Blind Teen Touched By Simple But Rare Act Of Getting Braille Menu

A powerful tweet is helping people realize the everyday struggles that people with disabilities face.

On March 27, Alyssa Herrera, a 16-year-old from Grove City, Ohio, went to a Red Robin restaurant with her grandmother, brother and her 17-year-old sister, Annalicia, who is blind.

Alyssa told the Huffington Post that dining out isn’t the most pleasant experience for her family.

“When we are out at a restaurant we get a lot of staring and whispers,” Alyssa told HuffPost. “Which sometimes agitates my family but we have gotten used to it since Anna has been blind all her life.”

Alyssa also said whenever they eat out Annalicia usually orders chicken fingers and fries, which is a dish she likes and is usually available at most restaurants.

“Since most menus are in print she can’t really explore much,” Alyssa said.

But shortly after a host sat the Herrera family at Red Robin on Monday, Annalicia was asked if she wanted a menu. Their grandmother said yes, and a few moments later, the host returned with a menu in braille.

The family was stunned — this had never happened before.

“She had a big smile on her face,” Alyssa said.

Annalicia opened it and began perusing a menu on her own for the very first time in her life.

Alyssa slyly took a picture of the special moment.

“It was pretty great,” Annalicia told HuffPost. “But I felt like I had so much to choose from.”

Alyssa thinks her sister may have been a little overwhelmed by the experience and chose her food pretty quickly, and took less time with her menu than Alyssa did.

Annalicia ended up ordering a chicken teriyaki burger, which she absolutely loved.

“Honestly, it was the best sandwich I’ve ever had,” Annalicia said. She added that next time she goes back she wants to take her time with the menu and choose a few new appetizers.

“My 18th birthday is tomorrow, so maybe I’ll go to Red Robin!” she said excitedly.

Shortly after Alyssa took the photo of Annalicia reading the braille menu, she posted it on Twitter.

After dinner, Alyssa checked on the post and was shocked to see it had gone viral — receiving over 300,000 likes and 100,000 retweets.

But after some contemplation, Alyssa has a theory as to why it’s resonating with so many.

“I don’t think [able-bodied people] think much about people with disabilities and how one simple [gesture] can mean a lot to them,” she told HuffPost. “[Some people on Twitter] have realized how privileged they are to have sight. Some have wondered why there isn’t a braille menu at every restaurant.”

“Growing up having a blind older sister is hard,” Alyssa said. “She gets mad quite often because she can’t do much of what we can do, and with Red Robin having a menu in braille and offering it to her meant a lot to all of us.”

Red Robin did not immediately reply to a request for comment from HuffPost.

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Latina Surprises BFFs Who Lost Their Parents With Sweetest Gifts

Heidi Paat wanted to give her two best friends birthday gifts that would make them feel close to the parent they each lost.

The 21-year-old student at University of California, Santa Cruz went back home to Montclair, California recently and invited her friends Vanessa Mendoza and Norma Bates for a belated birthday celebration. 

“I am so far away from them during school and I wasn’t able to come home for their birthdays in January and February,” Paat told The Huffington Post on Friday. “We met up for lunch and I decorated the trunk of my car with balloons, cupcakes, a banner, miscellaneous gifts and the biggest box was where the bears were.”

Both Mendoza, 22, and Bates, 22, had lost a parent in the last couple of years. So Paat decided to give them a stuffed bear that had a personalized voice recording.

“They opened the box, [took out the bears] and heard that Vanessa’s dad says ‘Estas chula amor… estas chula madre’ and Norma’s mom is talking about singing happy birthday and then her mom and all of the family starts singing happy birthday,” Paat said of the Build-A-Bear toys she gifted her friends.  

The Latina caught the emotional moment when they heard their parents’ voices inside their bears on video and shared it on Twitter. The video went viral.

In the 38 second clip, both Mendoza and Bates burst into tears nearly immediately after hearing their father and mother’s voices, respectively. 

“When I saw them cry it was making me tear up, which is why I stopped recording,” Paat told HuffPost. “Vanessa is usually very sentimental but Norma doesn’t cry easily so I could tell that it meant a lot to both of them. After I stopped recording we all hugged and they couldn’t stop smiling and replaying it.”

Paat said that she got the idea to include the voice recordings after she saw others gifting similar bears for Christmas to people who had lost a loved one.

To make the bears, Paat used a snippet from a tribute video Mendoza made for her father after he passed away last year. For Bates’ bear, she asked her sister for a recording of their mother’s voice.

But Paat says one thing she didn’t plan on was the overwhelmingly positive responses she’s gotten after the video went viral.

“The reactions online were truly unexpected,” Paat said. “I initially posted the video because we have mutual friends and I wanted to share the moment with them. I had also shown people my plan and they were already moved by it so they wanted to see my best friend’s reactions. When I saw so many other people were sharing the video and replying to it I was surprised but it was nice to read the sweet feedback that people gave me and how they would compare it to their feelings or similar experiences.”

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This Little Girl Loves Costco So Much, She Made It Her Birthday Party Theme

When Kimber Walker celebrated her fifth birthday, she picked a pretty unconventional party theme. 

The North Carolina preschooler commemorated the occasion with a Costco-themed party at her home in February. 

“She is obsessed with Costco,” Kimber’s mom, Niki, told The Huffington Post. “We served hotdogs and pizza, set up sample stations, printed dollars with her face on them, had Costco pizza and Kirkland ice cream. We also had a little shop set up, and everyone designed their own ‘membership cards’.”

Niki said Kimber had been requesting a Costco-themed party for two years, so the family finally decided to bring her dream to life for her fifth birthday.

The Walkers declared their daughter “Employee of the Month” and set up a photo area for guests to take photos with a sign stating that. Their local Winston-Salem Costco even gave them a special employee badge for the little girl.

Kimber had a blast at the party, and her guests enjoyed the celebration as well.

“They thought it was hilarious and quirky, which both describe my daughter,” said the mom.  “One of the little girls that came said that it was the best party that she had ever been to, including all of her own. “

Keep scrolling to see more photos from Kimber’s awesome Costco party.

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Manatees No Longer Listed As Endangered — But Don't Celebrate Just Yet

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The humble manatee has staged one hell of a comeback.

Where once only a few hundred of the marine mammals lumbered about, the Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Thursday enough now live in Florida’s waters to officially downlist the creatures from “endangered” to “vulnerable” on the U.S. Endangered Species Act list.

The downlisting comes after the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission found some 6,620 now live in the state’s waters during its annual manatee survey, completed last month ― the third year in a row that more than 6,000 have been counted. The numbers represent a sharp increase from those seen in 1973, when the creatures were first listed under the ESA.

“Today we both recognize the significant progress we have made in conserving manatee populations while reaffirming our commitment to continuing this species’ recovery and success throughout its range, said Jim Kurth, acting director of the FWS, in a statement Thursday.

However, while some have celebrated the manatees’ recovery, environmentalists fear such downlisting will only further imperil the creatures.

“We believe this is a devastating blow to manatees,” said Patrick Rose, executive director of the Save the Manatee Club, in a statement. “A federal reclassification at this time will seriously undermine the chances of securing the manatee’s long-term survival. With the new federal administration threatening to cut 75 [percent] of regulations, including those that protect our wildlife and air and water quality, the move to downlist manatees can only be seen as a political one.”

The group said the decision failed to include data from the past six years that found manatee deaths to be increasing alongside population gains. A record 828 deaths were recorded in 2013 and 520 were reported dead in 2016.

The Center for Biological Diversity echoed those fears, warning that ongoing threats from boat traffic and loss of habitat still threatened the creatures. A report the group released in 2014 found at least 668 manatees had been killed due to boat collisions between 2008 and 2014 ― a number that reflects more than 10 percent of the current population.

“Thanks to the safety net of the Endangered Species Act, broad public support and conservation efforts by the state, manatee numbers have improved over the past few decades,”said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director at the Center for Biological Diversity, in a statement. “But manatees are still in danger. With ongoing threats posed by boat strikes and habitat loss, we don’t support reducing protections through downlisting yet.”

The FWS said the manatee would still fall under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and be entitled to ESA protection despite the reclassification, and the agency said the downlisting would “not diminish any existing federal protections that will continue to play a vital role in the recovery of the species.”

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Classic ’30 Rock’ Moments To Help You Get Through The Day

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Presidents may come and come go, but “30 Rock” is forever. 

The beloved NBC sitcom created by Tina Fey might have aired its last episode years ago, but it feels just as politically relevant and hilarious today as it did when Jenna Maroney declared she was voting for Osama on an episode of “Hardball.” 

Considering “30 Rock” helped to cement Fey as a TV legend, as well as give Alec Baldwin a mid-career boost that propelled him straight into the White House ― at least the one on “Saturday Night Live” ― it’s time to take a look back at some of the show’s best moments to help us navigate these trying times. 

If you think about it, Jack Donaghy was essentially a Donald Trump prototype with the same flair for the dramatics, except with better hair. 

Watch the video above to relive “30 Rock” at its best and remember, with Liz Lemon and the rest of the “TGS” crew by your side, you’re never alone. 

Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Mahershala Ali, Amy Poehler and a whole host of other stars are teaming up for Stand for Rights: A Benefit for the ACLUJoin us at 7 p.m. Eastern on Friday, March 31 on Facebook Live

You can support the ACLU right away. Text POWER to 20222 to give $10 to the ACLU. The ACLU will call you to explain other actions you can take to help. Visit www.hmgf.org/t for terms. #StandForRights2017

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Check Out The Never-Before-Seen Alternate Opening Credits Of 'Sex And The City'

Consider the possibility of a world where Carrie Bradshaw didn’t wear a tutu in the opening credits of “Sex and the City.” We know, you can’t even attempt to imagine it ― it’s too iconic. 

Well, believe it or not, the tutu almost didn’t happen. Entertainment Weekly got its hands on never-before-seen footage of the opening credits that didn’t make the cut. (You can see the video above.)

Series creator Darren Star told EW that they filmed the opening bus sequence with two wardrobe choices. In one version, actress Sarah Jessica Parker wears a blue dress and trips. In the other ― the version we all know and love ― she’s splashed by a bus while wearing a tutu. 

Check out the opening credits you’ve seen a million times by now if you want to compare the two sequences:

Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Mahershala Ali, Amy Poehler and a whole host of other stars are teaming up for Stand for Rights: A Benefit for the ACLU. Join us at 7 p.m. Eastern on Friday, March 31, on Facebook Live.

You can support the ACLU right away. Text POWER to 20222 to give $10 to the ACLU. The ACLU will call you to explain other actions you can take to help. Visit www.hmgf.org/t for terms. #StandForRights2017

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Source: huffingtonpost.com