Mom organizes free lunches for more than 200 kids when schools close amid freezing temperatures

Chronicle Telegram/Kristin Bauer(LORAIN, Ohio) -- Amy Price was not planning to feed more than 100 kids when she woke up on Wednesday morning.

The mother of three from Lorain County, Ohio, was thinking of her eighth-grade son who would be spending the day at home due to schools closing for cold temperatures when she had an idea.

“I was happy for my son to have the day off and the kids who didn’t have to walk in the freezing cold, but then I started thinking about the kids who may not eat,” Price, 41, an attorney and real estate agent, told ABC News. “I remember being a child services prosecutor and caseworkers mentioning sometimes that kids may not eat on snow days when they’re home from school.”

Price took to Facebook and posted a short message, which she shared on her own page and local community pages.

“If you live in the Lorain County area and your kids depend on school-provided breakfast and lunch to be able to eat today and they do not have school please inbox me,” she wrote. “Someone from my company will drop some items off to you. Please feel free to share.”

Price thought she would go to the grocery store and buy some meat for sandwiches and chips and fresh fruit to put in lunch bags but the overwhelming response changed her plan.

“Some people even contacted me for their neighbors and grandchildren and nieces and nephews,” she said. “They just kept pouring in.”

Price received so many messages that she instead called a local McDonald’s and place an order for more than 100 cheeseburgers and French fries.

Price, her husband, with their 13-year-old son in tow, and her adult daughter, with her 4-year-old in tow, then hand-delivered the lunches to homes across five cities.

“We knocked on every door,” Price said. “Some kids were home alone and were taught well and wouldn’t open the door and we’d leave it there and I know they got it because the parents would private message me with their thanks.

“One parent wrote, ‘You would have thought you gave my kid $100 he’s so excited,’” she recalled. “Everyone was just so appreciative and thankful.”

Price’s good deed quickly spread through the community. With schools closed for the rest of the week, other community members organized lunch runs for Thursday and Friday.

Some people donated money while others came in person to help, often bringing along their own kids who were home from school.

Another 100 lunches were delivered on Thursday and Friday, according to Price.

Price, a Lorain County native, said she expected on Wednesday to receive about 20 messages. She called it “heartbreaking and heartwarming” to see both the need in the community and how the community stepped in to help.

“I’m amazed by how much the community came together and I realized how naive I was to the need,” she said. “This was never my intention but I think it brought a lot of awareness in my community to the need out there.”

Around 45 percent of public school students in the state of Ohio are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, according to the most recent figures from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Price said the response from people needing help and wanting to donate help fills her with hope that her work for kids can continue.

“We’ve talked about possibly keeping donations in reserve for future snow days or doing something more large-scale,” she said. “I hope this will lead to something more permanent.”

“The momentum is there,” Price said.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Gym chain bans cable news networks due to 'consistently negative' content

iStock/Thinkstock(CHANHASSEN, Minn.) -- Enough with the polarizing political chatter on cable TV.

That's the message from a nationwide health club chain that has pulled 24-hour cable news networks from TVs at its 128 locations because the "consistently negative or politically charged content" doesn't mesh with the company's "healthy way of life philosophy."

Life Time Fitness said in a statement posted to its Twitter account, "The decision to remove the national cable network news stations resulted from significant member feedback received over time and our commitment to provide family-oriented environments free of consistently negative or politically charged content."

The statement continues, "It always is our goal to meet the majority of members' expressed requests and we believe this change is consistent with the desires of overall membership as well as our healthy way of life philosophy."

The chain, based in Chanhassen, Minnesota, has removed CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC and CNBC from its televisions.

USA, A&E, Discovery, HGTV, ESPN and local over-the-air stations remain, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Life Time Fitness spokeswoman Natalie Bushaw told the newspaper, "Clubs do have flexibility to air programs of interest in their club, such as local sporting events from college to pro teams.”

Club member Peter Glessing, who works out at the St. Louis Park, Minnesota, location told the Star Tribune, "As someone who enjoys consuming news and politics, I’m disappointed that Life Time is limiting this option for members. I often time my workout to a particular news program I enjoy to serve as an extra motivation for exercising.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Washington state allows 3rd sex option 'X' on birth certificates

iStock/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) -- Washington state will allow residents to change the sex on their birth certificates to a nonbinary option called “X.”

“Social norms are changing,” state registrar and Center for Health Statistics director Christie Spice told ABC News on Friday. “When a person’s gender designation on their birth certificate doesn’t match how people present themselves, it opens the door to harassment and intimidation.”

The new rule, announced Thursday and effective Jan. 27, also removes the need for medical approval from a primary physician for adults who want to change the sex status on their birth certificate.

Minors who don't identify male or female and want to change their sex designation still need written consent from a parent or legal guardian and medical input. The difference now is that the list of health care professionals who can approve the change has expanded for minors to include primary physicians, physician assistants, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and mental health counselors, according to the state Department of Health.

People interested in changing their sex classification must complete a request, have it notarized and submit it to the health department.

Washington state has allowed residents to change their sex designation from male to female and vice versa for the past 10 years, Spice said, adding that the movement toward a third option stemmed largely from changing social norms.

“We received a couple of requests from residents but we were already in the process of discussing the new rule,” Spice told ABC News.

The Department of Health put the process in motion in August, followed by a public hearing in December. “[The hearing] was a packed house,” Spice said. “There were people on both sides of the issue but a majority supported the change.”

Some who argued against the rule said a birth certificate should only reflect information available at birth.

Other attendees discussed what some see as positive aspects of the new rule, such as freedom of expression and speech, as well as destigmatization.

The Department of Health also received about 1,000 written comments, Spice said. “We took every comment into consideration when we drafted the language for the rule,” she added.

The rule was signed by Washington Secretary of Health John Wiesman and officially adopted Dec. 27, but not publicly released until Thursday, a state official said.

Washington will be the second state to enact the third sex rule, after Oregon. California is also adopting the law, effective in September.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


How to keep your pets safe in frigid cold weather

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Sub-zero wind chills are gripping the East Coast in the wake of the "bomb cyclone" snowstorm that hammered states from Florida to Maine this week.

With wind chills expected to dip to as low as 50 below zero in some areas, how can we protect our beloved furry friends from the extreme cold?

You've probably seen the little booties and coats people put on their pooches, for example. Do these actually help? And is there anything else animal lovers should know about for keeping their animals safe?

A jacket is a must

Ginger Zee, chief meteorologist at ABC News, gave viewers some tips on Friday's "Good Morning America." She said dogs' fur alone isn't enough to keep them warm according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). This is especially true for dogs with no undercoat.

The ASPCA adds that you should also never shave your dog down to the skin in cold weather, "as a longer coat will provide more warmth. If your dog is long-haired, simply trim him to minimize the clinging ice balls."

"You might want to add a sweater, especially if your dog has shorter fur," Zee said.

Furthermore, the booties and shoes you see on dogs aren't just for warmth, but to protect dogs' paws from the chemicals and salt used to thaw ice on the ground.

"One more tips for dogs," she said. "You can wash them less in the winter, so they don't need to be as clean. That avoids stripping their skin of those essential oils and drying out their skin."

Monitor time outside

Kathleen Lynn, spokeswoman for North Shore Animal League America, tells ABC News don't be afraid to take dogs outside in winter as they still need daily exercise, but be mindful about time. If you are cold and shaking, chances are your pooch is too.

"Thirty minutes is too long," she said, adding that studies have shown hypothermia can start to develop in animals in that long of a time span. Instead, 10 to 15 minutes is preferred, but if your dog looks to be cold or shivering, keep them out for even less time and bring them in right away.

"Also, if they are wet [from the snow or ice], wipe them dry," Lynn said. "And most important, any time you take a dog outside, have them leashed, for both you and the dog."

Lynn also pointed to an in-depth Animal League advice blog that gives other tips such as about dogs' food and water intake during winter months.

"Heated houses are usually drier houses, and indoor dogs can easily become dehydrated ... So keep that water bowl full and clean," the article advises, adding that older dogs, especially those with medical conditions, need extra care during the winter. "Conditions like arthritis, hip dysplasia, diabetes, asthma, hypothyroidism, and heart disease can compromise a dog’s ability to regulate her body temperature. In addition, ice can be as hazardous for your dog as it is for you, especially for an older dog who’s a bit unsteady on her feet."

What about cats?

Winter isn't dangerous only for pups. Feral cats living outdoors are in some of the worst situations.

Lynn says if you interact or take care of a stray, buy a Styrofoam ice chest, tape the top on and cut a hole out on the side so maybe the cat can come and cuddle inside when it's incredibly cold.

"Maybe lure them in with some food," she added.

For cats or dogs living inside a home, watch out for them cuddling up to the fireplace. If they get too close, that could get burned from sparks and flames.

One thing is for sure no matter what pet situation you have.

"Please never let any animal outdoors to let it go," Lynn said of people who feel they can no longer keep a pet. "Surrender it to a shelter," she said.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Munchausen by proxy: What you need to know YORK) -- The much-publicized case of Gypsy Blanchard may be the first introduction many people have to the concept of Munchausen by proxy. It’s a fascinating syndrome – and one that comes attached with its fair share of myths and misconceptions.

Blanchard is serving 10 years in prison for her role in the stabbing death of her mother, who forced her to use a wheelchair she didn't need and subjected her to unnecessary treatments for years. Some professionals have speculated that Blanchard’s mother Dee Dee Blanchard may have had Munchausen by proxy.

Below are answers to some of the more common questions about this phenomenon.

What is Munchausen syndrome by proxy?

Munchausen by proxy is a form of mental illness that falls under the umbrella of what are known as factitious disorders, a group of mental disturbances that includes patients who act intentionally physically or mentally ill to seek attention and empathy without obvious benefits, like financial gain.

As its name suggests, however, in Munchausen by proxy the symptoms of a disease are fabricated by someone close to the patient – most commonly a parent – leading to unnecessary and often painful intervention and treatment. Interestingly, 30 to 70 percent of those who falsify illness in children also falsify illness in themselves.

The term "Munchausen syndrome by proxy" was first coined in 1977 by an English pediatrician, Roy Meadow. "Munchausen by proxy" derives from Munchausen syndrome -- in which the medical fabrication is self-directed -- and is named after a German cavalry officer known for exaggeration. The most common scenario of Munchausen by proxy involves a parent, who causes symptoms in the child and repeatedly takes the child to medical professionals with the goal of having procedures performed on their child.

How does someone get this disorder? How common is this?

Many perpetrators show features of borderline personality disorder and often have histories of difficult childhood relationships with their parents, or even their own history of abuse and neglect.

Munchausen by proxy is incredibly rare – so rare, in fact, that reliable numbers on its incidence in the U.S. are difficult to come by. Research in other countries, such as Australia and the U.K., suggests that only a tiny percentage of children diagnosed with serious illness are cases of Munchausen by proxy.

What are the features of this disease?

A child of a parent suffering with the disorder may have a long history of unexplained illness. These parents are typically very willing to have their children experience the discomfort and risk associated with medical procedures, including surgery, and are familiar with the supposed illness and procedures associated with it. Although these parents may demonstrate a wide base of knowledge about medical conditions, they are also simultaneously vague about the details of their children’s illnesses.

These parents may be prone to exaggeration, or lying about other aspects of their lives, and may even get hostile or antagonistic if challenged.

Is there a cure?

Unfortunately, those with this disorder are nearly always resistant to treatment. Psychiatrists may first try to establish what is known as a “contract conference” in which the therapist will encourage these parents to better learn to express themselves and their pain – ultimately with the goal being that they do not channel these negative emotions in a way that leads to harm to their children. Once the parent is able to do this, it opens the door for the psychiatrist to help these individuals work through their issues.

Medications have not proven helpful in treatment, although they may be prescribed for symptoms of anxiety or depression if the individual also meets criteria for an anxiety or mood disorder. Some literature has reported a response to antipsychotic medications (such as pimozide).

What is the prognosis?

Unfortunately, it is often difficult to find out what happens to these patients, as they are often difficult to track over time. Of cases found in literature the course of the mental illness is usually chronic.

Because it is considered a form of abuse by the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, suspicions of Munchausen by proxy should be investigated to secure the safety of a child.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Boy gets 'Star Wars' prosthetic after by surprise from Stormtroopers

iStock/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) -- A 20-month-old Washington State boy who needed an amputation to his leg got a brand new prosthetic covered in Star Wars Stormtroopers -- and got to meet Stormtroopers in person when they paid brave Ben Bronske a house call at his Snohomish home.

The troopers were members of Garrison Titan of the 501st Legion, a global Star Wars costuming charity group, comprised of volunteers who not only attend "official" events for Lucasfilm, but spend countless hours raising money and trying to brighten the days of those less fortunate with hospital visits and the like.

Ben's visit from the "bad guys doing good" was organized by Seattle Children's Hospital -- for which Titan has raised 75 thousand dollars in 2017.

“Ben was a little taken aback at first,” Ben’s mom, Sarah Bronske, told ABC News of the surprise, organized by Seattle Children's Hospital. “But by the end he was giving them high-fives and poking their armor.”

It was Bronske and her husband, Josh Bronske, both Star Wars fans, who picked out the unique prosthetic covering for their son.

“That was not my intention to get Star Wars,” Sarah Bronske said. “I was going to get something neutral to go with all of his outfits but then I saw Star Wars at the fabric store.”

Sarah Bronske took the fabric to Seattle Children’s Hospital, where Ben is treated, and the member of the team creating the prosthetic also happened to be a Star Wars fan.

“I thought, ‘OK, this is the one,’” Sarah Bronske recalled.

The Star Wars prosthetic was custom made for Ben, who had his left foot amputated below the ankle due to a rare form of macrodactyly, a congenital condition that causes abnormal growth of bones and toes in the foot.

“Ben had a most extreme form,” said Dr. Vincent Mosca, who treated Ben and is chief of foot and limb deformities at Seattle Children’s Hospital. “Doing something more piecemeal than an amputation would have required four or five surgeries as he grew.”

Ben began walking as soon as he tried his new prosthetic on for the first time, in August, when he was 16 months old.

“He didn’t like the trials with the prosthetic at first,” Sarah Bronske said. “The day they actually brought in his Star Wars leg, he was totally fine with it.

“By the time we got back home he was walking around the yard with no assistance,” she said. “He just totally took to it.”

Now when Ben looks down at his leg, he says, “boom, boom,” imitating the noises made by Stormtroopers.

“He definitely knows it’s Stormtroopers on his leg,” Sarah Bronske said. “When we’re out and if people are talking about Stormtroopers he’ll pull up his pants leg and say, ‘Boom boom.’”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Philadelphia father uses cheesesteaks to measure infant son

Brad Williams(PHILADELPHIA) -- A Philadelphia father has started a unique family tradition that involves cheesesteaks -- but not eating them.

Instead, Brad Williams uses the sandwich to measure his son, Lucas Royce Williams.

The tradition started in 2015 when Williams bought cheesesteaks for dinner shortly after Lucas was born.

“I realized the cheesesteak was a pretty close size to my son,” said Williams, whose son Lucas was 2 weeks old at the time.

Williams took a picture of his son with the cheesesteak, and shared it on Facebook with friends and family.

“[The photo] got a good reaction on Facebook, so I decided to make it a monthly tradition,” Williams told ABC News.

Every month for a year, Williams made sure to get a cheesesteak for dinner

“We usually ordered from Dalessandro’s, but sometimes we’d go to closer cheesesteak places for convenience,” said Williams.

According to Williams, he stopped taking pictures after a year because Lucas was getting tired of cheesesteaks. Williams recently posted the year of photos to his personal website, calling the photo collection "Cheesesteak for Scale."

Lucas is an only child, but if he gets a sibling, Williams says they will be continuing the cheesesteak tradition.

Said Williams, “It’s fun and it puts a smile on people’s faces. Plus it’s a reason to eat cheesesteaks every month.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


U.S. investigating source of deadly E. coli outbreak as Canada links its cases to lettuce

wmaster890/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. authorities said Thursday that they continue to investigate a deadly multistate outbreak of E. coli infections that may be tied to romaine lettuce.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that 17 people in 13 states had been diagnosed with Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) O157:H7 infections.

"This pathotype is the one most commonly heard about in the news in association with foodborne outbreaks," the U.S. agency said on its website.

The illnesses were reported in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont and Washington.

"Five people have been hospitalized, including one who died," Kate Fowlie, a CDC press officer, told ABC News today. "Two people have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure."

The CDC said illnesses had begun between Nov. 15 and Dec. 8, 2017.

Authorities in Canada are also investigating an outbreak of E. coli infections in some of its provinces, the CDC said.

In its news release, the Public Health Agency of Canada said it had a total of 41 cases of E. coli infections in an outbreak that involved five eastern provinces.

Canadian authorities said the outbreak had been linked to "exposure to romaine lettuce."

"The cause of contamination has not been identified. The outbreak appears to be ongoing, as illnesses linked to romaine lettuce continue to be reported," the Canadian agency said. "These illnesses indicate that contaminated romaine lettuce may still be on the market (including in restaurants, grocery stores and any establishments that serve food)."

Fowlie told ABC News Thursday that the CDC is still collecting information to determine whether there is a food item in common among the sick people, including leafy greens and romaine.

"Preliminary results show that the type of E. coli making people sick in both countries is closely related genetically, meaning the ill people are more likely to share a common source of infection," the CDC said in its news release.

The U.S. agency said the Food and Drug Administration and several state were also involved in the probe. The CDC said, however, in its release that because it had not yet identified a source of the infections, it was unable to recommend whether U.S. residents should avoid a particular food.

"This investigation is ongoing, and more information will be released as it becomes available," the CDC said.

In the meantime, Consumer Reports experts have cautioned consumers to avoid romaine lettuce until the source of the outbreak has been uncovered.

"Even though we can't say with 100 percent certainty that romaine lettuce is the cause of the E. coli outbreak in the U.S., a greater degree of caution is appropriate given that lettuce is almost always consumed raw," James Rogers, director of Food Safety and Research at Consumer Reports, said in a report posted on the agency's website.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Nurse gets creative so boy won't cry while getting shots

Remains/iStock/Thinkstock(ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.) -- A Florida grandmother is saying thank you in a big way to a nurse who used creativity and kindness to get her grandson to undergo three shots without crying.

Tiffany Marshall posted a video on Facebook late last month of a nurse in St. Petersburg, Florida, helping her grandson, Dimitri. The video now has 20 million views and growing.

Marshall promised her grandson $5 if he could get through the shots without crying.

The nurse, who was not identified, started the process by telling Dimitri she was going to do a magic trick. Once blood was drawn in a finger prick, the nurse let Dimitri “paint” on a card.

An engaged Dimitri exclaims throughout the video how excited he is that he didn’t cry.

When it came time for Dimitri’s three shots, the nurse pulled him close in a hug and told him is “strong” and a “big boy.”

Though Dimitri screamed, he did not cry and the nurse handed him a $5 bill from Marshall. Dimitri celebrated with a dance.

"This nurse was absolutely phenomenal," Marshall, who could not be reached by ABC News, wrote on Facebook.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Spiritual guru Deepak Chopra on new approach to politics: 'We are dictating our insanity’

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Deepak Chopra's name is synonymous with the holistic health approaches on which he has built his global wellness empire. But the author of several books, celebrity confidante and wildly successful leader of the West's alternative medicine movement is now wading into politics, after witnessing what he views as a polarizing of America over the last year.

"I was very dismayed by the political climate," Chopra told ABC News. "But then I realized that, actually, in a way, it did bring out the ugliness and the darkness in our collective psyche, right up to the surface. So we are facing it now, and what are we going to do about it?"

Chopra, for one, has stepped outside his lane, publishing a collection of songs and poems called "Home: Where Everyone is Welcome," inspired by real stories of U.S. immigrants.

He has also penned a strident essay in opposition to President Trump's administration's plan to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which shielded from deportation hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.

"Trump has a long history of hostility to immigrants," Chopra, 70, co-wrote in a September 2017 essay for the San Francisco Chronicle, which argued that ending DACA would hurt America's economy. "By acting the tough guy, he is making America weaker in the long run."

Chopra's own immigrant story informs his view today.

The New Delhi-born son of an Indian Army doctor was raised in the young nation's best educational system, the Irish Christian missionary schools, by parents who expected him to follow in his father's footsteps. He studied medicine, became a physician and immigrated to the United States in 1970.

It was his medical work here, in neuroendocrinology, that led him down the path of linking biochemistry with emotions and wellbeing. It was the freedom to pursue such ideas that led him to develop what were then unpopular ideas, in medical circles, of health as a holistic entity.

"I was really criticized for this in the beginning because I was saying that, you know, you need to look at patients not just as physical machines or robots - biological robots - but you need to understand what's going on in their lives," Chopra told ABC News, "whether it's in their emotional life, in their personal relationships, or their habits like sleep, stress management, exercise, breathing, nutrition, relationships - the whole ecosystem of health."

All of our social ills, Chopra argues, find their roots in the mismanagement of these personal ecosystems -- fear, anger, violence -- all of which, he says, we've seen in spades recently. Yet at a time when more Americans than ever could stand to benefit from Chopra's ideas -- being able to devote energy and time to maintaining healthy, well-balanced lifestyles -- his message has largely been packaged as a luxury good, amplified by celebrity connections like Michael Jackson and Oprah Winfrey, inaccessible to the masses who might need it most.

On that point, Chopra does not necessarily disagree.

"At the same time," he said, "it's very different today than 30 years ago. Now, I do daily, live podcasts, too. And I'm seeing messages from Albania, from Pakistan, from India, from Hong Kong and Calcutta ... everything is easily accessible."

Chopra has earned millions as he’s made his message more accessible in the past few decades, which some may find at odds with long-held warnings against the dangers of materialism.

Chopra, however, argues that there is no contradiction. During our interview, he even pulled out his New York City Metrocard to prove he still uses public transportation.

"I had a mantra all my life, and that was, pursue excellence, ignore success. And it worked," Chopra said. "In America, you should never have to apologize for being successful. ... I'm helping people, and if it leads to success, why not?"

As for his recent foray into politics, Chopra said that may not be the last time he chooses to speak out about something in which he strongly believes. He may just take a different tack. "If you don't understand the context in which violence is born, you're never going to solve it," he said.

If not acknowledged, Chopra added, "We are dictating our insanity."

Check out the full conversation on the latest episode of "Uncomfortable."

Download and subscribe to the "Uncomfortable" podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, Stitcher, and ABC News podcasts.

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