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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.'

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

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.

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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