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Eric Donnelly will never forget the phone call that came on Feb. 2, 2005.

He was 25 and his band, The Alternate Routes, was getting ready to record their first full-length album for a record label. Things were looking up.

Then, a desperate heroin addict entered his family's jewelry store just before closing time and brutally murdered his parents, Tim and Kim.


The killer and his accomplice were eventually caught, tried, and found guilty. But no apology or justice could ever bring Eric's parents back.

A young Eric, playing music with his father. Photo courtesy of Eric Donnelly, used with permission.

As years went by, Eric continued on with his life as well as he could. But he always struggled with how to share this tragic story.

Although The Alternate Routes continued to grow in popularity — their songs have been heard everywhere from "NCIS" to the closing ceremonies of the 2014 Winter Olympics — Eric could never quite figure out how to write a song about what happened to his family.

"The song, in some way, shape, or form, is something I've been trying to work on for years," he told Upworthy. At points, "there were verses about Trayvon Martin and Sandy Hook, and I realized I was writing outside of myself. I said, 'This isn't any good. This isn't achieving anything.'"

Photo courtesy of Eric Donnelly, used with permission.

Eric finally decided to put the idea of a personal song aside.

Another horrific shooting did inspire the band's biggest hit to date, albeit indirectly. "Nothing More" was written for the organization Newtown Kindness, founded in honor of Charlotte Helen Bacon, a victim of the Sandy Hook shooting.

But even then, "Nothing More" was specifically about the charity's mission to encourage acts of kindness, not the acts of gun violence that have affected Eric and countless others like him.

Eric Donnelly (right) with singer/guitarist Tim Warren. Photo courtesy of the Alternate Routes, used with permission.

But after his son was born in December 2015, Eric again returned to the song he'd abandoned so many times before.

"Having a son raises the stakes," he told Upworthy. "And that was the catalyst for finishing the song. Having my son around, I said: 'You know, you gotta figure out what you're trying to do here. Every time you go to work on your music, it better be important because that's time you're not spending with your son.'"

Once Eric found the chorus hook — "Somewhere in America / A phone's about to ring" — the rest of the song fell right into place.

"It is very personal and autobiographical, but that's not really the point of the song," Eric explained. "The reason for the song being out there is not just to get that story across, and looking for sympathy, or to remember [my parents]. It's more to kind of make the connection that these kinds of things happen every single day."

"The phone call metaphor really resonates with people," he added.

In the bridge, lead singer Tim Warren croons Eric's moving message:

Eric Donnelly gets an early guitar lesson from his late father, Tim.

But the real kicker comes in the final verse, when the song shifts from Eric's father's final moments to his son's formative ones:

Eric Donnelly playing guitar for his newborn son.

With no fanfare or promotion, The Alternate Routes released "Somewhere in America" on YouTube just in time for Father's Day 2016 — and the mass shooting in Orlando.

They weren't expecting it to coincide with the aftermath of another awful tragedy — but then, that was also kind of the point.

"I thought by putting it out there, it was something that could alienate a lot of people. But I've been surprised at the reaction, at how many people are contacting me to talk about losing family members to all kinds of senseless violence," Eric said. "Even if people aren't able to agree with [the song], it seems like they can empathize with it."

Photo courtesy of Eric Donnelly/The Alternate Routes, used with permission.

"The song was me trying to say that something's gotta change," Eric said.

"My story's 10 years old, and another story like it happened today, and another one is going to happen tomorrow," he added. "It's not preachy or political, but the longer we wait, the more this is happening."

Check out "Somewhere in America" below:

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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Hold on, Frankie! Mama's coming!

How do you explain motherhood in a nutshell? Thanks to Cait Oakley, who stopped a preying bald eagle from capturing her pet goose as she breastfed her daughter, we have it summed up in one gloriously hilarious TikTok.

The now viral video shows the family’s pet goose, Frankie, frantically squawking as it gets dragged off the porch by a bald eagle—likely another mom taking care of her own kiddos.

Wearing nothing but her husband’s boxers while holding on to her newborn, Willow, Oakley dashes out of the house and successfully comes to Frankie's rescue while yelling “hey, hey hey!”

The video’s caption revealed that the Oakleys had already lost three chickens due to hungry birds of prey, so nothing was going to stop “Mama bear” from protecting “sweet Frankie.” Not even a breastfeeding session.

Oakley told TODAY Parents, “It was just a split second reaction ...There was nowhere to put Willow down at that point.” Sometimes being a mom means feeding your child and saving your pet all at the same time.

As for how she feels about running around topless in her underwear on camera, Oakley declared, “I could have been naked and I’m like, ‘whatever, I’m feeding my baby.’”

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