High school hosts early graduation for student with ailing father

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A North Carolina teen's dream came true to have his father see him graduate, thanks to a special surprise from his high school.

On Feb. 27, Cameron Brown, 18, walked early in his cap and gown so his terminally ill dad, Brian Brown, could experience the moment.

"Over the years me and my dad have grown to be very, very close -- pretty much best friends," Cameron Brown told ABC News Tuesday. "I look at him as my Superman, so seeing him there to see me graduate meant everything for me. He really tried to make sure that I know that he's proud of me because that's something I've always worked for.

Brian Brown, 43, of Albemarle, North Carolina, was diagnosed with nonalcoholic cirrhosis of the liver in 2011. Two years later, Brian Brown fell off a ladder while helping a neighbor after a storm. The accident left him paralyzed.

Cameron Brown's mother, Wendy Brown, told ABC News that doctors say her husband does not have long to live.

Kim Page, the principal of West Stanly High School, said she and her colleagues put together a mock ceremony so Brian Brown could see his son graduate early. The family thought they were attending a graduation practice, she said.

"My secretary said, 'We've got the caps and gowns, let's do something for him,'" Page told ABC News. "Within less than 24 hours, we put together the program."

Hundreds attended the assembly in the school auditorium, where Cameron Brown's name was announced on stage.

"It was wonderful," said mom Wendy Brown. "Just to see how proud he was, was the biggest thing. Him and his daddy are very close."

Cameron Brown is the quarterback of his high school football team. In the fall, he will be attending Averett University in Danville, Virginia, and will play college football.

Brian Brown died early Wednesday morning, Cameron Brown confirmed to ABC News.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Pregnant woman rewards man who offered his seat with a custom trophy

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  One New York City woman was determined to reward the first man who offered her a seat on the subway. She just didn't realize it'd take her two pregnancies.

Yvonne Lin, who lives in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, spends about two hours on the subway each day commuting to her job. The pregnant product designer told ABC News she quickly noticed a trend during her first pregnancy more than two years ago.

"I quickly realized a lot of women were giving me seats ... the majority of the subway ride. The contrast was so jarring. No men were giving me seats," she said.

Lin, 38, decided to come up with what she described as an experiment to "instigate behavior change," and decided to reward the first man who gave up his seat on the subway with a card.

"But I never managed to do that because no guy gave up his seat for the first pregnancy," she said.

Now that Lin and her husband, Borisitin, are expecting a baby boy in May, Lin said she decided to up the reward by ordering a custom trophy from Amazon for less than $13. It read, "#1 Decent Dude First Man to Offer Subway Seat to Pregnant Woman Throughout Two Pregnancies."

After carrying the trophy in her backpack for eight months, Lin was finally able to give it to Harlem resident Ricky Barksdale on Feb. 23.

Barksdale, 34, said when he was riding the subway he didn't realize Lin was pregnant initially because she was wearing all black. After about 10 or so minutes, he got up and told her, "Take my seat," he recalled to ABC News.

"She said, 'Hold on a second. I have a gift for you,'" he added. "I thought it was going to be a business card."

But when Lin gave the Army veteran an actual trophy, the father of two said he "chuckled."

Lin said she doesn't just want to remind commuters to be nice to pregnant women, but to people in general. "It's good to be a little more human," she added.

Barksdale continued, "Pay it forward. Just do the right thing without expecting anything in return."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Tips for surviving switch to Daylight Saving Time

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If you're dreading the start of Daylight Saving Time this weekend, here are a few tips from experts on how to ease into your new schedule without wanting to break your alarm clock.

Eat Dinner Early

Our sleep cycle is impacted by our appetite, so try eating earlier if you want extra shut-eye before the start of Daylight Saving Time.

Dr. Alcibiades Rodriguez, assistant professor in the Neurology Department at the New York University Langone Comprehensive Epilepsy Center-Sleep Center, said finishing dinner an hour earlier than normal will help prime you to expect bed earlier.

“We have a circadian rhythm [that] is coinciding with the time we eat,” he explained. “We need to coincide our sleep pattern with our eating pattern.”

Use a Light Box to Ease Into the Day

Shifting an hour will mean more light at the end of the day, but also waking up when it’s a little darker outside. Rodriguez explained that sunlight primes the body to wake up.

“It’s going to be more difficult for people to wake up,” Rodriguez said of the days immediately after Daylight Saving starts.

People who have extreme difficulty getting out of bed can try a specially designed alarm that slowly brightens as you wake up, Rodriguez said, noting it can help mimic the feeling that it’s daylight outside.

Take an Afternoon Nap

If you’re unlikely to be able to go to bed early the night when Daylight Saving kicks in, you can take a nap so that you’re not exhausted the following day. Dr. Charles Czeisler, chief of sleep medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said many people are not going to be able to get to bed too early.

“Many people they go to bed at usual time and they lose an hour of sleep and many different physiological systems are affected by that loss of sleep and the shift of circadian rhythm,” he explained. “It’s harder to reset to earlier hours.”

He pointed out that even though Daylight Saving Time means losing just one hour, it has large health consequences. Czeisler said that heart attack risk goes up 5 percent and motor vehicle crashes go up 17 percent immediately after Daylight Saving Time starts.

Avoid Screens Before Bedtime

Experts have advised the sleep-deprived to avoid screens before bed for years, but the advice is even more important when Daylight Saving Time kicks in. Czeisler points out reducing time in front of the TV, computer or smartphone will help restless sleepers get extra shut-eye before losing an hour.

"You can turn down intensity in screens or ideally turn them off and just be mindful," Czeisler said.

He said losing sleep puts extra stressors on different points of the body so it's extra important to be proactive when Daylight Saving starts.

"The systems that are affected by sleep loss are affected by inflammation," he said, pointing out the immune system, cardiovascular system and appetite hormones can all go haywire without enough sleep.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Pence takes White House health care pitch on the road

ABC News (WASHINGTON) -- Vice President Mike Pence hits the road today to pitch the Republican health care bill unveiled last week as the proposed replacement for the Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare.

Pence will visit Louisville, Kentucky where, joined by Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, he will meet with small business representatives and participate in listening sessions to discuss the president’s economic agenda and the future of the country’s health care laws, according to the vice president’s office.

The trip marks the beginning of a flurry of travel by Trump administration officials to make a sales pitch for the GOP health care law as a conservative rebellion from some on Capitol Hill and opposition from physician and hospital groups threatens the legislation’s fate.

 White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the White House is “going to have a full-court press” to sell the bill as he previewed a potential tour from the president and other members of the administration to bring their message straight to the American people.

“I think you’ll see a lot of travel and a lot of activity by the president and all of the administration,” Spicer said. “This is going to be a very, very aggressive, comprehensive approach to making sure that every American understands and that there is a major problem and we’re here to fix it.”

The vice president has been making the rounds on Capitol Hill, meeting with key conservative Republicans and the White House is already deep into its lobbying operation, including buttering up conservatives with invitations to bowl at the Harry S. Truman bowling alley in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building basement.

Spicer indicated that President Trump remains 100 percent behind the plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, telling reporters the president and the administration are “very proud of the product we have produced.”

“I think he’s in very much of a sell mode,” Spicer said. “The president and his team have worked very hard on this.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


President Trump nominates Scott Gottlieb to head FDA

Al Drago/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Trump has announced he will nominate Scott Gottlieb as commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, according to a statement from the White House.

Gottlieb, a physician and former FDA official during the George W. Bush administration, has been a board member for several drug companies and is a vocal critic of the Affordable Care Act.

He is currently a partner at New Enterprise Associates, specializing in health care investments, and is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

Before his time at NEA, Gottlieb served as deputy commissioner for Medical and Scientific Affairs at the FDA.

Gottlieb will require Senate confirmation before he can assume the position leading the group, which oversees the safety of food and pharmaceuticals in the U.S.

The FDA lies within the Department of Health and Human Services, which is led by another doctor, Tom Price. The agency was most recently overseen by Commissioner Robert Califf, who held the role from February 2016 until Trump's inauguration.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Alaska Airlines flight attendant finds an unlikely kidney donor

iStock/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) -- Jenny Stansel, an Alaska Airlines flight attendant, has battled chronic kidney disease for the last 15 years, but things took a turn for the worse last March when she became ill on a flight.

"I had to take a passenger's seat on my last flight," Stansel, 38, said in an interview with ABC News on Friday. "I knew something was very wrong, but I thought that maybe I had been working too much and overdoing it like I always do."

She soon learned that her disease had progressed and her kidneys were functioning at just 6 percent of their capacity.

Her doctors ordered her to immediately began dialysis, an intensive treatment for end-stage kidney failure. Her only way off dialysis was to find a kidney donor.

Stansel created a Facebook page "Keep Jennie Kickin’ with JoDiva the Kidney" and sent out a company-wide email to see if anyone would be interested in helping her.

She said at least three of her co-workers agreed to take a compatibility test, but only one of them was a match: Captain Jodi Harskamp.

Stansel and Harskamp, both based in Anchorage, Alaska, had become close friends after Harskamp’s home caught on fire a few years ago.

"I didn’t know her that well back then, but I heard about the fire, so I took her some dinner and a few bottles of wine," Stansel said. "I had a house fire when I was 15 years old and I know how devastating it can be."

Doctors confirmed Harskamp was a viable match and scheduled the surgery right away. The transplant is set to take place on Monday.

"I was elated! It was like a huge weight lifted off of me," Stansel said. "I suddenly started feeling better when I heard that she was a match."

Harskamp was not immediately available for an interview with ABC News, but she recently told ABC News Seattle affiliate KOMO-TV that she was happy to help her co-worker.

"I mean, I lose a kidney. She gets to live, I'd say it's a pretty fair trade, right?" Harskamp said in the interview.

About 26 million U.S. adults have chronic kidney disease, which can be fatal if left untreated, according to the National Kidney Foundation.

Now, Stansel said she is encouraging others to register for organ donation. She said she’s already connected one person with two possible donors via social media.

"I’m going to help other people get kidneys," she said. "I know that I have a bigger mission ahead of me."

A spokesperson for Alaska Airlines did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Teen donates to family’s nonprofit after toddler's story hits home

Carissa Carroll/Witt Family(SHOREVIEW, Minn.) -- A selfless teen has donated $1,500 of his own savings in honor of a boy whose story hit home.

Jordan Witt, 18, worked part-time since November to raise funds for Jack's Basket -- a nonprofit that provides new and expectant parents of children with Down syndrome with resources and support.

Jordan told ABC News that he was moved by Jack Carroll, the little boy who inspired the cause, as well as his own little brother Logan's story.

"Logan has really taught me the true meaning of unconditional love," said Jordan of Little Falls, Minnesota. "People often say, 'What joy has Logan given us even though he has Down syndrome?' Well, the answer is so easy. Our outlook on life has changed. Life is so much bigger than our own selves. He smiles, he laughs, every day is different with him. And that's so neat about it.

"As for what inspired me to donate, it's the love I have for the mission of Jack's Basket, what they do and the love I have for Logan."

The idea for Jack's Basket began in 2014, months after Jack Carroll, now 3, was born.

The organization delivers congratulatory baskets to new and expectant parents of babies with Down syndrome.

Jack's Basket was launched by Jack's mother, Carissa Carroll of Shoreview, Minnesota.

"When I was in the hospital, I really had to ask [the staff], 'Do you have any resources on Down syndrome?' They kind of hesitated and said, 'I think we have something,'" Carroll told ABC News. "After meeting more and more families ... finding out that most of them never received a congratulations after the birth their child, also a biased language -- 'Oh, I'm sorry,' kind of in a dismal way. It broke my heart. These babies deserve to be celebrated just like any other birth."

On Jack's first birthday, the very first Jack's Basket was delivered.

As of Friday, 293 babies have been celebrated through the mission since 2014.

Each basket features baby gifts, including a personalized onesie, up-to-date resources, literature and avenues of support from local and national organizations.

Carroll, now a mom of three, has 16 parent volunteers that help deliver baskets and connect with new families, she said.

Two weeks ago, Jack's Basket received the $1,500 donation from Jordan Witt, a teen who followed the toddler's story and later heard Carroll speak at an event near his hometown.

"I was just in tears because that brings so much hope," Carroll said of Jordan's gift to her cause. "Besides helping families, look at the young people that are saying, 'What can I do to help?' His inspiration comes from his brother and it really encouraged me ... it gives me hope for my son's siblings and just the message that we have the ability to have an impact on each other, and that people with Down syndrome are such a gift to us."

She added: "I would never change Jack if I could. There's so much unexpected joy in this journey. [I] think Jack has reminded us that every child has worth."

Jordan said Carroll inspires him to continue giving back.

"She really is a true hero in the eyes of our family," he said. "You're never too young to make a difference in your own community, or in the world. Every single dollar can change someone's life. That's my mission ... being 18, I have the rest of my life to keep changing people's lives."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Woman fighting cancer throws goodbye party for breasts ahead of double mastectomy

Jessica Malatesta(PHILADELPHIA) -- One Philadelphia woman fighting breast cancer decided to throw a goodbye party for her breasts days before she would undergo a double mastectomy.

Andy Sealy threw a party she dubbed "Ta Ta to My Ta Ta's" last Sunday at Bop on Broad Street in Philadelphia. The 37-year-old sales representative invited more than 200 friends and family to celebrate with her before she received treatment.

"I really wanted to go away before my surgery, but it wasn't in the cards," Sealy told ABC News. "So I said, 'Well, I want to have a farewell party.'"

Sealy was diagnosed with breast cancer after feeling two lumps in her left breast back in January. After undergoing testing, doctors confirmed that she indeed has breast cancer and scheduled her for a double mastectomy, which was Wednesday.

Sealy said farewell in style, encouraging her friends to wear swim suit tops under their clothes. Her friends even brought pink balloons, a custom cake in the shape of -- ahem -- you know what, and she even had a deejay. Her father also created a customized sign for the occasion and she got a special Snapchat filter to fete the occasion.

By the end of the party, Sealy was dancing on the bar.

"All of my worlds collided. Everyone was invited from different parts of my life," she recalled. "It was kind of like a wedding cerebration or something. ... It was just the perfect storm. It was awesome."

Sealy said doctors told her it's too early to create a treatment plan as she's awaiting some test results. Still, she's "open to whatever happens. It's the path I have to take," she said.

"I'm not a moper or a crier," she added. "I'll be fine."

Sealy said she hopes her story will encourage to self-examine their breasts more frequently.

"Just feel them," she added. "That's really the most important thing. If I could help someone, that's all that matters."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Orthodontists warn against uptick in DIY teeth straightening

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  Orthodontists are warning parents and patients of the dangers in the recent trend of at-home teeth straightening techniques, saying that in some cases these do-it-yourself braces can cause irreparable damage to your teeth.

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recently reported that 13 percent of its member orthodontists saw patients who have attempted DIY teeth straightening.

Some common tools used in at-home teeth straightening attempts include rubber bands, dental floss, fishing line, paper clips or other materials, according to the AAO. Recently, videos featuring amateur tutorials on how to straighten your teeth at home have also surged in popularity on social media.

“It’s really a shame when someone comes in after attempting DIY orthodontic treatment and we determine that the damage they’ve done to their teeth is so extensive that teeth cannot be saved,” DeWayne B. McCamish, DDS, MS, the president of the AAO, said in a statement. “By the time a layperson recognizes something is wrong with their teeth, it may not be reversible, even with professional help. The cost of dealing with replacing a lost tooth can easily exceed $20,000 over a lifetime and certainly be much less than ideal.

"You have to remember that the goal of good orthodontic treatment is obtaining a healthy, beautiful smile for a lifetime –- shortcuts can be disastrous,” McCamish added.

 David Campbell, from Atlanta, Ga., told ABC News that at a young age his former dentist suggested that he attach rubber bands to his teeth in the evenings to try and close a gap in his front teeth by himself. At night, Campbell said he noticed the rubber bands kept disappearing, and he initially just assumed that they were falling off.

In reality, however, Campbell said he found out that, "the rubber bands were going up into my gums and killing the teeth at the root."

Campbell told ABC News that when he went to a different orthodontist, "They found about four or five rubber bands in the root of my gums" and that the rubber bands "had just strangled my teeth."

Dr. Nancy Rosen, an orthodontist based in New York, told ABC News that doing what Campbell did could cause damage to your teeth quickly, sometimes in just a couple of days, and that the results can become expensive.

"I think that in the end, you'll be paying double to correct all of the mistakes that you've made," Rosen said.

Campbell said that he eventually lost his two front teeth, and he estimates that he has spent between $40,000 to $50,000 on dental care over the years. He hopes to use his story to warn others to not make the same mistakes.

"It may look simple," Campbell said of DIY orthodontics, "but it can end up costing you thousands of dollars and a lot of heartache and pain."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Terminally ill couple married 51 years has emotional reunion after cancer treatments

Creatas/Thinkstock(MCALLEN, Texas) -- One married couple had a tearful reunion after both being diagnosed with stage IV cancer within a week of each other.

After Susan Stros, 70, was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in late February, her husband Jerry Stros was by her side day and night, their son Jason Stros told ABC News.

"He was at her bedside every day," Jason Stros, of Mcallen, Texas, added. "Here's my dad by her side 24 hours a day, never going home, staying there and trying to care for her."

It was during one of those days when he was caring for his wife of 51 years that Jerry Stros, 71, fell after having a massive seizure.

"And my mom had to be witness to this," Jason Stros, 38, added.

Jerry Stros suffered from a broken back in his fall and was rushed to the emergency room. It was during that treatment that doctors discovered that he too had stage IV cancer, in his brain.

Still, before the two underwent various treatments for their cancers apart, doctors briefly let them see each other, thinking that it may be their last time to say goodbye. "She was just holding his hand," their son Jason Stros recalled.

Then doctors separated the two for treatment. It was rare alone time for the couple, who met decades ago in River Rouge High School, outside Detroit.

Susan Stros was finally released from the hospital last week to receive hospice care in her home, while Jerry Stros returned home last Saturday after doctors told him he could receive outpatient radiation therapy to treat his cancer.

Their four children, Jason, Jimmy, Jerry and Jeana Stros, greeted their father when he returned to his Acworth, Georgia, home. And Jason Stros filmed the tearful reunion between Susan and Jerry Stros. That video has now received more than 9,000 views.

"My mom ... hasn't been able to walk," Jason Stros noted. "But she began walking toward my dad when she saw him."

The video shows Susan Stros walking slowly toward her husband before joining him on their living room couch.

Jason Stros told ABC News his parents' love has inspired him.

"When I saw my dad walk in that door, it made me say that nothing in my entire life could ever make me know that I can't overcome something based on what I saw these two human beings overcome in less than two weeks," he said, "and still have enough fight in them."

Jason Stros added, "They don't know if tomorrow is coming, but they're not going to stop fighting. Their love is so strong that they're going to keep fighting this fight together rather than alone."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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