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A super-rare illness might take her sight, so she's seeing the world while she still can.

There’s a very real possibility that 15-year-old Alexis Meyers will become completely blind in the next few years. Before that happens, she and her family are trying their hardest to make sure she sees as much of the world as she can.

A super-rare illness might take her sight, so she's seeing the world while she still can.
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Even when she was little, Alexis knew something wasn’t quite right with her eyes.

She remembers it starting in third grade. "It was harder to read books, and I couldn't see the blackboard," she says. Her hearing loss that had started in kindergarten was worse too.

Alexis and her family at Disneyland Paris. Image via the Meyers family, used with permission.


After years of tests, the Meyers family and their doctors discovered the cause — a mutation of Alexis' OPA-1 gene. It's an extremely rare disorder that causes the cells in Alexis' optic nerves to atrophy, eventually causing blindness. At present, there's no cure.

Once she knew what she was facing, Alexis didn't shrink from it.

In seventh grade she stood in front of her class and gave a PowerPoint presentation about her genetic disorder. She explained what causes it and what it was doing to her eyesight and hearing. She shared that it could leave her blind before her 20th birthday. She was brave, factual, and didn't cry. After all, she already had a plan.

Alexis at Stonehenge. Image via the Meyers family, used with permission.

Alexis had always wanted to see the world someday. Her diagnosis simply moved up the schedule.

For the last few years, Alexis and her family have traveled as much as they can. They've visited the Grand Canyon, Mackinac Island, England, France, and Germany. Alexis loved Germany's castles — Heidelberg in particular. "There was so much history, so much celebration and so much food in Germany," she says. "Heidelberg was so big and beautiful— and it has the world's largest barrel inside it!" After a pause she adds conspiratorially, "It's supposed to be haunted too."

One of her favorite early trips was to Jamaica, where the family swam with dolphins and climbed waterfalls. Alexis loved every minute, but cautions folks against taking a horseback ride on the beach. "The horses in front of you will throw up sand with their feet and it gets in your face. It's really gross."

Most of Alexis' travel money comes through fundraisers. She's sold homemade jewelry or handcrafted dog treats to help pay for trips. Right now, she and her family are raising money with an online fundraising page.

Alexis' list of places to go and things to do is still growing.

Number one is to see Iceland's northern lights. Sometime in the next year, she'll do just that.

The Northern Lights tops Alexis' list of natural phenomenon she wants to see. Image via iStock.

The family is planning a trip to Iceland where they'll take a dip in the blue lagoon and watch auroras make the sky dance and change colors. Later they're hoping to visit Northern Ireland and walk the Giant's Causeway, travel to Rome to see the Colosseum, visit Australia and New Zealand, and then check out Kīlauea volcano in Hawaii.

Receiving the kind of diagnosis that Alexis did could be devastating and isolating for so many people. Thanks to her family and community, Alexis is determined to see the positives.

With their help, she's transforming it into an opportunity to create visual memories of the world she loves before she can’t anymore.

"I love seeing her face light up when she sees these places she's only read about before," says Alexis' mom Kristin. "We're doing what she wants to do and seeing what she wants to see as long as we can."

Eventually, Alexis wants to go to college and study to become a veterinarian. Second only to travel, she says, is her love of animals. But the cats and dogs can wait — for now, seeing the world is her first priority.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

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In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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Wikiimages by Pixabay, Dr. Jacqueline Antonovich/Twitter

The 1776 Report isn't just bad, it's historically bad, in every way possible.

When journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones published her Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project for The New York Times, some backlash was inevitable. Instead of telling the story of America's creation through the eyes of the colonial architects of our system of government, Hannah-Jones retold it through the eyes of the enslaved Africans who were forced to help build the nation without reaping the benefits of democracy. Though a couple of historical inaccuracies have had to be clarified and corrected, the 1619 Project is groundbreaking, in that it helps give voice to a history that has long been overlooked and underrepresented in our education system.

The 1776 Report, in turn, is a blaring call to return to the whitewashed curriculums that silence that voice.

In September of last year, President Trump blasted the 1619 Project, which he called "toxic propaganda" and "ideological poison" that "will destroy our country." He subsequently created a commission to tell the story of America's founding the way he wanted it told—in the form of a "patriotic education" with all of the dog whistles that that phrase entails.

Mission accomplished, sort of.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.