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FindingGobi_CVR (2)Readers looking to put a little pep in their step should keep their eye out for a canine’s take on inspiration. Finding Gobi is a memoir written by Dion Leonard about his seriously unconventional way of meeting his new loyal and furry best friend. The book was just recently published and the author is in the middle of conducting a book tour in the US and in the United Kingdom.

Dion Leonard is an Australian-native living in the Edinburgh, Scotland with his wife, Lucja. Leonard is a 42-year-old, seasoned ultramarathon runner. An ultramarathon is a 155 mile, 6 stage race that spans over 7 days.  The race is completely self-sufficient, which means that all food and other necessities that’s needed for the race must be carried by the runner. The only thing that is provided by the organizers is water.

Leonard and Gobi first came into contact at the end of day one. Leonard claimed that Gobi was going around to the other runners trying to get food from them but she was not getting anything from him.  They officially met on day two when she was right next to him at the starting line and trailed behind him for the race. Gobi ran a total of four stages of the race; she competed on days one, two, three and six. In total, Gobi ran a total of 77 miles. For stages four and five she wasn’t able to participate due to extreme heat and terrain conditions, she was transported to that stages stopping point by officials, where she would wait at the finish line for Leonard.

Deon Leonard said that his demeanor changed throughout the race because of Gobi.  Before meeting her, he claimed to be solely focused on the race, competing well, and hopefully winning.   After meeting her, he just wanted her to be healthy and right there beside him.  Their bond grew each day and eventually Leonard made that decision that he was taking her home with him after it was over.

On Aug. 15, 2016 Gobi was scheduled to travel to Beijing to go through quarantine before heading to her forever home with Dion and Lucja Leonard.  That day she seemed to have wondered out of an open door into the city of Urumqi that is home to around 3 million people. In all efforts to find Gobi, Leonard traveled back to China and launched a social media campaign.  He also infested the city with posters with her picture on them. The efforts that were put forth by random strangers that just wanted to help Dion were remarkable. He knew the odds weren’t in his favor but he still felt he needed to try. “I needed to come and do it, just to be sure in my own mind I had done it,” Leonard said in an interview with BBC Radio Five Live. His worst fear was that she had ran off to the countryside that surrounded the city where the natives may have not even known about the extensive search that was taking place.

One evening Dion Leonard had received a cryptic phone call from one man claiming that he and his son had seen a similar looking dog to Gobi in a park while walking their own dog.  The man on the phone had really seemed to think that he had found the true Gobi.  Leonard was a little unsure just because he had already had a few leads that were duds and the pictures that the man had sent weren’t of the best quality.

When Leonard walked into the room Gobi instantly recognized him and was overjoyed.  She was jumping all over him and crying.  The two were officially reunited on Aug. 24th, 2016. Before going home officially with Leonard she still had to go through the 90 days of quarantine in Beijing. Gobi made it to Edinburgh in January 2017.

The entire story of Gobi and Dion is almost unbelievable. From the extremely long trek across desert, to Gobi being lost in huge city crowded with people, starting a social media campaign that raised 38,000 pounds to get Gobi to Leonard’s home plus an additional 9,300 pounds to back the initial search, and that Gobi was found and returned, no wonder thing are heading fast for this story to be made into a movie.  The story is something that should be shared. In August, 2017 the children’s book and young adult book are set to be released to appeal specifically to the younger audiences.  The original book is already on sale and is getting incredible reviews. There is even some talk on a movie possibly being made by Twentieth Century Fox but that idea is still in the very premature stages. Fingers crossed that everything will end up working out for that but until then the book does the trick of depicting the bond of man and companion.

jk_rowlingJune 26, 1997, exactly 20 years ago from today is the day that the wizard world and muggle world finally intermingled.  Today marks the 20th anniversary of the first Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s (Sorcerer’s in the U.S.) Stone, being published. Despite how well known and loved the series is it’s hard to believe that it didn’t have the quickest start up. In J.K. Rowling terms she received “loads” of rejections at first.  It wasn’t until a small publishing company, Bloomsbury, took to the story and spells from the boy who lived and decided to take a chance on Harry and his gang.

The Harry Potter success rate is nothing short of magical.  Originally, only 500 hardback copies were released and around 300 copies were distributed to libraries.  The book didn’t receive much uproar until The Scotsman wrote a notable review that drew some attention. It claimed that the story had “all the makings of a classic,” and that it did. It took over a span of 10 years for the full series to be published. More than 450 million copies of the novels have been sold since the first release date. They have also been translated into a little over 60 languages.  The eight films show a success rate all on their own as well with raking in more than $2 billion dollars. Collectively, the novels and films are valued at around $15 billion dollars. Universal Studios with its two locations in Orlando, FL and Hollywood, CA have also had huge success rates with the opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  The parks depict the favorite locations such as King’s Cross Station, Hogsmeade village and even the Hogwarts castle. The sections host rides, stores, walk-through interactions and eateries all mentioned in the novels.

So many people have taken an appreciation for the series and are celebrating today. Facebook and Twitter even casted a few spells of their own to make today even more magical. When the words “Harry Potter,” “Gryffindor,” “Ravenclaw,” “Hufflepuff,” or “Slytherin,” are typed in a post they will show up in their prized house colors.  Also, if those Harry Potter-related words are touched a magic wand appears and sends a few sparks. Twitter has also shown its commemoration by using the hashtag “#HarryPotter20” with its own crooked glasses and lightning bolt emoji to add.  Some are posting on Twitter in reply to well written tweet by J.K. Rowling saying, “20 years ago today a world that I had lived in alone was suddenly open to others.  It’s been wonderful. Thank you. #HarryPotter20.”  Rowling has already received over 10,000 comments on the tweet from loving and appreciative fans.

Bloomsbury, the publishing company, has taken its own efforts to celebrate the boy in the cupboard under the stairs. A few days prior to the anniversary they organized a gathering to break a world record. They invited local kids of Bolton, UK to gather at Town Hall and asked them to dress as Harry Potter with robe, glasses, and wand.  With at least 700 kids in attendance, the Guinness World Record of “Largest gathering of people dressed as Harry Potter” was broken. Bloomsbury has also taken today to release four new editions of the first Harry Potter book each one decked out in the colors and crest of each Hogwarts house.  The paperback and hardback are decorated with different designs. There is also content in the in the new editions that was not featured in the original copies.

20 years ago a true idol was introduced to the muggle world and is celebrated today for all of the amazing things that he has brought.  Harry Potter showed the world bravery and introduced empathy. He also taught lessons on bullying, friendship, and perseverance. His legend has lived on for 20 years and it will continue to do so.  People will ask “Harry Potter is still successful? After all this time?” and there will be just one response: Always.

Women athletes

It’s the 45th anniversary of Title IX since it passed legislation in 1972. This law paved the way for women to have equal rights to play sports in college. The NCAA Gender-Equity Task Force proclaimed that “No individual should be discriminated against on the basis of gender, institutionally or nationally, in intercollegiate athletics.”

Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 also known as the Patsy T. Mink Equality Opportunity in Education Act, also declared. “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

This empowered women like tennis great Billy Jean King to take on the male establishment to win 39 Grand Slam tennis titles. It was her fight for equality in tennis to help the stars of today.

“Everybody should thank her and shake her hand,” King’s fellow tennis icon Chris Evert told CNN’s “Open Court.” “She put money in our pockets and provided a living for hundreds and hundreds of female athletes. “Tennis is the frontrunner in all sports in equality, so she deserves all of the credit.”

King is also well-known for competing against tennis player Bobby Riggs in “The Battle of the Sexes” exhibition game at the Houston Astrodome in 1973. Riggs was a former Wimbledon champion, who said he could beat any female player and spiced up the event with misogynist comments. “I’ll play her on clay, grass, wood, cement, marble or roller skates,” he quipped. Riggs also said that “women belong in the bedroom and kitchen, in that order.” Billie Jean King proved him wrong. She won the match and went on to show men everywhere that female athletes are a true force.

Decades before the breakthrough of Title IX, the first women’s rights convention was held in 1848 to discuss social and civil rights of women. Another famous first during that time was when Wyoming declared that every woman of the age of 21 may vote in any election in 1869. The territorial legislature of the state moved with brilliance to outlast the Congress, which lobbied to stop the law. A woman of the name of Victoria Woodhull became the first female to run for president for the Equal Rights Party and chose famous abolitionist Fredrick Douglas a few years later. This was unprecedented for a woman and it put a bull’s eye on her back. As gutsy as this Ohio native was, most women could not vote until the ratification of the 19th amendment in 1920!

Years later, we still struggle and we still have glass ceilings to break in sports, politics and on Main Street. The question is, will we finally smash them? Like those who marched in support for women to have the right to vote, Title IX  gave us the optimism inequality is unacceptable.

Coming to U.S. movie theaters on September 7th for a special one-night event, Extraordinary tells the trust story of the acclaimed ultra-marathoner David Horton. The film follows Horton and his dream of tackling a nearly 3,000-mile run, which takes a toll on not only his body, but his marriage.

Although proud of David’s incredible athletic accomplishments and the impact he has on his students as a college professor, the Horton family pays a high price for his years of competitive running. Following his open-heart surgery and irreparable damage to his knees, wife Nancy Horton is ready for Dave to put away his racing shoes for good and instead focus on his home-life. Instead, feeling called by God to “inspire people one last time,” Dave sets off for a race across America.

Created and produced by the department of Cinematic Arts at Liberty University, Extraordinary will become the first feature film in history to be released in movie theaters nationwide.

Extraordinary will encourage couples to go the distance in their marriages and is a wonderful opportunity to start a dialogue about honoring your family, persevering, and finishing well,” said Liberty University President Jerry Falwell. “Daily, we challenge our students and faculty to engage the world through Christian media and Extraordinary does that in a big way. This movie truly is a labor of love for Liberty University’s film school.”

Fathom events teamed up with Liberty University to bring the film to the masses.

“Family plays an important role in our society,” Fathom Events CEO John Rubey said. “This redemptive story brings to light some of the sacrifices of marriage but will inspire audiences to appreciate, support and treasure their loved ones.”

The faith-based movie discusses topics of family, redemption, marriage and personal relationships with the Lord. Following the premier of the movie, a special panel discussion will be held by Fathom Events that includes filmmakers, Extraordinary cast members, and marriage experts to to discuss the importance of maintaining a healthy marriage, along with practical ways to improve relationships. As Horton’s marriage was tested during his grueling run, the panel will explore the impact that following your dreams can have on those closest to you.

The film features stars such as Leland Klassen (Alter Egos), Shari Rigby (October Baby), Kirk Cameron (Fireproof), and Karen Abercrombie (War Room).

A list of theaters showcasing the movie and options to buy tickets can be found on the movies website.