He has ALS. He can no longer speak. And he needs you to listen to him talk about it.
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ALS doesn't strike with a terrifying blow. It is a gradual, creeping illness. A thousand tiny cuts that slowly add up.

For Hiro Fujita, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis started with his arms feeling heavy. Then his legs began to hurt and it became harder to climb stairs. He went to the doctor almost as a precaution, expecting to be told it was nothing serious.

Instead, on Nov. 26, 2010, Hiro was diagnosed with ALS. It is the same devastating disease suffered by astrophysicist Stephen Hawking. Hawking has lived 50 years with ALS. Hiro was told he could expect to live three to five years at most before the disease attacking his motor neurons shut down his body completely.


By 2012, ALS was taking hold of Hiro's body. He had trouble lifting his arms. He broke his front teeth after tripping over nothing. Getting up from the couch became a question of if rather than when.

As his body slowly stopped being able to move, Hiro's mind was racing. He had to do something. It was time to start a movement and find a cure.

In late 2012, Hiro launched his foundation, End ALS, with two very simple goals: (1) Make ALS famous and find a cure and (2) change government policy so people living with ALS can affordably access technology that lets them live more comfortable lives.

An End ALS supporter wears her shirt proudly. All proceeds from shirt sales benefit the organization and its work toward a cure for ALS. Image by Hiro Fujita/End ALS, used with permission.

Over the last four years, Hiro has worked nonstop toward those goals. He's built a movement, spoken at conferences, written a book, and done the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Hiro with End ALS supporters in 2015. Image by Hiro Fujita/End ALS, used with permission.

He's done all of this while still working as an planning director at a Tokyo ad agency — thanks in large part to technological advances helping people with ALS live more normal lives. In an interview with Facebook last year, he talked about one innovation in particular:

"I use Tobii eye tracking software so I can control my computer cursor with my eyes. Japan's insurance doesn't cover it unless you can only move your eyes, but every person in need deserves it. ... It enables me to work on END ALS. It also lets me access Facebook, which is my main way to connect and hang with friends. It is a way for me to live my pre-ALS life through others. It can be painful to see what you’re missing out on, but it's comforting it still exists. Not to mention all of the long and short 'stay strong' messages."

"I am 99% grateful for all that has happened in my life. But 1% angry."

That's the most poignant quote from Hiro's very popular talk at TEDx Tokyo in 2014. A year earlier, he'd had a tracheotomy and lost his voice. No matter. He spoke anyway, using text-to-voice software. He plans to keep speaking. However he can. As long as he can. As he says in his Facebook story:

"I can no longer speak, but it does not mean I am giving up. My friends give me strength and I will keep fighting. For myself. For others. For a cure. My voice is louder now that ALS took it away."

Watch Hiro's presentation at TEDx Tokyo:

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
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This story was originally shared on Capital One.

Inside the walls of her kitchen at her childhood home in Guatemala, Evelyn Klohr, the founder of a Washington, D.C.-area bakery called Kakeshionista, was taught a lesson that remains central to her business operations today.

"Baking cakes gave me the confidence to believe in my own brand and now I put my heart into giving my customers something they'll enjoy eating," Klohr said.

While driven to launch her own baking business, pursuing a dream in the culinary arts was economically challenging for Klohr. In the United States, culinary schools can open doors to future careers, but the cost of entry can be upwards of $36,000 a year.

Through a friend, Klohr learned about La Cocina VA, a nonprofit dedicated to providing job training and entrepreneurship development services at a training facility in the Washington, D.C-area.

La Cocina VA's, which translates to "the kitchen" in Spanish, offers its Bilingual Culinary Training program to prepare low-and moderate-income individuals from diverse backgrounds to launch careers in the food industry.

That program gave Klohr the ability to fully immerse herself in the baking industry within a professional kitchen facility and receive training in an array of subjects including culinary skills, food safety, career development and English language classes.

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The Schmidt family's Halloween photoshoot has become an annual tradition.

Two of Patti Schmidt's three sons were already well into adulthood when her daughter Avery was born, and the third wasn't far behind them. Avery, now 5, has never had the pleasure of close-in-age sibling squabbles or gigglefests, since Larry, Patrick, and Gavin are 28, 26, and 22, respectively—but that doesn't mean they don't bond as a family.

According to People.com, Patti calls her sons home to Point Pleasant, New Jersey, every fall for a special Halloween photoshoot with Avery. And the results are nothing short of epic.

The Schmidt family started the tradition in 2017 with the boys dressing as the tinman, the scarecrow, and the cowardly lion from "The Wizard of Oz." Avery, just a toddler at the time, was dressed as Dorothy, complete with adorable little ruby slippers.

The following year, the boys were Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Chewbacca, and Avery was (of course) Princess Leia.

In 2019, they did a "Game of Thrones" theme. ("My husband and I were binge-watching (Game of Thrones), and I thought the boys as dragons would be so funny," Schmidt told TODAY.)

In 2020, they went as Princess Buttercup, Westley, Inigo Montoya, and Fezzik from "The Princess Bride."

Patti shared a video montage of each year's costume shoot—with accompanying soundtracks—on Instagram and TikTok. Watch:

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."