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A 9-year-old boy learns to be a superhero with the help of a friendly waiter.

The world would be a much brighter place if we all showed one another this type of kindness.

Born with a congenital heart defect, Oscar underwent open-heart surgery when he was just six days old.

He was born with the condition transposition of the great arteries.

"His father and I faced an uncertain future with our newborn son," Oscar's mom, Jeni, told me via email. "Our world wasn't just turned upside down — it was inside out and shaken around and very confusing."


Here's Oscar, the day after his surgery. All photos courtesy of Jen Goodhand-Wyatt.

Thanks to help from Heart Link Children's Charity, Jeni and her husband were given accommodations near the hospital to stay near their young son as he worked through the early stages of recovery. The charity also helped by providing some of the equipment Oscar would need for his long-term survival.

Now 9 years old, Oscar is alive and well, though he has to meet with a cardiologist from time to time.

Earlier this week, during an appointment with his cardiologist, Oscar was devastated to learn that he couldn't practice karate.

So on the way home, Jeni decided to stop at the local TGI Fridays for dinner.

What happened next changed the course of a sad, stressful day and transformed it into something amazing.

Oscar meets with his cardiologist before setting off for dinner.

The experience at TGI Fridays turned the day around, and Oscar learned a wonderful lesson.

Here's the story, as posted to Jeni's Facebook page and republished here with permission:

"So here's a happy post. We went to TGI on our way home from the hospital. Before taking Oscar in I went in to check that there were no Halloween decorations (Os is petrified of Halloween). I explained his ASD and the gent on reception was great saying I could choose where we sat so Os was happy. Well, it had to be the Star Wars table didn't it and I said he was a Star Wars loving superhero."

ASD stands for Autism Spectrum Disorder. "Oscar is a sensory seeker (part of autism), and as a result can be a messy eater," Jeni told Upworthy. So dining out isn't something the family does often because people can be quite rude.

"About six months ago in a local pub we actually had a family move from sitting next to us and we heard the words 'disgusting' used in reference to Oscar. He's far from disgusting — he just thoroughly enjoys his food and finds it hard to control his body when it's THAT good!"

But Oscar had gotten some bad news that morning about not being able to practice his karate, and he deserved a lunch out.

Os seated happily at the "Star Wars" booth with a Chewbacca doll.

"Fast forward ten mins and the waitress comes over and says 'I understand you're a superhero. Here's your menu.' Os was a bit bummed as today the cardiologist said he couldn't do Karate because of his heart... In his mind that means he's not a superhero. So I explained his sad face to the perplexed waitress and ordered food.

Dinner arrived and then a new waiter came over. 'Is your dinner ok!' Os replied 'It's only just got here silly!' and laughed. The waiter smiled and walked away. He returned moments later with two balloon models he'd made for Os."

Balloon animals!

"A little while later he came over and asked me if he could buy a pudding, any pudding off the menu, for Os. Well there was no stopping Boo... Chocolate Brownie it was! When he served it I asked why. 'Because he's a superhero!' was [the waiter's] reply.

And on the bill... SUPERHERO was the discount given."

Superhero discount, right there in writing:

Oscar's mom finishes her Facebook post with a thank you to the wait staff:

"Fantastic service. Thank you so very much from a mum who has had an emotional roller-coaster of a day and from a boy who is now sleeping soundly with a belly full of chocolate brownie."

Upworthy reached out to TGI Fridays Director of Culture and People Development Jacqui McManus about Oscar's story.

“We're very proud of our Fridays Family, who always work hard to go above and beyond, and we believe that this is a great example of what we always look for from our team members," she wrote in a statement provided to Upworthy.

"Team members are encouraged to bring their personality to every shift and tailor the experience for every guest. Ryan and the team at Coventry did a wonderful job offering the Fridays experience to Oscar, our new Fridays Superhero."

From this experience, Oscar has learned that a real superhero comes from within, not from karate.

"Although I was choking back the tears after an emotional day, it was lovely to see Os and his cuddly Chewbacca toy enjoying himself without worrying," Jeni told Upworthy.

"He didn't really realize the impact he'd had on [the waiter]," Jeni said. With her Facebook post about their lunch at over 10,000 Likes, she says Os is starting to understand that a "real 'superhero' comes from within and he must be a superhero if he made so many people smile."

Oscar and his sister Faith ride a carousel.

For less than $4, some balloons, and friendly service, a little boy and his mother's day was made.

It really is the little things in life that make such a huge difference. The world would be a much brighter place if we all showed one another this type of kindness.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
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When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

This article originally appeared on November 11, 2015


Remember those beloved Richard Scarry books from when you were a kid?

Like a lot of people, I grew up reading them. And now, I read them to my kids.

The best!

If that doesn't ring a bell, perhaps this character from the "Busytown" series will. Classic!

Image via

Scarry was an incredibly prolific children's author and illustrator. He created over 250 books during his career. His books were loved across the world — over 100 million were sold in many languages.

But here's something you may not have known about these classics: They've been slowly changing over the years.

Don't panic! They've been changing in a good way.

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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
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The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

Images from Denver Animal Shelter's Facebook page.

Imagine rummaging through secondhand finds in your local thrift store, only to find that some items include a bonus feline at no extra charge.

Montequlla the orange tabby had somehow not gotten the memo that he and his family were moving. As they dropped off furniture, including a big recliner chair, to the Denver Arc Thrift Store on New Year’s Eve, they had no idea that poor little Montequlla was tucked away inside.

Luckily, the staff began to notice the chair meowing.

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Emily Vondy's mom fail.

Sometimes, we have to just laugh at our failures.

“Here’s a little story to allow all the moms of littles out there to maybe feel a little better about yourself,” Emily Vondy told her 1.3 million TikTok followers.

In a TikTok video that has now garnered more than 500,000 views, Vondy shared perhaps one of the most hilarious “mom fail” stories of all time: forgetting her son’s actual birthdate.
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