Good News Thursday: Blind swimmer and guide dog head to Paralympics, 5-year-old conquers Appalachian Trail

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Five-year-old conquers Appalachian Trail

5-year-old Harvey Sutton raises his arms on a mountain top in Bigelow Preserve, Maine, while hiking the Appalachian Trail with his mom and dad. Known by the trail name as “Little Man,” Harvey tagged along with his parents over more than 2,100 miles over 209 days to complete the family feat. (Joshua Sutton via AP)

Harvey Sutton hiked the entirety of the Appalachian Trail at just 5 years old. He was accompanied by his mom and dad, setting out on his journey in January and finishing the monumental 2,100-mile hike after 209 days. Harvey and his parents started the trail when he was four. In August, Sutton celebrated his fifth birthday on the trail. He said the reward of skittles and peanut butter wrapped up in a tortilla gave him energy and helped him on his journey. Harvey also enjoyed studying the frogs, lizards and other wildlife on the trail. His happy, energetic demeanor and enthusiasm earned accolades from Dale “Greybeard” Sanders, the oldest person to hike the trail.

“It’s going to change his life forever, and his parents’ life, too. The kid went through some hardships, but don’t we all? Hardships make us stronger,” Sanders told the Associated Press. “That kid is going to smile through life.”

Blind swimmer, guide dog head to the Paralympics

Anastasia Pagonis and her guide dog Radar practice in the pool. Pagonis teamed up with Radar, a guide dog from the Guide Dog Foundation to compete in the 2021 Paralympics. (Guide Dog Foundation)

Anastasia Pagonis lost her sight rapidly within two months at the age of 14. After accepting the loss of one her senses, she decided to return to the sport she began six months before her blindness — swimming. Now Pagonis and her guide dog Radar are participating in the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo and competing on the world stage. Pagonis and Radar officially partnered up on Aug. 19 and moved to the Paralympic training facility in Colorado in preparation for the games. The addition of her new partner Radar gave Anastasia an extra boost of confidence as she trained in the water.

“It’s my happy place. It’s the place where I feel like I don’t have a disability and I feel like that’s the only place where I feel free. When I dive in the water, it’s just me in the pool and I feel such a connection with it,” Pagonis told Today News.

Eighth graders work to exonerate ‘witch’

Karla Hailer, a fifth-grade teacher from Scituate, Mass., shoots a video where a memorial stands at the site in Salem, Mass., where five women were hanged as witches more than 325 years earlier. A woman convicted of witchcraft in 1693 and sentenced to death at the height of the Salem Witch Trials finally will be exonerated if Massachusetts lawmakers approve a bill inspired by a curious eighth-grade history class. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia, File)

A class of eighth graders from Massachusetts set out to exonerate a woman who was wrongly accused of witchcraft in 1693. The curious civics class pushed their objective into government action, with Massachusetts State Sen. Diana DiZoglio, D-Methuen introducing legislation to clear the name of Elizabeth Johnson Jr., who was accused of witchcraft and sentenced to be executed during the Salem Witch Trials. Thankfully, Gov. William Phips of the time dismissed her punishment before her death, along with all other witch accusations made at the time, but she was never exonerated. With that, the class of eighth graders set out to right a wrong made 328 years ago.

“Some of the conversation was, ‘Why are we doing this? She’s dead. Isn’t there more important stuff going on in the world?’” Carrie LaPierre, teacher of the eighth grade class told the Associated Press. “But they came around to the idea that it’s important that in some small way we could do this one thing.”

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