Down syndrome didn't stop this girl from rocking her first softball game.

When 9-year-old Sophina Lindquist met the University of Nebraska at Kearney softball team, it was love at first sight.

The team was in Sophina's hometown of St. Cloud, Minnesota, for an away game and happened to stop at the Red Robin where Sophina and her family were eating.

She was immediately enamored with them, and apparently the feeling was mutual.


"We see this little blond girl in the lobby, and instantly there was a connection," recalls head coach Holly Carnes.

Sophina (in the red coat) with the team. All photos via Upworthy/Red Robin.

In fact, they liked her so much, they gave her a ball that the entire team had signed. Sophina promptly spent the rest of the day and the night cuddling with it.

It wasn't just Sophina's smile that won over the team. She exudes light and generosity even though she's had to deal with quite a lot for someone so young.

Before she was 5 months old, Sophina had six surgeries, including open-heart surgery. She was also diagnosed with Down syndrome, a genetic disorder that can affect a person's mental and physical development.

However, none of these medical issues seem to have had any effect whatsoever on her strength of spirit.

"She’s tough as nails," says her mother, Connie.

"Children with special needs are just like all the other children who have strengths and weaknesses," Connie continues.

And some of Sophina's strengths are that she is extremely friendly and outgoing. She regularly bakes cookies for first responders in her hometown, and she knows almost all of them, in over 20 departments, by name.

That's also why Sophina was so determined to visit her new softball team friends — but unfortunately, her family couldn't afford to make the trip from Minnesota to Nebraska.

That's when Red Robin stepped in.

They were so taken with her story that the company decided to arrange for her to take a trip to see her favorite ladies in blue in action.  

Sophina on her way to Nebraska.

And she wasn't just going to see the last game of the season; Sophina was going to throw out the first pitch.  

The trip was a treat for the whole family, who had never been able to take a vacation together before then.

According to her mom, Sophina couldn't contain her excitement over getting to hang with her favorite players again. And, according to their coach, the UNK Lopers felt the same way.

"Oh my gosh, they have been talking about it all week," Carnes says.

When the reunion finally happened, it was quite the emotional explosion.

Sophina really got to feel like one of the team.

And, of course, throw out her very first ball in a college game.

It's likely to be a day she won't soon forget.

Sophina's disability isn't holding her back. She goes after her dreams at full speed.

"People can put children with Down syndrome into this square box, and there really is no square box for children with special needs," Connie explains.

Different levels of ability shouldn't separate one group of people from another. Differences can make us stronger, extraordinary individuals, and the more people who recognize that, the sooner that so-called "box" will disappear.

Learn more about Sophina's adventure with the UNK softball team here:

The tiny but mighty #1 fan

This company went above and beyond to reunite a softball team with their tiny but mighty #1 fan.

Posted by Upworthy on Thursday, May 17, 2018
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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

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The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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