What does triumph feel like? If we really, really want something, we often spend a lot of time — days, years — fantasizing about how we’ll react when we finally reach that mountaintop. Will we cheer? Laugh? Raise our hands up high? I had one of those moments this week, and you know what happened? I burst into tears. Sobbing, ugly, happy, triumphant tears. Not exactly the reaction I pictured! But hey, pure joy doesn’t have to be distinguished. When you reach your mountaintop, I hope you hoot, holler or softly weep in whatever way you please. It’s your moment to savor.
Our favorites this week
Get going with some of our most popular good news stories of the week
Help in hellfire
No one can stop a wildfire alone, and when the blazes come as often and as rapidly as they are in California right now, it’s easy to feel helpless. However, some A-list celebrities are proving that help comes in all forms, whether it involves your talent, your time, or just some tacos. NBA star LeBron James, who was forced to evacuate Los Angeles with his family, sent a taco truck to feed firefighters battling the area’s Getty Fire earlier this week. Wrestling star and actor John Cena announced plans to donate $500,000 to first responders across the state. (Coincidentally, Cena is playing a firefighter in an upcoming film.) Meanwhile, a bevy of star chefs, including Jose Andres and Guy Fieri, teamed up to feed evacuees and first responders affected by the Kincade Fire. See? When it comes to pitching in during a disaster, no one can do everything. But everyone can do something.
The brightest smile
Look at that face! When 14-week-old baby Michael began to wake up from a coma, he recognized his dad and smiled in the precious way only babies can. Five days earlier, the little boy had suffered a cardiac arrest at home, and doctors put him in an induced coma to protect his brain from further damage. It’s not hard to imagine his bright smile was the best thing his worried parents had ever seen. “To be really honest, it’s got to be the happiest moment of my life,” Emma Labuschagne, Michael’s mother, told CNN. “He is a living miracle, and we have never felt prouder of him.” Michael’s fight isn’t over — doctors diagnosed him with a cardiac fibroma, a rare tumor that can block blood to a child’s heart. The family is from the UK, and they are hoping to travel to a specialist in the US so Michael can get surgery.
More cat to love
Here, we found another extremely fat cat for you to adore. This is Cinderblock (a feat of nominative determinism), and she’s really trying, you guys. Cinderblock came to the Northshore Veterinary Hospital in Washington state weighing a hefty 25 pounds. Her previous owner was struggling with health issues and surrended Cinderblock knowing she needed better care. Unfortunately, “better care” means “diet and exercise,” much to Cinderblock’s dismay. The beefy baby became an instant star after the hospital shared a deeply relatable video of Cinderblock meowing sadly while pawing — but not actually walking on — an underwater treadmill. The display of sheer obstinance has even inspired works of fan art. Cinderblock’s friends at the vet say they’re glad she’s getting some attention, because it raises awareness of feline obesity, which affects up to 60% of pet cats.
Raise a glass to…
Washington Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle. As if winning the World Series wasn’t enough, Doolittle has also been on a months-long mission to highlight independent bookstores across the country. During the baseball season, the closer regularly posted on Twitter about different bookstores he explored during each major league stop. There’s a few reasons why this is awesome: For one, the small businesses enjoy a bump from the publicity. Also, Doolittle is hoping his travelogue helps raise awareness of literacy issues and the importance of local literary haunts. “Indie bookstores create local jobs, support authors’ careers, partner with other community groups, and provide safe & inclusive spaces to read & work,” he explained in July. Go Nats!
A bright idea
A dog’s nose can find almost anything. Some conservationists are putting that superpower to good use by using dogs to track and monitor endangered species. How do they do it? Poop! Organizations like Working Dogs for Conservation train dogs to identify the scents of endangered animals and their droppings, which helps scientists track species that may be declining. Tracking animal scat, or fecal matter, can reveal where endangered species live, how many of them are living in an area and what might be threatening them. And it’s a less stressful way of monitoring species than trapping and releasing them.
Heroes among us
Voting is underway for CNN’s Hero of the Year! Get to know the Top 10 heroes and cast your votes by December 3. (Bonus: You get 10 votes per day!)
This week, we’re celebrating Roger Montoya and Richard Miles
Montoya runs an arts center for kids in an area of New Mexico reeling from the opioid crisis. A former professional dancer, Montoya’s diagnosis of HIV led him to rediscover the immersive, healing energy of art. Since 2008, Moving Arts Española has provided arts classes, free meals, tutoring and support to more than 5,000 children and youth.
Miles was wrongfully convicted of murder as a young man and spent 15 years behind bars before being released. His struggles to find a new normal after prison led him to create Miles of Freedom. The nonprofit helps formerly incarcerated people restart their lives by helping them obtain identification, enroll in college, secure housing, and gain professional and financial knowledge.
Wanna get away?
High above the clouds in China’s Wuling Mountains, the Red Clouds Golden Summit looks like something straight from a fairytale. This natural wonder is home to two temples, and Buddhists come here to worship and take in the beauty of China’s most biodiverse mountain reserve. Great Big Story takes you up, up and away to this mystical, meaningful retreat.
Bats, as a whole, are really cute. Even snub-nosed, blood-sucky vampire bats have some endearing traits. For instance, a new study reveals vampire bats help each other out in times of need and form strong friendships that even last when, say, a bat moves from captivity back into the wild. So next time a friend steps up for you in a tight spot, explain to them what a special vampire bat they are. It will be a sweet and very normal compliment.
Impact your World
Did you know that US cities lose about 36 million trees a year? Trees are huge environmental helpers: They reduce heat, improve air and water quality, and provide habitats for countless animals. Losing them at this rate is a huge problem. However, you can be a tree hero by implementing a few tree-friendly tactics: Keep your property’s trees healthy by pruning dead branches and keeping an eye out for rot and signs of disease. Think twice about getting rid of trees that aren’t dead or posing a fall threat. For all you lawn lovers, consider planting a few and embracing that tree life. It’s basically free air conditioning, and you’ll have way less grass to mow. Get more tree tips here.
Shameless animal video
There’s always time for cute animal videos. That time is now.
What did we do right to deserve this pure and gentle encounter between a baby deer and a baby bear? The deer is so patient! The bear is so unsure! Full marks all around. (Click here to view)