The Friday 5: Your Uplifting Stories of the Week

Sometimes the news can be, well, not so inspiring. When headlines get you down, it’s important to remember that positive things are still happening all around us. Here are five hopeful and encouraging stories to pay attention to this week:

Off to the Races

Shalane Flanagan, an Olympic bronze medalist, made history this week as the first American woman to win the New York City Marathon in 40 years. Flanagan first ran the NYC Marathon in 2010, finishing second. This time around, she wept tears of joy as she crossed the finish line and displayed the American flag. Even though she is already a renowned record-holder, this win is particularly close to Flanagan’s heart. “This is the moment I’ve dreamed of since I was a little girl,” she said. Read more

“Don’t Read Garbage, Pick it Up”

Jesse Scott, a freelance writer in Miami, began feeling overwhelmed around the time of the 2016 presidential election. Instead of embroiling himself further in the world of internet debates and comment section wars, he decided to turn his energies to cleaning up his community (literally). Every day for the past year, Scott has collected a plastic bag full of trash and recyclables and disposed of them accordingly. He notes: “I took the time and energy … and picked up more than 1,800 pounds of real-life garbage.” Read more.  

Tom Hanks Is: Cupid

Tom Hanks is famously helpful and caring — from returning lost student IDs to buying the White House Press Corps a state-of-the-art espresso machine. Earlier this week was no different: Hanks helps wherever he can. While answering questions about his new book at the Texas Book Festival, he helped Ryan McFarling pop the question to his girlfriend, Nikki Young. Hanks asked the couple up onstage for a formal proposal, and she said yes! Read more

The Gift of a Colorful Autumn

Many would consider autumn to be the most beautiful season of the year. Vibrant red, orange, and burgundy make up a painted sea of color in trees all across the country. For those who are severely colorblind, however, fall’s lovely canvas is often made up of little more than dull greenish-brown. The Great Smoky Mountain Range in Tennessee, a favorite National Park for leaf-peepers, recently installed a number of viewing devices for people who are colorblind. The ensuing reactions are more breathtaking than the trees: “It’s how I imagine the difference is between here and heaven.” Read more.

Little Patients Get a Big Surprise

Medical procedures aren’t fun for anyone, particularly children. When Pittsburgh industrial designer Doug Dietz noticed the amount of terror CT and MRI machines instilled in children who needed medical tests, he decided to get to work making the experience more kid-friendly. The exam rooms, machines, and even the speech of doctors and nurses were revamped to resemble pirate and space adventures. The Adventure Series has cut the need for pre-scan sedation at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh down dramatically — from 80% to 25% and dropping — and other hospitals are getting on board with the program. Read more