A waitress gets a huge tip for a good reason. NFL star Jared Allen builds houses for veterans. And the Madness has begun, as Ga. State and UAB shock the world

Tennesseewaitress

And a Happy Friday to you all! I’ve two legitimate “good news” stories today and then a few hundred words about the first day of the NCAA Tournament, because let’s face it, I love that thing so much it’s impossible for me not to write about it.

First up, though, this story went viral this week and it’s in a familiar vein I’m sure you’ve heard of: Waitress gets obscenely large tip for a really sweet reason.

Not sure I’ve seen one like this before: A waitress in Tennessee named Claire Hudson working her shift at a local burger place when, after a couple left, she noticed she’d received a $36 tip on a $30 food order.

She didn’t have a chance to catch the couple and thank them, but they left a note that read:

“Today is my brother’s b-day,” it said, written behind the credit card receipt. “He would have been 36 today. Every year I go eat his favorite meal (hot dogs) and tip the waitress his age. Happy B-day Wes.”

“I was in tears when I read it,” Hudson said. “I had to go in the back of the restaurant and compose myself before I went out to my other tables.”

Very cool.

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**Next up, another tale of an NFL player doing tremendous work off the field. Jared Allen, a longtime defensive end for K.C., Minnesota and Chicago, has been helping wounded service men and women get home from overseas tours by finding corporate partners to build housing for injured soldiers.

The charity is called “Jared Allen’s Homes for Wounded Warriors,” and it’s a tremendously needed and heartfelt effort.

They’ve built seven homes so far, with the last one being opened about a week ago.

They just opened a home in Arizona for Army Ranger Cory Remsburg, who lost part of his skull in Afghanistan.

I loved this quote Allen gave to Sports Illustrated’s Peter King:

“Home should be the most secure spot in your life, where you can feel comfortable at your most vulnerable time. I come from a long line of people who served their country. My little brother does now. And I just got to thinking a few years ago, ‘Well, I’m not going to carry a gun in service to my country, but I’ve got to do something.’ I decided to try to help those who laid their lives on the line so people like you and me could live their lives in peace back home.”

Jared Allen, a real mensch.

**Finally today, well that didn’t take long, huh? The huge upsets started early at the NCAA Tournament, and in a not-unusual occurence, your humble blogger, who watches a ton of college basketball every year, lost one of his Final Four teams on the first day (Damn you, Iowa State, and your inability to win at a slow tempo.)

That was an INCREDIBLE day of hoops, one of the best ever. Five games (5!) decided by 1 point, with N.C. State’s the most improbable (B.J. Anya with a sky-hook?) but almost every game going down to the wire.

In the afternoon, within an hour of each other, University of Alabama-Birmingham turned back Iowa State, and then Georgia State pulled an even bigger shocker, beating Baylor.
It was the first time two No. 14 seeds had ever knocked off No. 3 seeds in the same Tournament, but the most awesome thing that happened Thursday was Georgia State coach Ron Hunter, falling off his stool in celebration when his son R.J. hit the game-winning shot.

I’ve watched that 30 times and it’s still fantastic; Coach Hunter was sitting on a stool because he tore his Achilles tendon celebrating the Panthers’ Tournament-clinching win in their conference tourney last week.

It’s such a great story; a coach, his star player son, and one shining moment they’ll have for the rest of their lives.

Sure, the upsets blew my bracket to smithereens, but who cares? Ron and R.J. Hunter are what the NCAA Tournament is all about.

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