A musician's decades-long battle with the fear of inheriting his dad's incurable disease.
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Muscular Dystrophy Association

There are certain moments in our lives that are too important not to share with the people we love.

Singer-songwriter Eric Hutchinson is having one of those moments.


Photo by Ralph Arvesen/Flickr.

Hutchinson and his band recently embarked on a tour to promote his new album, which he was proud to have independently produced. They are set to perform in Hutchinson's home state of Maryland at Merriweather Post Pavilion, an over 19,000-seat outdoor amphitheater that has hosted some of the most famed musicians in modern history.

This is one show Hutchinson doesn't want his family to miss. And he's especially excited for his dad to see him on the historic stage. But getting him there requires more than a VIP pass.

Before Hutchinson was big enough to pick up a guitar, his dad was diagnosed with an adult-onset form of muscular dystrophy (MD).

Photo from Eric Hutchinson, used with permission.

In the decades that followed, the disease progressively took away his father's control of his own body.

Though Hutchinson was too young to fully grasp the situation at the time, as his father's condition progressed, a frightening picture came slowly into focus.

"I don’t remember when I first found out about my dad’s disease, but I just knew that something was different," he said. "But the older I got, the more I understood, and the more I worried."

Then, in college, he learned more about MD that gave him concern for his own future.

Most muscular dystrophies are genetic. Hutchinson had a 50% chance of inheriting the gene flaw that caused his father’s MD.

"When am I going to wake up and feel something?" he wondered. "When my hands were tired, I worried that they were symptoms."

And as his creative interests became a full-time music career, he had a hard time facing the possibility that it could be taken away so prematurely.


"I’m a musician, and I rely on my hands to perform," he said. "So it wasn't just, 'Am I going to lose the ability to handle my day-to-day.' It was also, 'Am I going to lose the ability to do my job?'"

As his motor skills deteriorated, Hutchinson’s father had to let go of a lot of his passions. But he never stopped challenging himself.

“To my dad's amazing credit, he was always trying to do as much as possible and not allow it to limit him,” said Hutchinson.

Photo from Eric Hutchinson, used with permission.

When it would have been easy to withdraw, his dad went headfirst into parts unknown. MD made his woodworking difficult and dangerous, but he could still use a computer. So he earned a master’s degree and started a new career in web design.

Though he could no longer hold a guitar chord, he still had a voice, so he joined his synagogue choir. And, says Hutchinson, he walked for as long as his body would allow, falling often, but getting up just as many times.

While his father’s illness started as a fearful shadow to run from, his chosen life gave Hutchinson the courage to get tested.

In the winter of 2015, the day before he began recording his new album, Hutchinson met with a neurologist to give blood samples for the test. In a matter of weeks, he’d finally have the answer he’d been avoiding.

“I found my mind drifting while recording,” Hutchinson wrote in a personal essay once his work in the studio was done. “The sessions were colored by the anxiety that at any moment the doctor could be calling with results that could change my life.”

But, like his father, he chose to persevere. “I put one foot in front of the other, channeled the emotion into the songs, and kept talking to my therapist who helped me navigate it all. Slowly, I got stronger.”

Photo from Eric Hutchinson, used with permission.

Two days after he finished recording his album, he got a call from his doctor. Hutchinson tested negative for the genetic mutation for MD. But what he thought would be some of the most relieving news of his life turned out to be more bittersweet.

"I expected to have this celebratory, washing over me with elation. Of course it was a relief, but MD was still a part of my family, so I had a lot of complicated feelings around it."

For Hutchinson, an end to his fear of MD marked the beginning of a new mission to support the MD community. He's starting by simply talking about the disease.

This is something new for him, as his family tended to avoid open conversation about MD.

"It was like a secret I had to keep, which felt very isolating. So I’m proud of the fact that we’re having this conversation right now," he said. "Being able to talk about it takes away some of the fear. I can look at it more clinically and understand it for what it is."

And with his upcoming tour, he’s inviting his fans into the conversation through his music and a heartfelt open letter that speaks to his personal journey.

Photo by Ralph Arvesen/Flickr.

Hutchinson joins a long list of entertainers in that effort, dating back to 1951 with Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin’s first televised appeal for viewers to support the Muscular Dystrophy Association on “The Colgate Comedy Hour.”

While a cure is yet to be discovered, MD research has led to potentially game-changing developments.

Among them are advancements in physical therapy, experimental drugs that could help control MD symptoms and gene editing using revolutionary CRISPR technology.

Image by Ernesto del Aguila III, NHGRI/Wikimedia Commons.

We can see the value of all that work in recent stories like those of 18-year-old Latondra Chappell, a teen with MD who worked hard in physical therapy to get out of her wheelchair and walk the stage at graduation; 23-year-old Jon Piacentino, an aspiring scientist who has benefited hugely from experimental MD drug treatment; and 14-year-old Devin Argall, who’s participating in an MD drug clinical trial and was named a "goodwill ambassador" in the state of Wisconsin for his advocacy.

For the first time in years, Hutchinson feels he's on the right emotional bearing, and he wants to spread good along the way.

Connecting with people through music is one way he wants to do that. And if he ever veers off course, he knows just where to look to get back on track:

"I reflect on my dad. I got to see his resolve and endless determination up close. He fell, but he got up. Now I fall, but I get up."

As for the big show in Maryland, Hutchinson and his manager were making door-to-door arrangements and ensuring there was wheelchair access every step of the way.

Because beyond his son's music success, hearing his newfound voice on MD — and on such a massive stage — would be too proud a moment for Hutchinson's dad to miss.

via PixaBay and PixaBay

A cat sitting funny and a happy pug.

When my old dog Murray really wanted to tell me something and his barking or pawing didn’t get the job done, he would start making sounds that I swear mimicked human speech. Now, I’m not entirely sure that he was attempting to get through to me as a member of my own species would, but I don’t know how else to explain this quirky behavior.

It’s pretty amazing when we see our pets cross the imaginary line that separates the species by exhibiting human-like behaviors. But if you were to try to explain them to someone who’s never had a dog or cat (or parrot you will soon see) most of them would probably just shrug it off.

So, I never really talked to anyone about my dog’s strange but funny human impersonation.

Reddit user DMLorance created a safe space for pet owners to share their stories that no one believes on the AskReddit subforum.

“Pet owners of Reddit. What quirk does your pet (past or present) do that nobody believes when you tell them?”

Here are 16 of the best responses.


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via © Jakub Gojda/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021 and © Zoe Ross /Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

Two of the winners of the Comedy Pet Photo Awards.

A few weeks ago, Upworthy shared the hilarious winners of the 2021 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards and the winner was a well-timed shot of a monkey who appears to have hurt the family jewels on a suspension wire. (Don't worry folks, no monkeys were harmed for the awards.)

The awards were created six years ago by Tom Sullam and Paul Joynson-Hicks to promote positive awareness of animal welfare issues. The competition has been so successful, the duo decided to branch out and create the Comedy Pet Photo Awards, where photographers can submit pictures of their furry friends for a £2,000 ($2650) prize.

Donations generated by the competition go to Animal Support Angels, an animal welfare charity in the UK.

This year's winner is Zoe Ross for "Whizz Pop," a photo of her labrador puppy Pepper who appears to be tooting bubbles.

“We never ever thought that we would win but entered the competition because we loved the idea of helping a charity just by sending in a funny photo of Pepper," Ross said in a statement. "She is such a little monkey, and very proud of herself, bringing in items from the garden and parading past you until you notice her. She is the happiest puppy we’ve ever known and completely loved to pieces.”

Here are the rest of the winners of the 2021 Comedy Pet Photo Awards.

Overall Winner: Zoe Ross "Whizz Pop," Penkridge, UK

© Zoe Ross /Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

Did this puppy swallow a bubble?

Best Dog Category: Carmen Cromer "Jurassic Bark," Pittsboro, North Carolina

© Carmen Cromer/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"My golden retriever, Clementine, loves to stick her face in front of the hose while I water the plants. Her expression in this photo made me think of a tyrannosaurus rex, hence the title, "Jurassic Bark." Duh nuh nuuuh nuhnuh, duh nuh nuuuh nuh nuh, dun duh duuuh nuh nuh nuh nUUUUUUhhhh," Carmen Cromer.

Best Cat Category: Kathrynn Trott "Photobomb," Ystradgynlais, UK

© Kathrynn Trott/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

Jeff stealing the limelight from his brother Jaffa.

Best Horse Category: Mary Ellis, "I said 'Good Morning," Platte River State Park, Nebraska

© Mary Ellis/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"I like to visit the stable horses before I begin my hike at the State Park. This is the reply I received when I said 'Good morning,'" Mary Ellis.

All Other Creatures Category: Sophie Bonnefoi, "The Eureka Moment," Oxford, UK

© Sophie Bonnefoi/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"Cutie and Speedy are two chicks hatched from eggs placed in an incubator at home in August 2020. They spent their first few weeks indoors. In the photo, they are just over two weeks old. They were curious about everything. This is the day they discovered their own shadow. It was hilarious to see them wondering and exploring that 'dark thing' that was moving with them!" Sophie Bonnefoi.

Junior Category: Suzi Lonergan, "Sit!" Pacific Palisades, California

© Suzi Lonergan/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"Our granddaughter gave the command to sit. Beau is very obedient," Suzi Lonergan.

Pets Who Look Like Their Owners Category: Jakub Gojda, "That Was a Good One!" Czech Republic

© Jakub Gojda/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"This photo was taken by accident during the photography of my ex-girlfriend with her beloved mare. For this cheerful moment, I thank the fly that sat on the horse's nose and he instinctively shook his head," Jakub Gojda.

Highly Commended: Chloe Beck, "Hugo the Photobomber," Walsall, UK

© Chloe Beck/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"This is my best friend Faith, her husband Alex, and their cheeky Sproodle, Hugo. Faith wanted a photograph to mark a special occasion—her first outing after shielding at home for 14 months. Hugo jumped into the frame at just the right moment!" Chloe Beck.

Highly Commended: Luke O'Brien, "Mumford and Chum," Coventry, UK

© Luke O'Brien/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

​"Losing the opportunity to play with my human bandmates during lockdown, Flint, my rescue dog, soon taught me that we didn't just have sharp bones in common, but musical ones, too. He soon became the perfect substitute for a collaborative stomp up at home, so much so that we felt we deserved our own band name (Muttford and Chum). With my camera set up remotely during this shoot, I think it's fair to say that the image is proof that his conviction as a performer matches my own," Luke O'Brien.

Highly Commended: Kathryn Clark, "Wine Time," Clichester, UK

© Kathryn Clark/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"It's that time of day again! Little Blue enjoys it almost as much as me," Kathryn Clark.

Highly Commended: Diana Jill Mehner, "Crazy in Love with Fall," Paderborn, Germany

© Diana Jill Mehner/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

This is Leia. As you can see, she definitely loves playing with all the leaves in autumn. It was really tricky to take this picture because you never know what the dog is going to do next," Diana Jill Mehner.

Highly Commended: Christine Johnson, "Boing," Crosby Beach, UK

© Christine Johnson/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"I was busy playing with my dog on the beach and this dog came to play. I liked the shapes he was making in the air," Christine Johnson

Highly Commended: Manel Subirats Ferrer, "Ostrich Style," Platja del Prat de Llobregat, Spain

© Manel Subirats Ferrer/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

Nuka playing hide and seek at the beach.

Highly Commended: Colin Doyle, "Nosey Nieghbor," Bromsgrove, UK

© Colin Doyle/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

​"According to Ozzy, we need a new fence panel ASAP. He is fed up with Chester our nosy next door neighbor spying on him every time he has a meal," Colin Doyle.

Highly Commended: Corey Seeman, "A Warm Spot on a Cold Day," Michigan

© Corey Seeman/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"Two of the morning regulars at the dog park are Gary (hound mix with the jacket) and Kona, one of the most chill dogs ever," Corey Seeman.

Highly Commended: Lucy Slater, "So What?" San Diego, California

© Lucy Slater/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"This is how I like to sit!" Vincent the cat.

Highly Commended: Mollie Cheary, "Photobomb," Poole, UK

© Mollie Cheary/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"Bailey was so excited to see her friends, she couldn't sit still for a photo!" Mollie Cheary.

Kelly Clarkson and Ariana Grande duked it out on Jimmy Fallon's 'The Tonight Show.'

There are pop stars, and then there are singers. While recording studio technology can make people sound like amazing singers, the proof is in their live performances.

Kelly Clarkson and Ariana Grande took it a whole step further on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," delivering not only a jaw-dropping live performance but doing so in the form of revolving pop diva hits in an "impossible karaoke" showdown. In less than five minutes, they showed off their combined ability to nail pretty much anything, from imitating iconic singers' styles to belting out well-known songs with their own vocal stylings.

Watch this and try not to be impressed:

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