Tag Archives: Kodi Lee

Best of Good News Friday, 2019: An NBA superstar retires, and he gets an awesome commercial sendoff. An “America’s Got Talent” contestant wows like no other. And the amazing Laila Anderson helps the Blues win a Cup.

Happy New Year! I’ve got 2020 vision this morning and I’m not even wearing my glasses (ba-da-bum. Sorry, yeah, I know that was bad.)

I hope you all had a safe and joyous New Year’s Eve; we took the kids to two middle of the day “balloon drop” New Year’s Eve parties for little ones so we were pretty wiped out by 7 p.m. Which means I didn’t even stay up for our annual NYE tradition of being grossed out when Jenny McCarthy sticks her tongue down boyfriend Donnie Wahlberg’s throat in Times Square just after midnight (Dick Clark, we miss you).

Anyway, let’s continue with the Best of Good News Friday, 2019, as we take a last look at some of the stories that made me happiest over the past year.

First up, NBA superstar and three-time world champion Dwyane Wade finished his illustrious career in June, and what a career it was. Besides Wade’s impact on the court, he was a true hero off the court, impacting millions of lives with good works large and small.

Budweiser did maybe the best tribute commercial I’ve ever seen in Wade’s honor, bringing Wade to an empty basketball court and surprising him with people whose lives he touched and changed.

It’s a truly beautiful ad, showing us what one athlete can do with the platform they’re given.

**Next up, I’m not a regular viewer of “America’s Got Talent” but when someone or something on the show goes so viral it’s impossible to ignore, I generally notice.

That happened this past May, when a blind, autistic young man named Kodi Lee came out for his first appearance before the judges and absolutely blew them away.

Walking onstage with his Mom, Kodi calmly sat down and changed his life, wowing judges like Julianne Hough and Gabrielle Union, and even the previously cold-hearted Simon Cowell.

This is an absolutely beautiful moment, that ended up being the catapult to Lee winning the entire “AGT” championship a few months later.

Just sensational. My favorite part of this video is his Mom, Tina, watching with pride from the side of the stage. NO one knows just what she’s gone through raising Kodi, and just seeing her beam at watching this moment, it’s just the best.

**And finally today, maybe my favorite story of the year, from the world of hockey. This, from June, about an 11-year-old sick girl named Laila Anderson…

The St. Louis Blues, the worst team in the NHL in early January, won the first Stanley Cup in franchise history in June, beating the Boston Bruins in Game 7, 4-1.

But that’s not the part of the story I want to feature in Good News Friday. No, I want to talk about an 11-year-old girl, who’s been “adopted” by the team in an absolutely beautiful way.

From a St. Louis Post Dispatch story on Laila: “Laila is a Missouri kid who suffers from a rare disease called HLH, a systemic inflammatory syndrome that can be fatal. Last Halloween, Laila attended a trick-or-treat event with the Blues and Children’s Hospital. She met Colton Parayko, one of her favorite players on her favorite team.

“He was 100-percent committed to her, took her around trick-or-treating,” Heather Anderson, Laila’s Mom, said. “I said, ‘It’s OK,’ and he said, ‘I’ve got her – I’m going to hold her bag, I’m going to hold her drink, I’m going to do everything.’ He’s all in with her – they just have this bond. Ever since then, he’s come to visit her in the hospital. Stayed a ridiculously long time. They actually communicate once or twice a week. He just checks on her. It’s a genuine friendship.”

Through the organization Be The Match, a donor was found — Laila had a bone marrow transplant in January. She’s battled through ensuing chemotherapy. She’s fought and fought … and then had more fights to fight.”

Laila has been an inspiration to the team and its fans the last few months, and in Boston for Game 7 of the Finals, she saw her team win the championship, then get to go on the ice and touch the Cup.

An unbelievable moment for an incredible kid. And oh yeah, the Blues gave her her own Stanley Cup ring, too.

So much good in the world. So much more good than bad.

Maybe too good to be true, but it looks like Bibi may be done in Israel. Kodi Lee wows “America’s Got Talent” finals. And a woman in England marries a tree (seriously)

It’s not even Rosh Hashanah, and the New York Jets are down to their third-string quarterback this season, and are a 22-point underdog to the Patriots this weekend.
Just wanted to share my misery with you all. Now on with the show…

I don’t want to celebrate prematurely, since so many of us are frightened of doing that after past election shockers (see, Clinton, Hillary, 2016), but I was feeling very upbeat Tuesday night upon reading headlines declaring that finally, ding dong, the witch of Israel might be (politically) dead.

After 13 years over two decades in power, Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu maybe, possibly, likely, finally lost an election as Prime Minister.

And speaking as a Jew, as an American, and a citizen of the world, this is freaking fantastic news.

As the election results trickled in Tuesday night, all the exit poll data showed that Bibi and his far-right, ultra-orthodox ruling party had failed to secure a majority of votes, and that Benny Gantz, a moderate who opposed Netanyahu in the election, would emerge slightly ahead and get the first chance to form a coalition government.

If this is true… it’s wonderful. For so long, Netanyahu has bullied, lied and bribed his way to power and then to keep it, and his unbelievable arrogance and refusal to even consider the rights of Palestinians in a peace process he never had any interest in joining, has been disgraceful.

His coming to Congress at the behest of Republican leader John Boehner in 2015, to then browbeat America and President Obama was particularly odious, and his constant, consistent lies and half-truths about Palestinians, his disgusting behavior toward America, and most recently, his slavish devotion and love of Donald Trump has been a stain on the world.

Oh yeah, he’s also under indictment for bribery and corruption.

Bibi has been close to political death before, and has always escaped. So like I said, I’m not celebrating yet. But as an American Jew who simply cannot support the far-right, constant war-mongering man who leads the homeland of my people, this could be a wonderful, wonderful change in leadership.

My fingers will be crossed.

**Next up today, I blogged a while back about the incredible singer Kodi Lee on “America’s Got Talent,” a blind man who has tremendous vocal range and an inspiring backstory.

Well, Tuesday night was the “AGT” finals and Lee once again put on one hell of a show. Check out his performance. What a talented young man.

**And finally today, this story kind of made me wonder exactly what makes some people tick. Because I have no Earthly idea.

So there’s this 34-year-old woman in England named Kate Cunningham, and about 10 days ago she legally married a tree.

That’s right, a tree. The ceremony took place in Rimrose Valley Park, and Cunningham invited her family and friends to come see the ceremony, after which Cunningham said she was legally changing her last name to “Elder,” after the species of tree she married (well, sure.)

Cunningham’s goal with this “marriage” was to draw attention to the destruction of green spaces in her local park, see. So she figured by getting hitched to an inanimate object, she’d get lots and lots of attention.

From this story in the Daily Mail: Miss Cunningham said that she was inspired by female activists from Mexico who held similar ceremonies to bring attention to illegal logging and land clearing, and that she hoped to draw attention to the campaign to save Rimrose Valley Park.

The former primary school behaviour support assistant said her family and boyfriend were supportive of her decision.

She said: ‘My boyfriend is very supportive of my decision. He’s even helped make props for the ceremony.

‘My oldest son was initially embarrassed when I told him I was going to do it, but he decided to come to the ceremony. It means a lot to him to be there.”

Sigh. You just KNOW her son is going to be talking about this in therapy some day.

Good News Friday: As the NBA Finals tip off, a beautiful story of a huge Raptors fan, and a city that embraced a foreigner. An amazing “America’s Got Talent” debut from a blind singer. And the National Spelling Bee brings me joy, again

Happy Friday, and happy June to all of you fine folks out there. Thursday night was an epic night in the National Spelling Bee (lots more on that below) but I want to start Good News Friday with an equally stunning story developing in the NBA right now.

But instead of talking about the Raptors’ surprising Game 1 win over the dynasty that is the Golden State Warriors, I want to pass on an off-the-court story I read this week, about an enormous Raptors fan named Nav Bhatia. He’s Indian, he’s been at every home game since 1995, and he owns car dealerships in town.

What’s remarkable about his story is just how welcomed he has been in this multicultural mecca of Toronto, and how he’s given back to his community.

“Other counties might be richer, but they’re not richer in mannerisms, politeness, or looking after each other…” Bhatia said. “And the country south of us has a lot to learn.”

This is really a wonderfully told story by Canadian journalist Muhammad Lila. A warm, welcoming city and a man who just wanted to help others.

Go Raptors.

**Next up today, as millions of people know, “America’s Got Talent” kicked off its new season this week, and while I’m not a regular watcher (though I did get sucked in by the Angelica-Darci battle a few years ago), I have a feeling I’m going to be watching one performer this year very closely.

Watch this amazing debut performance by 22-year-old ???, a blind, autistic singer/piano player who came on stage and blew the doors off the place.

The faces of the audience and judges Simon Cowell, Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough are great, but what gives me all the feels here is the shot of Kodi’s mom, Tina Lee, at 3:35, as she positively beams, watching her son.

Life can not have been easy for Tina, raising a son with such challenges, but seeing him succeed on such an enormous stage, and her pride at watching it, knowing what it took to get him there? Just so incredible.


**Finally today, Thursday night was one of my favorite annual events that I never miss, the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Televised on ESPN every year and a program guaranteed to create drama and awesomeness, the Bee once again delivered. This was maybe the hardest Bee I’ve ever seen to win, as after 2.5 hours there were STILL eight amazing spellers left. It was an unprecedented result, which I’ll get to in a sec.

So many things I love about the Bee, as I’ve written about before here in this space: How it rewards smart kids, giving them a huge stage; how it shows how poised, smart and prepared they are, and how it spotlights just how freaking difficult spelling is.

This year’s Bee did not disappoint, and it brought me great joy as always. The sentences Dr. Bailly (the rock star pronouncer of the Bee) read seemed nerdier than ever, and the kids actually had a lot of personality this year (Simone Kaplan, my fave because of her spunk and her “Bee” shoes, sadly did not win.)

The Bee went way longer than normal, as the final eight spellers simply refused to miss. Dr. Bailly, after nearly three hours of competition and 18 rounds, finally said there would only be three more rounds, and whoever was left after 20 rounds would be a co-champion. Never in the history of the Bee have more than three spellers been co-champs.

And so in the final three rounds, all eight amazing spellers got their words right, so after 3.5 hours on national TV, the winners were finally crowned: All EIGHT of them! They will forever be known as the Elite 8.

It was so cool seeing them all hold the big trophy, and being so happy for each other.

So great to see smarts, and poise, and intelligence, rewarded on national television. It’s a damn rare thing these days. And it is very, very good news.