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#pounditSaturday, January 22, 2022

Articles tagged: heartwarming stories

This story about how Yu Darvish treated a young fan is going viral

Yu Darvish fan

A story about how Yu Darvish treated a young fan went viral online Wednesday, and it’s for a great reason.

The San Diego Union-Tribune’s Annie Heilbrunn posted a thread on Twitter sharing the story. According to the story, a young Padres fan living in Tennessee named Landon was gifted a trip to Truist Park in Atlanta to watch the Padres for his 10th birthday.

Landon and his father drove 3.5 hours from Tennessee to Atlanta for the game, but it was rained out. The rain didn’t stop Darvish from signing some autographs for fans, including Landon.

Even though he didn’t get to see the Padres play, getting a signed ball by Darvish was a nice makeup for Landon. But the story doesn’t end there.

Landon’s mother messaged Darvish over Instagram to thank him and share how much the pitcher made her son’s day. To her surprise, Darvish actually wrote back, explaining why he wanted to stay and sign autographs.

But that’s not all. Darvish then reached back out via Instagram and invited Landon to visit Petco Park in San Diego for a game. Darvish offered to pay for the flights, tickets and hotel. Landon and his father took Darvish up on the offer and attended a game earlier this week. According to Heilbrunn, Darvish gave Landon the VIP treatment before the game.

That is just tremendous.

This captures exactly why fan interactions are so important, why sports are so important, and why players considering the fans is so important. Darvish gave that fan a wonderful lifetime memory.

Polish Olympian sells her silver medal to raise funds for baby’s heart surgery

Maria Andrejczyk

Polish Olympian Maria Andrejczyk received attention this week for her wonderful gesture.

Andrejczyk won the silver medal at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo in the javelin throw. The 25-year-old then heard about a sick 8-month-old baby, Miloszek Malysa, who needs heart surgery. She decided to auction off her silver medal as a fundraiser to help pay for the boy to undergo surgery at the Stanford University Medical Center.

This was her announcement last week regarding her intent to sell the medal:

Five days later, Andrejczyk announced on Monday that the winner of the auction was Żabka, a Polish supermarket chain. Zabka paid $125,000 for the medal, which they are returning to Andrejczyk. The money will fund the boy’s surgery.

That was a very cool use of the medal by Andrejczyk, and a nice gesture by Zabka as well.

Here’s how much Bills Mafia has raised for Lamar Jackson’s favorite charity

Lamar Jackson

Buffalo Bills fans decided to start donating to Lamar Jackson’s favorite charity after the Baltimore Ravens star left last week’s playoff game with an injury, and they have not stopped.

Following their team’s 17-3 win over the Ravens, Bills fans — better known as Bills Mafia — launched a campaign on social media to flood Jackson’s favorite charity with donations. The charity, Blessings in a Backpack, provides free food for children to eat on the weekends. As of Wednesday, nearly $450,000 had been donated on Jackson’s behalf.

Jackson issued a statement through Blessings in a Backpack thanking Bills Mafia.

Bills fans may be best known for their wild tailgate antics, but this is not the first time they have turned their unrivaled passion into a fundraising effort. They did the same earlier this year to honor Josh Allen’s late grandmother, and the quarterback was at a loss for words. They also donated to Andy Dalton’s charity after Dalton helped Buffalo get into the postseason a few years ago.

Bills Mafia is clearly about more than just jumping through flaming tables, and Jackson is grateful for that.

Video: Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks make teenage fan Selena Urban’s dream come true

Selena Urban Sharks

These videos are the absolute best.

On Friday, the San Jose Sharks held their team photo day and used it as an opportunity to help make a young fan’s dream come true.

The team’s “Sharks Care” charity worked with Bay Area Make-A-Wish to have 16-year-old kidney transplant patient Selena Urban spend part of the day with the team. This video shows Sharks veteran Joe Thornton inviting the emotional Urban to come be a part of the team photo. Her reaction was wonderful.

Urban and her parents got to watch the team practice and she even spent time chatting with some of the players. She capped off the day with a ride on the Zamboni, and a shopping spree in the team store, according to the Mercury News.

Thorton is also picking up Urban before the Sharks’ game on Saturday, at which she will be dropping the ceremonial puck. What a weekend for Urban to remember!

Video: Jackson State manager Thomas ‘Snacks’ Lee steals show in final home game

The NCAA Tournament is still two weeks from tipping off, but the best moment from March Madness may already be in the books.

Jackson State held its final home game of the season on Monday night, and the Tigers sent their seniors off with a 76-56 victory over UAPB. One of those seniors was student manager Thomas “Snacks” Lee, who had never appeared in a game during his college career prior to Monday. Jackson State head coach Wayne Brent gave Lee a jersey for his final home game, and Tigers fans began chanting “We want Snacks!” late in the game. With two minutes remaining and Jackson State up big, Brent called Lee’s number.

Lee missed his first three shots from three-point range, but he finally buried one from way beyond the arc with 35 seconds on the clock. The crowd went nuts.

Can it get any better than a student manager called “Snacks” drilling a three-pointer in the first and only game of his college career? That’s right up there with some of our best feel-good stories from throughout the years.

Touching video: Carey Price meets fan whose mother died of cancer

Carey Price

A touching video of Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price meeting with a fan is going viral, and once you see it, you’ll understand why.

A woman named Tammy Whitehead shared video on her Facebook page over the weekend that shows her nephew meeting Price, whom she describes as the youngster’s “idol.” Not only did Price give 11-year-old Anderson Whitehead some cool memorabilia, but he insisted on giving the young boy a hug. Take a look.

Here’s what Tammy wrote in the caption:

“I wanted to share this video of my nephew Anderson, meeting his idol, Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens. Last year as Anderson’s mom was dying of cancer she promised she would do everything she could to make his dream come true. Unfortunately, she passed away before that could happen but through some very kind and generous friends we were able to arrange a visit to the morning skate. As you can see in the video, Carey Price was a class act not only giving Anderson two signed sticks, a signed puck, signing his jersey and mini stick but he also gave him the biggest hug. Words cannot describe how much this meant to Anderson and we are forever grateful to this wonderful man.”

According to CTV, the encounter took place on Saturday at a morning skate before the Canadiens took on the Maple Leafs later that day.

Price may be known for being a Vezina and Hart Trophy winner, but this video shows he is much more than just that.

One-armed baseball catcher Luke Terry will blow your mind

If you watched Luke Terry playing baseball from a distance, you may not even notice that there is something a bit special about the way he swings a bat or throws the ball back to the pitcher while he’s behind the plate. Somehow, Terry finds a way to keep up with his peers despite only having one arm.

Over the weekend, a video of Terry catching for his high school team in Tennessee went viral. When you see the incredible way he gets the ball back to the mound and around the diamond, you’ll understand why.

As Tony Kreager of The Tennesseean noted in a feature last year, Terry had his right arm amputated after he contracted E. coli when he was 19 months old. His mother, Dana Terry, says Luke flatlined on the operating table three times.

“I don’t even think about it,” Luke Terry said of only having one arm. “Fans tell me, ‘You’re an inspiration.’ They want me to go a long ways.”

Luke’s coaches and teammates say he is one of the best and most competitive players they have been around. It’s clear his place on the team has nothing to do with the fact that he is missing his right arm. Considering what one of the top prospects in the NFL Draft has accomplished despite having a similar condition, the future for Terry looks plenty bright.

Mexican skier German Madrazo overwhelmed with joy after last-place finish

German Madrazo finished dead last in the men’s 15km free cross-country skiing event on Thursday, and coming in 115th place was everything the 43-year-old Mexican could have asked for and more.

After all, it was only a year ago that Madrazo learned how to ski. As Casey Gutting of Yahoo Sports highlighted, Madrazo is an Ironman triathlete from Texas who co-founded the Valley Running Company Club training facility. He became interested in cross-country skiing after reading a magazine article about Peruvian cross-country skier Roberto Carcelan. That inspired Madrazo to start an independent training group along with Chilean skier Yonathan Fernandez and Tongan skier Pita Taufatofua with a goal of qualifying for the 2018 Winter Olympics, and he accomplished that goal.

On Thursday, Madrazo finished 115th out of 115 cross-country skiers. He was all smiles as he crossed the finish line — more than 25 minutes after the gold medalist — waving the Mexican flag.

For many athletes, anything less than an Olympic medal is a crushing disappointment. But for every fierce competitor who wants to be the best, there are people like Madrazo who just want to cross the finish line. That’s what the Olympics are all about.

Rod Carew got heart transplant from former NFL TE Konrad Reuland

Rod Carew

Baseball Hall of Famer Rod Carew is fortunate to be alive after facing a number of health challenges over the past year-plus, but he is doing well because of a heart transplant he received back in December. Believe it or not, the heart that is currently keeping Carew alive once belonged to a fellow former professional athlete.

Konrad Reuland, an ex-NFL tight end who was just 29 when he died of a brain aneurysm on Dec. 12, had previously made the decision to be an organ donor. As it turned out, Carew was at the top of the donor list after he suffered a massive heart attack in 2015.

In a heartwarming feature that was published on the Baltimore Ravens’ website, Carew spoke about getting the opportunity to meet Reuland’s mother.

Mary and Ralf had no idea how they would react to the emotions of the meeting. They were less than three months removed from losing their oldest child, and they knew the encounter would be raw. But when Mary first saw Rod outside her home, she greeted him warmly with a big hug and said, “You’re part of our family now.”

“Forever,” Rod replied. “I will take care of this one because I’ve been given a second chance, and God knows how I feel and what I’m going to do for him.”

As the families shared hugs and tears, Mary was reminded of what she told the doctors before leaving Konrad’s hospital room for the last time: Whoever gets his heart better deserve it.

“We lost a wonderful man, so it had to go into a wonderful person,” Mary told Rod. “I couldn’t be happier that it went to such a wonderful man.”

Carew’s heart attack was described as a “widow maker,” and doctors say he basically cheated death. The 1977 A.L. MVP being in position to receive a new heart after a tragic death is the circle of life at its best.

High school runner disqualified for helping sick opponent cross finish line


A high school runner was disqualified from her final cross country race as a senior this week for breaking the rules, and that is something she should take great pride in.

Gracie Bucher, an 8th grader from Windom, Minn., was near the finish line at a section cross country race recently when she basically lost control of her body. As Bucher’s legs felt heavy and she struggled to breathe, those watching the race continuously warned other runners that they “can’t touch her” while Gracie fell to the ground numerous times. Under the rules of the Minnesota State High School League, any runner physically assisting another runner results in a disqualification for both.

Liana Blomgren, a 12th grader from Mountain Lake High School, was very familiar with the rules. She didn’t care about the consequences.

“I knew she wasn’t going to get to the finish line by herself and I knew that she needed somebody and nobody else was there for her,” Blomgren told Boyd Huppert of KARE.

Blomgren helped Bucher off the ground and supported her as they both crossed the finish line. Rules, as they say, are rules, and both runners were disqualified. But the gesture could not have been more admirable.

“She was definitely a miracle for me,” Bucher said. “There’s nothing better than that. She was like my angel that day. Knowing that she would do that, especially her senior year in her last race, it just means everything.”

Bucher was later taken to the emergency room and diagnosed with mononucleosis, which explains why she essentially had no energy. She brought Blomgren flowers and a Dairy Queen gift card at Liana’s school the following day.

“I DQ’d her,” Bucher joked. “I figure I better do it again.”

Because of incidents like the one between Bucher and Blomgren, the Minnesota State High School League is among several high school athletic organizations to adopt a new rule starting in 2017 that will allow runners to assist other competitors without penalty as long as a medical care provider is not present.

“I don’t remember what place I was in the section meet last year. I don’t remember what place I was in the section meet the year before that,” Blomgren said. “But I know I’m going to remember this.”

We have seen similar acts of kindness in the past (here’s another great example), and they never get old. Well done, Liana.