Good News Americans #12

Tallahassee, Florida student E’leese Shelton graduated from high school last month.  So did thousands of others.  So then, what makes her special?  Well, let’s start with the fact that she graduated at the age of 12!  E’leese’s mom said she knew she was special at the age of two. She learned to read when she was three and began with math at the age of four. Clearly, this young lady is very bright.  Her future plans? After college, she hopes to begin medical school when she is sixteen. She wants to become a pediatrician.  We wish E’leese well as she continues along her exceptional pathway.

And, next, a New Orleans teen who has definitely and happily defied the odds. Elijah Hogan graduated from his high school in early June as the #1 student in his class…Valedictorian!  A tremendous accomplishment, made even more so given that he achieved that distinction while living in a homeless shelter! Said Elijah: “I have people that were there to help me get through it.  And without them, I wouldn’t have been where I am now.” His case worker at the shelter, Jarkayla Cobb remembers about Elijah that: “He was very shy, at first. So, it’s just awesome to see how much he’s developed and become so well-spoken over the many months that I’ve been a part of his life.” Indeed, Elijah has developed, attaining the top grade-point average (3.93) among his fellow graduates. He hopes to enter Xavier University of Louisiana to study graphic design. Our best wishes for continued success to a young man who has overcome significant challenges in his life in order to excel.

Five University of Georgia students were traveling from Athens to Savannah (GA) to enjoy St. Patrick’s Day weekend festivities.  Somehow, they happened to notice a half-submerged vehicle in nearby water, and immediately pulled down an incline to a boat ramp to try to help. As the vehicle was now almost fully submerged, two of the college women entered the water to get the two children, and then, their mother, to safety on shore. The other students comforted those rescued while contacting emergency responders.   While waiting, one of the students performed CPR on the youngest child who had actually been underwater! Soon, that child began to function again.  Said one of the rescuing students: “It was so surreal. I mean the mom just went and picked up her child and we all just kind of looked at each other and instantly started sobbing.” Responders transferred the mom and her two children to an area hospital, and all three were released the following day.  “The five women who took part in the rescue were honored with a lifesaving heroism proclamation from the University of Georgia.  No doubt their successful rescue efforts brought perspective to their weekend of festivities in Savannah!

Amidst the evening commute on an expressway in St. Paul, Minnesota, a male driver somehow went off the road and struck a light pole, resulting in the vehicle catching fire.   A businessman of his way to a client get-together saw the burning vehicle, stopped, and racing to it to try to get the driver out of the rapidly burning car.  Two other motorists soon stopped to help.  The driver was conscious and was yelling for the rescuers to get him out of the vehicle. They weren’t able to get the driver’s side door open since he had collided too close to the highway guardrail. Fortunately, a Minnesota highway worker drove up and was able to break the driver’s-side window. Now five or six rescuers strong, they were then finally able to pull the freighted driver out through that now-open window. By the time they did, the vehicle had become fully engulfed in flames.  The driver didn’t suffer any major injuries, but he was transported to a hospital for observation. Said the first man to arrive on the scene and who had immediately attempted the rescue alone: “That could be me one day. What would happen if I was in that situation and my life was in the hands of strangers that I don’t even know.”  A question we all might ask. Thank heavens for those Good Samaritans who stopped along that highway and risked serious burns in an effort to save the life of a man they didn’t know, but who clearly needed their help.

Two Claxton, Georgia female high school students had stopped at a nearby fast-food restaurant to get some dinner after soccer practice.  As they did, a man there had a “medical emergency.”  These young ladies began administering CPR while others called for emergency medical assistance. He was transported for medical attention and would be OK. How fortunate that these two high school students had just happened to stop at that particular restaurant, had been given CPR training, and were obviously very proficient with it.  When later interviewed, one of them stated that “it’s important to always have compassion for others.” Another example of the good that even properly trained young students can achieve when challenging situations present themselves.

Two currently serving United States Army Sergeants were in the right place at the right time. Traveling back to their installation on a Korean Air flight, they “noticed a man behaving suspiciously and pacing up and down the aisle.”  Flight attendants also observed, grew concerned, and asked the two soldiers for their assistance.  With restraints provided by the grateful flight attendants, the two soldiers walked to the front of the plane just as the man acting erratically tried to open the exit door in flight.  Despite a struggle, the two soldiers managed to get the restraints on him.  He was escorted to the rear of the plane, was docile for a while, but then a couple of hours later, he broke free from his restraints.  Once again, the two soldiers intervened, placing him back in restraints, and stayed nearby for the remainder of the flight. At one time, the unruly passenger had actually demanded to enter the flight deck! Understandably, the Korean Airlines flight attendants were extremely thankful that the soldiers were on that flight and ready to assist them. Said one of the soldiers later: “We saw an opportunity to help, and we wanted to help. So that’s just what we did.” Those two soldiers were Army snipers returning from a competition stateside. Just another example of our terrific military men and women, ever ready to assist, no matter the need or danger.

On the subject of Army soldier assistance, Fort Stewart (GA) Third Infantry Division Warrant Officer, Zarah Dimond, was sitting in her rental car on the second deck of a hotel parking garage preparing to attend a defense cyber operations conference at Fort Carson (CO), when she thought she smelled smoke.  She exited her car and saw people fleeing from a building next door.  The smoke was coming from that building which turned out to be on fire. Warrant Officer Dimond got down from the parking garage and ran toward the burning building. She entered the building, began pounding on office doors, then saw one man stumbling in the hallway and helped him get outside. She then re-entered the burning building, discovered more people and assisted them down the smokie, darkened hallway and outside. Soldier Dimond was herself a single mother of five children, certainly a key part of her motivation to help others escape the danger. As she remarked later: “For those people who are in there, they have families too. Something as simple as going in there to get them out can save a whole life and a whole family from grief.” Said 3rd ID Captain Donny Lopera about Dimond: “She’s always ready to help. When a person with five kids takes the initiative to enter a burning building without hesitation, it’s personal courage and selfless service.” A resident of Guam prior to her Army service, Warrant Officer Zarah Dimond is being recommended for the Soldier’s Medal due to her courage in entering a burning building and helping people safely escape. Another example of a proud military member committed to helping others, and in this case, in spite of the danger involved.

Concluding this edition, with the wise words of a Good News American. In a 2005 CBS interview conducted back then during February’s Black History Month, famed Hollywood actor, Morgan Freeman, expressed his deep, long-held negative feelings regarding Black History Month.  “I detest it,” said Freeman.  It’s not right. My history is American history.”  When asked then ‘how are we going to get rid of racism,’ Freeman responded: “Stop talking about it”!  Great wisdom from a proud, dedicated, genuine American, who much prefers unity among races, rather than separation.



(Fact Sources: Florida student graduates high school at age 12 via, Savannah Kelley and Amanda Alvarado, 5-26-24; From a homeless shelter to tops in his class via, Olivia Rondeau, 6-2-24; University of Georgia students rescue family from family vehicle nearly submerged in water via, Brittany Kasko, 3-21-24; Man rescued from a burning car by Good Samaritans via, Stephen Sorace, 4-21-24; Two high school soccer players administer CPR in an emergency via, Staff, 4-16-24; Military members assist flight attendants to keep their fellow passengers safe via, Riley Ceder, 6-4-24; Fort Stewart Warrant Officer selflessly assisted others out of a burning building via, Todd Smith, 2-22-24; Morgan Freeman’s thoughts on racial separation via, Simon Kent, 6-17-24).