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Before he was an NFL star, his dad asked him a simple question. It changed everything.

'If you reach for the stars, you never know how far you’re going to get.'

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NFL

When Russell Wilson was growing up, his dad would often ask him, "Where are you now?"

"He'd say, 'Russ, you're 17, where are you now?,' or 'You're 25, where are you now?' or 'You're 35, where are you now?'" recalls Wilson.

The hypothetical questions were meant to encourage him to write his own story, to make him really think about what he wants to be doing and how he's going to be making a difference.


Russell Wilson in high school with his dad. Image via Russell Wilson, used with permission.

And while those prompts definitely inspired Wilson, it was another favorite question of his dad's that helped him craft his future: "Why not you?"

That question became his driving motivation, inspiring him to achieve his dreams no matter what obstacles were in his way.

[rebelmouse-image 19533284 dam="1" original_size="600x720" caption="Wilson playing for the Seattle Seahawks. Image via Larry Maurer/Wikimedia Commons." expand=1]Wilson playing for the Seattle Seahawks. Image via Larry Maurer/Wikimedia Commons.

It led him all the way to starting quarterback for the NFL's Seattle Seahawks. But that's just one of many things Wilson's already achieved in his young life. He played football and baseball for North Carolina State University and even played in the minor leagues before transferring to the University of Wisconsin in 2011. There, he set the Football Bowl Subdivision record for passing efficiency and led the team to a Big 10 title in 2012.

He was picked up by the Seahawks in the 2012 NFL Draft and named Rookie of the Year that same year. One year later, he was leading them to their first Super Bowl win.

And even though his father was no longer around to see him accomplish such incredible goals, his encouragement lives on in Wilson.

Now, Wilson is taking his father's message and using it to propel kids all over the world forward through his nonprofit Why Not You.

"It’s the question we all have to ask ourselves," says Wilson.

Image via Russell Wilson, used with permission.

The foundation's mission is simple — empower change in the world one individual at a time and one child at a time.  

It starts with reminding kids they have the power to break through their individual glass ceilings. And yes, that includes his own kids.

"I want to encourage my kids to go places they never thought they could go," says Wilson. "Encourage them to dream bigger than they ever thought they could."

He started Why Not You in 2014, and since then, the foundation has donated millions of dollars to organizations that align with his mission, including Strong Against Cancer and the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

However, what's most inspiring is the work Wilson's done on the ground to give back and lift kids up.

Wilson visiting a patient at Seattle Children's Hospital. Image via Russell Wilson, used with permission.

In 2015, he visited Seattle Children's Hospital every Tuesday, sometimes bringing gifts for the kids being treated.

One kid in particular made a profound impression on Wilson. Milton Wright III was diagnosed with leukemia three times before he was 20, and when Wilson met him, he had essentially been given a death sentence. Wright's doctors told Wilson the young man's only shot of getting better was to try T-cell immunotherapy, but Wright felt hopeless and not motivated to proceed with treatment.

So Wilson went to Wright and told him how his dad was days away from dying, but he refused to give up. He kept on fighting, and eventually came out of a coma and lived for another two years.

After hearing that, Wright agreed to try T-cell immunotherapy, and the treatment miraculously put him on the road to remission. "Within two weeks, he was cancer free," says Wilson.

It's stories like Wright's that remind Wilson he's making a difference, thanks to the strength his dad's simple question gave him.

Image via Russell Wilson, used with permission.

But it's these kids' stories that compel him to keep moving the needle forward now. It's why he's going to be wearing cleats with the aspirations of six different kids from Seattle Children's Hospital printed on them for NFL's initiative My Cause My Cleats during week 13 of the season.

As for his foundation's future, Wilson says the horizon is endless in terms of what he hopes and knows they can accomplish. Based on how far he's already come, thanks to unforgettable familial support, the impact will likely be significant.

It just goes to show how important it is to tell your children that their potential is limitless. Or as Wilson's dad put it:

"If you reach for the stars, you never know how far you’re going to get."

Russell Wilson is one of more than 750 NFL players who will lace up for charitable causes as part of the NFL’s My Cause My Cleats initiative. Starting Nov. 28, 2017, NFL players will reveal their custom cleats, many of which will be auctioned to raise money for the charitable organizations they support. For more information, visit www.nfl.com/mycausemycleats.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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Girls are bombarded with messages from a very young age telling them that they can’t, that is too big, this is too heavy, those are too much.

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Pop Culture

14 things that will remain fun no matter how old you get

Your inner child will thank you for doing at least one of these.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Swings can turn 80-year-olds into 8-year-olds in less that two seconds.

When we’re kids, fun comes so easily. You have coloring books and team sports and daily recess … so many opportunities to laugh, play and explore. As we get older, these activities get replaced by routine and responsibility (and yes, at times, survival). Adulthood, yuck.

Many of us want to have more fun, but making time for it still doesn’t come as easily as it did when we were kids—whether that’s because of guilt, a long list of other priorities or because we don’t feel it’s an age-appropriate thing to long for.

Luckily, we’ve come to realize that fun isn’t just a luxury of childhood, but really a vital aspect of living well—like reducing stress, balancing hormone levels and even improving relationships.

More and more people of all ages are letting their inner kids out to play, and the feelings are delightfully infectious.

You might be wanting to instill a little more childlike wonder into your own life, and not sure where to start. Never fear, the internet is here. Reddit user SetsunaSaigami asked people, “What always remains fun no matter how old you get?” People’s (surprisingly profound) answers were great reminders that no matter how complex our lives become, simple joy will always be important.

Here are 14 timeless pleasures to make you feel like a kid again:

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

Pop Culture

John Cena sets new world record with 650 wishes granted with the Make-A-Wish Foundation

He’s become the foundation’s most requested celebrity—and he never turns anyone down.

"I'll drop everything."

The multitalented, mega famous John Cena might hold many titles, but this might be the coolest one yet—and it has nothing to do with wrestling.

The actor and WWE performer just broke the Guinness World Records for most wishes granted through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. As of July 19, Guinness World Records reports, Cena has granted a whopping 650 wishes. The highest amount any other celebrity granted was 200.

The 16-time world champion first became a wish-granter back in 2002. Since then, he’s become the foundation’s most requested celebrity—and he never turns anyone down.

"I just drop everything. I don't care what I'm doing," he said in a WWE produced video after granting his 500th wish. “I can't say enough how cool it is to see the kids so happy, and their families so happy, I truly want to show them that it's their day.”
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via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


Middle school has to be the most insecure time in a person's life. Kids in their early teens are incredibly cruel and will make fun of each other for not having the right shoes, listening to the right music, or having the right hairstyle.

As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.

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