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iStock/Thinkstock(MIAMI) -- An outbreak of the Zika virus has been confirmed in Florida, marking the first time the virus has been found to be transmitted via infected mosquitoes within the continental U.S.

The outbreak has infected at least four people, three men and one woman, through local transmission, Florida officials said Friday.

“This means Florida has become the first state in our nation to have local transmission of the Zika virus," Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Friday.

Scott said a small area in northern Miami that is about a square mile in size is the only area where the Zika virus is being transmitted from mosquitoes to people.

"We’re being very aggressive at testing people there we are testing the mosquitoes there and we spraying to make sure it’s contained," Scott said. He said health officials do not think that the transmission was ongoing.

The Florida Health Department has been giving Zika prevention kits to pregnant women in the affected area and warning residents to eliminate standing water to help cut down on the risk of mosquitoes breeding near them. The virus has been found to cause serious birth defects, including microcephaly, which is characterized by abnormally small head and brain, leading to significant developmental problems.

"We know this virus is most detrimental to expectant mothers," Scott said. "If you are pregnant or think you might become pregnant contact your OB/Gyn."

The state is working with the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to monitor and combat the outbreak, Scott said. He expressed disappointment that Congress did not pass a bill to allocate funding to the CDC to prepare and combat the Zika virus.

"This is not just a Florida issue. This is a U.S. issue it is a national issue. We’re just the front of it," he said during a news conference.

More than 1,650 people have been diagnosed with Zika within the U.S., but the vast majority have been people who contracted the virus while abroad. A small number of people contracted the Zika virus through sexual transmission within the U.S.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A bill that creates a federal labeling standard for foods containing genetically modified ingredients (commonly called GMOs) was signed into law by President Barack Obama Friday.

“This measure will provide new opportunities for consumers to have access to information about their food,” Katie Hill, a White House spokeswoman, told ABC News.

The legislation requires food packages to display an electronic code, text label, or some sort of symbol signifying whether or not they contain GMOs.

GMOs, often called "genetically engineered" crops, have their genetic information modified to give a plant a desirable trait.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, genetically engineered crops first entered the U.S. food supply in the 1990s, and account for 93 percent of planted soybeans and 88 percent of corn.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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KABC-TV(PALMDALE, Calif.) -- A 4-year-old California boy whose prosthetic leg was was stolen at a beach this past weekend was surprised on Wednesday with a new Ghostbusters-themed limb.

The custom-designed prosthetic was created and donated by Michael Metichecchia, owner of Essential Orthotics and Prosthetics in Palmdale, California, according to ABC-owned station KABC-TV.

Metichecchia, who is an amputee himself, told KABC-TV he heard 4-year-old Liam Brenes' story earlier this week and was compelled to help.

Liam’s right leg was amputated at the age of 1 due to a rare condition called FATCO syndrome.

This past Sunday, while Liam was playing in the water at a beach, his prosthetic -- along with a family member's cellphone, wallet and camera -- was stolen.

Though it usually takes weeks to create a permanent prosthetic limb, Metichecchia and his team worked overtime to get a new leg to Liam in just a few days.

"We had a lot of people on board that really wanted to help get this done, so me and a couple other gentlemen met at the office this morning around 4 a.m. to get it finished up," Metichecchia told KABC-TV on Wednesday.

Little Liam and his parents went into Metichecchia's office later that day under the impression they were just getting a temporary leg. So when staff came out with the custom-designed permanent Ghostbusters prosthetic, they were in shock.

"Whoaaa!" Liam exclaimed in joy.

The 4-year-old's dad, Frank Brenes, told KABC-TV that the surprise felt like "Christmas in July."

"I'm so ecstatic, so thankful," he said. "They could not have done better. They hit the nail on the head for this little boy, this little Ghostbusters fanatic. He loves it. I mean, the smile on his face says it all when he sees it."

The surprises for Liam didn't stop there. Another offer of help came from "Shark Tank" star Robert Herjavec, who arranged for the family to get a VIP tour of Disneyland.

"It just broke my heart," Herjavec told KABC-TV. "I mean, to think about what the little boy has gone through. And with everything that's happening in the world and so much negativity, I just thought if I had the opportunity to make him grow up in an environment where he thinks there are some good people in the world, why not?"

Liam's mother, Amanda McFarland said she was overwhelmed with gratitude.

"I just have such a good feeling about people," McFarland told KABC-TV. "They're so caring. There's been so much generosity. I don't even have words for it right now."

With Liam now powered by Ghostbusters, his dad said the only issue now is figuring out how to slow him down.

“I’m a little bit afraid, I’ve been trying to keep up with him,” he said with a laugh. “He is so quick, and nothing’s going to stop him.”

The Walt Disney Co. is the parent company of ABC News.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For the first time in the continental U.S., the Zika virus has been spread locally through infected mosquitoes.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced the first local Zika outbreak Friday, saying that four people have been infected. For months, health experts have warned that a small local outbreak of the disease was likely to occur and that local and state health departments should be ready.

Here's what you need to know about the latest Zika outbreak:

Where is the outbreak located?

The affected area is believed to be north of downtown Miami and to be about one square mile in size.

The area is under close surveillance and according to officials at the press conference Friday, door-to-door outreach is underway there. State and local officials have also been contracting with local companies to eliminate mosquito habitats through increased spraying, including of aerial liquid larvicide.

What about the mosquitoes that carry Zika? What should I know about them?

To date, there have been no mosquitoes found in Florida that have tested positive for Zika. Over 19,000 mosquitoes have been screened for Zika in Florida. The specific species of mosquito thought to transmit Zika, Aedes aegypti, prefers urban environments to wetlands, is more active during the day, and doesn’t travel far distances. Florida officials are confident that they’ll be able to control and reduce mosquito populations based on their success responding to outbreaks of Dengue and Chikungunya mosquito-borne illnesses. They advise residents to continue to wear repellent, eliminate standing water, and wear long-sleeved clothing to decrease the chance of getting mosquito bites.

What should pregnant women know?

Pregnant woman can travel to Florida and have a low risk of transmission. However, pregnant women should still take the following precautions to prevent mosquito bites:

  • Wear long sleeves and pants.
  • Use insect repellent with at least 30 percent Deet.
  • Avoid areas with standing water.
  • Stay in places with adequate window screens and air conditioning.

Pregnant women can see their health providers to receive a Zika prevention kit, which includes condoms, bug spray, and other precautionary tools.

What are the risks for those who are not pregnant?

About 80 percent of infected persons who contract Zika will be asymptomatic, yet around 20 percent of infected persons may show symptoms. Most cases have consisted of mild symptoms such as fever, joint pain, and rash. These symptoms usually go away in seven to 10 days. Reports have shown that there may be a rare association with Guillain-Barre syndrome in people that have been affected by Zika. Guillain-Barre is a rare syndrome in which the body’s immune system can attack nerves and cause a temporary, reversible paralysis. The syndrome often takes places after an infectious illness normally caused by certain viruses.

What precautions are being taken for the blood donation?

Given the concern for blood donation transmission in the recent local cases, the Florida government has provided $620,000 in funds to support blood donation testing. In the meantime, pregnant women will receive blood from counties without known cases of Zika.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- The Zika virus is rapidly spreading though Puerto Rico, leading to more than 5,500 infections, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Friday.

Puerto Rico has been dealing with the Zika outbreak for months, and Zika infections have spiked recently, rising from 14 percent testing positive among those tested in February to 64 percent in June, the CDC reported. Officials are calling the situation in Puerto Rico "a Zika epidemic."

“The virus is silently and rapidly spreading in Puerto Rico,” said Dr. Lyle R. Peterson, incident manager for the CDC’s Zika response and director of the CDC's Division of Vector-Borne Diseases.

“This could lead to hundreds of infants being born with microcephaly or other birth defects in the coming year," Peterson said in a statement Friday. "We must do all we can to protect pregnant women from Zika and to prepare to care for infants born with microcephaly.”

Microcephaly is a birth defect characterized by an abnormally small head and brain, leading to significant developmental problems.

Of the thousands of people who have tested positive in Puerto Rico, 672 were pregnant women, according to the CDC. The virus has also been found in 77 of 78 municipalities in Puerto Rico and CDC officials believe the positive cases may be just a fraction of total Zika cases actually present, since 80 percent of infected people do not exhibit symptoms. But even asymptomatic people can transmit the virus to a mosquito if it bites them.

While the virus is mainly a concern due to its effects on fetal development, it has in rare cases been linked to serious complications in adults. Among people with confirmed Zika infections, 21 people have developed Guillain-Barre syndrome, which can lead to temporary paralysis. One infected person died after developing a severe low platelet count in their blood, officials said.

The CDC has urged the Puerto Rican government to increase mosquito control to reduce the population of the insects that spread the virus. Those living in Puerto Rico or traveling there are urged to wear bug spray and stay indoors to avoid exposure to mosquitoes.

Pregnant women and their partners are advised to use barrier contraception to insure the women aren't exposed to the virus through sexual contact.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(TULSA, Okla.) -- When Swift Myers and Abbi Myers, nee Ruicker, wed on Sunday, it was from the bed at an Oklahoma hospital where Swift Myers, 18, has spent the last month battling cancer.

Since seventh grade, Myers has battled Ewing sarcoma, a cancerous tumor that occurs in bones or soft tissues, according to the National Institutes of Health. His latest bout with the disease landed him in an intensive care unit at Saint Frances Children’s Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for the last month.

Two days before their wedding day, Myers asked Abbi, also 18 and his girlfriend of two years, to marry him.

"He said, ‘Will you be my wife?,' and we’ve always joked about so I just kind of laughed," Abbi told ABC News Friday. "The next day he said, 'You know I was being serious right?'"

Abbi told Myers that if he was serious he needed to call her dad to ask for her hand in marriage. Myers picked up the phone and called Abbi's dad and the wedding planning began immediately.

"Some of the nurses were in the room and as soon as they heard the conversation they took off," Abbi said. "They did everything."

The nursing staff at Saint Francis Children’s Hospital acted as the couple's wedding planners, gathering decorations and finding a wedding cake, a videographer and a photographer.

"It felt like I was hearing a love story straight out of a movie," Meagan Ready, the couple's wedding photographer, told ABC News of being asked to help. "I was humbled to have been asked to document such a special occasion."

On Sunday night, around 100 of the couple's friends and family, and the nurses and doctors caring for Myers, packed into a room at the hospital to watch the couple wed. So many people wanted to attend that the wedding was live-streamed on Facebook and some guests lined a sidewalk outside to celebrate the couple from afar.

A teacher at the high school where the Myers met bought the couple wedding bands from a local jeweler. Myers added a bowtie to his hospital attire and said his "I do" from his hospital bed.

The hospital bed later featured a "Just Married" sign on poster board signed by guests.

"I was in shock," Abbi said of the outpouring of love. "I'm still in shock."

After exchanging wedding vows and sealing their marriage with a kiss, the couple hosted a wedding reception complete with cake.

"I’m really grateful for the nurses," Abbi said. "They are still at work and still went through and did all of this in less than two days for us and that really meant a lot."

Myers is continuing treatments for his cancer, with Abbi by his side every minute of the day.

"Since the wedding he’s been much better and in better spirits," she said.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

Steroids, creatine and protein supplements are becoming increasingly available to teens, despite the lack of proven benefit.

In fact, researchers have found an increase of steroid use in high school students and a doubling in the use of human growth hormone.

Many teens and their parents are unaware that most supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. They're also frequently contaminated with metals, steroids and stimulants.

It's important to emphasize inner health and fitness as much as external appearance with your teens.

Consider the risks as much as any possible benefits. Some of the side effects of performance enhancing substances include stomach pain, nausea, dehydration and possible damage to heart, kidneys and liver if taken in high doses.

It's also helpful to consult a dietician or nutritionist to learn ways to increase muscle mass and boost athletic performance using whole foods.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Blood donations have been halted in two Florida counties being investigated as the epicenter of a possible outbreak of locally transmitted Zika virus, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

At least four cases of Zika infections in Miami-Dade and Broward counties are being investigated by the Florida Health Department as a possible outbreak of locally transmitted Zika. On Wednesday, the FDA asked all blood donation centers in both Miami-Dade and Broward counties to cease collecting blood until they can implement tests to check donor blood for signs of the Zika virus. The FDA also recommended that adjacent and nearby counties adhere to these requirements as well.

"These may be the first cases of local Zika virus transmission by mosquitoes in the continental United States," FDA officials said in a statement. "In consideration of the possibility of an emerging local outbreak of Zika virus, and as a prudent measure to help assure the safety of blood and blood products, FDA is requesting that all blood establishments in Miami-Dade County and Broward County cease collecting blood immediately until" officials can implement tests for Zika.

More than 1,650 people have been diagnosed with Zika within the U.S., but the vast majority have been people who contracted the virus while abroad. A small number of people contracted the Zika virus through sexual transmission within the U.S.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) -- The Florida Health Department is now investigating four Zika infections that may have been transmitted locally.

More than 1,300 people have been diagnosed with Zika in the U.S. and virtually all contracted the disease while traveling abroad. A small number were due to sexual transmission of the disease.

If the investigation determines that Zika was passed on by an infected mosquito in Florida, it would be the first occurrence of a local transmission in the continental United States. Concern over a possible Zika outbreak has led the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to offer assistance to the Florida Health Department.

After two new cases were reported, the Florida Health Department expanded its investigation and started going door-to-door to reach people in areas where the infections were reported. Sample collections, including urine samples, are being requested to determine if there are ongoing infections, according to the Florida health officials.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical School, explained to ABC News that an epidemiological investigation to determine if there is an outbreak can take time as many investigators fan out over neighborhoods to look for any sign of the virus in both insects and people.

Investigators will "try to figure out where the infection was likely acquired," said Schaffner. If they believe it was locally acquired, they'll start searching in different areas for the Aedes Aegypti mosquito that has been linked to the disease.

He also explained that urine tests are used to help identify a potential outbreak because they are easy to acquire and don't require medical staff as blood samples do.

"It can be very elaborate" to do these investigations, Schaffner explained. "As we talk about this, all of these investigations are very personnel dependent."

Should an outbreak of the virus be confirmed in Florida, Schaffner said the health department would likely send out mosquito control experts to spray affected homes with insecticides.

"They will actually have people going through backyards and looking at sites where they need to spray," he said.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

Getting a flu vaccine for your child may be a little more painful this year.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention committee is recommending against any use of the nasal spray flu vaccine for the upcoming flu season. It seems it's not nearly as effective as the injectable form.

As a doctor, I've seen teens die of complications from the flu. As a mom, I vaccinate my kids every year.

Here are some tricks to have injections go more smoothly:

  • If the nurse or person giving the shot actually pinches the skin on the arm first, the body tends to focus on the pinch and not the needle.
  • Pushing a syringe slowly minimizes the pain of the liquid expanding in the muscle tissue.
  • Teaching kids that they are strong and can get through an injection is such a valuable lesson

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Scott Clarke / ESPN Images(NEW YORK) — Tennis legend Chris Evert has opened up about how menopause impacted her marriage and influenced her divorce in 2006.

Earlier this week, Evert spoke on "The Forward Podcast with Lance Armstrong." The ESPN tennis analyst hinted that menopause partially contributed to the end of her 18-year marriage to Olympic skier Andy Mill.

"Andy and I, we're still a family...without living together," Evert, 61, said. "We had a rough couple years because I married [Australian golfer] Greg Norman, who's Andy's friend,"

The former tennis pro's subsequent marriage to Norman ended after just 15 months.

"I was going through menopause," she says, "stuff that, you know, that doesn't get talked about enough. What women go through [around age 50.]"

Evert told Armstrong that her relationship with Mill is solid. "We love each other and I can rely on him," the mother-of-three said. "When I'm dying in my bed, he'll be there...I'll be there for him and he'll be there for me."

After 18 grand slam titles and 18-plus years of marriage, Evert imparted what she learned from her life experience.

"You've got to be on top of your relationship the whole time," she said, "and I've learned soon as you feel drifting away you get back there."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Purestock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A daily supplement or two has become routine for many Americans, but a report is highlighting how these substances can sometimes be harmful.

Consumer Reports outlines in a extensive report how producers of dietary supplements face little regulation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and why that can be dangerous for those taking supplements.

Supplements can have side effects and retailers and pharmacists may not understand how supplements can interact with a person's medication, the report said. Additionally, since supplements are regulated as food, the ingredients do not have to be proven safe and effective in the same manner prescription drugs are by the FDA.

Ellen Kunes, health editor at Consumer Reports, said consumers can't rely solely on the labels of supplements since they aren't bound by the same regulations as pharmaceuticals.

"Supplements have labels that don’t necessarily tell you what they are good for, how they are going to work, whether they will work," she said. "You can’t trust that they're going to work or that they will be safe just by looking at the label."

Consumer Reports found that an estimated 23,000 people end up in the emergency room after taking supplements every year.

Dr. Marvin Lipman, Consumer Reports’ chief medical adviser, pointed out that worried consumers can look for the USP (U.S. Pharmacopeia) label that means a company has verified what is on the label.

"There’s a paucity of products that are taking advantage of the approval process for responsible companies," said Lipman. " Without verification, you cannot be sure that what’s on the label is in the bottle."

Dr. Donna Seger, the director of the Tennessee Poison Control, said that many people do not think about the potential consequences supplements could have on their health. She said people shouldn't think of these substances as innocuous and should always check with their doctors first.

"People shouldn't be taking supplements who are on medication unless they checked with doctor," she said, explaining how different pills can have different substance amounts. "If you have 100 pills in bottle there might be a different amount in each pill."

The Council for Responsible Nutrition, a leading trade association for the dietary supplement and functional food industry, disagreed with the report pointing out that 150 million Americans take supplements.

"Overwhelmingly, dietary supplements are safe and play a valuable role in helping Americans live healthy lifestyles," the council said in a statement. "The industry is regulated by the FDA, and the robust regulations give the government the ability to remove unsafe products from the market. It is patently illegal for products to be sold as dietary supplements if they contain prescriptions or illegal drugs, and we urge the government to use its enforcement authority to protect consumers from those products."

Consumer Reports pointed out 15 specific ingredients in supplements that it says consumers should avoid, since they have dangerous side effects such as rapid heartbeat, liver damage and seizures. More information about supplements from Consumer Reports can be found here.

    Caffeine powder
    Greater Celandine
    Green Tea Extract Powder
    Pennyroyal Oil
    Red Yeast Rice
    Usnic acid

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iStock/Thinkstock(WORCESTER, Mass.) — The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which went viral in 2014 as a fundraiser for research, has resulted in far more than just funny YouTube videos of people dumping ice-cold water on themselves for a good cause. Researchers credit the $220 million raised as key in funding a new study that has possibly identified a common gene that contributes to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the spinal cord leading to loss of control over muscles. Eventually, the disease leads to total paralysis and death.

In a study published in the Nature Genetics Journal researchers from various institutions including University of Massachusetts Medical School and University Medical Center Utrecht identified the gene NEK1 as a common gene that could have an impact on who develops the disease. Variants on the gene appear to lead to increased risk of developing ALS, according to preliminary findings. Researchers said they're anxious to understand more about the neurodegenerative disease that causes a person to lose the ability to control muscles and eventually leads to death.

Researchers in 11 countries studied 1,000 families in which a family member developed ALS and conducted a genome-wide search for any signs that a gene could be leading to increased ALS risk. After identifying the NEK1 gene, they also analyzed 13,000 individuals who had developed ALS despite no family history and found they had variants in that same gene, again linking that gene with increased ALS risk.

“The discovery of NEK1 highlights the value of ‘big data’ in ALS research," Lucie Bruijn, the chief scientist for the ALS Association, said in a statement. "The sophisticated gene analysis that led to this finding was only possible because of the large number of ALS samples available."

Multiple initiatives were started after the viral fundraiser started in the summer of 2014, including the Project MinE initiative aimed at creating a global gene sequencing effort with 15,000 affected people. Starting in the summer of 2014, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge led to 17 million videos made with $220 million raised, according to the ALS Association. Of the total money raised, $115 million went to the ALS Association.

John Landers, co-author of the study and associate professor of neurology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, explained that the funding helped create an international network of researchers to take on ALS.

“Global collaboration among scientists, which was really made possible by ALS Ice Bucket Challenge donations, led to this important discovery,” Landers said in a statement. “It is a prime example of the success that can come from the combined efforts of so many people, all dedicated to finding the causes of ALS. This kind of collaborative study is, more and more, where the field is headed.”

This is not the first time that the "Ice Bucket Challenge" was credited for leading to significant results. Last summer, a previously unknown protein was identified as an important marker for ALS, after researchers from Johns Hopkins found the TDP-43 protein tended to accumulate in people with ALS.

The funding windfall also helped get needed materials and devices to patients living with ALS, according to the ALS Association.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Courtesy Tina Turner(NEW YORK) -- Monday was bittersweet for two tearful families who met after a heart donation saved one teenager's life, after the other's was taken.

Albert Jeffries IV (Alj), 14, of Burlington, North Carolina received a heart transplant on March 10 after suffering his entire life from a heart disease called dilated cardiomyopathy, mom Tina Turner told ABC News.

On July 25, Turner, Alj and his brother Luke finally met the family who selflessly gave the gift of life four months ago, after experiencing their own tragic loss of a daughter and deciding to donate her heart.

"We were crying and falling to the floor," Turner told ABC News Wednesday of the meeting. "It was joyful and sorrowful -- too many emotions mixed into one. Just knowing this family gave their daughter's organs to save my son's life, it was so overwhelming."

On March 6, Katelyn Zimmerman, 14, and her brother Dylan, 13, died after being hit by a car while riding their bicycles near their home of Inverness, Florida, ABC affiliate WFTS-TV in Tampa Bay, Florida reported at the time.

Katelyn's grandmother Charlene Sweigart described her granddaughter as a loving, giving, caring person who enjoyed assembling bicycles with her younger brother Dylan.

"She was so mature, so beyond her years and that's what amazed me," Sweigart told ABC News Wednesday. "One day, [Katelyn] said, 'Maw Maw, I want to be an organ donor,' I told her that I was proud of her and I'm an organ donor and her great grandfather was. Three hours later, she was gone."

Katelyn's heart was donated to Alj in a life-saving surgery days later. Alj had waited for a heart for 99 days.

"Alj was near death," Turner said of her son. "He was on two heart drips by the end. The month Katelyn died was the year Alj was reborn."

At Carolina Donor Services in Durham, North Carolina, Alj's family was united with Katelyn and Dylan's dad Shawn, grandmother Charlene, Katelyn's twin sister Savannah and other relatives.

Balloons and butterflies were released at the event. Alj even dedicated an emotional letter to Katelyn's family, which read, "Thank you for being my miracle."

That day, Katelyn's family was able to hear her heart beating inside Alj's chest and Turner gifted each person with a recording of the sound.

"I'm ready to get out there and spread the awareness of organ donation," Turner said. "This is what life is all about. With life comes death and with death comes life. After Katelyn made that wish, her family didn't think twice about it. They saved our family from a lot of heartache."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Want to burn calories? Those Nordic walking machines apparently live up to the hype.

According to U.S. News & World Report, when done correctly, Nordic walking -- which mimics the motion of cross-country skiing -- can burn up to 40 percent more calories than regular walking, reduce knee and joint stress, boost oxygen consumption which benefits the brain, and help realign the body after a day hunched at a desk.

Dr. Pam Roberts, a family physician who teaches Nordic walking as a health and wellness coach at The Summit Medical Fitness Center in Kalispell, Montana, says walkers “are getting a higher level of fitness, but they're not feeling the drudgery of it.”

Nordic walking has a low risk for injury and can be done almost anywhere safe to walk, and with the right equipment.

"Anybody can take a walk, but this is so much more effective because you're using your upper body as well. The poles defray a lot of the tension and the stress from your knees and your joints," Bill Rosson, who co-founded HYVA, the Nordic walking organization in New York City, says.

It's a good idea to take a class from a certified Nordic walking instructor or watch a video online.

"You just have to get down the basic cues," Rosson says.

There's no harm, however, if you don't, he says: "Worst-case scenario: You get a nice walk."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.








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