+

Like a lot of kids who work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, 6-year-old Ethan Dean desperately wanted to meet one of his heroes.

Ethan has cystic fibrosis, which can make life pretty challenging. But that hasn't stopped him from doing a lot of the stuff his friends do: singing, taking music classes, and even playing soccer.

But while other kids his age might dream of meeting star athletes, rock stars, and superheroes, Ethan looks up to a different kind of hero all together:


The men and women who keep our streets clean.

Ethan has been fascinated with garbage trucks and the everyday heroes who operate them for as long as his parents can remember.

Riding off into the sunset. Photo via iStock.

His dad, Ken, said that even as an infant and toddler, Ethan was fascinated by the trucks.

"Whenever he'd hear the garbage truck picking up trash cans outside, he'd come running up or down the stairs to look at it. From there, eventually, I would take him outside to watch."

And it wasn't Hot Wheels or G.I. Joes that Ethan wanted come Christmas time. He had an entire collection of toy garbage haulers that kept him occupied for hours on end.

"He'd play around and take small pieces of paper and put them in the back of the trucks and take them to the 'dump,'" Ken said.

"I want to be a garbage man when I grow up," said Ethan. "It's awesome!"

So Make-A-Wish teamed up with Waste Management in Sacramento, California, to bring Ethan's dream to life.

All photos by XSiGHT Studio and used with permission, unless otherwise specified.

"I think they were very surprised," Ken said about the moment Make-A-Wish learned about Ethan's ... different request.

But they pulled it together in tremendous fashion.

On the big day in late July, a huge crowd of people surprised Ethan outside his elementary school and cheered him on.

The mayor of Sacramento was even on hand to give Ethan a key to the city.

Then, Ethan suited up in uniform.

He hopped into a truck with his name on the side in huge letters — Ethan's Garbage Truck — and headed off on his great adventure.


Then it was time to get to work.

Ethan and his crew made five stops throughout the city, picking up garbage and recycling, leaving nothing but clean streets in their wake.

It was an incredible experience for Ethan, but he's not the only one who'll remember the day forever.

"It's a dream come true for me really. I think it's wonderful," truck operator Sam Turman told KCRA. "Humbled. Absolutely humbled."

Ethan's dad heard that one of the crew members even had trouble sleeping the night before — that's how excited he was to be a part of something so special.

Ethan's story is a great reminder that heroes are everywhere.

And though it might seem like certain folks get overlooked, you never know who's paying attention.

Ken said Ethan has been absolutely glowing over the experience for days. Waste Management even gave him a 3-foot-wide Dumpster to add to his toy collection, which Ken enthusiastically explained now resides in the Dean's living room.

And to think, all it took to make a little kid forget about his disease, for a short while at least, was a day hanging out with a couple of garbage collectors.

Finally. Proof that not all heroes wear capes.

A breastfeeding mother's experience at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo is touching people's hearts—but not without a fair amount of controversy.

Gemma Copeland shared her story on Facebook, which was then picked up by the Facebook page Boobie Babies. Photos show the mom breastfeeding her baby next to the window of the zoo's orangutan habitat, with a female orangutan sitting close to the glass, gazing at them.

"Today I got feeding support from the most unlikely of places, the most surreal moment of my life that had me in tears," Copeland wrote.

Keep ReadingShow less

Five things that can help rein in anxiety.

Having anxiety is fun and by fun I mean extremely inconvenient and overwhelming. If you don't experience anxiety then the idea of something invisible seemingly coming out of nowhere to activate your fight or flight response may seem strange. But it's the reality for more than 40 million people, and while no two people's anxiety looks exactly the same, there are some things that can help sufferers get through the day when anxiety shows up.

Keep ReadingShow less

She's enjoying the big benefits of some simple life hacks.

James Clear’s landmark book “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” has sold more than 9 million copies worldwide. The book is incredibly popular because it has a simple message that can help everyone. We can develop habits that increase our productivity and success by making small changes to our daily routines.

"It is so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis,” James Clear writes. “It is only when looking back 2 or 5 or 10 years later that the value of good habits and the cost of bad ones becomes strikingly apparent.”

His work proves that we don’t need to move mountains to improve ourselves, just get 1% better every day.

Most of us are reluctant to change because breaking old habits and starting new ones can be hard. However, there are a lot of incredibly easy habits we can develop that can add up to monumental changes.

Keep ReadingShow less