Space Mountain, so Watkins could take a closer look at his design. After hurtling through space for what was supposed to be the last time, the suddenly sentimental Watkins wasn't quite ready to leave yet. "Can we go again?" he asked. Catherine Garcia
The lights are back on in many Puerto Rican homes, thanks to one high school student. Salvador Gómez Colón, 15, sprang into action after Hurricane Maria smashed into the island last fall, launching a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for portable solar lamps. While his hometown of San Juan has regained sporadic power, many residents in hard-hit rural areas still have no light. So Colon began spending his weekends distributing the lamps to the island's small villages, using the more than $125,000 he raised online. In four months, he has helped brighten more than 840 homes. "This experience has taught me to be grateful for what I have," Salvador told CNN. Christina Colizza
"The world can always benefit from a positive mission."-Salvador Gomez Colon, 15, raised over $125K to buy and donate hundreds of solar lamps and portable washing machines to families still living in darkness in #PuertoRico. https://t.co/iYibE9Bwbz pic.twitter.com/oOKu4HkWsV
— Parija Kavilanz (@ParijaKavilanz) February 1, 2018