At age 10, he won a gold medal at the Special Olympics. Now he's one of the best players in the NFL.

"Special Olympics gave me the first chance to discover a talent I didn't know I had."

Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles is one of the best players in all of football.

He's been selected to the Pro Bowl (the NFL all-star game) four times in his career, and he's ranked #12 on the NFL's list of the Top 100 Players of 2015.

Here he is, hard at work:


Through the end of the 2014 season, Charles has racked up 58 career touchdowns, with 38 of them coming on runs like this. GIF via NFL.

What many fans might not know is that before he was a star on the NFL field, he competed in the Special Olympics.

When he was 10 years old, Charles competed in the Special Olympics games. Growing up, he struggled to read, later finding out that he had a learning disability.

Charles delivered an emotional speech during the opening ceremony of this year's Special Olympics, giving credit to the organization for helping him learn to believe in himself:

"I was afraid. I was lost. I had trouble reading. I found out I had a learning disability. People made fun of me. They said I would never go anywhere. But I learned I can fly. When I was 10 years I had the chance to compete in the Special Olympics. The Special Olympics gave me my first chance to discover a talent I did not know I had."

At 10 years old, Charles won the gold medal in track and field at the Special Olympics and came away with a confidence in his abilities that would follow him throughout the rest of his academic and athletic career.

Here's Jamaal Charles during his playing days at the University of Texas, running for a touchdown in the third quarter of the 2005 Big 12 Championship. Texas won the game 70-3 and went on to be named national champions. Photo by G.N. Lowrance/Getty Images.

He closed his speech by leading the crowd in the Special Olympics athlete oath: "Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."

The Special Olympics has been helping athletes like Jamaal Charles since 1968 and, hopefully, for many years to come.

Founded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the organization's mission is to promote "understanding, acceptance, and inclusion among people with and without intellectual disabilities."

"Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."

According to its website, the organization now has a presence in more than 170 countries and has touched the lives of 4.4 million athletes.

Photo by Rick Stewart/Allsport.

There's so much stigma that surrounds people with intellectual disabilities. Charles provides some much-needed representation.

As he says in his speech, when he was growing up, other kids teased him because of his learning disability. Various studies have shown that children with learning disabilities are more likely than other students to be bullied at school.

For an NFL star athlete to come forward and open up about his learning disability is huge. In giving this speech, Jamaal Charles is giving kids like him a role model; he gives them something to aim for. And maybe, he even gave would-be bullies something to think about before they pick on a classmate.

All this because of one short, honest, heartwarming speech.


Watch Jamaal Charles' powerful speech from the opening ceremonies here:

More
Facebook / Mikhail Galin

Putting your pet in cargo during a flight isn't always safe. In 2016, the Department of Transportation reported a total of 26 pet deaths and 22 injuries on flights. Because conditions in cargo can be uncomfortable for animals, the Humane Society recommends taking your pet aboard when you fly, or just leaving it at home.

It's not surprising that one Russian man didn't want to put his overweight cat in cargo during an eight-hour flight from Moscow to Vladivostok. What is surprising is the great lengths he took to fly with his four-legged friend.

Russian airline Aeroflot allows pets to fly inside the plane's cabin, as long as the cat weighs under 17.6 pounds and stays in its carrier during the flight. When Mikhail Galin went to check in, he was told he couldn't fly with his four-year old cat, Viktor. Viktor weighed in at 22 pounds and would have to be relegated to cargo.

But Viktor was sick from their earlier flight from Riga, Latvia to Moscow. And besides, Viktor had been allowed to fly inside the cabin during that flight. The airline staff didn't even bother to make Viktor sit on the scales. Galin was unable to persuade staff to bring his fur baby on board.

"To all attempts to explain that the cat won't survive there on an 8-hour flight with the baggage and would haunt her in her nightmares for the rest of her life, she (the Aeroflot staff member) replied that there are rules," Galin wrote in a Facebook post translated from Russian.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Photo by Kelvin Octa from Pexels

Newborn babies don't seem to do much beyond eating and pooping and, of course, hiccupping. A lot. Parenting advice on how to cure a baby's hiccups runs the whole gamut. It's recommended parents try everything from nursing to stop feeding the baby so much, from giving the baby gripe water to letting the hiccups play their course. But when your baby hiccups too much, you shouldn't freak out. There's a good reason why.

A new study published in Clinical Neurophysiology found that hiccups play an important role in a baby's development. Researchers from the University College London found 217 babies for their study, but only looked at 13 newborns with persistent hiccups. Ten of those babies hiccupped when they were awake, and three hiccupped during their "wriggly" sleep. We have no idea how the scientists got any work done with all that cuteness lying around.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon / YouTube

Actress Kristen Bell and "The Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon showed off their vocal and comedic chops on Tuesday night when the performed a medley of 17 Disney songs, spanning nine decades, in just five minutes.

The duo started with 1940's "When You Wish Upon a Star" and ended with 2013's "Let it Go" from "Frozen."

Bell will reprise her role as Anna in Disney's upcoming "Frozen 2."

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Ask almost any woman about a time a man said or did something sexually inappropriate to them, and she'll have a story or four to tell. According to a survey NPR published last year, 81% of women report having experienced sexual harassment, with verbal harassment being the most common. (By contrast, 43% of men report being sexually harassed. Naturally harassment toward anyone of any sex or gender is not okay, but women have been putting up with this ish unchecked for centuries.)

One form of verbal sexual harassment is the all too common sexist or sexual "joke." Ha ha ha, I'm going to say something explicit or demeaning about you and then we can all laugh about how hilarious it is. And I'll probably get away with it because you'll be too embarrassed to say anything, and if you do you'll be accused of being overly sensitive. Ha! Won't that be a hoot?

Keep Reading Show less
popular