Meet the woman who won the first gold medal in PT2 triathlon Paralympic history.

Allysa Seely made history at the 2016 Paralympic Games when she became the first gold medal winner in the PT2 women's triathlon, an event that debuted at the games this year.

Plans to bring the triathlon to the Paralympics have been in the works for 15 years. Finally, in 2016, there were enough athletes who qualified for the event.

Hailey Danisewicz, Allysa Seely, and Melissa Stockwell — Team USA dominated the winner's podium. Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images.


On Sept. 11, 2016, Seely finished the triathlon — which consists of running, biking, and swimming — with a time of 1 hour, 22 minutes, and 25 seconds. Two of her fellow teammates, Hailey Danisewicz and Melissa Stockwell, came in close behind her to score second and third place.

It was a monumental moment in shattering the notion of what people with disabilities can or can't do.

Seely knows firsthand how it feels to be treated differently because of a disability.

"I was at the gas station and this lady behind me scoffed to her teenage children, 'See, that's what happens when you eat crap and don't take care of yourself,'" Seely told ESPN. The woman apparently thought Seely's disability had been caused by diabetes.

"She was unstoppable not because she did not have failures or doubts but because she continued on despite of them." -Beau Taplin

Posted by Allysa Seely on Friday, August 12, 2016

"We still see the disability before we see the individual," said Seely.

Seely was already a nationally ranked triathlete when she received three major diagnoses in 2010 that changed her life forever.

The diagnoses were Chiari II malformation, basilar invagination, and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. The surgeries she needed to treat them came with a grim side effect: she would likely have to give up running altogether. In fact, her doctors told her she may never walk unaided again.

Complications from the surgeries and subsequent surgeries to treat the complications led to the amputation of her left leg below the knee. Seely started physical therapy almost immediately. The work was exhausting, as her body learned to use muscles in ways it never had before. Slowly but surely, however, she made progress toward her goal.

Doctors told her to think "realistically" about her recovery, but Seely would not be dissuaded. She was determined to run again.

The double amputation isn't the only thing that affects Seely's mobility. Her brain condition causes her to lack proprioception, which tells you where your body is in space without looking. When Seely's running, she often has to look down to know what her legs are doing.

In August 2010, Seely had her first brain surgery, and in April 2011, she finished a collegiate triathlon.

"I can still remember how it felt to accomplish something that nobody thought I could," she told ESPN.

Even if she didn't have physical obstacles, Seely's athletic achievements are amazing. Her journey is a reminder that there's no one way to be a strong, impressive athlete — and that you can't tell how healthy or fit or capable someone is just by looking at them.

Allysa Seely at the Rio 2016 Paralympics. Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images.

"For a lot of people, all they see is my amputation; they don't see the challenges in and out of every day," Seely told ESPN.

Five years later, here she is, a gold medal triathlete:

Danisewicz, Seely, and Stockwell with their medals. Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images.

Sure, not every disabled person can do what Seely and her teammates have done, just like not every able-bodied person can complete a triathlon. Her win and the fact that there were enough qualifying Paralympians to include the triathlon event this year show just how wrong the notion of people with disabilities being incapable — or as the woman at the gas station claimed, a consequence of "eating crap and not taking care of yourself" — truly is.

Hopefully, thanks to the awesome performances at the Paralympics this year and every year, it will soon be left in the dust where it belongs.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."