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Dad learns to walk again for his daughters' sake after doctors said he was paralyzed

Seven months after doctors told him he’d never be able to use his legs again, a man stood up and walked out of a rehabilitation center with his two young daughters at his side.

Cole Thomas, of Rochelle, Illinois, told “Today” that he shattered a vertebra in a September 2016 car crash.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

“I realized I was hurt very badly,” the 34-year-old father of two said. “I looked down at my legs, and I couldn’t feel them, and I was like, ‘Oh, boy.'”

He later learned he shattered his L2 vertebra and had pieces of it embedded in his spinal cord. Doctors told him he was paralyzed from the waist down.

>> Read more trending news

Determined to walk his young daughters down the aisle someday, Thomas posted a video to Facebook from his hospital bed.

“They told me I will never walk again. I’m bound and determined to prove them wrong,” he said in the video.

He asked people for help connecting him to resources to help him learn how to walk. A relative reached out with information about the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago.

He started therapy just eight days after the accident.

After months of hard work and determination, Thomas walked out of the rehabilitation center on Friday with his daughters by his side.

“I know I was going to have to give rehab and therapy 110 percent, just like I did my job. I have to walk again no matter what,” Thomas told “Today.” “I have to be the best I could be.”

Firefighters teach honest 5-year-old an important lesson in good karma

A fire department is teaching a 5-year-old boy that good things happen to people who do the right thing.

Earlier this year, Dave Starzec lost his wallet. He was finishing a trip to a Lowe's hardware store in Greer, S.C., when he set his alligator-skin wallet down on the bumper of his car. Inside the wallet was $2,000.

>> Watch the video here

“I was carrying my wallet so close to my heart, and I put it down for one second on my bumper to pick up a bale of mulch,” Starzec told ABC News. “I normally don’t leave things like that so important lying around.”

He didn’t realize his mistake until he got home. He immediately retraced his steps but had no luck.

“I had everything but my wife in my wallet,” Starzec told Greenville Online. “This wallet meant more to me than just the money.”

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

On his way home, he stopped by a fire station to make sure no one had turned in his lost wallet.

Capt. Benjamin Farmer took Starzec’s card and told him he would follow up if he found out any new information about his missing wallet.

“I was in the middle of cancelling my American Express when my phone rang, and it was the fire department,” said Starzec.

A family had found Starzec’s wallet in a parking lot. Farmer saw the family’s post in a local Facebook group and quickly connected the two.

>> Read more trending news

Miranda Clayton; her 5-year-old son, Dylan; and her mother-in-law, Peggy Lynn, found the wallet together.

Starzec was relieved to have the wallet back in his hands

To thank them for their honesty, Starzec organized a luncheon for the firefighters and the family.

The family received good citizen plaques. Starzec even gave them a $200 reward.

“They did the right thing, and we figured they needed an award for it,” he added. “We wanted to show the child, too, that if you’re going to be honest in the world, there’s good things that come to you.”

Missing Alabama teen found safe in Texas 16 months later

An Alabama teen who vanished without a trace two years ago after taking out the trash has been found.

Alissia Freeman, who was more than 1,000 miles away in El Paso, Texas, reached out to her mother, Vickie Metcalf, on a video call Monday after being out of contact with her family since she disappeared on Dec. 13, 2015. She was 17 at the time.

“Alissia told her parents she was going outside to take out the trash. A neighbor spotted her walking down the road, and then she vanished. She has not been seen or heard from since, and suddenly she reached out to her mom several days ago,” WSFA's Lindsey Rogers told KPRC.

That was 16 months ago.

>> Read more trending news

Metcalf saw her daughter in person for the first time in almost a year and a half Wednesday afternoon as the two reunited in Texas.

For a long time, Metcalf had been sharing posts like this one on Facebook:

The family, which had been targeted by scammers in the past, confirmed along with law enforcement that Freeman was safe.

“I have seen her,” Metcalf told AL.com. “I’m with her now and so happy. Of course.”

Although the mother couldn’t be happier, she said there are people out there sending her daughter "ugly messages."

Metcalf did not specify why her daughter ran away but said “she went through some things when she was younger.”

“She’s had a hard time with it and our communication wasn’t the best and she didn’t think I’d understand (my fault not hers) we are working on that now,” Metcalf wrote. “She is just trying to heal now.”

Speaking to KPRC, Freeman’s uncle, Calvin Thornton, said he and his wife, Theresa, have kept a candle light burning in their window in the hopes that it would help their niece find her way home.

“I’m very grateful for all the well wishes, people praying. We’ve had people come here and pray with us,” Calvin Thornton said. “All I care about is the fact that my niece has been found. She’s safe, she’s alive. Right now that’s the biggest focus and that’s the only thing we’re going to focus on. We’ll get the answers in time.”

Police officer helps boy tie necktie in heartwarming viral photo

A police officer is going viral after teaching a boy how to tie a tie when he was “too embarrassed” to ask for help.

X’zavier was at the Indiana Statehouse recently to receive the “Youth of the Year” award from his local Boys and Girls Club, according to Inside Edition.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

X’zavier was escorted to the ceremony by his aunt, Victoria Mada, and her sister. After they ate lunch, X’zavier’s tie came loose.

“My sister & I do not know how to tie a tie & my nephew was too embarrassed to ask anyone else,” Mada wrote in thank-you note shared by the Indiana Going Blue Facebook page.

>> See the post here

Mada asked an officer for help, and he immediately stopped to teach X’zavier how to fix his tie. Before leaving, the officer congratulated X’zavier on the award and shook his hand.

>> Read more trending news

“As a former 911 dispatcher, it meant a lot to me to show my nephew that cops are not bad people & that he can trust them & count on them to help him in any situation, even something as small as tying a tie,” Mada wrote.

Beloved school crossing guard begins fight with cancer after losing mom, sister to disease

A beloved crossing guard is saying goodbye to her students, for now, as she begins a battle with cancer.

Sanjuana Torres has been a part-time crossing guard at the Rusk School in Houston, Texas, for 30 years. She knows just about every child’s name, and they love her.

“She’s family. She’s everything. She was our first friend,” one student told KHOU.

>> Read more trending news

Torres recently had her first doctor’s appointment in five years. At that appointment, she learned she had cancer in her abdomen.

Torres is a single mom of five sons. She lost her mother and her sister to cancer and was devastated to learn she had cancer, too.

“First thing that came to my mind, ‘Why me?'” Torres told KHOU.

Because she is a part-time worker, she will not be paid for the time she misses work for surgery. The earliest she will be able to return to work is August.

Staff members and friends at the school set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for Torres while she’s out of work.

If you would like to donate, click here.

>> Watch the news report here

10-year-old boy with autism arrested at school

Luanne Haygood, the mother of a 10-year-old boy with autism, is angry that her son was arrested earlier this month at his Florida school for allegedly punching and kicking his teacher six months ago. Okeechobee County school resource officers put the child in handcuffs at Okeechobee Achievement Academy, but Haygood said the school district isn’t properly equipped to deal with autistic children.

“He has autism. He doesn’t know what’s going on,” she can be heard saying in the video that she recorded of her son’s arrest. “He’s scared to death. He’s 10 years old.”

>> Watch Haygood's video here (WARNING: Viewer discretion advised)

Haygood watched as her son was removed from his classroom for allegedly leaving a paraprofessional with scratches and other marks back in October. He was arrested on an outstanding warrant on allegations of felony battery on a school board authority.

“I was extremely angry. That I felt like this was a power play. I felt like this was a this is what you get. You can’t do anything about it. We’re going to arrest your son if he can’t abide by the rules,” Haygood told WFOR, adding that her son's disability is the reason behind his behavior. “To go and have him arrested on school grounds in front of other students, in front of personnel, during school hours – they could’ve come to my house at any time to tell me what was going on.”

>> Read more trending news

The boy reportedly spent one night in juvenile detention, according to the Washington Post. The child was then released on house arrest and is expected to appear in court next month.

Haygood said the incident would never have happened if the school had the proper services to address his disability.

“I want something done," she told WFOR. "I want other kids to not have to go through this.”

According to CNN, the school district released the following statement:

"It has been district procedure to invite students in to take the Florida Standards Assessment. The district would not invite someone to one of our campuses for the sole purpose to arrest.

"The district routinely assists students by providing services from our board certified behavioral analyst, licensed mental health counselors, school social workers, and psychologists. As a team, these individuals develop interventions, conduct assessments, and offer support both at school and in the home in order to assist students and families.

"The district is unable to provide specific information as to both current and past incidents regarding this or any other student due to educational laws and rules. It is our hope that we can continue to work with all families to help their students improve both behaviorally and academically."

– The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

Heart-warming video of military dad meeting baby girl for first time

A military dad finally got to meet his 4-month-old baby girl for the first time after returning from a 6-month deployment overseas.

>> Read more trending news

Sgt. Scott Cartwright met 4-month-old Jacqueline Eloise at John Glenn International Airport in Columbus, Ohio, Monday as his troop returned home from Kuwait.

“It was overwhelming. I still haven’t wrapped my head around it yet,” Cartwright told WSYX.

He and his wife, Elizabeth Cartwright, have a 2-year-old daughter, Nora, whom they adopted when she was 7 months old.

They were surprised when Elizabeth learned she was pregnant just after Nora’s first birthday.

“We didn’t think we were able to have kids of our own,” Elizabeth Cartwright told ABC News.

Scott Cartwright watched Jacqueline’s arrival via Skype and anxiously awaited the day he’d get to meet her.

“Honestly, when I was over there, in my head I was like, ‘How could I possibly love somebody else as much as I love Nora?’ I was worried about this. I was talking to my team about this,” Scott told ABC News

>> Related: Adorable photo of daddy-daughter tea party with Florida deputy goes viral

“But when I got to hold [Jacqueline] for the first time, and her and her mother have the exact same eyes, I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh. I see now.’”

The family plans on catching up on some much-needed time together in the upcoming weeks.

 

Homeless Girl Scouts get their own troop

A group of homeless girls in New York have found the family they’ve been searching for thanks to Girl Scout Troop 6000.

Troop 6000 was started exclusively for homeless girls by a single mother who felt she disappointed her children when she lost her housing.

>> Watch the news report here

“I felt ashamed,” mom Giselle Burgess told the “Today” show. “I felt like I let them down.”

The New York Times reports Burgess became homeless last year when her rental home was sold to make room for new condominiums in her area. She makes a decent salary, but not enough to afford an apartment.

>> Read more trending news

Burgess wanted to give her daughters something to look forward to, so she decided to start a Girl Scout troop exclusively for homeless girls.

“Our mission is to instill girls with courage, confidence and character,” Burgess said.

So far, they have about 20 members.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

“We’re all Girl Scout sisters,” a scout named Karina told “Today.” “We’re all a pack. And if you see a girl with 6000 on, it just makes you like, we’ve gone through the same thing or you’re still going through it.”

The girls are excited to be starting something great for other kids like them.

“We’re starting a chain reaction. Hopefully in the next couple years, there will be more Girl Scout troops in shelters,” said Karina, according to a blog post by the Girl Scouts of America.

If you would like to support Troop 6000, you can donate to the Girl Scouts of Greater New York.

10-year-old who lost leg to cancer gets gift that makes her feel understood

A 10-year-old girl battling cancer is cherishing a gift after her leg was amputated because of cancer.

Dylan Probe of Houston, Texas, was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma, a type of bone cancer, after doctors discovered a tumor on her right heel last year.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

Dylan has always been active. Before she turned 10, she completed three triathlons, KHOU reports. Losing her leg was difficult, but she has remained positive.

“She said, ‘You know what, Mommy? Cancer’s not going to win no matter what.’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ She goes, ‘Well, either I’ll be cured or I’ll go to heaven. Either way, I win,'” her mother, Megan Probe, told KHOU.

>> Texas girl gets American Girl doll just like her

The fourth-grader was recently given an American Girl doll named Hope, who has a prosthetic leg.

“I love it!” Dylan said in a video shared to the Love What Matters Facebook page.

Dylan said she has another doll named Faith that she received earlier in her cancer treatment. Faith, like Dylan, has no hair.

>> Read more trending news

“You have to have faith and you have to have hope to get through this, or otherwise it’s going to be horrible, not that it’s great, but it’d really be horrible,” Dylan told ABC News. “If you believe and you have faith and you have hope, then things will turn out OK.”

>> 'She's just like me': Girl gets doll that is a quadruple amputee

Dylan’s cancer journey has been documented in a photo series captured by Sherina Welch. The Huffington Post reports that Welch ordered the new doll from A Step Ahead Prosthetics, which creates dolls for children who have lost limbs.

Check out some of the photos below or by clicking here.

If you would like to donate to help Dylan’s family with medical costs, click here.

Stepmom's sweet photo of co-parenting family goes viral

A blended family in Columbus, Georgia, is going viral after a stepmom shared a sweet picture of two co-parenting couples supporting her stepdaughter at her soccer game.

Emilee Player, known on Facebook as Emilee Plaayer, posted the photo on Facebook earlier this week of four adults surrounding her 4-year-old stepdaughter, Maelyn, all decked out in custom-made jerseys. The blue shirts read "step mom," "daddy," "mommy" and "step dad" across the back.

>> See the post here

"Because of us, I will never believe co-parenting can't work!" Player captioned the post. "I KNOW through experience it CAN WORK! Choose to do what's best for your child and everything will just fall into place."

The post has since been shared nearly 80,000 times and racked up thousands of positive comments about co-parenting in blended families. 

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news 

WSB-TV caught up with Maelyn's mother, Clara Cazeau, and Player on Tuesday night – guess where – at Maelyn's soccer game! They explained that the amicable relationship between the two couples isn't anything new: They share custody and have been co-parenting Maelyn for the last three years. They had no idea that the photo would touch such a deep chord for people and go viral.

"We always take family pictures like that every holiday," Cazeau said. "I had just gotten these shirts made. Emilee posted the picture and made it public, but we had no idea it would go that far."

>> Read more trending news

On both families’ Facebook feeds are similar photos of the four smiling "co-parents" and their two daughters. When asked how they manage their relationship, they say it's all about being mature and putting aside insecurities. 

"You really have each person 100 percent in it," Cazeau said. "You have to put your differences aside for the good of your child."

Maelyn may have no idea that her family's story has gone viral – but her stepmom says that even at just 4 years old, she does know a lot about what it means to be accepting.

"She's very sweet, very loving," Player says. "She's not standoffish; she's accepting of everybody. And I think that's because she's been taught to accept everybody by the people who love her."

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