Blog Posts by Tonic

  • Action Jackson: Man to Run the World's Most Dangerous Marathon

    Earlier this summer, Tonic reported on Chris Jackson's mission to bring awareness to the debacle that is the Democratic Republic of Congo. His plan was to run 12 marathons in 12 months. Well, he's added a few more gigs to his initial scheme, most recently the Ironman UK and an entire marathon on a treadmill at the behest of sportswear brand Asics in their flagship store in London (below). But on August 18th, Jackson, 26, (at lef) will be running the most important marathon of his life and what could easily be dubbed the world's most dangerous.

    Jackson is going to be pounding the war-torn ground of the DRC for a full 26 predictably unstable miles and 385 yards.

    Regarding travel to the DRC, the British Foreign Office pretty much says, "Don't do it", but Jackson has invested far too much both physically and emotionally to turn back now.

    "I've been working towards this day for pretty much a year now and I've had a few ups and downs along the way. It's probably been the most

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  • 60 Year Old Surfer to Ride 365 Waves in 365 Days

    Surf at least one wave, every day, for 365 consecutive days in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of New Hampshire, through all seasons, all kinds of weather, despite injuries or illness.

    Impossible, you say?

    Ralph Fatello, 60, (at right) knows otherwise. He successfully completed the same feat 10 years ago, raising $33,000 for the American Diabetes Association in memory of his father, who died from complications of the disease.

    Now, he's surfing for the Molly Fund, a charity named for Molly Rowlee, who died of cancer in July 2009 at age five. The fund provides financial support to families dealing with a child battling cancer.

    ''Catch A Wave for Molly'' kicked off July 26 at North Beach in Hampton, N.H., and Fatello will hopefully be doing just that daily until July 26, 2011.

    ''I forgot I said 10 years ago that I would never do this again,'' says Fatello, a self-employed graphic designer who has been surfing since he was 14.

    He knows Molly's parents, Buck and Meg

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  • Five Things We Learned from the Fall of Google Wave

    This is a Google Wave autopsy.

    What was once the world's most exciting new platform is now kaput, as in, Google has announced that development on the project has stopped. The new communication system from Google (created by the same masterminds behind Google satellite maps), which everyone thought would change the future of email and online interaction forever has not only not caught on, it's shutting down.

    Being among the three people who actually got into Wave, I feel oddly sheepish. I was so excited to have IM conversations and even documents where I could watch the other people connected to me type. I loved the idea of one-click photo sharing with Blogger. I joined Orkut, a Facebook-like site, thinking it would be the next big thing (it was linked up with Wave). Further wonders included group map editing, smarter spellcheck, translation as-you-type and awesome privacy and customization options. I thought it was the new Microsoft Office, all online, all the time.


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  • Twelve-Year-Old Marches 2,500 Miles for Charity

    While his peers are saving up for a Wii, hanging out at the mall, or maybe texting their friends, Zachary Bonner is drawing the attention of Presidents, rock stars and Hollywood - by making a difference for the 1.3 million homeless children living in the US.

    By Anne Driscoll

    Some kids walk to school. Some kids walk for fun. This summer, Zachary Bonner, 12, is walking 2500 miles across America to raise money and awareness for homeless children.
    His journey began on March 23 in Tampa and is expected to end Sept. 14 when he steps onto the Santa Monica Pier in California accompanied by scores of homeless kids.

    "He enjoys making other children happy," says his mom. But it's a little more complicated-and impressive-than that.

    Bonner's to-do list reads something like this: Start a charity? Check. Raise hundreds of thousands of dollars? Check. Be the subject of a Hollywood biopic? Check. And do this all before most kids have taken middle school algebra? Why, of course, check.


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  • Beating Cancer Beautifully

    Patricia Brett speaks to Tonic about her new swimwear line for breast cancer survivors, inspired by her own risk-reducing surgery and a history of cancer in her family.

    By Sarah Jenks-Daly

    For breast cancer survivors, specifically women who have had mastectomies, the swimsuit market is notoriously difficult to navigate. At least it used to be. Enter Patricia Brett - former architect, now fashion designer - who introduced a luxury swimwear line, Veronica Brett (named after her late aunt who succumbed to the disease 35 years ago) this spring, and officially changed the game.

    At a very young age, Brett was aware of the role cancer played; she accompanied her father on trips to the hospital to visit her aunt. "I always knew breast cancer was in my family, but didn't know what a big part it would play until years later," she admits. After her older sister Regina was diagnosed at 41, Brett's cousins Maureen and Mary entered a high-risk study. The results - that Mary carried the

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  • At 80, the 'Iron Nun' Prepares for Her Next Triathlon

    How divine! Sister Madonna Buder is already the oldest woman ever to complete an Ironman triathlon - a record she's looking to smash at the upcoming Ironman Canada: "The only failure is not to try."

    By Marc Hertz

    There is a certain type of athlete, a certain type of person, even, who competes in triathlons. Not satisfied with simply running, bicycling or swimming, triathletes want to knock out all three, one after another. These are people who crave a challenge, who have to push themselves further than most, who refuse to be defined by normal expectations. And should you assume that a triathlete is an elite athlete in his/her 20s or 30s, Sister Madonna Buder might like to have a word with you - albeit, a very kind one.

    That's because this nun at the Sisters for Christian Community in Spokane, Wash., also happens to have competed in more than 300 triathlons, and she's made, well, a habit out of exceeding people's expectations time and again. You see, on July 24, Sister Madonna will

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  • Gay Teen Constance McMillen Wins Court Case

    The teen banned from her Mississippi prom wins $35,000, and continues to blaze a trail for younger generations.

    By Kathryn Wilson

    At Tonic, we're always happy to report good news. But today, we're especially pleased to tell you that the American Civil Liberties Union won their case against the Itawamba County School District on behalf of 18-year-old Constance McMillen!

    To recap, McMillen wanted to bring her girlfriend to her senior prom but was denied this right by her Mississippi high school. School staff and students then put on a decoy prom for McMillen and other "less desirable" pupils while the majority of the student body partied 30 miles away at the real prom.

    Today's ruling means that school officials are required to implement a policy banning discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and they're paying McMillen $35,000 in damages as well as her attorneys' fees.

    "I'm so glad this is all over. I won't ever get my prom back, but

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  • When third-grader Katie Stagliano inadvertently grew a 40-pound cabbage in her back yard, she decided to donate it to a local soup kitchen - feeding 275 homeless people in the process. Three years later, the inspired 11-year-old has grown more than 4,000 pounds of veggies for the needy.

    By Diane Herbst

    It sounds like a sub-plot from Jack and the Beanstalk. When Katie Stagliano brought a single cabbage seedling home from school as part of a third-grade class project, the 9-year-old planted it in the soil in a tiny plot in her family's back yard. She watered and weeded appropriately. Next thing she knew, that seedling grew into a monster-sized, 40-pound cabbage.

    None of her classmates' cabbages grew so large. Katie didn't even add any sort of magic fertilizers, or receive any special gardening tips from adults. "Absolutely not," her mom, Stacy, tells Tonic. The biggest known OS Cross cabbage ever - the "OS" in the name stands for "oversize" - was 55 pounds, according to Bonnie Plants

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  • No Arms or Kneecaps, But a Black Belt With Fierce Determination

    Right from the start, Sheila Radziewicz was a miracle baby. The girl born 32 years ago with a genetic disorder - without arms or kneecaps - wasn't supposed to live more than a few days, or walk, or talk. And, she most definitely wasn't expected to earn a black belt in taekwondo, either, but Radziewicz has achieved all that and much, much more.

    Radziewicz smiles often and easily. It is part of her charm and her engaging way of putting others at ease with her disability. She is used to the stares she sometimes gets, but she has also become adept at making those around her feel comfortable.

    "I was not supposed to live. I was not supposed to talk or walk," says Radziewicz, who was born with TAR syndrome (Thrombocytopenia with Absent radius), a congenital birth defect. She is profoundly grateful she ended up in the care of Dr. Leon Krueger at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Springfield, Mass. - a facility that offers free orthopedic care to children.

    "Dr. Kreuger said 'I will

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  • Salad Spinner Centrifuge: A Cheap, Ingenious Health Care Tool

    We already know that we need to eat plenty of leafy greens to stay healthy, but who knew that a salad spinner itself could help save lives?

    As we learn from EurekAlert, Rice University undergraduates Lila Kerr and Lauren Theis were presented with an assignment in their Introduction to Bioengineering and World Health class. As Theis explains:

    "We were essentially told we need to find a way to diagnose anemia without power, without it being very costly and with a portable device."

    In a solution short on cost but long on ingenuity, the duo modified a basic, everyday salad spinner into an easy to use and transport centrifuge that successfully separates blood to allow diagnosis of anemia with no electricity. The device costs about $30, can process 30 individual 15 microliter blood samples at a time, and can separate blood into its component red cells and plasma in about 20 minutes.

    "Sally Centrifuge," as the innovation has been dubbed by its creators, is undergoing a series

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