Best of BetterWorldians Radio Stories
Podcast #100 — Aired August 1, 2016

Since 2013, BetterWorldians Radio has featured over 100 incredible guests who are making the world a better place. On this special episode of BetterWorldians Radio, we’re featuring just a few of those guests as they share the stories that break your heart and make you smile at the same time. These stories are the WHY behind just a few of the outstanding non-profits that we have featured on BetterWorldians Radio over the last two and a half years.

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Episode Transcript

Raymond Hansell
Hi. Welcome to BetterWorldians Radio. BetterWorldians Radio is a weekly broadcast whose mission is to uplift and inspire you to make the world a better place. I'm Ray Hansell, joined today by my co-host, MarySue Hansell and Gregory Hansell. BetterWorldians Radio is brought to you by Better World Foundation and is co-hosted by the family team that created the popular social game on Facebook called 'A Better World.'. It rewards players for doing good deeds, while helping to raise money and awareness for charities. Today, over 40 million good deeds have been done in 'A Better World' by more than 4 million people round the world. These good deeds include expressions of gratitude, acts of kindness, sending notes to real-world sick kids, just to name a few. This week, on BetterWorldians Radio, we're sharing some of our favorite stories from past guests. These are the stories that break your heart and make you smile at the same time. These stories are the 'why' behind just a few of the incredible non-profits that we've featured on BetterWorldians Radio over the last two and a half years.

MarySue Hansell
Let's begin with one of our earliest guests, Jay Scott, the co-executive director of Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation. Alex's Lemonade emerged from the front yard lemonade stand of cancer patient, Alex Scott. In the year 2000, four year old Alex announced that she wanted to hold a lemonade stand to raise money to help find a cure for al children with cancer, including herself. Since Alex held that first lemonade stand, the foundation bearing her name has evolved into a national fundraising movement, complete with thousands of supporters across the country, carrying on her legacy of hope. In the following clip, her father Jay Scott, explains why his family decided to continue on with the foundation, even after Alex passed away.

Jay
She was doing an interview with this woman and my wife was listening. She heard Alex say, 'Last year, my goal was to raise $100,000 and I did that with the help of other people. So this year I want to raise a million dollars with my lemonade stand.'. When she got off the phone from the interview, my wife said,'Alex, why would you tell the reporter you're going to raise a million dollars? You realize you set up a lemonade stand in our front yard?'. And she said,'Well, I think if other people continue to help me, I think I can do it.'. Because at that time, what had happened was we started getting letters at our house from people from all over the world, that said 'Alex, we saw you on the news or read about you in the newspaper an heard what you were doing. We decided to do our own fundraise rand send you the money.'. That money added up to $100,000 that year. In her child mind, a million dollars was do-able. So she put it out there. And so that story started getting out or got got out, and we started getting calls from people saying 'We want to help. What can we do?'. So we decided to tell people 'Set up a lemonade stand the same day that Alex sets up her annual lemonade stand.'. And so we had people set up stands all across the country and around the world on the same day as Alex. In every state, I don't remember how many countries but she was on Oprah, she went on The Today Show to promote this. Within two weeks of her lemonade stand we had over $700,000. She was close to her million dollar goal. Then we got a call from one of her sponsors - you know ,she had companies that were supporting her even when she was in our front yard and they said, 'How's she doing?' and we said,' She's not doing well. She's worried sick. We think she's dying.'. They said, 'Well, how about that million dollar goal?'. We said she had about 700,000. They said, 'Tell her we're going to take care of the million and we're going to do a lemonade stand at all of our retail locations.'. And so we were able to tell her that she'd hit her million and she died just a couple of weeks later. We think she was kind of holding out for that. She hit that goal and the amazing thing was that after she died the outpouring from people was even greater than when she was alive, and it was pretty big then. People were telling my wife and I, 'You need to keep this going. You guys can really make a difference. You can help a lot of kids.'. And so, we had to sit down and think what that would do to our family, what it would mean to our family, the effect it would have on our other kids. But we decided that there was one chance to really get this off the ground and do it right and that we could make a difference for a lot of other families that were going to be going through the childhood cancer with their kids. So, we decided that we would do it. We'd continue what she was doing. Take this movement that she started and try to help other kids.

Raymond Hansell
Sometimes, it's the simplest moments that make all the difference. That was the case for Operation Warm Executive Director, Rich Lalley. Operation Warm is a non-profit that inspires hope and empowers communities by providing new winter coats to children in need throughout The United States. Since 1998, Operation Warm has provided the gift of warmth and self-esteem to nearly two million children. In the next clip, Rich recalls a memory from a coat distribution that has stayed with him and reminds him why the work Operation Warm does is so important.

Rich
It was the first coat distribution I went to. It was in a small little after-school program in the Rogers Parks neighborhood in Chicago. The Rotary club had gotten coats from Operation Warm and was providing coats to every child in this center. The Club does a lot of work with this center and they do a lot of literacy programs and help with some capital funding for the center. When they learned about Operation Warm they decided that every year they'd provide coats for the children as well. They had a little party with cupcakes and I still have this picture on my phone, of this little boy looking up at me, offering me a cupcake with his brand-new coat on and a big smile on his face. He wanted to give me something back so he offered me this cupcake he'd gotten and it's stuck with me. I always show that picture to people.

MarySue Hansell
Caroline Boudreaux, founded the non-profit, The Miracle Foundation after a life-changing trip to India. The Miracle Foundation is dedicated to empower orphans to reach their full potential. In 2015 alone, The Miracle Foundation fed, nurtured an educated almost 1,000 orphans, supported 16 orphanages in India and founded numerous college scholarships. In the following clip, Caroline describes the moment during her trip to India that changed her life forever.

Caroline
So, we arrive at a house and are greeted by 110 filthy, starving, empty-looking bald orphans. On Mother's Day. I mean, I was totally shocked. Nothing in my life had prepared me for what I was witnessing. We had dinner with them. They gave us chicken and they gave the kids rice with sugar in it, fermented rice. Then we had a beautiful prayer service with them and then we started playing with them and holding them. We would call them 'Velcro-babies' because they would just attach to you. Like, you'd have ten kids on your lap and you'd stand up and somehow you'd still have ten kids on your lap. This little baby girl, I think she must've been around eleven and a half, she came and put her head on my knee and you know, when you pick her up like I did, they just push themselves into you and take the affection they're so desperate for. I sang her the lullaby my mother used to sing to me and she fell asleep in my arms. When I went to put her in her bed, put her down, I walked into this room, this horrific smelling room. I noticed that there were these wooden beds, like, these picnic tables. And putting an orphan girl on a wooden bed on Mother's Day just stopped me dead in my tracks. I just thought, 'What am I doing? I'm partying around the world and they don't have a mother or father.' So really, it was that moment that I just thought, 'We can do better than this. This is just unacceptable. Let's fix this.'. So that what I've committed to do and that's what I've been doing for 16 years.

Gregory Hansell
Our next story comes from Dave Donaldson, the co-founder of Convoy of Hope. Convoy of Hope is a faith-based non-profit organization with a driving passion to feed the world through children's' feeding initiatives, community outreaches and disaster response. More than 79 million people have been served throughout the world by Convoy of Hope. In this next clip, Dave shared with us a story that has stuck with him over the years and that drives home why the work being done by Convoy of Hope is so important.

Dave
I was in Haiti. Prior to the earthquake we were already feeding about 10,00 kids a day. And as we were feeding the children I looked over and I saw this young boy peering through the fence so I went over and I asked him how long it had been since he had eaten anything and put up two days. So, there'd been two days since he'd eaten any food. So, I invited him in and as I invited him in to eat, I looked up at the fence and that was filled with, I would say well over a hundred kids peering through hoping to get in. So, that's the challenge and the joy, to make sure that no kid, no hungry kid is left outside the fence. Let's invite them in, we have a ton of resources so we have plenty. The amount of food that is wasted every day is equivalent to fill in the Rose Bowl, every day. There's plenty of food. And in this world, it's a matter of organization, connecting the resource to the need, making sure that people discover a heart of generosity.

MarySue Hansell
One Simple wish has helped so many children in need, that it was hard for founder Danielle Gletow, to pick just one favorite story. One Simple Wish is a non-profit organization dedicated to bring joy and opportunity to America's foster children and at-risk youth. At onesimplewish.org donors can browse through wishes submitted on behalf of these young people and select a specific one to grant, based on the amount and type of the wish, the gender and age of the recipient, their location and more. In the next clip, Danielle shares one of her favorite stories of a wish being granted for a foster kid in need.

Danielle
We had a wish come in from a young man two years ago. It came in from his a mentor-slash-caseworker who was involved in this young man's life for pretty much most of his adolescent years. He was diagnosed with ALS and he was only 19 or 20 years old at the time. Obviously, an ALS diagnosis is very traumatic. There is no cure and the disease tends to progress rather rapidly. At the time of this diagnosis, he had already lost a lot of function and a lot of mobility so when he made a wish for a Kindle Fire for this young man because he wanted to be able to take some online courses and read a lot of books. He had this sort of list that he wanted to accomplish before he passed away. It was one of those situations where you kind of stop and think,'Yeah, I have a kindle and I kind of take for granted what it allows me to do, because it was so easy to obtain.'. So that was a real wish and a real need and so the wish got granted that real quickly and then he got a note from his caregiver, I think it was about 6 months ago, that he passed away. He wrote us this note just to say, 'Thank you. I just want you to know how much that Kindle meant to him. There was a time in which he was losing all of his ability to communicate and he was able to communicate because he still had some finger mobility, using this tablet.' And just what a gift it was. He was able to get through all of the books on his list. He even was able to take a couple of courses online. And just what freedom it gave him, and satisfaction. He was getting to achieve some of his goals. It's stories like that--

MarySue Hansell
--That's really a great one--

Danielle
It's hard to imagine that how that had to even be a wish. That it wasn't just something that he got. I feel like most of our days are just heartbreaking and heart-warming at the same time. We were so moved and so happy that he was able to achieve that. It was also heartbreaking that this child, not only passed away at such a young age but then without somebody to care for somebody, a family. And he spent his life pretty much that way, not having the comfort of a home.

Gregory Hansell
Our final story comes from Dr. Benjamin LaBrot, the founder of Floating Doctors. Floating Doctors is a non-profit with a mission to reduce the present and future burden of disease in the developing world and to promote improvements in healthcare delivery worldwide. Doctors and healthcare professionals sail to remote, hard to reach places around the world to give medical care to those who need it most. In our final clip, Dr. Labrot shared the story f a little boy whose life was changed by his non-profit, Floating Doctors.

Benjamin
There was one kid, that we're actually treating right now. He's from a very, very remote mountain community. One of our medical students, about a year ago, was listening to his chest at check-in and heard a real loud rhythm. He looked at this kid, his heart's pounding through his chest, terribly pronounced. He had a terrible heart defect from pneumatic fever which is not found in the US because when people get streps here in the US they get antibiotics. In places where that doesn't happen, people can get heart valve damage from strep throat. So we got this kid down the mountain and he was in heart failure. We got him to a paediatric cardiologist, and it turned out he also had tuberculosis. So for six months, this kid, who was in very severe heart failure, was managed medically for his heart failure and treated for his tuberculosis. Once his tuberculosis was cured, we managed to get him to Panama City and got him plugged into the process by which he'd ultimately be able to receive a new heart valve. His surgery, finally, after a year of treating tuberculosis, managing his heart valve, his surgery was scheduled for August 18th. We had to line up seven people who were willing to donate blood at the right time so that there would be blood available for his surgery - BYOB, that sort of thing. He would certainly be dead by now if we had not encountered him and patients like that, the ones who, if we're not there and able to help, are definitely going to have died or have a very poor outcome. We've had patients with cleft lips or cleft palates that we've helped with repairing surgeries. Or patients with bad orthopaedic problems who are able to walk because their congenital hip disclosure has been repaired. Patients that were bleeding out after giving birth in a very remote setting, that we would emergency transport across many miles of water, keeping them supported and alive until we can get them to services. These are always the patients that, in the midst of the common things that we encounter, these are the things that make us so happy; to have them at the right place at the right time; to be the instrument by which somebody's life can be changed drastically.

Gregory Hansell
Thanks for tuning into this special episode of BetterWorldians Radio. We have a big announcement today. We have big news to share. BetterWorldians Foundations is now officially a 501C3 non-profit, whose mission it is to make the world a better place by encouraging the very best in everyone. Our philosophy is that it's better to plant flowers than to pull weeds. We focus on positive thinking, positive values and positive actions. In short, our vision is to bring out the BetterWorldian in everybody, so that we can all make it a better world. But we can't do it without your help. Donations support our BetterWorldians Radio podcasts as well as go towards developing new features like articles, videos, blogs and many more. So we need your help, the help of BetterWorldians, just like you to ensure our mission's success and future. Go to betterworldians.com and become a part of this important mission. And until next time, be a BetterWorldian.