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Remember this viral Hurricane Katrina photo? Finally, these two reunited.

"When she wrapped me up with that hug, I just melted, and the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders."

Remember this viral Hurricane Katrina photo? Finally, these two reunited.

About 10 years ago, in the days following Hurricane Katrina, this photo was taken.


It changed Michael Maroney's life.

Air Force Master Sgt. Michael Maroney, seen on the left above, saved over 140 people in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, one of the most devastating natural disasters in U.S. history. But one rescue in particular stood out.


He helped save then-3-year-old LeShay Brown, and the joyous moment was caught on camera by the Airman 1st Class Veronica Pierce. The picture, taken amid overwhelming heartache, reflects a pivotal moment for Maroney.

"When she wrapped me up with that hug, I just melted, and the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders," Maroney told ABC News. "Everything in the world just stopped, and I wasn't in New Orleans or in the devastation, I was just being hugged by a beautiful little girl."

But Maroney — who said he was especially "drawn to her" because he had two boys about her age — hadn't caught Brown's name at the time.

He spent the past decade wondering who and where she was.

In March 2015, Maroney launched a social media campaign to find the girl who changed his life.

He created the hashtag #FindKatrinaGirl in hopes that it'd eventually lead him to Brown.

And, thankfully, it did.

One of Brown's friends contacted Maroney's son on Instagram, according to ABC News, and the connection led to their meeting during an episode of BET's "The Real" talk show, which aired Sept. 16, 2015.

A photo posted by The Real Talk Show (@therealdaytime) on


It was a reunion they'll both remember forever.

Maroney finally met Brown, who now lives in Mississippi and is "a straight-A student with dreams of becoming a lawyer," according to Loni Love of "The Real."

The tear-filled experience was an emotional one — especially for Maroney.

"If I can explain to you how important your hug was ... that small gesture — it helped me through bad days and dark days."

GIFs via "The Real."

Watch the moving clip of their reunion below:

Courtesy of Verizon
True

If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

via CNN / Twitter

Eviction seemed imminent for Dasha Kelly, 32, and her three young daughters Sharron, 8; Kia, 6; and Imani, 5, on Monday. The eviction moratorium expired over the weekend and it looked like there was no way for them to avoid becoming homeless.

The former Las Vegas card dealer lost her job due to casino closures during the pandemic and needed $2,000 to cover her back rent. The mother of three couldn't bear the thought of being put out of her apartment with three children in the scorching Nevada desert.

"I had no idea what we were going to do," Kelly said, according to KOAT.

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