Tag Archives: Catherine Pearlman

Good News Friday: A Pittsburgh man does nothing but good deeds. A teacher makes her student’s day with an awesome gesture. And a college football fan’s goofy sign for TV leads to thousands for a great cause

Happy Friday, my fellow Earthlings. As we anxiously await just what fresh hell our current President will get us into today (war with Iran? Making secret deals over the phone with foreign leaders? Everything’s on the table this season on “America: Who the hell knows?”), I want to as always focus on the positives in life on this day.

So much good stuff this week that I’m cramming a fourth item kinda into another item I’m writing about.

So you may remember a few months back I wrote about my smart, amazing, and oh so kind friend Catherine Pearlman, who donated a kidney to a complete stranger she learned about from a flyer at a Los Angeles-area Starbucks.

Well, Catherine’s story, and that of the recipient of her incredible kindness, Eli Valdez, were recently profiled on the “Today” show, and I urge you to watch this short story about them here. So, so proud.

But that’s not the main kidney-related story I’m leading with today, no sir or ma’am! Check out this wonderful piece from the always-uplifting Steve Hartman of CBS News, about a Pittsburgh man named Jon Potter, who is “addicted” to doing nice things for people.

His latest gesture? It involved a kidney that he no longer has. He gave it to another person. Jon Potter, you are my new hero.

**Next up today, I love this story, sent to me by my friend Rhonda, who spotted it. So a football fan in Iowa was trying to get on camera at ESPN’s wildly popular college football pregame show last week when the TV crew was in Ames, Iowa.

A 24-year-old kid named Carter King thought it’d be funny to hold up a sign asking for “Busch Light Supply Needs Replenished,” and listing his Venmo address for donations.

Well, the joke was on King once money started pouring in, and once he’d raised a few hundred bucks, he decided to actually do something much more worthy with the money (and really dude, Busch Light? that’s an awful beer).

King decided to donate any and all funds given to him to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital, a place he’d raised some money for before.

As word spread, the money really started pouring in, and both Venmo and Busch Light’s corporate headquarters vowed to match the donations from the public.

As of this writing, Carson says that he’s raised more than $67,000 for the hospital, bringing the matching total to more than $200,000.

Fantastic, fantastic job. Who knew that a plea for some cheap beer could result in something so valuable?

**Finally today, another terrific story of an educator going above and beyond for their students (hat tip to my sister Deb for this story).

Willonda Caffie is a third-grade teacher in Alabama, and a few weeks ago she did something kinda fantastic. Her student Christopher McCarley earned a grade of 100 on his first reading test of the year, and to show how proud she was, Caffie stopped by the McCarley house and planted a yard sign.

It read “Mrs. Caffie is so proud of me!”

Ashly McCarley, Christopher’s mom, took to social media on August 18 after receiving a surprise visit from her son Christopher’s teacher. The post has since gone viral with over 19,000 likes and nearly 10,000 shares.

According to this story, when the little scholar saw his teacher with the sign, his mother says he ran out of the house and jumped into her arms.

“I feel like Mrs. Caffie gives my son a fire to want to do his very best,” she said.

“Other students have also gotten signs for their accomplishments also! I am not really sure what made his teacher decide to give signs other than trying to reward them in a special way that would also motivate them and others to do their very best,” McCarley told FOX 26.

McCarley says she had many emotions when Mrs. Caffie showed up to her doorstep.

“I was so proud, and I was also overflowing with joy to see how happy my son was, because his teacher made a special trip to our home on a Sunday,” McCarley said.

What a wonderful gesture by an educator who is surely paid far too little, but whose impact is so, so great.

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Good News Friday: My friend Catherine donates a kidney to a total stranger, in an amazingly selfless gesture. The best home run rob of a T-ball smash you’ll see. And a wonderful charity fulfills wishes of homeless kids

Longtime readers of this space, and my close friends and family, know an unusual fact about me: I was born with only one kidney.

Most people get a set, like when buying mittens or socks. For rare special folks like me, only one kidney is available at birth.

I didn’t discover this fact about myself until 2010, which I wrote about in this blog post, when a simple stomach scan revealed that my right kidney was missing it’s normal buddy, lefty.

All of this is to say, since I learned this about myself nine years ago, I’m pretty attuned to kidney news. I am always asking about my kidney at doctor appointments, I encourage people to sign up to be organ donors, and I worry that with only one good one, I might one day need a transplant.

If that day ever comes, I can only hope and pray that there’s someone out there as selfless, warm, and giving as Dr. Catherine Pearlman, who I am so damn lucky to call a friend.

This week, in the best lede to a Good News Friday I can remember, my friend walked into UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles and donated one of her kidneys. To a total stranger she’d never met.

Months ago, Catherine was in a California Starbucks when she saw a flyer with a photo of a man she’d never seen before, and the flyer said he was in need of a kidney donation. His blood type was O+, just like hers.

Ninety-nine percent of people in the world would’ve thought “Hmmm. Poor guy. I hope he gets a kidney,” and moved on with their life.

But she’s in the one percent in the best way possible: She’s empathetic, warm, and so, so selfless (she’s married to Jeff Pearlman, so God knows she’s filled with patience, too 🙂

After getting tested and cleared, this week she went into surgery, and her perfectly healthy kidney was transplanted into Eli Valdez, who she’s never met.

Jeff wrote a heartwarming blog post about the whole saga, and his emotional meeting with Eli’s family. I don’t want to spoil it, because it’s such a good read; please read it here. (Both Catherine and Eli are doing well since the Wednesday surgery).

When I found out Catherine was doing this, I was… in awe. And filled with joy. That there are still so many good people out there, willing to do something so selfless.

I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder of a friend of mine. Since I first met her 20 years ago, when Jeff invited me to dinner to meet his new girlfriend, she has been a wonderful source of goodness and light.

So many good people in this world. Some of them may even give you a kidney one day.

“We can’t all be heroes,” the great Will Rogers once said. “Because somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.”

I’m on the curb clapping very loudly today, Catherine. You’re a true hero.

**Whew, that was heavy. OK, time for something fun. How about this completely random video of a T-ball game, and a great hit from a batter, only to see an even-greater home run robbing catch by a left fielder?

I have no idea where this is from, but it appears to be Japan, and the fact that there are announcers at a T-ball game is kind of weird, but forget all that; How awesome is this catch???

Future Ichiro, that kid in left field.

**And finally today, a wonderful story I heard about through the Only Good News Network, a great follow on Twitter.

A charity called Alice’s Kids buys small, necessary items for homeless kids whose parents simply are unable to afford them.  Things like noise-cancelling headphones for a girl with sensory disorders, or a trumpet for a talented music student who really needed it.

Alice’s Kids was founded in 2011, and gets these requests from teachers, social workers, and others who work with children less fortunate.

The nonprofit then grants the wish by sending gift cards to the parents so they can purchase the gift themselves.

“We’re not going to solve all the pains of all the children,” Ron Fitzimmons, the co-founder of Alice’s Kids, told The Washington Post. “But we just want to be part of the answer at least.”

What a wonderful idea. Here’s a great Washington Post story about Alice’s Kids, which brought them a huge amount of publicity. And find out more about Alice’s Kids on their website here.

Good News Friday: My first-ever hosting of Thanksgiving was a success! The best hockey player in the world does something awesome for charity. And a Vietnamese chef in California’s heartwarming story of parental devotion

And a Happy Friday to you out there, sleeping off the L-tryptophan and wondering why you had that third piece of pecan pie (it was worth it). Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving, didn’t argue politics at the table, and left the night happy and healthy. (That photo above is a giant balloon of Chase from “Paw Patrol” on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade broadcast, and if you don’t think that was BY FAR the favorite thing my 4-year-old saw Thursday, you don’t have a toddler. Man was he excited!)

Every Thanksgiving is special to me, because it’s my favorite holiday of the year. But this year was a little extra-special, because as I mentioned the other day, it was the first-time in my four-decades plus of life that I hosted a Thanksgiving dinner.

My amazing wife and I had 15 relatives over on Thursday, everybody made a dish, we got the turkey from Whole Foods (look, we could’ve tried to make the bird ourselves but for our first-ever hosting gig, we didn’t want to screw it up and send our loved ones home sick), and it was fabulous.

It has always seemed like such a grown-up thing to do, hosting Thanksgiving, and something I’ve always, always wanted to do. But growing up we always went to my aunt’s house, and over the years as an adult I’ve always found myself there, or at another relative, or at my mom and stepdad’s.

But this year, after we bought a house, I was determined to host. There’s something so warm about having people come to where you live and enjoy the holiday (plus for the first time I didn’t have to drive anywhere, which in NYC on Thanksgiving is a nightmare).

It was really a fabulous day, and for me, a dream realized.

**Next up, Connor McDavid is the greatest hockey player in the world, and more people would know who he is if he didn’t play all the way up in Edmonton, if his team was any good, and if hockey wasn’t the niche sport it is here in America.

But McDavid is a really amazing talent, and a great guy as well. Check out this story about him from a recent Edmonton Oilers’ charity night event, as recounted by ex-NHL’er and broadcaster Cam Connor.

At the Edmonton Oilers Gala last week, there was a fishing trip up for auction (in support of the Down Syndrome Society). Connor McDavid immediately bid $50,000 for the trip.

Connor’s bid obviously was the highest. He paid the $50,000 for the bid and promptly gave the trip back to the charity so someone else could bid and enjoy the trip, and the charity could make even more money.”

Very, very cool gesture. And as Cam concluded, “Hockey’s future is in great hands with stars like this.”

**Finally today, my friend Catherine Pearlman has written a tremendously beautiful story for the Today show website on a man she’s gotten to know named Dee Nguyen, a Vietnamese-American chef in California who had his life turned upside down when his son, Berlin, suffered a devastating accident during a surgery when he was only a year old. Berlin suffered a severe brain injury that rendered him quadriplegic with significant cognitive impairment.

Since then, Dee and his wife, Linh have had their whole lives turned upside down caring for Berlin, and this beautifully-told story shows just how far they’ve gone, and how much they have to do, to keep their son alive and healthy.

Catherine clearly spent hours with the family and adores them as much as you will after reading this story. Really inspirational stuff.