'Oh, This Is The Song'; Stand With Maui; More: 7 Good News Stories

ACROSS AMERICA — Brandon Cullen’s best save wasn’t on the beach, where the 24-year-old West Islip, New York, man works as a lifeguard. It was in the operating room. Joe Curry needed a kidney, so Cullen gave his good friend one of his.

Curry, also, 24, had been diagnosed as a 6-year-old with Alport syndrome, a rare genetic disease that affects kidney function. He’d managed the condition successfully and enjoyed swimming, surfing and other water activities. He, too, became a lifeguard.

That’s how Cullen and Curry met. They lifeguarded together at the same beach, and discovered they’d had the same experiences growing up. And, they figured out later, the same blood type.

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Last fall, Curry’s kidneys betrayed him, and he was placed on the transplant waiting list with slim odds of finding a match. Cullen, who was in New Zealand in a work-study program, didn’t find out what was happening to his friend until he returned home for Christmas break.

“I slept on it,” Cullen told Patch’s Maureen Mullarkey. “And in the morning, I decided that it’s something that I need to do. I need to at least try and help my friend.” The way he stepped up, Curry said later, “was just miraculous.” » A Patch Exclusive by Maureen Mullarkey for West Islip Patch

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Standing With Maui

As the world watched Maui burn, Ethan Yang was already thinking. The owner and head chef of the Glass Box, an Asian coastal-inspired kitchen and bar in San Diego, Yang organized fundraisers to put action behind into his team’s shared values to “uplift others in need,” he told Patch’s Kristina Houck. “The devastation caused by the wildfires in Maui deeply resonates with us, reminding us of the importance of standing together. … We believe in coming together to support those affected, not just as a restaurant, but as a part of a larger community that cares deeply about the well-being of others.” » A Patch Exclusive by Kristina Houck for San Diego Patch

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The Time Of Their Lives

Here’s something you may not know: The original songs featured in “Dirty Dancing” reflect the creativity of Stacy Widelitz, who as a kid growing up on Long Island couldn’t force a single note from his flute and was written off by his teacher as utterly unmusical. In the early ’90s, he and fellow Long Islander John DeNicola and New Jerseyans Franke Previe and Donald Markowitz collaborated on three of the most famous and recognizable songs from the coming of age film set in the Catskills: “Hungry Eyes,” “She’s Like the Wind” and the finale, “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.” Upon hearing it, “Everybody went, ‘Oh, this is the song,’ ” DeNicola said.n What changed for Widelitz? Patch’s Maureen Mullarkey fills in the years between sour notes and Oscar-winning fame. » A Patch Exclusive by Maureen Mullarkey for Plainview Patch

NYC Subway Stopper Back Home

The runaway rescue pup that caused a massive New York City subway shutdown just before rush hour while he was saved from the track is back home. His human family is grateful — and apologetic. “To anyone who was sitting on the train or a long time yesterday, it was not for nothing: You saved a life,” the pup’s human “aunt” told Patch’s Matt Troutman. The puppy is a “shining star” among the family’s rescue pups and had never escaped before. They think he likely bolted when an unfamiliar dog walker showed up and tracked his human momma’s scent to the subway. » A Patch Exclusive by Matt Troutman food Upper East Side Patch

History-Making Winners

What a group of young athletes from Massapequa, New York, accomplished “blows your mind,” Rich Eaton, the manager of the championship Under 12 Little League Softball World Series team, told Patch’s Jerry Barmash. The first New York team ever to make the World Series, they will be welcomed home Saturday by the New York Mets. The town of Oyster Bay staged a parade in their honor Friday. Eaton called the team’s appearance “a once-in-a-lifetime” experience. » A Patch Exclusive by Jerry Barmash for Massapequa Patch

The Message Of The Wallaby

What a wallaby named “Baby Joey” was being forced to do on the Coney Island boardwalk was an illegal act in New York City, and an even greater indignity, according to officials with Humane Long Island. The young marsupial was reduced to nothing more than a tourist attraction, an oddity people could have their picture taken with for a price. Baby Joey has been rescued now and the animal’s handler has been charged, but the problem is likely greater than this one individual, with stories of sales around Long Island for as much as $4,000. “Baby Joey belongs with her mother in Australia. It doesn’t belong in a cram bag on a Coney Island boardwalk,” Humane Long Island’s John DiLeonardo told Patch’s Peggy Spellman Hoey. “So that’s really the overreaching message here — wild animals belong in the wild. They don’t belong on the boardwalk, and they don’t belong in people’s homes.” » A Patch Exclusive by Peggy Spellman Hoey for Shirley-Mastic Patch

Parting Shot

Every week, Patch readers submit their best pictures for “California in Photos,” including this stunning oceanside sunset submitted by Jeff Kahler and two dozen others. » A Patch Exclusive by Sue Schena for Across California Patch

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