Nightly viewers, Making a Difference

Haylee Cain

At 21 years old, Haylee Cain, who suffers from cerebral palsy, lived in a nursing home because her grandfather was no longer physically able to take care of her . Donna and Judson Emens had known Haylee as a five-year-old, but had lost touch. Seventeen years later, they saw her story in a local paper and went to visit her. After just one visit, they knew they couldn't leave her there--so they didn't. They took her home for a trial run and quickly realized that Judson could easily lift her and Donna's nursing skills were enough to give her more than adequate care. Just last week, Haylee moved in permanently. Right now the Emen's are in the process of adopting their 3-year-old daughter and they're hoping to do the same for Haylee, giving her a home with a little sister and the dog she's always wanted.

UPDATE: Haylee is now living happily with the Emens and just got engaged.

Marlo Mae Manning founded Fairy Dogparents with a mission to help Massachusetts dog owners hard-hit by the recession from being forced to give up their pets by giving people pet food, or paying for vets visits. She started helping out three dogs in 2009, and eventually ended up helping 27 more.  To date, she has helped 71 dogs and their owners.

UPDATE:  Manning’s website crashed right after the Nightly News report aired, and in the days since they have raised $11,000.

The Elephant Orphan Project

For more than 30 years, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has been rescuing baby elephants from being poached in Nairobi, Kenya. Daphne, David Sheldrick’s famed conservationist widow, is the heart and soul of the program- so far she's raised 130 elephants to adulthood.

UPDATE: After the Nightly News report aired, they received offers to foster 2,000 orphaned elephants.

Dr. Julie Manly/Sacre Coeur Hospital in Haiti

Dr. Julie Manly arrived in Haiti shortly after the earthquake devastated the country's capital city on her own dime and began working right away at Sacre Coeur Hospital recovery room. Sacre Coeur, considered the best in Haiti, was in danger, too--the quake had destroyed three-quarters of the hospital, and  the only operating room had four amputations going on at any given time. Once she got back home to Raleigh, where she works at Nash County ER, she set up a website to keep Sacre Coeur's doors open--so far she's raised $200,000.

UPDATE: After the Nightly News report aired, they raised $250,000.

Canine Assistants

For nearly 20 years Jennifer Arnold's Canine Assistants program has paired service dogs with disabilities. Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis as a teen, she started the non-profit, and her dad hoped to fund the program through corporate and private donations.  They breed their own dogs and provide a lifetime of care--even flying in recipients and their families once they've matched the right dog with the right person.

UPDATE: After the Nightly News report,Canine Assistants received more than $60,000in donations. Gary Arnold, brother of Jennifer, said he received over 120 donation alerts in the hour after the segment aired, and have received an average of three applications for service dogs per day--about 15 per week.


Amy Ryals founded a non-profit aimed at helping horse owners who are struggling financially. Haybank has delivered hay to more than 30 horse owners. It takes 15 bales a month to keep a horse fed and healthy, and at six to seven dollars a bale, that's not cheap.  Ryals relies on the hard work of 20 volunteers and donations. 

UPDATE:  After the Nightly News report aired, Haybank received 3,000 hay bale donations, worth about $18,000.

, March Across America  

From March to September of 2010, 13-year-old  Zach Bonner walked 3,900 kilometers (2,423 miles) from Florida to Los Angeles and raised $175,000 in donations for homeless kids. He started doing charity work after Hurricane Charley hit his hometown in Tampa, FL, when he collected water bottles for children in need.

UPDATE:  Since the Nightly News report aired, Bonner has traveled to South Korea to meet with kids his age who will join him on a walk in Rwanda, possibly to raise money to build a new soccer field for kids.

Island Doctor

Dr. David Nichols came to Tangier Island in Chesapeake Bay, population 500, 30 years ago. He came to a rundown clinic that had no physician at all prior to his arrival. For the most fragile patients, he flew with his private plane to make house calls.  His lifelong dream was to replace the rundown clinic with a health center, and thanks to everyone in the island pitching in, he finally he got his dream in August.

UPDATE: Dr. Nichols died Thursday after battling liver cancer, but this summer he was able to say thanks to those who helped build the new Tangier Island Health Clinic that bears his name. 

Operation Santa

Pete Fontana has been answering the more than two million letters that pass thru the main post office branch in Manhattan for the last 15 years. Every letter is read, and those in need get their wishes filled thanks to donations and volunteers. Fontana may not have a beard, but he leads Operation Santa and brings laughter to kids every holiday season.

UPDATE: About 30 percent of the letters were answered this year, compared with 15 percent last year.

Guitars for Vets

UPDATE:  Guitars for Vets, which has put the healing power of music in the hands of more than 800 soldiers returning from war, received about $13,000 after the Nightly News report aired. They also received more than 2,000 emails from vets who wanted to sign upand requests from every state to establish chapters, which they are working on now. They now have 12 chapters, with another dozen expected to come online in the next few months.

Handy Dandy Handyman

UPDATE: Since the Nightly News report aired, Pete Brady has received $8,750 in donations to his organization. With these donations, he will be able to perform more repair jobs throughout the region, including  two additional complete home makeovers in 2011. This spring he will travel the country meeting with communities that would like to start a similar organization in their towns.

Rockin' Appalachian Mom Project

UPDATE: Since the Nightly News report aired in November 2009, R.A.M.P. has sustained a food pantry for 150 families ,as well as run the "snack backpack" program for all Martin County Schools.  Most recently, Whole foods has partnered with RAMP- held food drives in 40 of its stores - and held a 5 percent day- where 5 percent of net sales were donated to ramp- garnering a $36,000 donation, with more 'percent' days planned in the future.

Shooting Beauty

UPDATE: Since this story aired on May 7, Photographer Courtney Bent has created a curriculum to complement the'Shooting Beauty' experience for schools throughout the United States.  The curriculum deals with educating youth about tolerance, diversity, anti-bullying and disability awareness. Bent started the "Shooting Beauty Scholarship Fund" to help bring the curriculum and film to as many schools as possible, regardless of their budgetary constraints.  In partnership with the organization 'Working Films', Bent will be launching a national outreach campaign for Shooting Beauty and is gearing up for the official DVD release of the film during Disability Awareness Month in April. They plan to travel throughout the month with Tony Knight (photographer from the film) to as many schools as they can in 30 days.