Gemma Weston; Flyboard Extraordinaire

Good morning friends.

We have Gemma Weston, the Flyboard world champion on The Good News Channel today. I guess its not surprising as new technologies keep sprouting up, so do extreme sports. In Gemma’s case, more specifically, hydro-flight extreme water sports.  Flyboarding has been around for a couple of years and has recently made its way to mainstream media. The Flyboard is a PWC (Personal Water Craft) accessory that once installed, allows a person to elevate up to 45 feet in the air using water jet propulsion technology.

Gemma Watson - Fly-boarding

In the last year we did a story on Andrew Cotton who surfed the biggest wave ever in Portugal of 2014, recently we did a story on Roberta Mancino who has taken base jumping and wing-suit flying to a whole new level,  and today we have the privilege of featuring New Zealander, Gemma watson, one of the best flyboarders in the world.

Gemma 2

Flyboard world cup in Dubai.  You can see more of Gemma Weston on Instagram.

Just 3 months ago, I really knew nothing of flyboarding.  Then I started noticing videos all over social media of this young woman doing miraculous stunts 40 feet above water like Aquaman or something, or Aquawoman I should say. Well that Aquawoman, was Gemma Weston. Friends, this girl’s got skills. Serious skills.

Gemma Weston

This is Gigi, one of Gemma’s dogs back home in New Zealand. 

When one of Gemma’s videos first grazed my eye, I literally said to myself: “No way I just saw that” — Then I went back to watch her full 2 minute video and realized I did just see that. Basically, Flyboaring is a mixture of , skateboarding, surfing, skiing and flying in the air above water.

Video of Gemma Weston flyboarding in Dubai for World Cup 2015  — A Quick & Must See. 

Continue reading

Roberta Mancino: Jack of all Trades, Master of Everything

Hi friends. We are thrilled to feature Roberta Mancino on “The Good News Channel”

As you know we have been doing features on people and animals doing amazing things all of the world. Roberta is arguably one of the best skydivers, base jumpers and wing-suit flyers in the world. She’s racked up countless awards across all of those categories. I will list several of them later in this feature. We all have seen and heard of Skydiving and Base Jumping, but Wingsuit flying really made its way to the mainstream stage in just the last couple of years. I can say with confidence, Wingsuit flying is by far the most extreme sport on Earth.  We want to give a shout out to Matt Meyerson who represents Roberta for being so accommodating with respect to this feature.

Flying Smile


Just another day at the office for Roberta 

Roberta Mancino was born in Italy about 25 miles south of Rome. She keeps herself in tip top shape for the extreme life she lives.  She danced a lot in her life, she even was into kickboxing for 8 years, and she hits the gym frequently.  Before flying and diving with animals, she did many other sports starting with classic ballet at the age of 4 and kick boxing and boxing at the age of 14. Roberta first started skydiving in 2000 at 19 years old. Her first base jump was in 2009.

Roberta Swimming with Crocodile

Swimming with Crocodiles off the Coast of Mexico

As if that was not enough, Roberta is an avid scuba diver who frequently scuba dives with sharks and other marine life. All kinds of sharks; Tiger sharks, Hammerhead sharks, Whale sharks and etc. She also has an affection for stingrays and finds them very playful. Roberta has also spent time underwater with Manatee seals. The one encounter I saw that blew me away was when Roberta got up close and personal with a  crocodile. She said, “Often times Predators are misunderstood. What looks like a monster can actually be harmless and gentle if you show them love”  —  You can see more of Roberta swimming with Crocodiles.

Wing Suit flying in Panama City

Flying between buildings in panama city photo by Noah Bahnson.  Checkout Robert’s Website.

Roberta is very well known in the skydiving and Wing-Suit flying circles, but what catapulted her on the mainstream stage was her Wingsuit flight through two towers in Panama City, in December of 2015. This is when Sammy & Family first learned of Roberta Mancino.  I remember seeing this young woman literally fly like a bird between two towers in Panama City and almost fell off my chair.

picture selfie with my Gopro in Panama

Selfie with my Gopro in Panama. Roberta is sponsored by Gopro. See more of Robert’s adventures on her  Facebook Page

I started looking around my living room wondering if I actually just saw that, or if I was inside of some dream or something. So I started doing some research on this real life Super Hero to learn what she was all about. The more I read about her, the more I could not believe how Roberta literally lives life to a level I’ve never seen before.

Roberta with two Whale Sharks

photo by Shawn Heinrichs in between the whale sharks, Cebu Philippines.  Checkout some of Robert’s best skydiving and scuba diving experiences on her;

You might want to think of Roberta Mancino as a combination of a 21st Century Wonder Woman, a female version of James Bond and Indiana Jones. Here’s the thing about those comparisons, that still would not compare to the real life of Roberta. I mean after all, the characters I just mentioned are Actors and Actresses. Roberta Mancino is the Real Life version of all of them put together and more.

GoPro adventure in Canada

In Canada during the Gopro adventure camp. Roberta always makes time for animals and nature. 

I will take it a step further, if the Hollywood studios that own the James Bond Franchise were smart, they would change “007’s” name to “00Mancino” starring Roberta Mancino — Think about it, the studios would Not even have to write the script because Roberta’s actual life is the script.  Someone get Hollywood on the phone, Roberta Mancino will trounce the box offices bringing in billions of dollars worldwide in tickets sales. No question about it.

GoPro Selfie in Canada

Selfie with my Gopro in Canada during Gopro adventure camp. More of Roberta on Facebook.

Roberta has done stunt work for movies like “Iron Man Three” and others, and television shows also. But for Pete’s sake, forget hiring her as a stunt woman, give her the leading role. Anyway, that is my two cents for Hollywood in regards to this larger than life young lady.

bobby brown commercial in dubai photo by Noah Bahnson

Bobby Brown commercial in Dubai photo by Noah Bahnson.  Roberta is Sponsored by Gopro.

Lets talk statistics. Roberta Mancino has done almost 9,000 skydives and about 500 of those were Wingsuit dives. She has done about 450 BASE jumps and 300 of those were Wingsuit jumps. By the way, you did not misread that. She has done just about Nine Thousand Skydives. That number is staggering. Think about just hitting the “Enter” key on your keyboard 9000 times, that would be crazy right ?  Well that’s how many times she has jumped out of small aircraft and helicopters, ranging from 5,000 to 15,000 feet high. All I can say to that is, Holy _hit. Pardon my French.

Roberta Wingsuit flying in Dubai

Picture During the Bobby Brown commercial in Dubai photo by Noah Bahnson
For those unfamiliar with what exactly Wingsuit flying is, this will help….. Wingsuit flying is the art of flying the human body through the air using a special jumpsuit, called a wingsuit. It’s the closest thing to flying like a bird does.  The Wingsuit shapes the body into an airfoil, which helps to create lift. A wingsuit can be flown from spots that provide enough altitude to glide through the air, such as skydiving aircraft or BASE jumping exit points.

picture photo with my mom in rome

Roberta with her mom in Rome

Let’s take a closer look at what BASE Jumping is.  BASE is an acronym for building, antenna, span, and Earth; which are the objects that Base Jumpers jump from. So in essence, they jump from buildings, antenna towers, span, which is a term used for all kinds of bridges. The Earth part of the Acronym, “BASE” refers to mountains, cliffs, canyons and etc.  Most base jumps take place below 800 feet. The average base jump is anywhere from 200 to 500 feet.

picture at the safari zoo photo by jeb corliss

picture at the safari zoo photo by Jeb Corliss

This Video above is of Roberta Wing-suit flying through Panama City Skyline. Folks this is possibly the greatest Video of all time.  #Yup

 picture with my best friends those girls are incredible skydivers in Norway

Roberta with her best friends who are incredible skydivers in Norway.
The more I learned about Roberta, the more impressed I became. In the midst of all these extreme sports she is involved in, whether in the air or the Ocean, she is a very grounded person. Her life philosophy is follow your dreams until they become true. It doesn’t happen overnight, you have to put in the work and be patient. Sammy & Family loves that message. Too often, we see all this glory in the media and forget the fact that 15 years of work went into perfecting these skills. And not just work, hard core training.
roberta 8
 Photo by Max Haim at the rescue zoo in Dubai with baby lion.  More of Roberta on Facebook.
Roberta also happens to be a Supermodel. She did her first modeling job at 16 years old. She been featured in Vouge Italy, Rolling Stone (Italy), Vanity Fair (Italy), New York Times (USA), Extreme SPort Magazine (Australia), Maxim (USA), Men’s Fitness (USA) and dozens of other shoots for print magazines.  Roberta has done many commercials as well.  From, Honda, to Hello Kitty international campaign, to Ducati Moto, Tittarelli Jewels and so on and so on.
picture underwater in Tahiti Monrea photo by @mataiealifestyle
 Awesome picture of the Oceans surface seemingly connected to the sky. picture underwater in Tahiti Monrea..  photo by @mataiealifestyle on Instagram. 

Although Roberta is a one of Italy’s top models, she promotes herself more as an extreme sports athlete. It’s not that she does not like to model, but it pails in comparison to jumping out of planes when skydiving, BASE jumping off mountains or Wingsuit jumps and flying like a bird.  When you think of it in those terms, you can see how runway modeling might seem kind of flat.

picture whale shark red dress photo by Kristian Schmidt in Cebu philippines

 Whale shark red dress photo by Kristian Schmidt in Cebu Philippines. Checkout Robert’s incredible pictures on Instagram

This photo shoot above with the Whale Shark is breathtaking.  Its a stunning photograph.  When “The Good News Channel” was deciding which pictures to use for this feature, it was overwhelming. I mean every picture was better than the next. We went through hundreds and hundreds of pictures of Roberta doing so many different activities that was hard to keep track. Fortunately, when we saw this picture with the whale shark, Roberta had commented that this had been one of her favorite pictures. So for us it was a No Brainer to use this one, lol.

 a day of skydiving in Puerto Escondido photo by Klockner

A day of skydiving in Puerto Escondido photo by Klockner

Roberta was all smiles despite that she’ll be free falling from 10,000 to 15,000 feet in the air within moments.  I guess its true what they say; “No Guts, No Glory.”

skydiving with clouds photo by my gopro

Skydiving in the clouds photo by Robert’s Gopro. More of Robert’a adventures on WEBSITE 

This is a powerful picture of Roberta and friends skydiving above the clouds. Despite the extreme nature of these kinds of sports, she speaks about the Comradery that has developed between these professional thrill seekers. Roberta admits that most of her friends are men due to the risk of such extreme sports. And she hopes to come across more female skydivers and Base Jumpers in the future.

Picture in China during the world wingsuit league photo by Kristian Schmidt

Picture in China during the world wing-suit league photo by Kristian Schmidt

When you are an Extreme Athlete, a Shark Diving enthusiast, a supermodel, and just a down to Earth really nice person, its no surprise to have crowds around you like this.

picture picture by Dario Perroflauta wings for love competition in China

Picture by Dario Perroflauta wings for love competition in China. See more of Roberta on Facebook.

To us mortals this picture above of Roberta Wingsuit flying in China, seems unfathomable. It’s amazing to see how poised and composed she is while flying like a bird. I guess it’s like they say; “Experience is the best teacher.” And Roberta Mancino is as experienced as they come.

with a sting ray in Tahiti photo by mataiealifestyle

With a sting ray in Tahiti photo by @mataiealifestyle on Instagram. 

Quote from Roberta “Sometimes I just want to be in the ocean with those animals and feel thankful to be part of their day and happy to play with them.”

Roberta Noah 1

Here’s Roberta skydiving, cool as a cucumber.  Here’s the literal definition of Skydiving; its a method of exiting an aircraft and returning to Earth with the aid of gravity, then slowing down during the last part of the descent by using a Parachute.  See more of Roberta on Instagram.

Roberta with Manatee Seal

Roberta with Manatee Seal in Florida.  See more of Roberta on her Website.

This is a very touching picture of Roberta and a Manatee Seal. It shows friendship across specie lines. What a wonderful world it could be.  Roberta says, “Beauty is in all living creatures.”

Friends, I will close with this. After doing my homework on Roberta and writing this story, let her be a reminder for us to live our lives. Not just exist simply because oxygen is still flowing through our bodies. But to engage in life and work at something you love. There is a famous expression many of us are familiar with; “When you love what you do, you’ll never work another day in your life.” — Roberta Mancino clearly lives by that expression.

This young woman at the age of 35 has lived more of a full life than 100 people put together. Roberta truly makes the world a better place with her kindness and passions. They say a cat has nine lives, well Roberta Mancino must have hundreds of lives then. I am truly inspired by this larger than life young woman.  We hope all of our friends from around the world were inspired by this feature as well.

Sponsors; GoPro and Turbolenza.

Representation; Matt Meyerson.  You can find him on Twitter; @MattRPRT

Below is a list of some of the Championships and awards Roberta has won.

2003 Malevski Cup, Russia Freestyle and Space Games Freestyle, 1st
2005 Italian Record
2005 Euro Record
2007 European Record for Formation Freefly
2007 World Record for Formation 69-Way Freefly
2005 Italian Nationals of Skydiving, 1st
World Record 108-way freefly
2013 ProBase Worldcup, 2nd

Source of award info above is from; 


Summation of her multiple Professions below;

Professional Extreme Athlete and Model
About 15 years of skydiving experience with 9000 skydives in locations all around the world.
For the past several years Roberta has been training extensively in the art of base jumping and wing-suit
flying. Over 12 years of scuba diving experience, recently focusing on diving with the most dangerous sharks on earth. Over 8 years of full contact kickboxing experience. Professional model for the last 15 years.

Samantha Bennet the Painter

Good afternoon friends.

We have a very special feature today on “The Good News Channel” — Say hello to Samantha Bennet. Shes a very talented and successful artist also know as; “PainerSam.  Samantha’s story is a story of heroism and resiliency. Through all her trials and tribulations, her art always bridged her back to life.

john lennon 24

John Lennon, Acrylic portrait painting with mixed media collage.

Before we start, I emailed Samantha last night telling her how moved I was by this story. As everyone knows we have featured all kinds of artists from all over the world. And we salute them all. But Samantha’s personal and artistic journey has been a story of triumph.

Samantha and Rescue

Samantha and a rescue.

Here’s a direct quote from her;  “My scars are my story and I am proud of them. I embrace the curious stares of strangers. Most of all, I hope they stare at my art and see that I am following my dreams.”      — Story Continues below;

My Mona Lisa

Samantha’s Mona Lisa, created for her first solo exhibit titled “Scar Portraits and Beyond.”– Mixed media Oil Painting.

Samantha’s passion for art did come from conventional ways. At just nine Months old, Samantha survived bacterial meningitis. The disease resulted in some fingers, toes and half her right foot being amputated. As a result of such horror, she had many reconstructive surgeries during her early years. Spending much of that time recovering is where she was drawn to sketching people.

amy winehouse light

Amy Winehouse, oil painting and collage

Continue reading

Travis Burke is Living the Dream

Good morning friends.

We have a fantastic feature today. This was an incredibly enjoyable piece to do. Say hello to Travis Burke. We have all heard the term “Home is where the Heart is” — Well Travis must have a big heart because he lives all over the country. He has seen and done things that I never even knew existed or was doable.

Travis and his Adventures The Wave in Arizona

At 29 years old Travis is an exceptional photographer with an incredible sense of adventure.  You might think of him as a 21st Century Indiana Jones. He doesn’t just want to live behind the camera, he also wants to be the object.  Between Surfing, Kite-Skateboarding, high-lining, or hanging off a 500 foot bridge to capture the perfect shot of base jumpers in Twin Falls, Idaho, Travis is a hands on photographer.

Travis 2Salty reflections along the California coast. This is a 40 minute exposure creating star trails around Polaris (the North Star)

Taking pictures is one thing, and experiencing it is another thing. When a photographer also participates in the activity, it brings a lot more passion and authenticity to the picture.


Quick to note, “High-Lining” is the sport of walking the Tight Rope.  Yes, Travis (pictured above) has walked a tight rope 130 feet long and 400 feet high. He is no ordinary photographer. World renowned High-lining specialist, Jeremy Miszewski has said only 100 people in the world can walk that kind of line. Travis is now one of those people.

Travis 3Beautiful yet dangerous Ice Caves in the Pacific Northwest.  See more of Travis’ work on Instragram; 

About 7 years ago on a family trip to Yosemite National Park in California, Travis bought a Nikon D300 and his world changed forever. He did not know that taking pictures on a family vacation would turn into unshakable passion and profession. Its like they say, if you love what you do, you’ll never work another day in your life.

Travis 4Backpacking the Lost Coast Trail with my girlfriend in California

Travis caught his break a couple years back when working for Grind TV.  He was an outdoor adventure photographer for them. He specializes in photographing all different types of athletes and sports.

My van after I just finished fully customizing it for my road trip around the country

Travis took his grandmother’s 1994 Dodge Ram Van and converted it into an “Adventure Mobile,” which allows him to work and travel full time, continuously photographing diverse locations. He’s been traveling and working out of his Van for about 2 years now. Below is the video of how Travis transformed his van into a high tech travelling home. Folks, don’t miss this video. Its hard to believe

Continue reading

It’s the most Wonderful time of the year

Feel free to listen to audio, or read the post; “Its the Most Wonderful time of the Year” right below the audio. Thank you.

Good evening friends.

Scott Smith here for Sammy & Family.  Being its the most wonderful time of year, we figured to take it back to NYC, because New York City is the Christmas Capital of the world.  As you all know the Christmas Tree is located in the heart of Rockefeller Center towering over a beautiful ice skating rink.

If you ever were skeptical about Magic, you wont be once you have experienced this live. No City on Earth does Christmas like the big apple.

This Tradition at Rock Center dates back all the way to 1933.  The Skating rink was built in 1936.  Today, in 2015, 83 years later, the tree stands at 80 feet high entertaining people from all over the world.

During the Holiday Season alone, up to 750, 000 come see the tree in person. Its literally the size of an 8 story building decorated to the hilt.  over 500,000 people walk by the tree everyday.

Million and millions of people from around the world tune into the Christmas Tree lighting Ceremony ever year.

Friends, I’m not a big traveler as you know.  Had I Not grown up in NY, visiting NYC during Christmas time would be number 1 on my bucket list starting immediately.

Goodnight everyone.  See you tomorrow.

Debbie Gibson Does It Her Way

Good morning friends. 

Sammy & Family is thrilled to have the one and only Debbie Gibson featured on “The Good News Channel” — We have been major fans of Debbie since the beginning of her career in the mid 1980’s all the way through her professional life now in 2015.  We are “DebHeads” and nothing is going to change that.  The world is a better place with Debbie Gibson in it. She been making  people happy from continent to continent for 30 years now.  Wow. 

Debbie and Rubix

Two sensations from the 80’s, Debbie Gibson and the Rubix Cube.  The only difference is Debbie Gibson is also a sensation in the new millennium.  The Rubix cube is still dated back in the 1980’s.  And full disclosure, still impossible for many to solve.   Photo Credit: Troy Smith Photography

 As I’ve told many of our friends from around the world, I originally grew up in Long Island, New York.  To me, Long Island only had 4 things going on.  We had Billy Joel, the Piano man, Debbie Gibson, The Piano girl, the Miracle Mile for shopping and The Roosevelt Mall for more shopping.  That is how I saw Long Island.  And as we all remember Debbie was a major fan of Billy Joel, and he was a big part of what inspired her career from the very beginning.  As a matter of fact, she was even brought on stage once by the Piano Man himself to duet and play keys on “Keeping The Faith” at the Nassau Coliseum. 

Debbie on Celebrity apprentice

Debbie Gibson from her appearance on the Celebrity Apprentice.  This Celebrity Apprentice pic is copyright to NBC Universal

Let me take it a step further.  Every guy on Long Island, whether you knew Debbie or not, had a crush on her.  You see with me, my crush never left.  I still have it even as a married man. A quick funny story, right before my wife and I got married on June 15th, 2013, I told my wife to be at that time, there is one stipulation to this marriage. I told her about my crush on Debbie and its non negotiable. The crush goes to the grave with me.  My wife to be said to me, “that is a very strange thing to say to someone right before you’re going to marry them”  — And I knew it was, but I’m a DebHead, and DebHeads hold their ground.  So Vanessa, my wife to be said, “Scott its kind of funny you mentioned that because I too have a stipulation to this marriage.  She said “I have a non negotiable crush on Leonardo Dicaprio and I insist we see every movie that he comes out with, as well as watch him on any movie playing on cable, on any given night.

Debbie Gibson, photo by RayGarcia

photo credit is

Continue reading

Melanie Raccoon

Good morning friends.

We have a fascinating feature today. Say hello to Melanie Raccoon. As you know, we have been writing on all kinds of animals for years, but I have never in my life come across such an intelligent and sweet animal as Melanie Raccoon. I have to believe Melanie is one of the smartest animals on Earth, and certainly the smartest Raccoon. Kimberly Unger, originally from the US and now living in England, is Melanie’s human mom. Kimberly says, “Melanie is like a daughter to me because we have such a wonderful bond.” —  Just recently a documentary was filmed about Melanie and Kimberly, and will most likely be broadcast on Television.  Sammy & Family would love to see that.

Kimberly and Melanie the Raccoon

Melanie Raccoon and human mom, Kimberly Unger chilling in the car together.  Photo credit goes to;

Kimberly is originally from Delaware, and moved to England 5 years ago. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a Master’s degree in Equine Science. Equine science is a specialization within animal science, which involves the study of reproduction, physiology, behavior and nutrition of horses. To say that Kimberly knows animals, is the understatement of the century.

Melanie 12

Melanie can be very curious and inquisitive. She loves to explore and learn. 

Kimberly has done animal behavioral research with internationally renowned animal behaviorists. She has had animals all of her life, has worked with, and trained other animals, including horses, dogs, parrots, etc. Kimberly has ridden horses for over 20 years and used to compete in show jumping. Kimberly currently has 3 baby raccoon’s that she is training and socializing.

Melanie and Nature

Despite Melanie being a domesticated house pet, she makes time to get in touch with nature.

There is a stigma about animals that know so many tricks and behaviors, that they are not really happy. Often people think of the circus when they see such a smart animal. I want to make the distinction in this feature, that a raccoon or most animals for that matter, if taken care of and loved, can be just as great as having a dog. The fact that an animal is so smart is not indicative of the animal’s state of happiness or unhappiness.  The treatment of the animal is.

The “Everybody Loves Sammy” community, which is comprised of animal lovers around the world, can say unequivocally that Melanie Raccoon is extremely loved, cared for and happily stimulated with all that she learns.

Melanie the RaccoonMelanie always make time for recreation. She’s smooth as a cucumber on her little Scooter.

OK, so lets find out who Melanie Raccoon is and what she’s all about. Melanie is four years old. Kimberly got her when she was 8 weeks old. Melanie is captive and hand raised. She knows over 100 behaviours. This little raccoon has the intelligence of a child. She’s almost human, but in critter form, so to speak.

Melanie the Raccoon

Melanie Loves her Porridge. Look at that smile while she prepares for her next taste

It’s funny, people normally think of raccoons in the sense of the animals that knock over our garbage cans at night while we sleep. But all animals would do that in order to find food to survive, even domesticated dogs if they had to. Kimberly shows us that raccoons, if loved and taken care of, can be just as great as any other pet companion. You can also see Melanie on Instagram.

Britain's Got Talent 2013 Auditions

Auditions for Britain’s Got Talent 2013. Kimberly and Melanie were judged by David Walliams, Alesha Dixon, Amanda Holden and Simon Cowell.  Photo credit goes to

Melanie the Raccoon

Melanie Raccoon’s YouTube Channel – You can also just click on picture above to bounce to Melanie’s YouTube Chanel. Friends, this Channel is a must see. Melanie Raccoon can do things some people can’t even do. I truly have never see anything like this in my life. 
Melanie 88

Melanie is very musically inclined, despite nibbling on the drumstick sometimes. 

Melanie the Raccoon

Melanie is so smart that she does not need a GPS to know where she is going.  She can just look out the window and know exactly where she is.  You can find Melanie on FB also; Melanie Raccoon.

Melanie the Raccoon

Melanie can be very preppy and academic.  Being from England she has learned to be very proper.


Information about Melanie and Kimberly

Visit Melanie and Kimberly at their upcoming website:  (the site is under construction, but please bookmark it for future reference).

  • Melanie is four years old.
  • She is captive bred and hand raised.
  • I got her when she was 8 weeks old, and I have taught her over 100 behaviours.
  • She loves people and other animals.
  • She is used to traveling in trains, buses, cars, and boats.
  • She loves to go for long walks and is used to traffic.
  • Melanie is like a daughter to me because we have such a wonderful bond.
  • Teaching her behaviors has strengthened this bond.
  • I have 3 baby raccoon’s who I am training/socializing now
  • I am from Delaware, in the USA, and moved to England 5 years ago.
  • I have a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a Master’s degree in Equine Science.
  • I have done animal behaviour research with internationally renown animal behaviourists.
  • I have had animals all of my life and have worked with and trained other animals, including horses, dogs, parrots, etc.
  • I have ridden horses for over 20 years and used to compete in show jumping.
  • Besides Melanie, I have three baby raccoons, an Aru Island Eclectus parrot, an Indian ring neck parakeet, a red-whiskered bulbul bird, a Hovawart dog, and two rare rabbit breeds.

Melanie the Raccoon

Melanie can be very Shakespearean; “To Swing, or not to swing, that is the question?” 

Fun Facts About Raccoons

  • President Coolidge and his wife had a raccoon named Rebecca.
  • The raccoon’s scientific name, Procyon lotor, means “washer dog” but it is a closer relative to the bear family.
  • Raccoons rank higher than cats and just below monkeys on the mammal IQ scale.
  • The word raccoon means “one who rubs, scrubs, and scratches with its hands”, and has been derived from the Proto-Algonquin language.
  • Raccoons are highly intelligent and have a manual dexterity close to that of apes. Their long delicate fingers easily open clam shells, trash cans and doors.
  • A raccoon can run at speeds up to 15 miles per hour.
  • Racoons are omnivorous animals, and eat acorns, leaves, grasshoppers, crickets, worms, frogs, clams, turtles and their eggs, snakes, fish, and squirrels. In urban areas, they survive on garbage and are sometimes seen eating roadkill.
  • Raccoons do not like tomatoes due to the high acidic content in them.
  • Scientists say that raccoons can make over 51 different sounds! They purr, whistle, growl, hiss, scream and more.
  • A raccoon’s hands are so nimble they can unlace a shoe, unlatch a cage and easily retrieve dimes from your shirt pocket.
  • Raccoons can rotate their hind feet a full 180 degrees in order to climb down from trees head first.

Melanie the Raccoon

Sammy & Family wants to thank Kimberly Unger for making the world a better place for animals. Through her love, care and knowledge about animals, Kimberly’s got the Magic touch.  She has literally dedicated her life to animals and sets the bar for the rest of us to follow.  Kimberly, we commend and salute you for all you’ve done for animals around the world.

On Facebook;  Melanie Raccoon

On Instagram; Melanie Raccoon

Story continues here; Unfortunately, there are numerous cases where orphaned raccoons have been cared for by loving people, only to have them confiscated by intimidating numbers of armed officers, and put to death. Kimberly hopes that she and Melanie will be able to help educate people, so this will not continue to happen. Here are some stories you can read. (Warning – they are hard to read):

The Government Took This Man’s Raccoon Away Because of a Viral Video

Tenn. agency rules with iron fist to end wildlife adoptions, some say (with video)

Pets of ‘Raccoon Man’ euthanized on Friday

The Empire State Building and Sammy

Good morning friends.  It was only a week ago that The Empire State Building hosted their historic event for endangered species. We figured to do a nice write up on this larger than life building and Sammy’s first class visit 4 Years Ago from the lobby to the very top. The official opening date of the Empire State Building was May 1st, 1931.  It remained the tallest building in NYC for 40 years until the Twin Towers were built. It took only one year and 45 days to build.  It took almost 7 million man hours to build.  There are observation decks on both the 86th floor and the 102nd.  Over 4 million visitors a year come to visit this bigger than life building.  The total height of the building is 1, 450 feet. I mean it’s literally in the clouds.

Sammy Empire

As I have mentioned to all of you before,  I was a trader for over 20 years on Wall Street.  But my first job on Wall Street was a cold caller, yes the young man that would not let you off the phone.  Be that as it may, my phone skills are unstoppable, unless of course you hang up on me which plenty of people did and do. So i called up the media department over Four Years Ago, and I said I would like to do a photo shoot at The Empire State Building for my website. They said terrific, lets get you set up.  So we were exchanging information and she asked me describe what kind of pictures I wanted for the article I was going to write.  I told her I wanted to take pictures of Sammy at all the hot spots in the building and particularly on the Observation Decks on Floor 86 and floor 102.

Esb sammy 3

So she said; “Scott who is Sammy?”  I said he’s  my 10 pound Pomeranian dog, he just loves adventures.  So the nice young lady said; “There are no dogs allowed in the Empire State Building.  So i said to myself; “OK Scott, time to break out the old calling skills from Wall Street”  —  So I said; “Young Lady, in this particular sense you can’t really look at him as a dog, in this case he’s a spokesman for “The Empire State Building” in NYC.  My website is going to do a featured story on the worlds most famous building sending more traffic to the building and that traffic will buy tickets to go to the observation decks.  And I repeated “Its really not a dog coming to the building, its a project.  The dog is just part of the project” — And I followed it up with one more closer, “Projects are allowed in the building, right?”  So this sweet young gal said, I wont mention her name, but she said: “Mr. Smith when would you like to come in for the photo shoot?”  — And without hesitation, I said” Tomorrow morning”

Empire Sammy

So my friends, other then an animated King Kong in 1933 at the top of The Empire State Building, Sammy Smith, the 10 pound Pomeranian to my knowledge is the only dog that was ever allowed in the greatest building ever.  Wait, wait, I just said “dog” — I meant to say “Project”  — A great New York lesson for our friends around the world.  Its all about semantics.  You say “Tomato” and i say Tomahto.   And with that, Sammy the project got to see the Empire State Building with first class personal tour.  They were literally creating restricting areas inside the building for my website to get the pictures I needed.

Sammy Empire

As I told you my late father was a commercial real estate broker in NYC.  So his job was to move companies from one building to another should a company decide to have their offices somewhere else.  During his years of being a commercial broker he showed prospective tenants many different spaces for lease inside the Empire State Building. But funny enough, the first time I saw this Iconic building was in the 1933 movie with King Kong climbing up it.  And no, I did Not actually see it in 1933 being that I was born in 1969.  King Kong was one of those movies they played ever year until the more recent ones were made like in 1976,  and then  another one in the New Millennium.

Empire Sammy

Its located on 5th Avenue between 33 and 34 street. Prime real estate for the world’s’ most famous building.  Many a times I have stood right in front of The Empire State Building and looked straight up and because its so tall, I almost fell over to keep looking up and up to find the top of it.  If you are in NYC, you must visit The Empire State Building.  Put it first on your list.

Jo Ann Smith; what’s so bad about aging ? Going with the tide seems wise to me

Your age = your happiness level

Good evening friends.

This is my mother Jo Ann Smith.  I really admire her message. She poses the question what is so bad about aging ? Where is that written ?  Is there somebody out there who doesn’t age that I should take this personally ?  Jo Ann wants to answer that rhetorically. There are 7 billion people on the Earth and each day, no matter who you are, you’re one day older.  Or for the positive people, one day wiser and happier.

The minute you’re born the time clock on your life is winding against you or for you depending how your look at it. I am 71 years old or young, call it what you will.  People have said my whole life that getting old sucks. Even the Rolling Stones sang in 1966,  ♫♫♫ What a drag it is getting old  ♫♫♫ in their song, “Mother’s little helper”

Its interesting that mentally we accept gravity with no reservations, if we jump up we come landing down.  Aging is the same concept.  As soon as your born you’re aging.  But mentally the media has drilled it into our heads that we have to stay younger.  The concept of gravity says you cannot stay younger.  But the concept of acceptance and happiness is ageless, you always have that choice.

If people want to sit around holding on to the younger years, Who am i to judge ?  But at 71 years old, your looks may not be what they used to, so you better have something to say for yourself above and beyond how pretty you once were.

My name is Jo Ann Smith.  I was a June Taylor dancer from Queens many ions ago.  My son was right, If you feel happy, you’ll always feel the like the youngest person in the room.  The media is so crafty they’ll have you believing that you’re worth less then you were as you are getting older.  Whose rules are those ?  I never subscribed to such an inaccurate subscription.  Time moves on and we get older no matter who you are.  That is a mathematical fact.

People who are in the business of seeking happiness are timeless. That is a spiritual fact. As time moves on, if you’re fighting to stay younger, you are going against gravity.  I am 71 one years old,  tomorrow I will be a day older than I am today, but a day wiser and happier.

I’m in this life to be happy.  If you’re in this life chasing the past, I feel sorry for you  from the bottom of my heart because you’re missing the present.  My husband died at 45 years old in 1984 with six kids.  When he was on his death bed for the last couple of weeks, he never said to me” Am I still handsome”  — He said I”m glad I have a wife and six kids and skied every chance I got.  He also said, don’t eat red meat, yolk, or salt right before he died.

If any of you lovely people are wondering what people think of you, your thinking is in the wrong direction.  The question is, what do you think of certain people and who do you want in your life that will enhance it ?

I wish you all the love and happiness I’ve had and continue to have in my life.  I am my own resource of happiness. All my loved ones and friends that are in my life only enhance what is already magical.  It starts with you, nobody else but you.

Sincerely, Jo Ann Santoro Smith, a survivor, a fighter and a lover of life.

Guido Daniele the Hand Animal artist

Good morning friends.

We are thrilled to have Guido Daniele featured on “The Good News Channel” this morning.  As many of you know I spent my whole life in New York City where you think you’ve seen everything.  I was telling Mr. Daniele I never knew this category of art existed.  When I saw his animals paintings and what they were being painted on, I almost fell off my chair.  I said myself; “This has to be an illusion, I must be seeing things”

Guido Daniele the hand animal artist


But this was no illusion.  Gudio Daneile is a hand artist.  He uses people’s actual hands to paint majestic and exotic animals that look as life like as the real thing.  Each time I see a new image he painted, I literally cannot believe its someone’s hand.

hand gorilla


While doing my research on Mr. Daniele, what I loved most was his passion for animals.  Not his astonishing hand are of animals, but his compassion for real animals.  He has felt a kinship since he was 4 years old.  He speaks of a time when him and his brother found a dead wasp and they made her a gave with flower on it.  Through Guido’s hand paintings he brings major attention to endangered and their shrinking habitats.  But it goes its much broader then that, Guido wants attention brought to all the homeless in need of a better life, and the horrible conditions of farm animals giving their lives for our feed and are treated like they are in a Nazi Concentration camps.  Mr. Daniele has been public about the horrors taking place with dogs and cats in meat eating festivals throughout China.



Guido Daniele is a true animal lover in every sense of the word.  That is what attracted me even more so then his hand animals art work.  We all in the “Everybody Loves Sammy” from around the world as animal loving people can complete relate to how he feels.

Guido 4

Guido Daniele and two Lemurs just hanging like a bunch of buddies

After I feature Guido’s story,  I am going to share 3 of my many video and audio messages with him messages about animal equality, kindness, rescue and welfare.  Most of you already know the video I did called “Where is the Geneva Convention for Animals?”  and another video called; ” The Second Amendment from the Perspective of an Animal” — I think Mr. Daniele will really appreciate them. Lastly I will share with the piece I did on “The Dog and Cat Meat trade throughout Asia” —  But enough on me, this is his feature.

Bald Eagle Two Hands

Bald Eagle using two hands

So below is is straight from Mr. Daniele’s website about his background.  He artistic talents, techniques and knowledge goes centuries back.  It goes so far back, I am not even going to attempt to paraphrase it. I’m just going to use his words from his website to make sure its said correctly.

Hand Raccoon


From 1964 to 1968 he attended Brera artistic High School. He graduated from Brera School of Arts (major in sculpturing) in 1972. He lived in India since 1972 to 1974 where he attended the Tankas school in Dharamsala. Since 1968 he has been painting and participating to personal and group art exhibitions. In 1972 he started working as hyper-realistic illustrator, in co-operation with major editing and advertising companies, using and testing different painting techniques.

Hand Dolphin


The Tibetan painting technique is a technique of miniature with high precision that even in Europe grew from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance with great skill throughout Europe. The miniatures were painted on paper, canvas, ceramics, miniatures were made with mosaics, with jewels, with sculptures and there was an artistic exchange between west and east, the King of European countries ordered beautiful works to give to the kings of India, Nepal, China , Thailand, Korea, Laos and Japan.

Guido 3

Guido Daniele and his son Michael James Daniele on Nosi Iranja island in Madagascar

Since 1986 he has been working and improving his personal usage of airbrush: he paints back-stages in different sizes (the biggest ones can be 400 square meters) for artistic and advertising pictures, TV commercials and programs.  He also creates trompe l’oeil, which is an art technique that uses realistic imagery to create the optical illusion that the depicted …both in private houses and public buildings.



In 1990 he added a new artistic experience to his previous ones: using the body painting technique he creates and paints models bodies for different situations such as advertising pictures and commercials, fashion events and exhibitions.

Hand Iguana


Its search started in 2000 about “Handimals” maked with the method of body painting on hands has a great international interest. The Process is as such; I try first a hand who suits the animal I want to paint, I make some pictures of the hand in the correct position before beginning to paint, then I paint the hand even if it is relaxed and when I finished I try to find the initial position for shoot a final photograph.

Hand Le--mur Catta mail


Guido Daneie has painted over 80 Hand Animals.  They take him anywhere from 6 to 1o hours to paint.  He mentions that the most difficult Hand Animal Paintings he’s done, has been snakes and a peacock.

Hand Dappled Horse


Daniele is committed to wildlife protection and has become increasingly involved with charities such as WWF, the Jane Goodall Institute, Dolphin Aid, Innocence in Danger, PLAN, APNEEF and Liliane Fonds.

Hand Pilgrim Hawk mail

Pilgrim Hawk

Sammy & Family obviously read many things on this impressive gentleman with a heart of gold.  What I really loved reading was how it talked about passion is the driving force that keeps him going.  He loves what he does.  He said that the effect of being passionate brings the ideas to him naturally and then he goes and executes them.  That was not the exact quote, but it was something along those similar lines.

In my last correspondence with him, he mentioned he is 64 years old and the next 20 years will be his best work ever. Sammy & Family has no doubt about that.  Guido Daniele is a once in a lifetime artist with a message of compassion and the actions of a humanitarian.

Guido 1

Guido Daniele with two Lemurs in Madagascar

Daniele is committed to wildlife protection and has become increasingly involved with charities such as WWF, the Jane Goodall Institute, Dolphin Aid, Innocence in Danger, PLAN, APNEEF and Liliane Fonds.


On Facebook;