Heroic sanitation workers save abducted, 10-year-old girl while on their trash route
via Dion Merrick / Facebook

At 1:30 am on Monday morning an AMBER Alert went out in southern Louisiana about a missing 10-year-old girl from New Iberia. It was believed she had been kidnapped and driven away in a 2012 silver Nissan Altima.

A few hours later at 7 am, Dion Merrick and Brandon Antoine, sanitation workers for Pelican Waste, were on their daily route when they noticed a vehicle that fit the description in the alert.


The sanitation workers thought it was suspicious that a silver sedan was parked alone in a field in St. Martin Parish.

"Something told me, like just look, I said what is that car doing in that field like that? What the car doing? Guess what, that's the dude with the little girl," Merrick said in a Facebook Live video. "That's God."

The video has been seen over 1.5 million times since it was posted on Monday morning.

To prevent the possible kidnapper from escaping, they parked the large sanitation truck the wrong way on the highway to "Make sure they couldn't get out," Merrick said. Then, they called 911.

When police arrived they arrested Michael R. Sereal, the man whose car was mentioned in the AMBER Alert. The police were also able to safely recover the girl who appeared unharmed. She was later taken to the hospital to be evaluated by medical personnel.

The Iberia Parish Sheriff's Department's online sex offender registry has a Michael Roy Sereal but authorities wouldn't confirm it's the same man.

The young girls' family got in touch with the two men who saved her and have shown amazing gratitude. "I'm just so happy and blessed that I have actually seen the car and we actually responded like we were supposed to respond," Merrick told KHOU.

Merrick hopes that his actions will inspire others to be proactive as well. "Don't be scared if you see something. If you know something is wrong, report it," Merrick said. "Call authorities because it could save someone's life."

via Office of the Louisiana Attorney general

The two men were applauded by the St. John Parish's Sheriff, who offered to buy them lunch.

"I was just doing my job man. I was just doing my job and actually came across somebody who needed help," Merrick said. "Got me tearing up."

The AMBER Alert system was created in 1996 after nine-year-old Amber Hagerman was abducted and murdered while riding her bike in Texas. Since its inception, nearly seven in 10 AMBER alert cases have resulted in children being successfully reunited with their parents.

In 17% of the cases, the child's recovery is a direct result of the alert.

As of December 2020, 1,029 children rescued specifically because of the system.

Photo courtesy of Capital One
True

Growing up in Virginia, Dominique Meeks Gombe idolized her family physician — a young Black woman who inspired Meeks Gombe to pursue her passion for chemistry.

While Meeks Gombe began her career working in an environmental chemistry lab, after observing multiple inefficient processes in and around the lab, she took the initiative to teach herself to code in order to automate and streamline those issues.

That sparked her love for coding and imminent career shift. Now a software engineer at Capital One, Meeks Gombe wants to be a similar role model to her childhood mentor and encourage girls to pursue any career they desire.

"I'm so passionate about technology because that's where the world is going," Meeks Gombe said. "All of today's problems will be solved using technology. So it's very important for me, as a Black woman, to be at the proverbial table with my unique perspective."

Since 2019, she and her fellow Capital One associates have partnered with the Capital One Coders program and Girls For A Change to teach coding fundamentals to middle school girls.

The nonprofit's mission is aimed at empowering Black girls in Central Virginia. The organization focuses on designing, leading, funding and implementing social change projects that tackle issues girls face in their own neighborhoods.

Girls For a Change is one of many local nonprofits that receive support from the Capital One Impact Initiative, which strives to close gaps in equity while helping people gain better access to economic and social opportunities. The initial $200 million, five-year national commitment aims to support growth in underserved communities as well as advance socioeconomic mobility.

Keep Reading Show less
True


Often, parents of children with special needs struggle to find Halloween costumes that will accommodate medical equipment or provide a proper fit. And figuring out how to make one? Yikes.

There's good news; shopDisney has added new ensembles to their already impressive line of adaptive play costumes. And from 8/30 - 9/26, there's a 20% off sale for all costume and costume accessory orders of $75+ with code Spooky.

When looking for the right costume, kids with unique needs have a lot of extra factors to consider: wheelchair wheels get tangled up in too-long material, feeding tubes could get twisted the wrong way, and children with sensory processing disorders struggle with the wrong kind of fabric, seams, or tags. There are a lot of different obstacles that can come between a kid and the ability to wear the costume of their choice, which is why it's so awesome that more and more companies are recognizing the need for inclusive creations that make it easy for everyone to enjoy the magic of make-believe.

Created with inclusivity in mind, the adaptive line is designed to discreetly accommodate tubes or wires from the front or the back, with lots of stretch, extra length and roomier cut, and self-stick fabric closures to make getting dressed hassle-free. The online shop provides details on sizing and breaks down the magical elements of each outfit and accessory, taking the guesswork out of selecting the perfect costume for the whole family.

Your child will be able to defeat Emperor Zurg in comfort with the Buzz Lightyear costume featuring a discreet flap opening at the front for easy tube access, with self-stick fabric closure. There is also an opening at the rear for wheelchair-friendly wear, and longer-length inseams to accommodate seated guests. To infinity and beyond!

An added bonus: many of the costumes offer a coordinating wheelchair cover set to add a major boost of fun. Kids can give their ride a total makeover—all covers are made to fit standard size chairs with 24" wheels—to transform it into anything from The Mandalorian's Razor Crest ship to Cinderella's Coach. Some options even come equipped with sounds and lights!

From babies to adults and adaptive to the group, shopDisney's expansive variety of Halloween costumes and accessories are inclusive of all.

Don't forget about your furry companions! Everyone loves to see a costumed pet trotting around, regardless of the occasion. You can literally dress your four-legged friend to look like Sven from Frozen, which might not sound like something you need in your life but...you totally do. CUTENESS OVERLOAD.

This year has been tough for everyone, so when a child gets that look of unfettered joy that comes from finally getting to wear the costume of their dreams, it's extra rewarding. Don't wait until the last minute to start looking for the right ensemble!


*Upworthy may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through affiliate links on our site.