TODAY's Takeaway

TODAY's Takeaway: Gumbel and Pauley return, skier recounts avalanche ordeal

Dec. 30, 2013 at 2:07 PM ET

Bryant Gumbel and Jane Pauley join Matt on his birthday, and Edwin LaMair shares details of his ski rescue.
Bryant Gumbel and Jane Pauley join Matt on his birthday, and Edwin LaMair shares details of his ski rescue.

1. Edwin LeMair, 22, has a lot to be thankful for this holiday season. For starters: a younger brother who saved his life.

The two were skiing in Vail over the weekend when an avalanche hit, burying Edwin up to his head.

“I was really worried I was going to be buried completely,’’ he said on TODAY. “I’m extremely thankful that everything turned out the way it did and that I didn’t sustain any worse injuries or die.”

Video: Caught and buried in an avalanche while skiing, Edwin LaMair, 22, could have been in trouble had his brother Davis not been on hand to dig him out. The two brothers talk to TODAY’s Matt Lauer about their ordeal, caught on video.

2. As passengers and crew of a stranded Russian ship continued Monday to wait for rescue off the coast of Antarctica, the research team’s leader told TODAY they had “a roller coaster of a day.”

“We were hoping we’d be on the way out, but unfortunately the latest effort by the Australian icebreaker Aurora didn’t manage to get through to us,” Chris Turney told guest anchor Jane Pauley via Skype. “We're keeping up hope.”

Video: Chris Turney, the expedition leader on board the ship stranded off the coast of Antarctica, says that the thick ice and weather are “quite exceptional,” even for the frigid area, which is currently in the summer season.

3. Thanks to donations from strangers, a Texas girl who became morbidly obese due to a rare disorder triggered by brain surgery could get a potentially life-saving operation.

“She feels like people aren’t looking at her anymore, and people are rooting for her,” the girl’s mother, Jenny Shapiro, told TODAY.

Video: A young girl has a rare disorder that puts her in a state of constant hunger, and her family turned to the public for help after their insurance company declined to cover weight-loss surgery that could help prevent future health problems for her. NBC’s Gabe Gutierrez reports.

4. Matt celebrated a wonderful 56th birthday morning in the company of friends (and TODAY alumni) Jane Pauley and Bryant Gumbel, who returned to the show as guest co-anchors. Check out their birthday surprise for Matt below:

Video: See who is wishing TODAY’S Matt Lauer a very happy birthday live on TODAY, as he is joined by TODAY anchors Jane Pauley and Bryant Gumbel.

And that’s TODAY’s Takeaway!