As the end of the year approaches, many of you may be sitting by the lava lamp and writing down your resolutions for the new year:
Do you plan to get back into your "skinny jeans"?
Be more plugged in to social media... or less?
Quit smoking once and for all?
Manage stress better?
Drink less alcohol?
Make more time for your family, friends, loved ones?
Finally go after that master's degree you've been putting off?
Make a barbeque recipe to rival Uncle Jack's secret sauce?
Hone on your DIY skills to become a "Mister or Miss Fix-it"?
As you reflect on the days that have passed in 2010, and set the bar high for yourself, share your plans with us.
We want to hear not only what your goals are, but what your game plan is for achieving them.
How do you plan to keep the goal in mind, and not have it dissolve at the first whiff of a hot Krispy Kreme donut?
We'd like to help.
Your project could become the focus of a CNN Newsroom segment, complete with expert advice, and planning tips to help you and those inspired by you... to succeed.
So rather than spend the next 12 months ruminating about what you didn't achieve last year... plug-in and prepare for a fresh start and share your plan with CNN Newsroom.
In our first hour today, Ali spoke with a representative of the Jean Cadet Restavek Foundation - a group that helps Haitian children forced into hard labor against their will. If you'd like more information or to donate, you can check out their website.
In the Newsroom, we've been working to help as many people as possible find out about their loved ones in Haiti. Here's the story of a woman who was told her cousin died in the quake, then saw her alive on CNN. The two finally got to speak Sunday. Now her cousin has a message for the world.
The pictures and video are stunning - and in some cases shocking. Looking at the devastation in Haiti, you get a sense of the quake's power, and the aftermath's horror. At our special section, www.cnn.com/haiti, you can see all the latest.
We're also following the latest from the world of social media. See any compelling videos, photos, or stories? Are you worried about relatives or friends? Share here.
To see how you can help those in need, check out CNN.com's Impact Your World.
Jonathon Prince lives a life larger than himself, chasing a dream to make the world a little better for the less fortunate - one running stride at a time. Right now he's running, in the dead of winter, to raise money for six nonprofits. CNN Producer Annika Young recently caught up with Prince as he ran across the freezing Texas plains. Watch his inspiring story below.
“Annika, remember when you told me to keep running because it’s my passion? Well, I’m running again.” I read that text message from Jonathon Prince and thought, “Wow! Really?”
I met Jonathon, a native of Las Vegas, during his Run for Relief campaign back in 2005. He raised $20,000 for victims of Hurricane Katrina. I was impressed then.
And now that he’s on his third cross-country trek, I’m more than impressed. I’m dumbfounded. No. 1, it’s winter. No. 2, it’s winter. And No. 3, it's winter! Not to mention his latest philanthropic effort is lacking major sponsorship and a proper road crew.
He travels with two people: Mike Hansen and Andrea Batel. Mike worked in television and Andrea worked for an accounting firm. Both quit their 9-5 gigs to go on the road with Jonathon, all three of them, blankets, clothes and shoes packed tight in a little Hyundai Sonata. They often share a motel room. Right before his run in Pecos, Jonathon slept in a chair.
Yes, I had some concerns. But if I know anything about Jonathon, he can’t be deterred. If he says he’s going to do it. He does it. And I wanted to be there to see him do it. Jonathon launched the “Hope or Die” campaign earlier this year. The thought behind the concept is a choice. Hope or Die. According to Jonathon, if you’re not hoping for something you might as well be dead.
This time he’s running for six non-profit organizations: Habitat for Humanity, The Girl Effect, Water.org, Bread for Life, RAM (Remote Area Medical) and Global Greens. Jonathon kicked off his run on October 15 on the Santa Monica Pier. He’s already been through California, Arizona and New Mexico. I caught up with him in Texas. After the Lone Star State, it’s off to Arkansas, Tennessee, Virginia and he’ll finish March 27 in Washington. He hopes President Obama runs the last mile with him. So do I.
To say that Jonathon’s grandfather, mother, and two older brothers are proud of him is an understatement. But his dad thought he’d gone mad. During one of his earlier runs, his dad found Jonathon mid-run and tried to make him come home. Jonathon refused. With two runs under his belt and a third underway, his father is now a believer. I am too.
During his run in Pecos, Texas, I promised Jonathon I’d run the last two miles with him. I ran, walked, jogged and sucked in a chest full of freezing cold air. I thought, “How does he do this every day? It’s literally a marathon a day!”
He warned me being on the road is…being on the road. We’re talking cheap motels, not so great meals, and no bathrooms. I found out about the latter the hard way. Let’s just say I’m grateful for baby wipes and hand sanitizer. While we were on that last lap together he turned to me and said, “You OK, cheeks? You’re a real trooper.” I wanted to say, “No, you are” but couldn’t find my voice. The wind ate it. I started to slow up a bit and he turned again and said, “I’m not finishing this last lap without you.”
That was all the motivation I needed. Here’s a man, who never ran track a day in his life but has run across the country twice, a man who runs six days a week for other people, a man so focused, so driven, so determined. Before I knew it, we had crossed over our makeshift finish line.
I’m inspired and encouraged by Jonathon Prince. It’s not just the six nonprofit organizations that benefit from his passion, it’s people like you and me who see his drive and commitment and it motivates us to cross our own personal finish lines.
So, hope or die? Which do you choose? I choose hope.
–CNN Producer Annika Young
To learn more, to donate, and to support Prince's cross-country run, visit his site: www.hopeordie.org
The blatant cuteness factor on this story is high. What's not to love about baby elephants?
But the ugly truth about the African elephant's serious struggle to survive
also tugged at the collective heart of the CNN NewsRoom staff.
Check out David McKenzie's moving story on efforts to help orphaned elephants.
If you want to help the pint-sized pachyderms you can link to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust right here.
If you want to find out more ways to respond to the news you see here on CNN and ways that you can make a difference go to CNN.com/impact.
It’s 0600 hours in Fayetteville, Georgia and I’m up with troops preparing for a very special mission. I start making rounds, talking to many of the nearly 80 World War II Veterans about to take a trip of a lifetime.
They are heading to Washington DC to see the memorial built in their honor. For many of these veterans, it will be the first time they’ve ever seen it. The trip was provided by Honor Flight…an organization with one mission: to honor veterans for their sacrifice by sending them to their memorial in Washington DC for free!
As I speak to the vets, their excitement is easy to see. Many tell me this was a trip they never thought they’d be able to make. They are happy to talk about their appreciation towards Honor Flight, but when it comes to the war… most don’t tell me much.
Soon, we loaded the buses and headed towards the airport with an escort by local law enforcement and patriot guard riders. On the plane, some veterans start opening up to me and photojournalist Rich Brooks. But still, the war stories were few and far between.
Two hour later we arrived in Washington, DC and the sight brought tears to my eyes. A heroes welcome in the terminal. A brass band played old war tunes. A massive crowd waved flags, cheered and thanked each and every veteran for their service as they stepped off the plane. Watching their expressions, their reaction to this was truly one of the best things I’ve experienced. I stood at the end of the reception line. So many stopped and told me this was more elaborate then the reception they received when they returned home from war and one of the first times they’ve ever been thanked for their service.
At their memorial, even more thanks. Most gasped to see how big it was. They slowly made their way down into the memorial. Facing the reflection pool and Lincoln memorial is a wall of stars. Each represents 100 service members who lost their life in WWII. There are 4,000 stars on that wall! I felt a tap on my arm and saw one of the veterans standing beside me. He told me about his experience storming the beaches of the Pacific, the men they lost and how lucky he was to be witnessing this moment when so many of his comrades didn't make it. He told me that was the first time he’d ever told anyone his story.
It was amazing! The same veterans who didn’t want to speak about the war just hours before were now willingly sharing their stories. Luckily, Rich was around to record a lot of it on tape! The stories were unbelievable. Stories of the D-Day invasion, pilots being shot down by enemy fire and chilling tales from inside POW camps. I felt so privileged to be there at that moment.
From the memorial we took a quick trip to Arlington National Cemetery to see the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns.
By the time we got back to Atlanta it had been a 20 hour trip! The elderly warriors seem renewed rather than exhausted by their whirlwind trip.
Peharps because this was meant to honor these WWII Veterans who never asked for thanks. They went off to save the world and when they got home, continued on with their lives. They never asked for honors. The real honor, for me, was to spend the day with this great generation of heroes. It is a trip I am grateful to have the opportunity to take and one that I will never forget!
Today, if you see a veteran of any war, take the time to thank them! I can tell you from experience, that small thanks means more to them then you'll ever know!
Click here to read more on this trip.
Or if you want to learn more about Honor Flight and their mission, click here.
CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield talks to Darius Weems of 'Darius Goes West' about his upcoming MTV birthday celebration.
Jordan Thomas lost his legs on an annual family fishing trip. He spent the next two weeks undergoing several surgeries in the hospital, where he met several other amputees. The future looked particularly grim for some of the disadvantaged children amputees, who would need numerous prosthetics, as they outgrow several of them before reaching adulthood.
Jordan had just lost his legs, yet felt lucky. He was in a financially stable family with health insurance. As he thought about a few of the amputee children, some without health care, some without parents, he decided to launch a foundation to help. The Jordan Thomas Foundation has since raised $350,000, providing prosthetics for three recipients, and committing to provide replacement prosthetics until they reach age 18.
Jordan Thomas lost his legs, but through the experience, he discovered the size of his heart, and what would become his life's work.
If you would like to learn more about Jordan Thomas, his foundation and their efforts to help provide prosthetics to underprivileged children, visit our Impact Your World Page.
Seth Owusu is a computer technician for Geek Squad, the computer repair team in the Best Buy Stores. It is after his long work days fixing computers, that he makes his greatest repair. Seth runs Entire Village Computer Organization (EVCO), a charity that refurbishes computers and delivers them to schools in Ghana. And much like the 3 year warranties offered at electronic stores, Seth and his team make a 3 year commitment to keep the computers up and running.
Seth Owusu grew up in Ghana, and was deeply touched by missionaries visiting his school, who were willing to travel so far to help strangers. After relocating to the United States he founded EVCO, picking up donated computers, and refurbishing them in his garage and basement. The extra hours and hard work are validated with each trip to Africa, where he has seen improvement in the villages that have received his donations, with greater attendance in the schools and a higher interest in education. EVCO has donated 120 computers thus far, in Ghana and now also Nigeria. They plan to add one additional country to their program each year.
For Seth, he is able to build something greater than a line of working computers. He is able to help build a brighter future for the children in these schools.
To learn more about EVCO and other organizations that are helping children, please visit our Impact Your World page.
Click here to access transcripts from recent shows.
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