KOMU.com https://www.komu.com/ KOMU.com EmVP EmVP en-us Copyright 2020, KOMU.com. All Rights Reserved. Feed content is not avaialble for commercial use. () () Fri, 21 Feb 2020 HH:02:ss GMT Synapse CMS 10 KOMU.com https://www.komu.com/ 144 25 EmVP: Izzo the arson dog helps sniff out crime across state https://www.komu.com/news/emvp-izzo-the-arson-dog-helps-sniff-out-crime-across-state/ https://www.komu.com/news/emvp-izzo-the-arson-dog-helps-sniff-out-crime-across-state/ EmVP Tue, 28 Jan 2020 8:40:55 PM Emily Spain, KOMU 8 Anchor & Marcelle Peters, KOMU 8 Producer EmVP: Izzo the arson dog helps sniff out crime across state

COLUMBIA - Most dogs spend their days playing with toys, getting belly rubs and eating treats. But, one Columbia dog has a much bigger job.

Izzo the "arson dog" is one of a kind in Missouri. He works for the Columbia Fire Department, but travels across the state solving crimes.

Izzo helps investigate arson incidents by sniffing out traces of accelerants like gasoline and lighter fluid. Jim Pasley, a fire marshal at the Columbia Fire Department and Izzo's owner, said it only takes a drop for Izzo to flag it.

"Dogs are smelling machines," Pasley said. "If you think you're going to run out into the woods and throw something out in the woods, he's a dog and that's what he like to do. He'll find it."

It's been three years since Izzo joined the Pasley family and he fits right in.

"I guess it's like having a pet, but a younger brother," said Andrew Pasley, Jim's 10-year-old son. "He's like having another sibling basically."

The only thing that really sets Izzo apart from the rest of the family is his diet. Every time Izzo eats he's in training so he associates food and work together. That means no treats.

"He is so friendly and lovable…it's hard to remember that he can't just have a snack off the table or something like that," said Melissa Pasley, Jim's wife. "When he's not working he's just a normal dog and a part of our family."

Before Jim could bring Izzo home to Columbia to start working, the pair had to complete 200 hours of training in Maine. Since then, Izzo has worked around 30 fires across the state including in Iberia, just outside of Lee's Summit and Centralia.

"To see the training and know the smallest little drop of fuel that he can sniff it out and to see that happen in front of you…it's pretty amazing," Melissa said.

Izzo is an extra "tool in the tool box" for fire investigators. Addyson Pasley, Jim's daughter, said Izzo makes the job a lot easier and quicker for people like her dad.

"A lot of cases would normally take much longer. With his help he can find the source of it in just a day," said Addyson. "It's just his nose and he knows where it is, like that's j­­ust crazy."

But when Izzo isn't busy sniffing out accelerants, Jim says Izzo is just another one of their kids.

"We're almost inseparable. Everywhere I go, he goes with me," he said. "He's my partner and my friend."

The Columbia Fire Department got Izzo through the State Farm Arson Dog Program. The insurance provider offers the dogs and the training to "to help combat arson fraud and increase community awareness of the problem," according to its website.

The program was founded over 25 years ago in Maine and has trained more than 400 dogs.

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EmVP: Police officer pulls over girlfriend to propose https://www.komu.com/news/emvp-police-officer-pulls-over-girlfriend-to-propose/ https://www.komu.com/news/emvp-police-officer-pulls-over-girlfriend-to-propose/ EmVP Tue, 7 Jan 2020 6:25:15 PM Emily Spain, KOMU 8 Anchor EmVP: Police officer pulls over girlfriend to propose

COLUMBIA - When Rebecca McDonald saw flashing lights in her rearview mirror while driving home along Stadium Boulevard one night, she wasn't sure what to think.

"Honestly, I didn't know if it was one of my coworkers or if it was CPD or who it was," McDonald said. "I had no idea what was going on."

Normally, McDonald is used to making the traffic stops. She's an officer with the University of Missouri Police Department. So, she knew something didn't seem right especially when the officers told her one of her taillights was broken.

"So, I knew for a fact my taillight was not busted out, which was another red flag," McDonald said. "And he had a look on his face and so, I knew something was up."

But, the flashing lights during the stop weren't the only things shining.

"After I bought the ring, I held onto it for a couple of weeks," Tanner Stone said who came up with the idea to pull over McDonald. "I passed around the idea to family and friends and everybody thought it would be a great idea and be really unique to do what I did."

Tanner Stone met Officer McDonald when she worked for Boone County Joint Communications. 

"She was a dispatcher for me at the Columbia Police Department," Stone said.

Stone is an officer, too. He works for CPD and you could say McDonald stopped him first, right in his tracks.

"Within the first couple of weeks of being together I knew that she was probably going to be the one that I was going to marry," Stone said. "We connected on those levels and felt comfortable and safe together."

The two dated for close to a year before the special traffic stop in late November 2019.

Stone got his co-workers in on it and waited for McDonald to drive home from work one night. 

"All three of us rode in my sergeant's car," Stone said. "I was on the passenger side kneeling down where she couldn't see me. When my partner said, 'I think you really want to get out of your car,' she knew something was up."

"It didn't really hit me until I saw him behind my car," McDonald said.

That's where she found Stone waiting on one knee.

In the dash camera and body camera footage of the proposal, you can hear Stone ask McDonald to marry him.

"Rebecca, your first name and my last name sounds so much better together. Will you marry me?"

McDonald, surprised by the question, asked Stone if he was serious. He responded saying, "I'm 100 percent serious!"

McDonald said, yes.

"I pretty much blacked out," she said. "He pulled out a ring, I guess, and asked me to marry him. I didn't believe him."

"I thought it would be super special and unique to our relationship because we did meet in law enforcement," Stone said.

Thanks to a special traffic stop, two officers who have sworn to protect and serve made the decision to now vow to love and cherish each other.

"He did a good job," McDonald said. "It was pretty special the way he decided to do it."

The pair said the big day is set for this July. They recently bought a home together and are looking forward to starting a family one day.

They said their relationship is special because they both understand what it's like working in law enforcement.

"It's one of those things where you can talk about it if you want, but if you don't want to talk about it then you don't have to...because we both get it," McDonald said.

Stone has worked for CPD since July 2018 and McDonald started with MUPD in May 2019.

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EmVP: Boy saves allowance to buy gifts for other kids https://www.komu.com/news/emvp-boy-saves-allowance-to-buy-gifts-for-other-kids/ https://www.komu.com/news/emvp-boy-saves-allowance-to-buy-gifts-for-other-kids/ EmVP Tue, 17 Dec 2019 5:26:14 PM Emily Spain, KOMU 8 Anchor EmVP: Boy saves allowance to buy gifts for other kids

JEFFERSON CITY - For three straight years, 7-year-old Landon Connally has used the allowance money he's saved that year to go Black Friday shopping. But, he's not buying gifts for himself.

"I feel better if other people get gifts instead of me getting gifts," Landon said. "I like to bring smiles to people's faces. I love whenever they smile because it gives me a really good feeling inside."

He's buying toys to give to other children. After he wraps them all up with the help of his family, he gives out the gifts to boys and girls outside stores like Walmart and Target.

"We've always known that he has a big heart, so we're just glad that he thinks of others before he thinks of himself and he's a selfless person," Landon's mom, Rhonda Connally, said.

He calls his annual tradition "elfing."

"The first year he wore his elf pajamas so then he just started calling it 'elfing,' which is what he refers to it as now," Rhonda said.

The second grader came up with the idea after watching a video on Youtube of people leaving gifts on random door steps. He decided he wanted to give like that, too. 

"Then they pass it on to other people and then one day the whole entire world is going to be giving gifts," Landon said.

He labels each gift he wraps with a post-it note listing what toy is hidden inside so he can pick the perfect toy for the boy or girl he's about to surprise.

Parents of the children who received the free gifts were confused and stunned.

"I was shocked, but it was very sweet and I thought it was very kind," Rebecca Lynch said, whose grandchildren got gifts from Landon. "It's nice to see young people in particular spreading Christmas cheer...and I hope that it impressed upon my granddaughters the true meaning of Christmas."

The children who got the presents were giddy with excitement. 

"He said, 'Merry Christmas!' and gave this to me," O'Jaini Adams said. "I don't know what it is, but it sure looks cute."

"It is perfect, look at him. He's so adorable, I wish I could give him something back," Jacquise Blockcon said after her daughter received a gift.

For some parents, the generosity was overwhelming knowing that it came from a young boy who wanted nothing in return.

"Some people struggle," one mom said through tears. "It's a struggle to give to their kids and every little bit helps, you know, little things give you hope."

Landon's parents said their child's act of kindness is what the season is all about. 

"It's more about spreading the Christmas cheer, trying to get everybody back to that. Because it seems like it's more about shopping and not just the joy of the season," Landon's dad, Russell Connally said.

It's a reminder we could all use this season of giving. And, who better to give that gift than a 7-year-old elf.

"I think it's really amazing," Ivie Helton said after her daughter got a gift. "There's a lot of bad things in the world today, but this put a smile on my face and kind of hit me right in the feels too."

Landon saved $450 this year to spend on gifts to give to others. His parents said he gets $10 a week and he can decide every week whether he wants to spend it or save it. So, that means 45 different times in the past year Landon chose others over himself.

"I really hope they feel really, really happy inside," he said.

It may not come as a surprise that Landon's parents know a thing or two about service. The couple met while serving in the military in Afghanistan and his dad continues to serve in the Missouri National Guard. 

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EmVP: Family packs lawn with 50 Christmas inflatables https://www.komu.com/news/emvp-family-packs-lawn-with-50-christmas-inflatables/ https://www.komu.com/news/emvp-family-packs-lawn-with-50-christmas-inflatables/ EmVP Tue, 10 Dec 2019 10:39:48 PM Emily Spain, KOMU 8 Anchor EmVP: Family packs lawn with 50 Christmas inflatables

COLUMBIA - The Hughes' family puts together their Christmas jigsaw puzzle in their front yard around Thanksgiving every year. It's made up of about 50 inflatables ranging from snowmen to minions to Mickey Mouse. 

"We have ten more than last year, so we're going to have a logistical issue to deal with to see where they'll all fit," Chris Hughes said.

They've been putting out the inflatables for about the past eight years. The tradition started with their eldest son who loved them, but then the obsession really grew with their younger son, Owen. 

"I just kind of feed off of that and I got kind of addicted for a bit," Chris, Owen's dad, said.

Their annual tradition keeps growing and growing. They add new characters to the mix when the decorations go on sale after the holidays.

"We want to make room for the new ones, and it's all a matter of trying to figure out how to fit them all together in a finite amount of space," Tiffany Hughes, Owen's mom, said.
You could say their love for Christmas inflatables has snowballed.
"Well, we said that years ago, 'Enough is enough,' and we just keep getting more," Chris' dad, Kevin Hughes, said. 
The grandparents join in, too.
"It's a family affair," Kevin said. "It's just an excitable day."
Kevin and his wife, Mary Lou, play key roles in piecing together the display. Kevin helps get the inflatables up, while Mary Lou helps watch the boys when their interest in the project wanes.
"There's not a patch of ground that doesn't have a stake in it or an inflatable," Kevin said. 
"They're all three like little kids again, and that's what the joy of Christmas is," Mary Lou said.
"We know some people think it's tacky, but we do it because it's fun," Tiffany said. "It's something that we do together as a family and it makes us laugh."
It takes the family about eight to 10 hours to solve the holiday puzzle. When everything fits into place and the sun goes down, their hard work shines. 
"It is glorious," Mary Lou said.
"I'm happy with the way it turned out. It looks even better this year than it did last year," Chris said about this year's finished product.
Neighbors said they like the large display.
"I love it," Jane Fiore said, who lives across the street. "My husband loves the fact that they do all the work and he gets the joy of watching it... It's also a great way to give directions to somebody coming to your house."
For children in the neighborhood, it's a holiday favorite.
"My daughter loves it. So, it's a good reason to take a walk. It's just nice to have those memories to kind of hold onto when you look back down the road," another neighbor said.
Chris said it brings his family joy that other people appreciate their tradition.
"I hope they don't think we're crazy," he said with a laugh.
50 inflatables and hours later, you'll find a Christmas puzzle that pieces together the best parts of the holiday season all in one front yard.
"It's kind of like an ugly Christmas sweater, it's an ugly Christmas yard and we recognize that and that's okay with us," Chris said. "We enjoy it and we have fun and that's what it's meant to do, to have fun and enjoy the holidays."
If their display wasn't already big enough, their next door neighbor offered up their front lawn for more space next year. Chris said his family might take them up on that.
The Hughes' Christmas display is located on Chelan Drive in the Cascades neighborhood on Columbia's southwest side.

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EmVP: Columbia chef gives back to Boys & Girls Club https://www.komu.com/news/emvp-columbia-chef-gives-back-to-boys-and-girls-club/ https://www.komu.com/news/emvp-columbia-chef-gives-back-to-boys-and-girls-club/ EmVP Tue, 26 Nov 2019 9:27:30 PM Emily Spain, KOMU 8 Anchor EmVP: Columbia chef gives back to Boys & Girls Club

COLUMBIA - If food is the ingredient that binds us together, then D'Auntre Prince knows how to make a connection.

"Food brings people together like no other, food it just makes people happy," Prince said. 

The 22-year-old is a chef at Olive Garden and recently graduated from culinary school in St Louis. Prince got his start in the kitchen at the Columbia Career Center.

He said his grandpa served as a cook in the army and inspired him to want to cook, too. 

"The best part about being a chef is eating," Prince said with a laugh.

He can also add business owner to his title. This summer he opened his very own food truck called Scooter's Food Joint serving up everything from burgers to philly cheese steak egg rolls. 

"I found [the food truck] on Facebook market, I went to Boonville to get it," Prince said. 

It's an old FedEx truck turned into a mobile restaurant.  

"Scooter is my nickname," Price said. "My brother called me that and it just stuck."

For Prince, it's also a dream come true.

"I didn't expect to have a food truck at 22, but just a lot of help from people around the community."

This recipe for success has some special ingredients and you'll find one of them just off of Columbia's Business Loop.

"Boys and Girls Club helped a lot, when we got out of school we got help with homework, we had tutors," Prince said.

Once a club member himself, now he is returning the favor with some flavor by helping teach culinary classes two nights a week.

"It was full circle, they gave me the opportunity to help give back to the kids and give back to the community," he said.

Executive Director of Boys and Girls Club of Columbia Valorie Livingston said they recently started hiring local chefs to teach cooking classes at the club.

"Not only is it teaching life sills, but it's STEM related, there's so much science and tech and math involved," Livingston said.

She said Prince was a top candidate for the job.

"That very personal connection and relationship makes him a very powerful mentor," she said. "It means a lot to these kids to hear that you can become a chef, too."

The students who attend Prince's classes agree.

"He's a good person to look up to," Mickel Hall said who attends the club. "I'm trying to be a chef when I grow up and he's a chef."

They say people who give you their food, give you their heart. And, two nights a week that's exactly what Prince gives the students at the Boys and Girls Club.

"It makes me proud that they want to be in here and they have fun cooking," Prince said. "I hope they just think about that they can have different career choices, just not one thing about football or basketball, that they can cook and have a lifestyle."

"We want to recreate that dream for kids that you can do whatever you want," Livingston said.

Prince also hopes to one day open a restaurant along with his food truck. 

Livingston said the club is always looking for people like Prince to share their time and talents with the students.

For more information about Boys and Girls Club of Columbia, click here.

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EmVP: Quilts of Valor stitches its gratitude for veterans https://www.komu.com/news/emvp-quilts-of-valor-stitches-its-gratitude-for-veterans/ https://www.komu.com/news/emvp-quilts-of-valor-stitches-its-gratitude-for-veterans/ EmVP Tue, 12 Nov 2019 5:24:02 PM Emily Spain, KOMU 8 Anchor EmVP: Quilts of Valor stitches its gratitude for veterans

COLUMBIA - Dan White hasn't always been proud to recognize himself as a Vietnam veteran.

"Things weren't very good when we came home," White said. "I wouldn't wear anything military 40 years ago. Nothing. Zero." 

So when a friend nominated him to be honored by Mid-Missouri Quilts of Valor, he was skeptical.

"I was a little hesitant," White said. "There's an overall feeling by Vietnam vets that no one really cared."

But, the ladies behind the local chapter of Quilts of Valor do care. They spend hours making handcrafted quilts for veterans just like White.

"They very much deserve to be noticed in a special, special way," Jan Martin said, the Mid-Missouri Quilts of Valor President.

Martin started the local chapter 10 years ago. She's retired from the VA Hospital and her husband served in the Army, making veterans extra important to her. 

"Veterans are special people. They sign up to defend us and our country. They don't ask a lot of questions. They go where they're told," Martin said. "It's important to recognize them in some simple way."

White ended up deciding to go to the ceremony to receive his quilt from the group in 2012. 

"You can give guys all the medals you want for being a hero, but receiving something like this just in a way supercedes that. So, it's really a tremendous gift. I treasure it," White said.

Since White got his quilt, more men and women have joined the Quilts of Valor ranks. 

The local chapter held its most recent ceremony the weekend before Veterans Day. There, the quilters presented veterans with a one-of-a-kind quilt.

"When you wrap up in a quilt, you just feel warm and loved, and that's exactly what we're hoping they feel," Teri Haney said, a volunteer with Mid-Missouri Quilts of Valor.

Veterans from all military branches and different times of service were awarded quilts and welcomed home.

The ceremony was emotional for Vietnam veteran Charles Hawkins.

"I was overwhelmed. I almost started crying. I really did," Hawkins said. "I knew that these ladies had by hand touched this and did it for me."

Hawkins already has a spot picked out for his new honor.

"Right on my bed, just as soon as I get home," he said.

"The thing that makes a person want to belong to Quilts of Valor, it's seeing a veteran get a quilt," Martin said.

The organization makes the quilts thanks to donations and volunteers. The group meets once a month at Satin Stitches in Columbia to work on them.

To learn more about getting involved, nominating a veteran or contributing to Quilts of Valor, click here. The local chapter also shares its work and photos from award ceremonies on its Facebook page.

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EmVP: Columbia man raises awareness after losing wife to breast cancer https://www.komu.com/news/emvp-columbia-man-raises-awareness-after-losing-wife-to-breast-cancer/ https://www.komu.com/news/emvp-columbia-man-raises-awareness-after-losing-wife-to-breast-cancer/ EmVP Tue, 29 Oct 2019 5:29:31 PM Emily Spain, KOMU 8 Anchor EmVP: Columbia man raises awareness after losing wife to breast cancer

COLUMBIA - It's only been about two months since Tom Klucking lost his wife, Krystina, to breast cancer. But, his fight against the disease is far from over.

"I can sit there and, you know, feel sorry for myself, but I owe it to my kids, I owe it to her legacy...to fight for her memory and make a difference," Tom said.

For three years, Krystina fought against what quickly became stage 4 breast cancer. 

"She went in for a routine mammogram and it came back clear. Everything was fine, and she just had a feeling that it wasn't fine," Tom said. 

It was a blindside attack the couple wasn't expecting.
"We asked, how can that be, and that's when we learned about density," Tom said.
In March 2016, Krystina learned she had dense breast tissue that disguised a 3 centimeter tumor. Tom said doctors categorized Krystina's breast density as a 4 on a 1 to 4 scale. 
"It requires an ultrasound and an MRI to do what a typical mammogram is supposed to do," Tom said.
His wife endured four different types of chemotherapy and more than a dozen rounds of radiation. Her treatments included targeted radiation of her brain and liver when the cancer started to spread. 
It's this part of Krystina's fight against cancer that is the hardest for Tom to recount.
"It brings the battle to the forefront. I mean, you're battling for your life," Tom said. "You're battling for all this stuff that most of us, you know, myself included, you take for granted, you know, marriages, grandchild, the next Christmas."
Krystina lost her battle with cancer on September 2. She was 52. 
"Maybe not a guarantee, but just maybe it could have been detected earlier and we could have had a different outcome," Tom said.
He's not done fighting, but instead picking up Krystina's mission.
"That was her battle cry, 'Are you dense?'," Tom said.
He wants to arm other women with the knowledge of breast density. 
"If they don't understand density, they need to see their doctor and say, 'Explain this to me and can you tell me if I'm dense.' Just as simple as that," Tom said. "As much as it is painful, I have purpose."
Tom is also a former Hy-Vee store director and retired after more than 30 years with the grocery chain this past summer to spend more time with his wife. Now, his former worker family is joining him in the fight. 
Rock Bridge Hy-Vee Store Director Matt Off was quick to help out.
"I just really feel strongly that this is a great way for us to help raise awareness and keep her memory alive," Off said.
At the Columbia Hy-Vee stores, you'll find different pink display with the catchy #Fighting4KK and an important question, "R U Dense?" Hy-Vee employees helped Tom create the T-shirts and pins using inspiration from one of his daughter's tattoos.
"Tom felt very strongly about when we were getting the shirts made and the pins made to teach people to ask that extra question," Off said.
He said 100 percent of proceeds from sales of these items will go toward the #Fighting4KK fund to raise breast density awareness.
One female shopper said she had never heard about the issue before until she saw the information at the check-out counter.
"I didn't know that women with dense breasts [cancer] couldn't be identified," Hy-Vee customer Lani Tadlock said. "I'll talk to my mom about it."
Tom wants to prevent someone else from having to fight the same war that took his wife of 18 years.
"If I can help bring awareness so somebody finds it before, I'll rest in peace," he said.
For Tom, educating other women and potentially saving a life is a victory.
"Battle won," he said. "I just have to do it. I just have to do it for her."
Off said Hy-Vee stores plan to make the #Fighting4KK fundraiser an annual event. The stores will keep the displays up through at least the rest of October for breast cancer awareness month.
If you're interested in learning more about #Fighting4KK or giving to the cause, friends created a GoFundMe page.

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EmVP: 94-year-old World War II veteran still serves his neighbors https://www.komu.com/news/emvp-94-year-old-world-war-ii-veteran-still-serves-his-neighbors/ https://www.komu.com/news/emvp-94-year-old-world-war-ii-veteran-still-serves-his-neighbors/ EmVP Tue, 15 Oct 2019 6:40:10 PM Emily Spain, KOMU 8 Anchor EmVP: 94-year-old World War II veteran still serves his neighbors

COLUMBIA - From ear to ear, it's hard to miss 94-year-old Elmo Winterhalter's smile.

"I don't know I've always been that way, ever since I was a kid," he said about his positive demeanor. 

You'll find him greeting customers with his signature grin on Mondays and Fridays at Oakland Plaza Car Wash on Vandiver in Columbia. 

"He's always here. He's always smiling," Oakland Plaza Car Wash owner, Joe Wood, said. "It doesn't matter how bad of a day I'm having, anyone's having. Mo walks in with the same smile day in and day out."

You could say Elmo is just tickled to be alive.

"I just thank the good Lord for keeping me around," he said with a laugh.

Known as Mo, he's lived in Boone County for nine decades. He was born in 1925. He's lived through the Great Depression, 16 different presidencies and served in World War II. 

"I was a gunner in the artillery. I shot everything from the 75 to a 240," he said.

In 1943, Mo headed to Belgium with the Army. He was 18 years old. 

"There's a lot of things I like to forget about. I don't like to talk about it," he said. "I was nervous as a June bug when I got home."

Even then, while serving in the war, Mo was smiling.

"There used to be this paper with an article of this guy they called 'Smilin' Jack' and he was always smiling and some of my buddies just started calling me 'Smilin' Jack,'" he said. 

It's not only what Mo has done in his life, it's what he's still doing.

He's still working. He retired after 30 years with Boone County's street division only to pick up a new job at the car wash. This year marks year number 25 there.

"I sit in the house by myself looking at four walls and it gets lonesome. I get to come in here and meet people and talk to them," Mo said.

"When Mo was young that was just part of life, was going to work every day and there wasn't any excuses and he's not about to let his age be one of them," Wood said.

He's also still living alone, driving and serving his neighbors.

"He blades my driveway in the winter time," one of Mo's neighbors, Daryl Isgrig, said. "He takes care of the neighborhood. He takes care of everybody up and down this road. Always has and always will probably."

He's still there for his family.

"He likes to do everything I do," Mo's son, Randy Winterhalter, said. "Never has a bad day it don't seem like or least he don't tell us if he does anyway."

Even after losing his wife ten years ago and one of his two sons two years ago, he's still smiling through the pain.

"I got all these pictures I can look at them and think about all the good times we had...you just got to grit your teeth and bare with it and go on," Mo said. "I guess I'd rather be happy than sad."

If smiling makes your face hurt, then Mo's must be pretty sore.

"He's the happiest person in Boone County," Mo's daughter-in-law, Peggy-Sue Winterhalter, said. "He might be the happiest person in Missouri."

"I'm glad somebody likes me," Mo said with a smile and laugh.

Mo has four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He was married to his wife, Wanda, for 56 years. After 94 years, he said his advice would be to do what you're told and like his father told him, do it right.

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EmVP: Project Switched helps children with disabilities play independently https://www.komu.com/news/emvp-project-switched-helps-children-with-disabilities-play-independently/ https://www.komu.com/news/emvp-project-switched-helps-children-with-disabilities-play-independently/ EmVP Tue, 8 Oct 2019 8:35:06 PM Emily Spain, KOMU 8 Anchor EmVP: Project Switched helps children with disabilities play independently

COLUMBIA - Physical therapists with MU Healthcare's Children's Therapy Center and an army of volunteers came together to help make playtime a little easier for children with disabilities.

The annual event is called Pascale's Pals Switched. It's an event where volunteers learn how to rewire toys to put a bigger, easier to use, button on them.

"We are adapting toys to make them more accessible for kids with motor, fine motor and visual impairments," pediatric physical therapist Dana Chole said. 

It's the second year for the event that benefits children like 8-year-old Dalton Ferreiro. 

"I don't want him to be limited later in the future to where he has to sit on the sidelines and watch life pass him by," Dalton's dad, Dan Ferreiro, said.

Dalton was born healthy, but at the age of six months old, a virus caused his blood sugar to drop dangerously low.

"He was seizing for hours when the babysitter thought he was sleeping. So, he has permanent brain damage from that," Dalton's mom, Amanda Ferreiro, said.

For the Ferreiro family, finding ways to make Dalton's life easier hasn't always been simple.

Until, they learned about Pascale's Pals Switched event, where a 50-cent wire and a bigger button, changed how their son could play with his toys. 

"If I can give him just a little bit of joy out of pressing a button to make a toy work, then that means a lot to be able to see his face glow," Amanda said. 

Dalton was one of the children to receive a toy from Pascale's Pals.

And it wouldn't happen without volunteers like Lance Hall.

"Every parent wants their children to be able to grow up and be safe and happy," Hall said. "I just wanted to come and be a part of it."

Vicky Kappelmann and her husband even made the drive from St. Louis to help and gain a new skill.

"We are here learning how to do switches because our granddaughter needs toys with switches," Kappelmann said. "We will go anywhere to learn something new to help her. It's a thrill to see her so happy."

Chole said she and another physical therapist came up with the idea for the event. She said companies charge a much higher price tag for similar toys and that motivated them to give families another option.

"We decided that it was really unfair that families that have children with disabilities have to pay expensive prices for toys," she said.

Chole said using the large button on the switched toys helps children develop in several ways.

"They start to learn cause and effect, they start to learn early communication skills, and they get the enjoyment of playing on their own," she said.

"Something that we take for granted in other children, that's really hard for him to do. Just those little milestones really mean a lot," Amanda said. "Every child deserves the capability to play."

Pascale's Pals funded the event for the second year. Last year, they gave away more than 200 toys to 50 families in mid-Missouri.

This year, they're hoping to increase that goal. The group held one Saturday event in September where volunteers switched 100 toys. There's another event happening on October 19th. There are two sessions that Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and the second runs from noon to 2 p.m. 

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Boy gives birthday money to Columbia police https://www.komu.com/news/boy-gives-birthday-money-to-columbia-police/ https://www.komu.com/news/boy-gives-birthday-money-to-columbia-police/ EmVP Sun, 29 Sep 2019 8:42:45 PM Emily Spain, KOMU 8 Anchor Boy gives birthday money to Columbia police

COLUMBIA - When Adam Hassan's mother, Amina Mohamed, gave him his birthday money, she said she asked him how he wanted to spend it.

She was surprised by the 8-year-old's response.

"And he goes, 'No, I'm going to give it up to the police officers because I like what they do and they take care of everyone and I'm safe when I'm around them,'" Mohamed said. 

So, she reached out to Columbia Police Department about making the $100 donation. And when officers found out about it, they wanted to give Hassan something, too.

"I hear the sirens and then, I was running," Hassan said describing when officers showed up at his house.

The officers were there to take the 2nd grader for a ride to the police station for a tour.  

"It's just exciting for [the officers] and they've all been waiting for him to arrive," CPD Chief Geoff Jones said. "It's heartening to see a young person come in here and get to interact with them just like our own kids."

Hassan started his tour by giving a handwritten card to Chief Jones. Officers then showed him around the department and brought him to the afternoon shift meeting. 

"They have dogs and they arrest people," Hassan said. "They keep everyone safe."

The special visit meant more to this family from Somalia. 

"As an immigrant from a country that is lawless, I appreciate, you know, the law and order and everything that you do for the community and I feel safe going to bed at night not having to worry about anything happening to my family," Mohamed said.

What started as a selfless act ended with a gift for everyone.

"I'm proud of him to see that he would think of important people like the officers," Mohamed said.

"The extra hours that the officers worked this week and all the work that they put in, to have a young man come in here and show support just means the world," Chief Jones said.

CPD cannot technically accept donations, so Hassan's money was donated to the Columbia Police Foundation. 

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Columbia teenagers spend summer performing at children's hospitals https://www.komu.com/news/columbia-teenagers-spend-summer-performing-at-children-s-hospitals/ https://www.komu.com/news/columbia-teenagers-spend-summer-performing-at-children-s-hospitals/ EmVP Sun, 25 Aug 2019 10:30:27 PM Emily Spain, KOMU 8 Anchor Columbia teenagers spend summer performing at children's hospitals

COLUMBIA - As Rock Bridge High School student Hope Keithahn headed into her senior year, she came up with an idea. She wanted to spend her summer performing at children's hospitals across the country with her best friend, Piper Page, before Piper headed to college at NYU.

"Service is really important for so many reasons," Keithahn said. "Just giving back to people creates character, I think."

Page said she quickly jumped on board with the plan for the unique road trip.

"She asked me if I wanted to go with her on this trip and sing and play at children's hospitals and I was like, 'Heck yeah, I want to do that,'" Page said.

The duo met at Rock Bridge High School in show choir. Along with singing, Keithahn played the cello and Page played piano.

"Performing is one of my favorite things to do," Keithahn said. "I wouldn't give it up for the world."

The girls left for their "Wishful Singing" tour in July and traveled from Boston to Salt Lake City.

"It was like a giant three week sleep over while also traveling the country," Keithan said.

They said they learned a lot about each other during their trip.

"Everything from how we both drive to like who likes to sleep with the fan on and who doesn't, like everything," Page said.

They also grew closer together.

"We saw so many different things and experienced so many different things together," Keithahn said.

And they grew to love the unique performance hall. They played at children's hospitals in Boston, Chicago, Des Moines, Denver, Washington, DC and Salt Lake City.

"Seeing the kids reactions as we played was like, that's life changing right there," Page said. "You could tell that you made a difference in their day and that they would hopefully think about that for a long time."

"Seeing them stop there and just like smile and listen and even if it was just for 2 seconds, it was really fun to experience," Keithahn said.

For the last performance of their tour, they played at the Missouri Orthopedic Institute in Columbia in the pediatric wing.

"Patients in these hospital settings are longing for things that they feel good about and so having some musicians come and perform and kind of get them out of their area and in a different mental mind frame even for a moment is a really nice thing," Nathan Beckett said, a resident physician with MU Health Care.

Beckett described the girls performance as uplifting and beautiful.

"I can't think of another performance quite like this," he said.

Throughout the tour, the girls also created a gofundme page to raise money for the Children's Miracle Network. And created an Instagram account @wishfulsingingtour to chronicle their journey.

After their tour came to a close, Page headed to NYU to study music business and Keithahn started her senior year at Rock Bridge. Keithahn isn't sure what she wants to do in the future, but she's thinking about working in pediatric medicine.

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