A terminally ill dog's love of cheeseburgers is the uplifting story we all need right now.

Cody, a 10-year-old boxer-Labrador mix, loves cheeseburgers. And since his cancer diagnosis, his humans have been happy to indulge that craving.

Two months back, Cody got the bad news, with his vet giving him between just one and three months to live. His owner, Alec Karcher, shared his dog's story on Twitter, explaining how they were trying to make Cody's final days as happy as possible.

"My family and I were heartbroken by the news, but we decided we wanted to try and make the last part of his life the best we could," Karcher wrote. "Every day since we found out, we've gotten him a plain cheeseburger to eat with his many medications to make it easier and more enjoyable for him."


On July 15, as Karcher stopped at his local Burger King in Toledo, Ohio, an employee asked about the family's newfound love of plain cheeseburgers. Karcher responded by telling the employee Cody's story.

"She immediately asked us to wait a second after she gave us our food," he wrote. "A few minutes later, she returned after talking to her manager. She asked us for a name and said that the rest of the cheeseburgers for Cody would be free at their location."

This might seem like something small, but to Karcher and his family, the gesture meant the world.

"I can't explain how much that means to us, and my family and I are beyond appreciative," he wrote.

The official Burger King account got in on the action, replying to Karcher's original post, offering well wishes and a thanks for allowing that location to have an effect on their lives.

Burger King is right. The world does need more kindness and empathy. Small acts can add up in unexpected ways.

Maybe a small act of kindness is offering comfort to a heartbroken family or keeping a terminally ill dog's belly filled with his favorite food. It could also take any number of other forms, each as helpful as the one before it. The point here is that we all have the chance to make the world a better — or a worse — place for those around us. It's up to us how we choose to use our influence.

Cody is a good boy. Photo via Alec Karcher, used with permission.

May each burger be as delicious as the one before it, Cody. You are, of course, a very, very good dog.

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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.