He has ALS. He can no longer speak. And he needs you to listen to him talk about it.
True
Facebook

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:

Pexels
True
Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

Keep Reading Show less
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.