Mickey and Minnie Mouse sign 'I love you' to deaf boy at Disneyland

Facebook/Olive Crest(LOS ANGELES) -- One deaf little boy’s magical visit to Disneyland became even more magical when the Disney characters started speaking with him in sign language.

Mickey and Minnie Mouse kneeled down to the small child to sign “It’s nice to meet” and “I love you,” which prompted him to give them each big hugs.

“The child was ecstatic after meeting the characters because he didn’t know they would speak ‘his language,’” a spokesperson for Olive Crest, a child abuse prevention agency that arranged the trip, told ABC News. “The child is typically not a hugger, so the fact that he hugged both Minnie and Mickey spoke volumes to the joy he felt.”

Olive Crest, an agency that serves over 3,500 at-risk kids and families every day throughout California, Nevada and Washington, cannot disclose the name or age of the child, but said they “hope to send the message that with a little love and ‘magic,’ that you can truly make a child’s dream come true and provide them a bright memory that can last a lifetime.”

The little boy’s family did arrange to have an ASL translator present during his trip to the park, but Olive Crest said the characters seen in the viral video “were not briefed” on his visit before he arrived.

"The family had a Disney translator with them, who was behind the boy telling the characters what/how to sign. The encounter wasn't planned, however," said spokesperson Steven Macias.

The Disneyland video has amassed nearly 400,000 views since Olive Crest posted it to their Facebook page on May 23.

Disney is the parent company of ABC News.

ABC Breaking News | Latest News Videos

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


First "Bachelorette" Trista Sutter reflects on seizure, vows to 'live fully'

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The first Bachelorette star, Trista Sutter, who had a seizure while she was vacationing with her family in Croatia, opened up about the scary medical emergency and how she is dealing with the unanswered questions about her health.

"All I remember was feeling very dizzy and nauseous, and the next thing I knew, I was in this dream. The only way I can describe it is was like a white euphoria," Sutter recalled in an interview with ABC News' Good Morning America.

Sutter was on a tour with her husband, Ryan Sutter, whom she met on the series in 2003, and their son Maxwell, 9, and daughter, Blakesley, 8, when she seized violently and landed on top of her daughter.

"I heard Blakesley screaming, 'Mommy, Mommy," Ryan recalled. "Trista had fallen onto Blakesley in a sort of convulsive state."

Ryan, a trained EMT, said despite dealing with his share of emergencies, seeing his wife in this position was terrifying.

"I was checking her pulse. She was shaking and stiff. Her eyes were wide open ... rolled back in her head, looking sort of up. She wasn’t breathing. She was turning sort of blue," he explained.

Sutter said that she's worried about how the incident may have affected her daughter.

"She was traumatized, I think she probably still is a bit," Sutter said of Blakesley. "She knows that something is wrong."

Sutter was rushed to a hospital in the eastern European country where she underwent various tests. She told ABC News doctors did not find anything conclusively wrong with her, but warned her not to drive until she consults a neurologist in the U.S.

"It's changing my life, still is, to this day. I mean I got up this morning -- and I thought, 'I need to go to the grocery store' -- and then I'm like, 'Oh I can't drive.' Because God forbid, I have another seizure or event in the car. And I could kill someone, I could kill myself. I could kill my kids," she said. "I have to have a new perspective in order to keep me and my family and everyone around me safe."

Now back home, Sutter said she plans to see a specialist.

'Why me?'

At 44, the former reality show star led a healthy and active lifestyle and said there were no signs of illness that she noticed besides an occasional headache.

"In this type of situation, you usually ask, 'Why me?' But then I thought right immediately after, 'But why not me? I’m human. This can happen to me ... this could happen to anybody,'" she said.

For that reason, the couple decided to share the health incident with the world, in a post from the hospital on Instagram.

"We were rather conflicted to tell anyone about it, or to post about it," Ryan said. "We didn't want to come across as capitalizing off some sort of medical emergency."

Sutter said she's received an outpouring of support from fans and people she's never met and wants to "be that voice for people who have gone through something similar."

"A lot of people have shared that for them, [seizures are] an embarrassing thing that happened ... it's embarrassing to lose control of your body. And I think a lot of people feel alone out there, and I want them to know, they're not," she said.

While she may never know what caused the seizure or if it'll happen again, Sutter believes that stress may have played a role and vows to make some life changes.

"You do tend to just get wrapped up in daily life. I wanna try my hardest to not let the impact of what happened disappear. I want to be able to live my life fully and as best as I can without getting caught up in the minutia, you know, and the drama and the negativity. If there's any negativity, I wanna instantly, you know, shoo it away," she said.

"Life is fragile. It's precious. And you need to take time and enjoy it and the people around you," Sutter added.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


4-year-old girl's passionate rendition of Disney's 'Moana' song goes viral

Courtesy of Michelle Neshin(NEW YORK) -- Meet 4-year-old Sophia, who absolutely stole the show at her pre-K graduation ceremony.

Her passionate rendition of “How Far I’ll Go” from Disney’s “Moana” is completely glorious, equipped with jazzy arms flying in the air and several pops of the hip, and has already racked up 11 million views on Facebook.

“She has a huge, huge personality,” Sophia’s mom, Michelle Neshin, told ABC News of her dynamic daughter. “She’s usually spunky and has a corky personality but that was something else even for her. And right before the graduation when it was just about time to walk, she said, ‘I don’t want to do it. I’m so scared. There’s so many people in the audience.’ On the way there she was super excited but when she lined up to get her diploma she was in tears. But she quickly got over that.”

Sophia’s class performed two songs from “Zootopia” prior to this closing number from “Moana,” which definitely took the cake.

“I had never seen them because they were a surprise for the parents,” Neshin of Miami, Florida, said of the performances. “At the end, the lady comes on stage and said, ‘The kids would like to come out and say goodbye and do one sweet number to thank everyone.’”

And although “everyone else was sweet and calm,” her mother said with a laugh, Sophia, on the other hand, “was not.”

Neshin, 28, said she was in “utter disbelief” at her daughter’s over-the-top emotion while singing.

“It didn’t really hit me until after the graduation when all the parents went and found their kid and gave them flowers and people were coming up saying to me, ‘Is it awful I stopped videotaping my own kid to video yours?’”

Little Sophia loved her time in the spotlight and said her favorite part of the ceremony was when she was “singing and dancing” because it made her “happy.”

Needless to say, that’s now the internet’s favorite part too.

The family congratulated their vivacious daughter with a bouquet of flowers and a trip to get hibachi food for dinner because she likes “when the guys cook in front of you.”

But the best part about her newfound fame?

“A family friend left her a cookie cake at the door with a little note thanking her for bringing joy and laughter today,” said Neshin. “That, to her, has been the biggest thing so far. It’s all about the cookie cake.”

Disney is the parent company of ABC News.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Connecticut educator using his ALS diagnosis to teach students about life

Courtesy Greenwich Country Day School(NEW YORK) -- The head of an elementary school in Connecticut is inspiring students with his optimism and honesty as he continues to work despite being diagnosed with Asymotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) nearly 11 months ago.

"I have the best job in the world," Andrew Niblock, the head of the Greenwich Country Day School's lower school, told ABC News' Lara Spencer. "There might be somebody out there who gets more hugs than I do, during their work day, but I'd like to meet them."

"I get to greet 417 smiling, skipping, laughing, children every day," Niblock added. "It energizes me, it gives me that sense of purpose."

The 42-year-old father of two said that he decided to continue to work, despite being diagnosed with the incurable disease around 11 months ago, because he wanted to be an example for his students and teach them a lesson about life.

"I want children to understand curve balls," Niblock said. "No matter what is thrown your way ... if a kid powers through or makes the most of something later because of knowing me, that'd be great."

ALS, a rare and incurable nervous system disease, is characterized by progressive muscle weakness, according to the ALS Association. The disease gained widespread awareness after baseball legend Lou Gehrig succumbed to it in 1941.

Rather than try and conceal the changes to his speech and mobility, Niblock is hoping to use his diagnosis to teach children about ALS and raise awareness for it by creating age-appropriate videos with the school's headmaster, Adam Rohdie. Spencer’s daughter Kate is a student at Greenwich Country Day School.

"You want to arm children, with 'You can do something, you can make a difference yourselves,'" Rohdie told ABC News. "And Andrew's helped us do that."

Three of Niblock's young students described him as "really nice," "caring," and "very happy."

Niblock told ABC News that if there is one thing that he wants children to take away from witnessing his battle with ALS, it is that "hope's resilient."

"Hope can drive you forward," he added. "And I hope ... that the kids see that, and run with it."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


British officials: National Health Service cyberattack 'launched from North Korea'

iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- British officials are pointing to North Korean hackers as the cause of the cyberattack that crippled parts of the National Health Service in the U.K. and other organizations around the world in May, according to the BBC.

The investigation was led by Britain's National Cyber Security Center. The BBC has learned that the center believes a hacking group known as Lazarus was behind the attack, which spread the "WannaCry" ransomware across the world, locking computers and demanding payment for them to be unlocked.
The National Health Service, which provides public health care, was badly affected, according to the BBC.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


"Consumer Reports": Liquid laundry detergent packets pose risk for people with dementia

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Popular liquid laundry detergent packets, sometimes referred to as "pods," may pose a "lethal risk" for adults with dementia, who may mistake the highly concentrated detergent packets for food, according to Consumer Reports.

The group obtained statistics from the Consumer Product Safety Commission after filing a Freedom of Information Act. The data showed that there have been eight deaths related to ingesting the liquid laundry detergent packets in the U.S. between 2012 and early 2017. Of those deaths, six were adults with dementia and two were young children.

“Caregivers and children of seniors should be aware that ingestion of the contents of certain liquid laundry packets has led to serious and even tragic incidents,” Patty Davis, the press secretary for the CPSC, told Consumer Reports, adding that water and even saliva can dissolve the packets, releasing the detergent.

Consumer Reports recommended not keeping the detergent packets in the homes where adults with dementia live.

The American Cleaning Institute (ACI), a group that represents the $30 billion U.S. cleaning products market, told ABC News in a statement that they are "fully committed to reducing accidental access to these products, which are used safely by millions of consumers every day."

The organization also issued safety tips for caregivers, which includes storing all cleaning products in a locked cabinet or closet.

The ACI added that they have aided in developing a voluntary safety standard for liquid laundry packets, which includes methods to deter access to the detergent, such as by including a soluble film on the outside of the packet that contains a bitter substance.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


35-pound cat looking for a loving, fur-ever home in DC

Humane Rescue Alliance(WASHINGTON) -- Behold Symba, the 35-pound cat. He’s up for adoption, waiting for a fur-ever home in Washington, D.C.

The obese orange tabby was surrendered to the Humane Rescue Alliance.

“We’ve had Symba for about a week,” the organization's spokesperson, Matt Williams, told ABC News. “He was surrendered to us when his owner had to move into a retirement home. He could not bring the cat with him. We’ve put him on an exercise program and supervised diet. And he is up for adoption now.”

He added, “We’re certainly going to make sure the adopter understands they need to continue this program. We will give the adopter exercises to use. We give them games and puzzles to keep them active.”

The rescue group is confident Symba will find a happy, healthy home.

“He went up for adoption yesterday and we’ll see what the next few days bring,” said Williams. “D.C. has a great adoption pool. It’s a great place to adopt animals. We’re confident we’ll find a qualified adopter who understands the situation.”

Williams said 6-year-old Symba is the fattest cat he's seen at the Humane Rescue Alliance.

“Unfortunately we’ve seen this before, but maybe not to this degree,” he said. “He’s maybe the biggest cat I’ve ever seen since I’ve been here but it’s not uncommon to see obese animals.”

Williams said Symba is a “very sweet” feline.

“He loves people and loves to be petted. He’s going to be a great pet for somebody,” he said.

Symba is currently at the alliance’s New York Avenue location for adoption.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


World's first fully accessible water park opens in Texas

File photo. (Hemera/Thinkstock)(SAN ANTONIO) -- Morgan’s Inspiration Island in San Antonio, Texas, is the first of its kind.

Imagine taking a child with a disability to a water park for some summer fun, only to find out not all the attractions were accessible.

That will never happen at Morgan’s Inspiration Island, an “ultra-accessible” splash park opening this weekend in San Antonio, Texas.

The new park is an offshoot of the popular Morgan’s Wonderland, a theme park built on the same premise: that everyone, regardless of age or ability, is included. Like Morgan’s Wonderland, every part of the park is wheelchair accessible.

“Morgan’s Inspiration Island promises to give individuals with physical or cognitive special needs a place where they can splash and play without barriers,” Gordon Hartman, founder of The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation, which developed the park, said in a media release.

“Like Morgan’s Wonderland, Morgan’s Inspiration Island is not a special-needs park; it’s a park of inclusion,” he added.

Morgan’s Inspiration Island overlooks the theme park’s 8-acre catch-and-release fishing lake. The focal point is a seven-story lighthouse with a rotating beacon on top. Six major elements -- including Calypso Cove, a water music garden splash pad and Shipwreck Island splash pad, which includes an accessible pirate ship with a giant dumping water bucket on top -- comprise the $17 million tropically themed island paradise inspired by Hartman and his wife Maggie’s 23-year-old daughter with special needs, Morgan.

“We decided to call it Morgan’s Inspiration Island because Morgan truly has been the catalyst for every project we’ve pursued to help the special-needs community,” Hartman said.

Prior to officially opening on June 17, Morgan’s Inspiration Island has invited groups serving those with special needs to help thoroughly test all aspects of the new park. Waterproof wristbands with RFID technology are available so parents can go to a Location Station and easily find their children and other members of their party.

The park has limited capacity and advance ticket purchases are encouraged. The park is free to anyone with special needs.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


What you need to know about unresponsive wakefulness

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- In a Thursday press conference, doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center said 22-year-old Otto Warmbier, who returned to the U.S. this week after being held in North Korea for 17 months, is currently in a state of “unresponsive wakefulness,” characterized by a lack of awareness of one’s environment and self despite being awake.

The cause of this condition, according to UC Health’s Dr. Daniel Kanter, was "extensive loss of brain tissue in all regions,” a situation his team believes resulted from cardiopulmonary arrest, which would have impeded the supply of oxygen to the cells of his brain.

Below is more about Warmbier’s condition -- and what doctors suspect regarding its origin.

What is unresponsive wakefulness?

Unresponsive wakefulness syndrome -- previously referred to as a persistent vegetative state or a vegetative state -- is best described as a state in which a patient may have certain characteristics of consciousness, such as eye blinking and eye movement, but has no apparent reaction to the external world, understanding of or engagement with their surroundings.

However, the main regulatory functions of the body -- sleep cycles, breathing, digestion and internal body temperature control -- remain intact to some degree, depending upon the patient. This is because areas of the brain that control these functions are often still working. A patient can be intermittently awake, continue to breathe on his or her own, spontaneously open his or her eyes, and look around in a nonpurposeful way.

Unresponsive wakefulness should not be confused with a coma, in which a patient is not awake. Patients with unresponsive wakefulness are technically awake, as the name implies.

What caused Warmbier's unresponsive wakefulness?

Doctors speaking at the press conference said Warmbier's medical condition appears to suggest that his brain at some point was deprived of oxygen, which subsequently led to the death of brain tissues. They noted that one possibility was cardiopulmonary arrest -- a problem with the heart or lungs that prevents the delivery of oxygenated blood to the brain. The resulting brain injury, over time, likely led to his state of unresponsive wakefulness.

As for what circumstances might have led to this cardiopulmonary arrest, doctors said there are so many possible causes that they cannot speculate as to the exact nature of his injury.

A neurologist -- a physician specializing in brain, spinal cord and nerve disorders -- can determine whether a patient has unresponsive wakefulness syndrome. This doctor will conduct numerous examinations to determine whether the patient truly lacks awareness of self and the environment, as well as whether he or she lacks purposeful and voluntary responses to sight, sound, touch or pain. The neurologist will also look for a lack of language expression and comprehension, and a lack of bowel and bladder control.

How long can unresponsive wakefulness last?

Depending on the medical circumstances that led to the unresponsive wakefulness, it can be transient, persist up to a year or be permanent.

What is the prognosis for someone with unresponsive wakefulness?

Doctors at UC Health declined to share details on Warmbier’s prognosis, citing the wishes of his family. From past research, however, we know that the less time a patient spends in this state, the better their prognosis and chance for recovery. Those who are young and experience traumatic brain injury -- as opposed to nontraumatic injury -- also tend to have a better prognosis. However, recovery is unlikely for patients who remain in a state of unresponsive wakefulness for longer than 12 months.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Alabama legislation stops short of banning sexual orientation conversion therapy

iStock/Thinkstock(MONTGOMERY, Ala.) -- A newly passed Alabama state law lauded as protection for teenagers at faith-based youth programs was stripped of language that would have restricted sexual orientation conversion therapy following pressure from a conservative policy group with close ties to the bill’s sponsor.

The Alabama Child Residential Abuse Protection Act, HB440, was introduced in the wake of an ABC News investigation detailing serious abuses committed against teens at two youth camps practicing conversion therapy in the state. The bill, which strengthened oversight of faith-based youth residential programs that had previously been exempt from regulation, originally mandated that program operators “not engage in or perform any sexual orientation change effort on any person under 18 years of age.”

That language, as well as a provision prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, was removed from the bill before it passed the House, sailed through the Senate and was signed by Gov. Kay Ivey. The bill’s sponsor says he doesn’t remember how it happened.

“I do not recall who took it out or how it came out,” Rep. Steve McMillan, a Republican from Baldwin County, told ABC News. “It could have been me, or it could have been the guy drafting.”

According to A. Eric Johnston, however, president and general counsel of the Southeast Law Institute, which provides free legal assistance to “persons, churches and other religious organizations on religious, family and related issues,” McMillan removed the language at his behest.

“There existed other language dealing with reparative therapy (therapy to deal with homosexual issues), cultural sensitivity training, and other objectionable and potentially problematical [sic] requirements,” wrote Johnston in a letter obtained by ABC News. “Representative McMillan readily agreed to remove these and it was not his intention they be included.”

McMillan told ABC News that he and Johnston are “longtime friends” and claimed to have “perfect attendance” at a weekly prayer breakfast sponsored by ALCAP, where Johnston serves as legal adviser. ALCAP is a politically active interdenominational ministry that advocates for a “lifestyle based on biblical standards” and lists “homosexuality” as one of its main areas of concern, alongside “alcohol,” “gambling” and “prescription drugs.”

When asked about Johnston’s letter, McMillan did not dispute Johnston’s version of events and acknowledged that the removal of the language allows conversion therapy to continue in the state “with the permission of the parents.” McMillan stressed, however, that he feels the bill’s other provisions calling for closer supervision of faith-based youth programs are strong enough to prevent the abuses detailed in the ABC News report without explicit protections for LGBT youth.

“I didn’t feel it was necessary to mention a particular group or class because we cover it so thoroughly in other parts of the bill,” McMillan said. “It didn’t have anything to do with sex or gender.”

According to Lucas Greenfield, however, a young man who was sent to two such camps in Alabama by his parents, his sexuality made him a target for abuse.

“[They think] gay is a sin,” said Greenfield, whose testimony about the culture of verbal and physical abuse at those programs led to the conviction of the people overseeing one the camps on charges of child abuse. “Gay is evil. Gay is the worst abomination of God. Gay is horrible.”

Conversion therapy has been dismissed by leading medical and psychiatric associations, condemned by major LGBT rights organizations and banned for minors by nine states and the District of Columbia, with several more states currently considering pending legislation.

The practice still has its proponents, most notably the Family Research Council, a powerful conservative lobbying group that has pushed back against state legislation banning the practice on the basis that “same-sex attractions” are a “mental health issue,” a notion that has been thoroughly rejected by both national and international health organizations, including the World Health Organization.

According to David Dinielli, deputy legal director for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s LGBT Rights Project, the removal of the language leaves more work to be done in the state.

“We’re disappointed to see that bill as signed does not include expressed prohibition against conversion therapy, which is nearly universally recognized to be dangerous, ineffective and indeed fraudulent,” Dinielli said. “We will remain vigilant to ensure that no youth in Alabama is exposed to, let alone forced into, these barbaric and unnecessary practices.”

Rep. Ted Lieu, a Democrat from California who authored the first statewide ban on conversion therapy for minors in 2012, recently reintroduced national legislation that would ban the practice he says is based on “crackpot science.” The Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act of 2017, which has nearly 100 cosponsors, would empower the Federal Trade Commission to classify conversion therapy as fraud and open up its practitioners to civil litigation.

With Republican majorities in both the House and the Senate, Lieu acknowledged that his bill faces long odds, but he hopes the legislation starts a conversation that makes parents think twice about submitting their children to a practice that, Lieu says, very few people consider legitimate.

“It’s important to simply raise the issue,” Lieu told ABC News. “You have parents, oftentimes, who are really just trying to do the best thing for their kids. They get a shocking revelation one day when they discover their child is homosexual. They don’t know what to do, so maybe they feel guilty or angry or vulnerable, and then you have an organization coming to you and saying, ‘Hey, we can change your kid.’ And parents believe it, without knowing that it actually doesn’t work and ends up being harmful.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

ABC News Radio