Making a Difference

New ‘Making a Difference’ Stories Pour In

Nightly News has spent the past week revisiting "Making a Difference" reports that especially resonated with viewers.

One favorite report featured an organization that pairs pilots with people looking to adopt or rescue animals that are out-of-state. "Pilots N Paws," has helped facilitate the transportation of more than 65,000 animals, who would otherwise be in danger or at risk for euthanization.

Another report traveled back two years to the publishing of a book called "Chocolate Bar" that a young boy had written and illustrated to raise money for a cure for a condition his best friend has called glycogen storage disease (GSD), a genetic condition that throws his blood sugar out of balance and could be fatal. Dylan Siegel originally raised $200,000 through sales of the book, inspired by his best bud Jonah Pournazarian. Now, Dylan and Jonah have raised over $800,000 — close to Dylan's goal of $1 million.

Wednesday brought the return to a gym in Detroit, where boxing coach Khali Sweeney provides healthy meals, warm clothes and a place to exercise in a town that has no shortage of hardships. Sweeney's only rule is that the kids must finish their homework before they throw any punches at the gym. The Downtown Youth Boxing Gym was once at risk of closing down, but after an influx of donations, will be able to move into a new building.

And finally, Nightly News caught up with Katie Stagliano, 16, whose idea to start a garden to feed starving families has inspired 75 gardens in 27 states. Katie's goal for Katie's Krops is "no hungry children."

As usual, the Nightly News crew also asked the audience to share their "Making a Difference stories," and on Friday will highlight some of the best:

Love Your Melon was started by college students at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota. The foundation's team sells hats, and for everyone sold, one is given to a child battling cancer. Donations also help Love Your Melon to provide therapeutic entertainment to young cancer patients during their difficult treatment processes.

Nightly News also heard about a group of students and school employees who rallied together to raise money to help a teacher, Charity West, remodel her home. West suffered from a chronic condition that affects her nerves, and those around her were determined to cheer her up.

And then, back in Detroit, a group of volunteers called the "Mower Gang" organizes people and their equipment to clean up the city's overgrown playground and parks.

“Making a Difference” began in November 2005 with an idea from Brian Williams’ wife, Jane Williams. As he explained during a Facebook chat in September, “Her theory is: people are doing good things every minute of every day, it’s contagious if we start telling their stories.”

— Elisha Fieldstadt