tv NBC Bay Area News Special NBC May 10, 2014 6:30pm-7:01pm PDT
nothing is going -- i'm going to make it happen. >> look at that. >> a mother and her adult autistic son team up to create one-of-a-kind artwork. >> there's a beauty in what he does and who he is, and i want that to be seen. >> and now you can buy a piece of it. and a nasa ames researcher goes on an out of this world mission, to prove what many thought were impossible. >> it really felt wonderful. yes, we're finally going to get started. building a spacecraft, getting those answers. >> here's nbc bay area's garvin thomas. >> thank you so much for joining us. this is a show unlike any other you'll find on bay area tv. one half hour of nothing but stories about the good people are doing around us. sometimes, though, even the best of intentions don't pan out exactly as planned, due to no one's fault but the weather. this past winter we all know was a very dry one and at times
downright warm. that was a serious problem for people who make their living off the land, but also for one san jose man who had dreams planted in the soil. his name is rich santoro. he's famous for his backyard flower displays, but this year, well, he wanted to share his passion with many more people. big dreams sometimes require a big canvas. that perhaps the simplest answer to a question many who have passed this milpitas hillside over the winter may have been asking. namely, just what is that guy doing up there? well, that guy is rich santoro, and his answer to that question runs a little deeper. >> some people find their purpose later in life. you've got to keep trying. >> reporter: we first met rich two years ago in his backyard. by then rich was already
semi-famous as the bald guy of san jose. for a decade he had been planting thousands upon thousands of bulbs in his backyard and then opening it up to share the beauty with the rest of the world. this year rich planted more than 10,000. still, it wasn't enough to satisfy his desire to share his love of flowers with the world. >> my mission, i have a mission, my mission is to make bold gardening sort of a fad. >> reporter: which brings us back to the hillside in millipemilpita milpitas. in december rich asked the owner of this horse farm if he could plant a few thousand bulbs here spelling out a secret message that would only appear once the bulbs did. >> this was supposed to take four days to do. it took 23 days. so i missed it by that much. >> reporter: well, not only was rich's timing off, his choice of winters was pretty bad too. >> we'll likely shatter that record. >> reporter: not long after rich planted the bulbs, nature cooked them where they sat.
>> if one is mildewed -- >> reporter: the big splashy display of rich's dreams is gone, for now. >> i'm going to do it again. i'm going to make it happen. i'm pretty tenacious. ask my wife. >> reporter: there's no doubt about that. if we've learned anything from rich over the years, it's that water is to flowers like hope is to dreamers. neither lasts long without it. it's not just natural beauty we're surrounded by in the bay area, there's incredible wealth and generosity to match. but as the students of one peninsula school show us, you don't have to be rich to share the wealth. not too long ago a kindergartner's mom walked into the principal's office at cesar chavez green oaks academy to ask if she could hold a bake sale at the school. she was told no. but the principal said she had
two good reasons for doing so. one at a school where 96% of the students receive free or reduced priced lurchlaunches, bake sale aren't allowed. >> that's not going to be enough. i know bake sales only give you $100 and this mother needs more than that. >> reporter: that's because the mother was trying to raise money for pay for her son's cancer treatments. >> he's doing a little better lately, but also you'll see him running off to the bathroom and sometimes he'll come into the office, my stomach hurts, i feel very sick, can i go home. >> reporter: but while she had to tell the mom her request was denied, she told her, her timing was perfect. cesar chavez academy's motto is dream big, work hard, give back, and every march is when the giving back happens. >> we needed a plan to give back. >> reporter: and so when members of the student council and renaissance club met to choose how to give back this year, they didn't have to look far.
but what could these kids, among the poorest of the bay area's poor, afford to give? >> thank you. >> reporter: the answer may have just been pennies, but it was a lot of pennies. every morning during the month of march, students passed a plastic bucket from room to room. every morning, students dug into their pockets and emptied their piggy banks to give. and every day the tidal wave of change grew. in the end, close to $2,000, much of it one penny at a time. >> when you step back and you just sow the seeds, instigate a little greatness in them, they will surprise you. >> reporter: it may not be everything the sick boy's family needs, but it may just be a lesson we all need, about giving what you can, even when it's just a little. speaking of kids, parents of
special needs children often have to accept that others don't always see the same beauty in their child as they do. but what if you could help others to not only see that beauty, but buy a piece of it? that's what patty gay has done. an illustrator by profession, patty has collaborated with many other artists in her career, but one is more special than the rest for a number of reasons. patty gay has been an artist for most of her life, and a mother for half of it. still, it wasn't until later in her life that patty discovered a way to bring both those worlds together in the most beautiful of ways. >> there's a beauty in what he does and who he is, and i want that to be seen. >> reporter: he is noah, patty's 22-year-old autistic son. noah is what autism experts call
nonverbal. it means he can't tell you that he loves to help his mother in the grocery store or loves to go for walks in the woods. >> yeah, it's so nice out today. >> reporter: still, noah manages to get the message across. >> there he goes. >> reporter: it's how patty has known ever since he was a little boy that noah loved it, when painting time rolled around. >> yeah. look at that. >> reporter: still does, as a matter of fact. noah seems to enjoy the colors, the textures and the sensations that come from pointing with fingers, rollers and sponges. >> oh, look at that. >> reporter: patty has always loved what noah created, but only a couple years ago came up with an ingenious way for the two of them to collaborate. >> i just -- i was looking at the textures and i just thought this would be really cool. we have tons of cool combinations. >> reporter: cool if he used his art as her palette.
patty scanned hundreds of noah's paintings into her computer and then used pieces of them to create these. animals, flowers, beach scenes. every bit of blue, yellow, red and brown in patty's creations, started with a noah creation. >> so it really is this connection of the two of us into creating something that i love. >> reporter: and as it turns out, not just art, but business. patty and noah's two can artwork got the notice of manufacturers who are putting it on tumblers, pillow cases and who knows what else. the beauty of a one-of-a-kind collaboration coming to a store near you this spring. coming up, he's a man of science who doesn't leave many things to chance. >> ground looks solid. >> so why did it take decades to
in the tv news birusiness, time is often our enemy. there is rarely enough time to say everything we want to say. well, one san jose filmmaker is facing a bit of a time crunch as well. chris henacy is in a hurry to get his film made and his message out while he still can. >> 1, 2, 1, 2, is it on? make sure it's on. >> ever since chris bought his first video camera 25 years ago, behind the lens is somewhere he has always felt right at home.
so much so chris made it his career, shooting weddings, bar mitzvahs, corporate videos, injecting each shoot with a little of his humor. >> i don't know who you are but i want to party with you. >> reporter: on that score this shoot on a grassy hillside in south san jose is no different. >> oh, this is a cool shot. >> reporter: and yet it is very different. chris, you see, is busy shooting the story of his life, in more ways than one. >> this is not the story that i want to tell, this is the story i have to tell. >> reporter: chris grew up on long island, new york, all state in track as a high schooler, fit and athletic as an adult. it's why the diagnosis five years ago of an aggressive form of prostate cancer hit him so hard. >> are you kidding me? me? how did that happen? >> reporter: the shocks, however, were just beginning. not a month after radical surgery for chris, his biwife,
betsy, delivered their first child hannah, three months early. one pound, 9 ounces. >> immediately i was thrust into a situation where not only i had a life-threatening situation going on but i have a daughter now that was a pound and a half. >> where are we going,mommy? >> to see my big girl. >> reporter: chris responded to the situation, though, not with despair but once again humor. he feels an upbeat, positive attitude got him and hannah through the worst of it. she is now a thriving 4-year-old, and chris is on a mission to tell her and his story through a film. touched by hannah, it's called, and inspirational is what it's meant to be. chris working fast, not only because he's passionate, but because while hannah is fine, he is not. signs point to a return of his cancer. >> we're rolling. i've got a great shot right
here. >> reporter: rather than get down, he's getting to work, hoping to make the most of his story and the time he has left. >> and every second that i'm going to be here, i'm going to be passionate about what i do and i'm going to try to make a difference action even if it's only another five years or ten years. >> from the power of positive thinking to the power of kindness, three years ago rama was an eighth grade student at one of the south bay's most prestigious private schools. very smart, but very shy, rama's parents decided she needed a change. well, it worked in ways they couldn't have imagined, thanks in part to a single act of kindness. a change of scenery doesn't always translate into a change for the better. >> there are three types of nuclear reactions. >> reporter: at least not right away. >> and we'll talk about those three right now. >> reporter: it didn't three years ago when she transferred as a high school freshman to san jose's brand new summit to home
charter school. always incredibly smart, rama was also painfully shy. now finding herself somewhere she didn't know a soul. >> i never talked to people. not that much. >> reporter: in fact this story really begins with rama not talking to anyone, just sitting on a bench at school alone, of course. >> but then there was like a couple of kids who came up to me and they were like, hey, what's your name, where did you come from. after that i started hanging out with them. >> reporter: it turns out what happened on that bench was the crack in rama's shell that she needed to begin breaking out of it. >> and now because of them, i'm like who i am today. >> remember you made this? >> reporter: and who she is, is pretty special. >> you might want to do like a regression line. >> reporter: rama, you see, wanted to pay forward some of her new friends' kindness. already far ahead in her studies, rama saw an opportunity with a handful of fellow students struggling to pass the california high school exit
exam. >> so i went to my english teacher and i asked her, like, can i coach these students so they can pass? within three months i coached them and they all passed. this was the start of the peer tutoring club. >> reporter: and the rest, they say, is history. or in rama's case, math, science and english as well. every day during lunch and all day on friday, rama leads a team of peer tutors. and in this, her junior year, rama has by herself tutored more than 120 fellow students. >> so you personally have tutored about half the school. >> yeah. yeah. >> reporter: her teachers are understandably grateful. >> yeah. she's an incredible model of compassion. >> reporter: not just compassion, but dedication as well, and proof that a little bit of kindness can go a long, long way. >> okay. pass, okay! coming up, they may be
cute -- >> get your ears wiggling. >> but they require tons of care. meet the kitty crew ausader who helps these tiny kittens with little more than a thank you. they were wrong, okay, it's just that simple. >> and he's a nasa ammes scientist who doesn't take no for an answer, even if it takes 30 years to get a yes.
this next story is the stuff of scientific legend, and the man who never waivvered in his knowledge, even if it took decades to get his idea off the ground. way off the ground. the fact that bill was consistent and followed through on his dreams is a surprise to no one who knows him. >> velocity 33,000 feet per second. >> reporter: on july 24th, 1969, the apollo 11 capsule carrying the first men ever to walk on the moon began its descent through earth's atmosphere.
the whole world, it seems, held its collective breath waiting to see if the spacecraft could withstand the intense heat of re-entry. the whole world, that is, except bill baruki. >> there was never any doubt in my mind they would come back safely. >> reporter: it was bill's research, you see, that went into designing the heat shields protecting the lives of those american heroes. >> we knew what we were doing. we dotted all the is, crossed all the ts, it was going to be a success. >> reporter: bill, it turns out, it one very confident space scientist at nasa ames research center in mountain view. he is sure when he is right and has proven it yet again in a very big way. in 2009 nasa launched the kepler mission into orbit. its job, to stare unblinkingly at one corner of the galaxy, looking not for stars but for the planets that may be orbiting
them. bill came up with the idea 30 years ago and was immediately told it would never work. >> the reception was always negative action and that was very uniform. >> reporter: but bill, it seems, is just as persistent as he is confident. he cobbled together enough funding over the years to put together a prototype in his lab. the doubters, able to slow bill down, but never stop him. >> they were wrong. okay, it's just that simple. >> reporter: and after so many rejections, the green light finally came in 2000. >> it really felt wonderful to say yes, we're finally going to get started. building a spacecraft, getting those answers. we had the talk about how to calculate -- >> reporter: and get those answers they have. kepler, you may have heard, is a smashing success. it has to date confirmed discoveries of close to 1,000 planets and just recently the team revealed the discovery of
kepler 186-f, the first earth-sized planet in what is called a habitable zone around a sun other than ours. bill and his team continually expounding the boundaries of human knowledge and wowing the world. except for bill, of course. >> it was right at my expectations. coming up, you can call her the kitty rescuer, but that wasn't always the case. >> i was actually just a nice, calm volunteer over at the spca 20 years ago. >> see how she became responsible for saving 10,000 feral and unwanted kittens in san francisco.
used to a crowded house. so when her kids grew up and moved out, perhaps toni couldn't help herself but fill the house again, and thousands of unwanted animals are better off because of it. there is a home in san francisco's upper hait neighborhood that is picturesque on the outside. >> get your ears wiggling. >> reporter: and cute as heck on the inside. >> what? come here, kitty. >> reporter: at the moment, there are 11 kittens. not a single one weighing more than two pounds, who call toni seastack's home their own. and have no idea how lucky they are because of it. toni is the toni of toni's kitty rescue, responsible for saving the lives of close to 10,000 feral and unwanted kittens in san francisco over the past decade. her home wasn't always a kitten sanctuary, though. like the animals she cares for,
toni's rescue efforts started small. >> i was actually just a nice, calm volunteer over at the spca 20 years ago, and i just sat at the desk and talked to normal people and everything was great. and then i guess my cat died and they said do you want to foster? and so i ended up taking home a mom and kitten. >> it went so well toni did it again and again. >> pretty crammed in. >> reporter: and there is now nothing calm about toni's volunteer life. >> so let's see what you've got. >> reporter: every day during kitten season, you can find toni at san francisco's animal care and control. >> oh, my god, you guys are a mess. >> reporter: on this day, more than a dozen feral kittens are brought in. tony helps them get the baths they need, the shots they require -- >> they look like they're all about the same weight. >> reporter: and eventually, the foster homes they deserve. it should be said in many, if not most other parts of the state and the country, kittens less than eight weeks old get
none of those things. >> you know, most shelters don't take neonates in so most of them were killed. >> reporter: even with a team of volunteers to help with the fostering, toni puts in an amazing amount of work, especially considering she gets paid absolutely nothing for the effort. well, not paid in any currency other than cuteness. >> i just love it. >> thank you so much for joining us. you can always see new bay area proud stories every tuesday and thursday during our 5:00 newscast. you can also watch all the stories we've done on our website. just go to nbcbayarea.com and scroll down on the home page to bay area proud. have a great night and we'll see you next time.
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wedding as she separates fact from fiction in her own words. >> the it's soon. >>reporter: new last name soon not already. as kim shots down the rumor that "vogue".com take she and kanye are married with wedding celebration apparently scheduled for may 24th in pari paris. reports claim they actually made it official here in the states. kim followed up that wedding denial with a twitter tear 7 tweet in 14 minutes to somewhat out the stories. 4 secret straight from kim. no. 1, we are not married yet. 2 we are not filming our wedding for keeping wupt kardashian. everything leading up to and after as much as we would love to share the memory on camera we decided to keep this close to our heart and share some photo. 3 no, guest list released. fake ones