Ballet brought big joy for this courageous 14-year-old battling cancer.
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Northwestern Mutual

Peyton had just finished performing in her seventh production of "The Nutcracker" when she started feeling extremely exhausted.

"I had dress rehearsals, dance, cheerleading, and seventh-grade homework, so I thought I was just really tired and sore," Peyton says.

But her mom, Carrie, knew better. "The change literally happened overnight. She lost 10 pounds in three weeks. She went from dancing in 'The Nutcracker' in December to being ridiculously tired in January," Carrie says.


It was watching Peyton's ballet class that really struck Carrie.

"Peyton was so exhausted that she couldn't get up on her pointe shoes," she says. "In that moment, I knew something was seriously wrong."

A visit to the pediatrician the next day verified Carrie's worries. After examining Peyton, the doctor asked Carrie if she knew what was wrong. While Carrie had never known anyone personally with leukemia, she whispered "leukemia." He nodded "yes."

That night, the Richardsons found themselves at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, about 20 miles from their hometown of Sugar Land.

"They asked what we were there for and I told them possibly leukemia. They handed Peyton a face mask," says Carrie. "I thought I was going to faint. It's something you never ever imagine going through in your life."

A few days later, it was confirmed that Peyton had acute lymphocytic leukemia, the most common childhood cancer.

She began chemotherapy the next day on Jan. 23, 2015, and ended it 844 days later on May 15, 2017.

Treatment was intense and caused Peyton serious side effects, including anaphylaxis and seizures, which resulted in her inability to walk, talk, and move her body for a while.

Still, she remained determined to get back to ballet.

"I was in the hospital for two weeks before I started having outpatient visits. At my first outpatient visit, my doctor asked if I had any questions. I said, 'When can I dance again?'" Peyton recalls.

She meant it.

And two months into her treatment, Peyton was back on the dance floor.

"A few months earlier, she literally could not lift her foot an inch above the ground, and here she was dancing across the floor," says Carrie. "Everyone in that room was crying."

Peyton also took private dance lessons throughout her treatment to help gain strength back.

Her dedication and love of ballet was well-known among her doctors, so when Northwestern Mutual’s Childhood Cancer Program held a contest asking kids to share their greatest adventure, Peyton’s doctor at Texas Children’s Hospital immediately knew she had to enter.

Her entry, which focused on her love of dance, won, and resulted in a ballerina-inspired float during the 2016 Rose Parade as part of the company's initiative to spread awareness about childhood cancer.

As she sat atop the float, Peyton says that despite being drained from treatment she was overcome with gratitude for the chance to represent all those who were fighting childhood cancer.

And that’s a big audience to stand up for. More than 15,000 children and adolescents are diagnosed with cancer each year in the U.S.

The good news? Survival rates for childhood cancer continue to increase, thanks to improved treatments through research. That means the more research that can get funded, the better.

"I think seeing me on the float in the middle of treatment gave other kids going through the same thing hope that it would be OK," says Peyton.

And for children like Peyton, those moments of hope — whether they come in the form of pointe shoes or a float in a parade — are ones to embrace.

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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.

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President Biden/Twitter, Yamiche Alcindor/Twitter

In a year when the U.S. saw the largest protest movement in history in support of Black lives, when people of color have experienced disproportionate outcomes from the coronavirus pandemic, and when Black voters showed up in droves to flip two Senate seats in Georgia, Joe Biden entered the White House with a mandate to address the issue of racial equity in a meaningful way.

Not that it took any of those things to make racial issues in America real. White supremacy has undergirded laws, policies, and practices throughout our nation's history, and the ongoing impacts of that history are seen and felt widely by various racial and ethnic groups in America in various ways.

Today, President Biden spoke to these issues in straightforward language before signing four executive actions that aim to:

- promote fair housing policies to redress historical racial discrimination in federal housing and lending

- address criminal justice, starting by ending federal contracts with for-profit prisons

- strengthen nation-to-nation relationships with Native American tribes and Alaskan natives

- combat xenophobia against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, which has skyrocketed during the pandemic

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True

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.

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via WFTV

Server Flavaine Carvalho was waiting on her last table of the night at Mrs. Potatohead's, a family restaurant in Orlando, Florida when she noticed something peculiar.

The parents of an 11-year-old boy were ordering food but told her that the child would be having his dinner later that night at home. She glanced at the boy who was wearing a hoodie, glasses, and a face mask and noticed a scratch between his eyes.

A closer look revealed a bruise on his temple.

So Carvalho walked away from the table and wrote a note that said, "Do you need help?" and showed it to the boy from an angle where his parents couldn't see.

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via TikTok

Menstrual taboos are as old as time and found across cultures. They've been used to separate women from men physically — menstrual huts are still a thing — and socially, by creating the perception that a natural bodily function is a sign of weakness.

Even in today's world women are deemed unfit for positions of power because some men actually believe they won't be able to handle stressful situations while mensurating.

"Menstruation is an opening for attack: a mark of shame, a sign of weakness, an argument to keep women out of positions of power,' Colin Schultz writes in Popular Science.

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