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File photo. (iStock/Thinkstock)(SEATTLE) -- Hannah Mae Campbell is an outgoing, spunky and imaginative little girl who is having the time of her life playing outside in the brand new playhouse of her dreams that a generous local Girl Scout troop built in her backyard earlier this month.

The reason it’s so special to her, however, is because 4-year-old Hannah has a suppressed immune system, making normal childhood activities like attending birthday parties or even taking trips to the grocery store extremely difficult.

“Hannah depends a lot on her immunity to get her through,” her mother, Jennifer Campbell, told ABC News of her daughter’s rare condition. “She can no longer have chicken pox or measles vaccines because they are live. Those could potentially kill her. We just have to be careful.”

Hannah was born with Diffuse Rhabdomyomatosis, which is “a benign tumor that took over her heart valve,” Campbell explained. “This was a tumor throughout her whole entire heart organ. Her heart was growing and it wasn’t going to stop until it killed her.”

At just 4 months old, after 59 blood transfusions, multiple surgeries and 169 days in Seattle Children’s Hospital, Hannah received a new heart.

“When she did receive the heart transplant, we learned that she’s the only survivor with this disease,” her mom said.

Hannah is now doing much better, but still needs to be very careful about being exposed to germs. This makes normal daily activities like going to the grocery store, eating out at a restaurant or attending birthday parties very difficult.

When Girl Scout Troop 44017 heard of Hannah’s story, they wanted to help.

“One of the leaders, Lisa, called me and said, ‘I’ve heard about your story. Our troop is doing this service project and we really wanted to find a girl who maybe has a low immune system or is suffering with medical issues,’” Campbell recalled of their initial conversation. “These girls were just so excited. They fell in love with her.”

The Girl Scouts came out to talk to the family prior to getting started so they could not only build the playhouse, but decorate it with her favorite things.

“She told them she loved to cook fake food and garden and plant flowers and her favorite color was orange,” Campbell said. “These girls went into action. They were doing fundraising to raise all this money themselves.”

On the morning of May 14, just four days before Hannah’s birthday, it was pouring rain. But that didn’t deter these Girl Scouts from making Hannah’s dreams come true.

“They come in these vans and they brought this kit to put it all together,” Campbell said. “They thought of every detail. Hannah loves to get the mail with me so they built a little mailbox outside, they put it on a platform so we don’t have to worry about mowing the lawn, just every detail.”

“It was so much bigger than just the house,” she added. “They took turns playing with Hannah as it was being built because they couldn’t all fit.”

The playhouse has a working doorbell, real flowers, a little plastic picnic table, fake food and even a little plastic grill inside with fake flames.

“Her imagination is just going to work,” Campbell said. “She’s has just been absolutely in love with this playhouse. It’s just been amazing. She doesn’t want to leave."

“It’s amazing to see her imagination live in this play land. It’s just a different little world out there in a house that she sits in with a bench and pillows and it’s amazing. They did a wonderful job. I was in tears for the first couple days," she said.

The Girl Scouts and Hannah hit it off so well that they’ve even invited her to participate in their “bridging” ceremony on June 5 when five of the girls will be transitioning from the junior to cadet level of Scouts.

“They’re going to walk her across the bridge and then present her with the sweatshirt on the other side,” Amber Johnson, one of the troop leaders, explained. “From the beginning, they always wanted to make her an honorary Girl Scout. They adore her and we’re really excited.”

And for Hannah, the feeling is mutual.

“She’s made them all thank you cards and cannot wait to be included in such a special ceremony," Campbell said.

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ABC News(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) — Good Morning America has a parenting alert about online sexploitation, where children and teens can be coerced or blackmailed into sending explicit pictures or videos to a predator.

For Bethany Burtlow and her mom Alana, the pain is still fresh.

“I’m watching my child just melt and break,” Alana, of Sacramento, California, told ABC News. “As a parent, you want to fix it. You can’t fix this.”

Bethany, 20, says she was a victim of sexual exploitation when she was a student at El Camino High School.

“I got a text that said, ‘I have some photos of you. If you don’t do what I say, you’re going to regret it,’” she explained.

For three years, Bethany says she received threatening text messages from an anonymous number. Scared, she sent pictures hoping the harassment would stop, but she says it didn’t.

“’Oh, send me this, oh send me that, you’re not doing it right,’” Bethany recalled of what her alleged predator would tell her. “’If you don’t do this you’re going to hate the consequences.’”

What Bethany describes is sextortion, and according to the FBI. It’s a growing Internet crime where victims, often children and teens, are coerced into providing sexually explicit images or videos that are then used as blackmail.

“The perpetrator is trying to normalize his or her behavior towards the victim,” Fred Lane, a cyber safety expert, said. “So suggesting that everybody sends nudes and therefore it’s okay for the victim to do so, and that’s a process that can take place over weeks, months and even years in some instances.”

Bethany stopped sending photos and then she says the unthinkable happened. She says the explicit photos were mailed to her family and friends, and even posted on X-rated websites.

“I was in nominations for homecoming queen and I had friends in choir, and once everything went out, I had no friends,” she said.

Police say Bethany was actually tormented by a fellow student at her high school. The suspect, Chris Hirtzel, is now in jail and facing six felonies including distribution of child pornography. Hirtzel has not yet entered a plea.

“When a parent allows a child to go online unsupervised, it’s basically dropping their child off on one of the most dangerous corners in the city,” Angel M. Melendez, a special agent in charge with Immigration and Customs Enforcement for Homeland Security Investigations, explained.

Bethany encourages others experiencing online threats to speak out.

“Tell your parents,” she said. “They’re not going to be mad at you. They’ll want to help. Whatever you do, don’t send those pictures because they can come back and haunt you.”

Callahan Walsh, from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, has three tips for parents if their child is being harassed online: Be proactive, call the center’s cyber tip line which can be located at missingkids.org/cybertipline, and also, get authorities involved.

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Courtesy Becky Doyle(OAKFIELD, Wis.) — A Wisconsin girl is recovering after receiving a life-saving organ donation from her teacher earlier this week.

Natasha "Tasha" Fuller, 8, underwent kidney transplant surgery on Monday just months after her first-grade teacher Jodie Schmidt volunteered to be her donor. The girl had been on dialysis due to her poor kidney function.

Tasha's family shared a moving message about Schmidt in a statement released by the hospital.

“Thanks to Jodi’s amazing gift and support of her family, we are with Tasha as she recovers and gets stronger after the transplant," the family said in the statement on Tuesday. "Her doctors at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin say that everything went well and that we could not have asked for a better organ. We are so grateful for the outpouring of support our family has received, particularly from Oakfield Elementary staff and students, along with her friends and family in Grandfield, Oklahoma. Tasha looks forward to seeing you all as soon as she can."

When Schmidt announced she would be a donor, she invited Natasha's grandmother Chris Burelton to the school in March under a guise that the staff wanted to give her a gift for taking care of her granddaughter. She presented Burelton with a pink present with a message inside that she was a match to be a kidney donor for Natasha and the school taped the moment to share with the family.

"You? Oh my gosh!" Burelton says before bursting into tears in the video released by the school. "Here I thought she was coming to school because she was naughty."

Schmidt said in the video she felt she was the right person to donate. "I'm so excited," Schmidt says in the video. "I figured I'm O-negative blood and it did just come to me. I think we're all brought to a certain place and time for a reason."

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The spread of the Zika virus, combined with the start of mosquito season, has consumers looking for ways to protect themselves against the mosquito-borne illness, which has been associated with devastating birth defects.

The Federal Trade Commission announced Tuesday it settled for $300,000 with the marketer of Viatek's Mosquito Shield Bands over the claim the product created a 5-foot protective “vapor barrier” around the wearer.

The FTC said the company sold the band without reliable scientific evidence to back its claims. The company said it never claimed to protect against all mosquitoes, also denying that it took "advantage of consumer concerns for the Zika virus."

"To date, Viatek stands behind the empirical scientific evidence that resulted from multiple tests performed as to the efficacy of their mosquito bands. The tests were conducted by a leading American university and a distinguished professor of entomology, who provided competent and reliable evidence for the claims," the company said in a statement.

Meanwhile, in a report released Thursday morning, Consumer Reports said it tested several brands of mosquito-repellent clothing and found that while the shirts did help to protect against mosquitoes, none offered full protection.

The report said none of the shirts tested was as effective as an ordinary shirt that was sprayed with DEET, adding that the shirts’ manufacturers stressed the importance of wearing the clothing as well as a repellent.

Consumer Reports tried three permethrin-treated shirts from L.L. Bean and ExOfficio. Permethrin is a synthetic insecticide that is used to treat mosquitoes, head lice, bed bugs and other insects.

The shirts tested were L.L. Bean’s permethrin-treated Crew shirt ($80), Bugsaway Breez’r by ExOfficio ($85) and Talisman by ExOfficio ($85). According to the report, the shirts were treated with 0.52 percent permethrin, the industry standard. It also said manufacturers claim the permethrin would last for 70 washes.

Consumer Reports said it tested new shirts and shirts that had been washed 25 times. As controls, it also tested untreated shirts made of similarly thick materials, as well as one untreated shirt that was sprayed with Ben’s 30 percent DEET Tick and Wilderness formula, Consumer Reports’ top-rated DEET product.

The DEET-sprayed shirts prevented all mosquitoes from landing, and therefore prevented all bites, the report said.

Insect Shield, the technology used on ExOfficio BugsAway clothing, said in a statement to ABC News that its technology provided “an inexpensive and automatic way to protect from Zika virus.”

In a statement to ABC News, L.L. Bean said: "While contact repellents like permethrin, which is in our No Fly Zone apparel and spatial repellents like Deet represent vastly different technologies, our No Fly Zone garments give folks yet another effective choice for battling biting insects and insect-borne diseases."

There are several efforts underway to combat Zika-carrying mosquitoes, including the creation of a genetically modified mosquito that could help reduce the mosquito population without the need for pesticides.

The head of a British biotech company that has developed a genetically modified mosquito in an effort to lower the population of the insects that spread the Zika virus called for federal regulators to expedite a decision on conducting a test of these mosquitoes in Florida.

Hadyn Parry, the CEO of Oxitec, spoke at a congressional hearing Wednesday about his company's mosquitoes, which are genetically modified in an effort to reduce the population of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the species primarily responsible for the spread of the Zika virus.

The Food and Drug Administration has given an initial "Finding of No Significant Impact" regarding the proposed test in the Florida Keys.

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

Caregivers sacrifice a lot when caring for sick and elderly loved ones.

A recent report focusing solely on those who care for others with Alzheimer's disease found that caregivers give up basic necessities, such as food and medical care, to support loved ones.

According to the report, caregivers are 28 percent more likely to eat less or go hungry while caring for someone. Nearly half of them cut back on their own expenses, and more than 1 in 3 had to reduce work hours or quit their jobs altogether.

My prescription: Take care of yourself before you try to assist others, and remember that the most selfless gesture is actually self care. You'll be better able to help someone else when you're in a good place yourself.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration released a guidance for industry on Wednesday declaring that sweeteners obtained from sugar cane should not be listed on food labels as “evaporated cane juice.”
   
The FDA says the term implies false information suggesting that the sweetener is produced from a fruit or vegetable. 

The misleading title conceals its basic nature and characterizing properties — sugar.

The FDA is recommending companies to relabel the term as “sugar,” with the option of providing a true descriptor to differentiate the ingredient from other cane-based sweeteners.

The purpose of the guidance is to aid consumers in making informed decisions when it comes to sweeteners by advertising not only authentic but persistent information by the manufacturer.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Democrats brought out healthy children to talk urge more funding for the battle against the Zika virus and vent their frustrations at Republicans.

Toddlers and infants joined four senators and Heidi Murkoff, the author of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” and its related titles, to make an argument for increased federal funding to combat Zika based on the people most affected by the virus: mothers and their babies.

“There are no red or blue babies. There's only healthy babies like these,” Murkoff said at the press conference. Zika has been linked to the birth defect microcephaly -- where the baby's head is smaller than expected.

Coons, who invited Murkoff, previewed the battle lines for the Senate as the two chambers reconcile their competing proposals: the Senate’s, which at $1.1 billion was still too low for Democrats, and the House’s bill, which funds Zika efforts at $622 million for the next five months.

“We've done our job in the Senate. I think for us to move further by accepting what would be demonstrably inadequate funding coming from an unacceptable source, you're asking us to go beyond compromise and well into simply giving up,” he said.

Despite the serious issue, the senators couldn’t help but smile -- and even get down on the floor to play with the children.

Sen. Chuck Schumer sounded particularly pleased to see the children.

“It reminds me of the thing most missing in my life: Grandchildren,” he said.

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ABCNews.com(NEW YORK) -- Melissa Cook, a 48-year-old mother of four who made headlines when she refused to abort one of the triplets she was carrying as a surrogate mom, says she will never give up her fight to see the three babies she bore in February.

“I loved them while they were in me. I love them still," Melissa Cook said in an interview that aired Wednesday on Good Morning America. I do feel like they are part mine."

So she has taken the issue to court, asking a Los Angeles Monday to allow her to see the children to make sure they’re OK. The judge is expected to issue a written opinion on her lawsuit in the next seven to 21 days.

Cook of Woodland Hills, California, was hired by a Georgia man to be a gestational surrogate. She gave birth to the triplets in February after undergoing in-vitro fertilization with a sperm sample from the man who hired her and three eggs from an anonymous donor.

Early in the pregnancy, Cook told ABC News, the biological father told her he only wanted two babies because he said he could not afford to raise three.

The biological father is identified in court documents as C.M., a 50-year-old man living at home with his parents.

“For him to say, 'Oh, I changed my mind,' is ridiculous," Cook said. "I said, 'Get it together. We will figure it out.'"

Cook said she had signed a surrogacy contract -- before knowing how many of the embryos would take -- allowing the biological father to reduce the number of fetuses for medical reasons. C.M.’s attorney, Robert Walmsley, told ABC News his client asked Cook to abort one of the fetuses out of concern for "her health and the health of the children."

He also claims that several doctors asked Cook to abort a fetus because of her age.

Walmsley said Cook entered into a contract with his client that any or all children would be his, and that he could ask her to abort but couldn’t force her to do so.

“Most importantly, the children are still his," Walmsley said.

“C.M. is committed to his children. He is caring for them. They are happy and they are absolutely beautiful," Walmsley said. "We are not denying the fact that it’s difficult to take care of triplets, as it would be for anybody, but he is loving and cherishing it every day.”

Cook’s lawyer, Harold Cassidy, told ABC News that “Melissa wanted to do what was best for the children.”

Legal expert Elura Nanos, who is not involved in the case, told ABC News it would "violate the rights of privacy to force a woman to get an abortion."

“No one would ever enforce such a provision," Nanos said.

When Cook gave birth to the three babies in February, she said, she was not allowed to see them and the hospital could not legally give her any information about the babies. Cook and her lawyers told ABC News the genetic father took the triplets home after they had been at the hospital for almost two months.

“I sit there crying at night wondering what is going to happen to the children and if they are going to be cared for," Cook told ABC News.

Cook said she has filed the lawsuit to ensure the children are in good hands. She said she is also working to have California surrogacy laws changed.

“We are going to fight to have the law changed so that courts look at the best interest of the children, so that courts take into account the surrogate,” said Michael Caspino, another one of Cook's attorneys.

Cook added, "It would be wonderful to hold these children to let them know, I'm fighting for you guys."

The attorney for the babies' father said Cook's complaints contain "erroneous facts."

“There are so many erroneous facts in the court complaints filed by Melissa Cook and her lawyers," Walmsley said. "Their goal is to litigate this in the media and file in any court available to drain him financially.

"If they cared about the children, they wouldn’t deprive them of their father and his resources," he said.

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Creatas/Thinkstock(RIVERDALE, N.Y.) -- An 11-year-old who beat stage 4 cancer -- including 18 rounds of chemotherapy and 28 days of radiation – has debuted an animated short film that she directed and gives voice to.

Neshama Ryman, of Riverdale, New York, created the characters and storyline for her movie, “The Klumz,” while she was undergoing treatment for the alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma she was diagnosed with while in kindergarten.

The now fifth-grade student knew during her treatment that she would have a wish granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Once her health improved, the Foundation paired Neshama with world renowned animators at FableVision Studios to make her wish to create her own movie come alive.

“She took a very long time developing this idea,” Neshama’s mom, Lamelle Ryman, told ABC News. “I really believe that it has been part of her medical healing to have this incredible wish ongoing. “

A Wish In the Making

The characters featured in “The Klumz” have long been part of the Ryman family’s folklore. The family uses the term “klumz” as a way to diffuse tense situations. If a glass of milk falls on the floor, for example, the family will blame it on a “klumz.”

“The 'Klumz' have been living with our family for quite some time,” said Ryman, who with Neshama’s father, Rob, has two other children. “Neshama was the one who named them ‘klumz,’ a cross between klutz and clumsy.”

Neshama, who also suffers from a congenital condition in her leg that has required six reconstructive surgeries to date, carried a sketchbook with her at treatments and began to draw how she envisioned the “klumz” would look.

Animation At Work

Neshama first met with the animators at FableVision last year, traveling to the Boston headquarters of the global media production studio.

“Usually we create things for kids and families and our clients are adults,” said Peter Reynolds, FableVision’s founder and a best-selling children’s book author and illustrator. “In this case we had a child ‘hire’ us to get her vision off the ground.”

He added, “We took it quite seriously. She was the boss and our goal was to make our client happy.”

The FableVision team corresponded with Neshama, their director, frequently and even traveled to her hospital bedside in Maryland at one point to keep the movie moving forward.

“Animation is a very cumulative process and we couldn’t take a step forward until our director said, ‘Yes that’s good, go forward,’” said Tony Thyne, FableVision’s vice president of creative. “We would go on a plane and go there and sit on a hospital bed with her and do storyboards and whatever we needed to do to keep the process moving.”

Thyne added, “We realized that it was the journey itself – the film was going to be magnificent – but it was the making of it that really was the gift.”

The film’s background artwork is Neshama’s original paintings and the characters are based entirely on the sketches she made while undergoing treatment.

Neshama’s original wish was to have “Harry Potter” star Emma Watson voice the movie, which follows “The Klumz” family as they accidentally make messes, see the beauty in them and try to get their human counterparts to see the beauty too.

Thyme and Reynolds were preparing their pitch to ask Watson to join the movie when they had Nashama read the script and decided her voice would be better instead.

“We thought it’d be a shame to not have this authentic, kid voice narrating the story,” Reynolds explained. “We asked the director and she was tickled that we thought she was better suited than Emma Watson to tell the story.”

"Why Not An Academy Award?"

Neshama’s directorial debut is being shown for the first time publicly Wednesday.

When Neshama, who is on a school camping trip and not available for comment, saw the completed movie for the first time, she could not believe her eyes.

“She’s very dramatic so at times if she’s really excited she will fall to the floor and this was one of those moments,” Ryman said. “She was speechless and ecstatic.”

Ryman said her family’s experience with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and FableVision went “above and beyond” her expectations.

“As a parent going through this with a child, it gave me so much strength and positivity,” she said. “It became a template for something I created in our family, the idea that if you’re going through something difficult, follow the joy.”

She added of the movie, “It’s reminding us all that messes are part of life and we need to try to do what we can to find the joy and the hope in life no matter what we are dealing with.”

The FableVision team is also still involved in the process even though the animation is done. They are trying to get Neshama’s “The Klumz” movie entered in prestigious movie festivals like Sundance, Cannes and Tribeca.

“Why not an Academy Award?,” Thyne said. “We’re all so proud of it and now the fun part is trying to figure out how we’re going to showcase Neshama’s film.”

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- For many of us, thinking about death -- our own, or that of anyone we love -- is supremely difficult. So, most of the time, we don’t think about it at all -- until we have no choice.

But two Zen Buddhist priests are using meditation, and a generous dose of humor, to show people that the dying process does not have to be scary, and can even be uplifting.

Sensei Robert Chodo Campbell and Sensei Koshin Paley Ellison are the co-founders of the New York Center for Contemplative Care in New York City, and have trained doctors, nurses, hospice care workers and social workers in 32 states.

“The reality is that this life of ours is short. This life is not infinite,” Campbell said. “At some point, this is going to be me in that bed. So, do I want to spend the rest of my life fearing that or embracing the life that I have? And that might mean having a lot of fun.”

During their interview with ABC News’ Dan Harris for his podcast, 10% Happier with Dan Harris, the duo talked about how they teach people to embrace death’s inevitability as a push to live a fulfilling life. Zen Buddhist practice forces followers to look at this reality repeatedly and also teach them how to treat a dying loved one with compassion instead of fear.

“The reality with being with dying people and sick people is so extraordinary because there’s something that strips away that the veneer that we put on it in society,” Ellison said. “We put the old people in the nursing home, we put the sick people in the hospital, we put people in hospice, but learning how to enter those spaces and with an intimacy and to realize I am also that -- I am also you -- person in the bed.”

“The intimacy is the piece that’s missing,” Campbell added. “Fifty years ago, this wasn’t the case, people were dying at home. We knew how to take care of people who are dying, we knew how to take care of Grandma ... [but now] everyone’s out in the work force. There’s no one to take care of Grandma if she got sick. It’s such a mark on society, how far we’ve come and how far back we’ve fallen in this area of care-giving.”

Campbell and Ellison offer a nine-month course “in the art of relating to the patient.” They take about 35 students a year, showing people how to incorporate meditation practice and caring into their bedside manner with patients and in their relationships with loved ones. They also have a book out now called Awake at the Bedside: Teachings on Palliative & End of Life Care.

“To me, the greatest fear I think all of us have is meeting the realities of our aging, illness and death,” Ellison said. “The reality of it to me makes life so vivid and beautiful. ... For me, it’s about how do you want to live your life. How do you want to live this day, and to me it brings this kind of awareness.”

During the 10% Happier interview, it was clear their love of caring for people starts with each other. Campbell and Ellison, who have been romantic partners for 15 years, joked around, pushed each other’s buttons, nudged each other over who would be allowed to be speak next, then in between, they would stop to calmly explain how they came to run a center teaching better hospice care.

Both men had very different upbringings. Ellison grew up in a Jewish household in upstate New York and said he knew he wanted to become a Zen Buddhist monk at 8 years old after he saw a photo of one in a National Geographic magazine.

“And he was so still and I thought, 'Wow, I would like to be like that,'” Ellison said.

He started meditating at age 17 and never looked back, though he said it took him 10 years of practice to realize he actually enjoyed it after he started caring for his ailing grandmother.

“She always had a lot of difficulty with ‘the Zen thing’ as she called it,” he said. “Coming from a family of Holocaust survivors, it was really difficult for her. Culturally, it felt like a betrayal ... for her.”

But towards the end of her life, it was his grandmother who told him he should start an organization with Campbell to help ailing patients and their caregivers have an easier time with hospice care.

Campbell’s upbringing couldn’t have been more opposite. Born to a neglectful and alcoholic teenage mother in Birmingham, England, Campbell said he was bounced around between relatives and went on to live a life fueled by drugs, alcoholism and violence. He left home at 16 and traveled Europe. He worked as a DJ in Spain, spent a few months on a kibbutz in Israel and then worked in the fashion industry, first in London and then New York City.

“Coming to New York for me was like a kid in a candy shop,” Campbell said. “It was 1983 in New York. The club scene, the disco scene, the drug scene, and for three years I really took that on 100 percent. ... What I was doing was pushing the envelope more and more and more -- how dangerous could I really make this life of mine be?”

Eventually, he got sober and starting working at an institute caring for addicts and other troubled adults. A chance meeting with a female Buddhist monk led him to start practicing Zen meditation.

“I had been sitting for about two years, practicing meditation, and I realized I needed to do something else then just sitting on the cushion,” Campbell said. “I wanted to be of service so that’s when I started volunteering at hospice.”

He met Ellison as he was caring for his grandmother and after her death, the two started the center together.

When it comes to contemplating their own deaths, again both had different views. Campbell said he feared the “lack of control” about the dying process, and said he wouldn’t want to prolong his suffering and hated the thought of Ellison having to care for him. Ellison, on the other hand, has a more open approach.

“I don’t find death scary but I don’t know what it will be like when I’m dying,” he said. “When I’m actively dying I don’t know what that will be like. Maybe I’ll be very at peace with it, maybe I won’t. ... To me it’s about being open to what that moment will be, I have no idea, but the idea of it is not scary to me, I’m actually quite curious.”

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The head of a British biotech company that has developed a genetically modified mosquito in an effort to lower the population of the insects that spread the Zika virus called for federal regulators Wednesday to expedite a decision on conducting a test of these mosquitoes in Florida.

Hadyn Parry, the CEO of Oxitec, spoke at a congressional hearing Wednesday about his company's mosquitoes, which are genetically modified in an effort to reduce the population of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the species primarily responsible for the spread of the Zika virus.

The GMO mosquitoes are all male and hence do not bite. When released into the wild, they mate with females and produce nonviable offspring, thereby reducing the mosquito population without the need for pesticides. They have already been used in Brazil and the Cayman Islands to fight the spread of the Zika virus.

Parry said the company received a "complicated" answer from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about its initial 2011 filling to test the GMO mosquito called "Oxitec OX513A" in the U.S.

"We are being treated as an investigational animal drug," Parry testified at the congressional hearing Wednesday, noting that that means from the FDA's perspective "they need to approve an animal drug in order to provide a public health benefit."

The FDA has given an initial "Finding of No Significant Impact" regarding the proposed test in the Florida Keys. In a statement to ABC News, the FDA explained that the agency is "reviewing relevant comments" about the proposed trial before making a final assessment. The agency would not speculate on the timeframe for how long this will take.

Parry said at the hearing that he hoped the FDA would act quickly to allow the testing.

"I think we should encourage them to find the processes to make this happen," Parry said, noting that an emergency route for approval may be appropriate in this case. He pointed out that the GMO mosquitoes can reach mosquitoes in areas where traditional spraying can't, such as in indoor areas.

In previous tests outside of the U.S., the GMO mosquito has helped reduce the population of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes by 90 percent in urban areas, Perry said.

"We can target the mosquito as an integrated approach. We have now the technology to control the mosquito in an urban environment and focus as a priority," he said.

The congressional Committee on Science, Space and Technology held the hearing on the Zika virus and the research being done to understand and fight the virus.

Currently, at least 500 people have been diagnosed with the Zika virus in the U.S., though virtually all contracted the disease while outside the country. In limited cases, the disease was spread through sexual contact, according to health officials.

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iStock/Thinkstock(BELTON, S.C.) -- An 11-year-old South Carolina boy who was born deaf has made it to the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Neil Maes of Belton, South Carolina, received cochlear implants when he was 1 and 5 years old and, through therapy, was able to learn spoken language.

Now, the fifth-grader is one of the top spellers in the nation, knowing words like weissnichtwo (an indefinite, unknown, or imaginary place) and pfeffernuss (a small, hard, highly spiced cookie).

"It seems like a bad situation: 'Your child can't hear.’ But so much good has come out of it," mom Christy Maes told ABC News Wednesday. "We thought for him to win the regionals and come into the nationals, that would be a great platform to encourage and inspire hearing-impaired individuals. It makes a child feel so hopeful, saying, 'I could do this.' It's things like this that mean the most to me."

When Neil was born July 13, 2004, doctors informed Christy and Peter Maes that he was deaf, news that Christy said was a shock to the entire family.

"There's no other hearing-impaired member on either side of the family," she said. "Life goes on -- he’s 11 now, but it’s a genetic mutation. From my understanding, it's not uncommon."

Neil began therapy at 6 months old. He soon received cochlear implants and relied on his hearing to learn how to speak.

One day, when Neil was in third-grade, he came home and informed his mother that he had won his classroom spelling bee.

That same year, he won his school spelling bee, beating out every student in grades 3, 4 and 5.

"He was the first third-grade winner," Christy said. "We studied hard and then went to regionals. He had a goal and wanted to win. We tried to make it fun."

In fourth-grade, Neil never made it through his classroom spelling bee. This year, he made it to regionals and won. The final word he spelled was ecru, granting him a spot in the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Neil is speller number 213 in group 2. He was competing Wednesday at the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, from 10 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., ET. There are 285 spellers in the entire competition.

"The Scripps National Spelling Bee celebrates our spellers and their incredible talents," a spokesman from the organization told ABC News Wednesday. "For those who overcome adversity and special challenges in their lives to reach the National Finals is a testament to their determination and grit. Each speller is unique and wonderful and the reason this competition is such a national treasure."

The winner of the spelling bee will receive a $40,000 cash prize and the Scripps National Spelling Bee engraved trophy, among other prizes.

Neil prepared for the event through fun spelling activities like sidewalk chalk and shaving cream on a cookie sheet, mom Christy said.

"One of his favorite words is abecedarius," Christy said. "He likes the German words, the fun ones to say. He loves spelling long dog breeds like Chihuahua. He's nervous, so I'm trying to play it cool, give him some space."

“He did want to come and watch the first group spell. These kids, you watch them spell and they miss some words and you want to hug them. Everybody's for each other. No one's competing against each other. It’s a good vibe here," she continued.

She added: "Neil's just a good-hearted kid. He shows a lot of love to everyone around him. We love him just for who he is, not for any trophies that he wins."

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

A new social media trend that resembles something out of a cartoon could potentially cause people to sustain real injuries.

The "Banana Peel Challenge" has kids walking on banana peels to see if they're as slippery as the classic cartoon cliché leads us to believe. The falls that result from the challenge, however, are anything but funny. They can lead to long-term or even permanent damage.

This isn't the first dangerous challenge to become a fad on social media. There was the cinnamon challenge, which in some cases caused potentially long-term lung damage, and the duct tape challenge, which ended with a brain aneurysm for one teen.

So how do you bring this up with your kid?

Try your best to stay current with what's in their world. Remember that the developmental job of a teenager is to push limits and take risks.

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Children's Healthcare of Atlanta(ATLANTA) — Those in need of a pick-me-up need look no further than this video of doctors’ dancing with their kid patients.

As ABC's Dancing With the Stars wrapped up for the season, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta posted a sweet video to its Facebook page featuring a hepatologist, an oncologist, a physiatrist and a cardiologist dancing with their (sometimes very tiny) patients.

One patient had a liver transplant and is now thriving. One is battling Hodgkin’s lymphoma for the third time. There are several rehabilitation patients featured, and a 7-month-old awaiting a heart transplant.

Dr. Martha Clabby, the cardiologist seen dancing with the baby, said, “At Children’s, we have some of the toughest patients who face battles that many people couldn’t imagine. In those tough times, dancing and having fun can be the best medicine for staying positive. We made the video to show our patients that we are here not only to help them heal, but to celebrate their strength and triumphs.”

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Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald says he "deeply regrets" comparing wait times at VA hospitals and facilities to lines at Disney parks.

“At VA we take our mission of caring for those who ‘shall have borne the battle’ very seriously; we have the best and most noble mission in government," McDonald said in the statement, released a day after the remarks.

"If my comments Monday led any Veterans to believe that I, or the dedicated workforce I am privileged to lead, don't take that noble mission seriously, I deeply regret that. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

At a Christian Science Monitor breakfast in Washington on Tuesday, McDonald was speaking about veterans’ satisfaction when he made the controversial comparison.

"When you go to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line?" he asked. "What's important? What's important is: What's your satisfaction with the experience?"

Disney is the parent company of ABC News.

In Tuesday afternoon’s statement, McDonald elaborated on his original remarks.

“On Monday, I made some remarks on how we’re working to improve Veterans' satisfaction with the care they receive from VA. It was never my intention to suggest that I don't take our mission of serving Veterans very seriously," he said. "In fact, improving access to care is my number one priority and the priority I have set for the entire department. For the last two years, the huge majority of VA employees have worked tirelessly to improve the timeliness of the care and benefits we provides to Veterans.”

Wait times for veterans erupted into scandal two years ago and led to former head of the VA, Gen. Eric Shinseki's resignation.

As of May 1 wait times were seven days for primary care and 10 days for specialists, according to department data.

In a statement, the VA said that it takes veterans' care "seriously" and acknowledge that "veterans are still waiting too long for care."

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