How a sisterly connection and passion for service led to the road trip of a lifetime.
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Sisters Lindsey and Lee Ellen Fulmer were hundreds of miles apart when they came up with the same idea at the exact same time.

Back in 2014, Lindsey was about to begin her internship for a missions ministry in Oklahoma when she started thinking about traveling across the country and volunteering at different nonprofits.

"I didn't mention it to anyone, and I kind of just put it on the back burner," says Lindsey.


Lindsey (left) and Lee Ellen Fulmer. All images via Project Wave, used with permission.

At the same time, Lee Ellen was wrapping up her degree in elementary education in their hometown in South Carolina. She, too, was thinking about traveling the states.

But Lee Ellen didn't want to drive around aimlessly.

"I wanted to put a meaningful purpose behind it," she explains. "I thought it'd be really cool if I could volunteer everywhere I went. ... But I'm kind of a shy and reserved person, so I was like, 'I can't do this alone.'"

Guess who she called?

"[Lindsey] was like, 'This is something I've been thinking about for weeks now! This is the answer!'" Lee Ellen remembers with a laugh.

That's when the Fulmer sisters began to lay the foundation for Project Wave — a mission to volunteer in all 50 states, one week in each.

Helping feed the hungry in Hawaii with Aloha Harvest.

To get started, Lindsey planned out the route so it was both weather- and sightseeing-friendly. From there, they reached out to potential host families who might be willing to take them in for a week.

They also started saving their own money and were fortunate enough to set aside money for food and other necessities (with a bit of help from family and friends through a GoFundMe page).

Once that was all set, they searched for nonprofits within a one-hour radius of where they were staying.

Beyond that, they also had two main criteria: First, they wanted to help people directly. And second, they wanted to help out smaller nonprofits that don't get as much mainstream attention.

Skating with the ladies of Skate Like a Girl in Seattle.

"They don't get as much publicity as larger nonprofits, and they struggle because of that," explains Lee Ellen. "We also wanted to learn as much as possible on this trip. With the smaller nonprofits, you have the opportunity to talk with founders and directors and different department heads and work more closely with them."

Making masterpieces with the OFFCenter Community Arts Project in Albuquerque.

It took almost two years of planning, but eventually, in July 2016, Lindsey and Lee Ellen made their way to Tennessee — the first stop of their 50-week trip.

As of this writing, they're in Wyoming — the 41st state on their itinerary.

Raising awareness for mental health with Red Barn Farms in Utah.

"Voluntourism" can get a bad rap, so the sisters made sure to check their egos at the door and really listen to what each nonprofit needs. Whether it's helping clean facilities or working directly with people, Lindsey and Lee Ellen were sponges when it came to learning about other people's missions.

"When you're helping people of different backgrounds in different regions, you have to go in with an open mind," says Lindsey. "We're going to help you do what you need done."

"We're going to come in and learn about what you're doing or what people are struggling with without any judgment. ... Whatever you need, we make it happen."

Ultimately, the Fulmer sisters are hoping to spread their passion for service to as many people as possible.

Granted, not everyone will be able to take a volunteer trip to all 50 states. And when it comes to giving back, many people feel that donating money over donating time is the way to go. What the Fulmers emphasize is that it's important to understand what works best for you and how you can maximize your own giving potential. They wanted to travel, so they combined that with their dream of helping as many people as possible.

"There are people who are artists or who are good with computers or who just like to work with their hands," says Lee Ellen. "There are opportunities for those people out there. They just have to find them. And so we wanted to bring light to that to show that everyone has the ability to help someone."

All hands in!

She continues, "Our simplest mission is to inspire people of all different talents to get out and use their talents to help their community."

"One of the things we've seen throughout this trip is that organizations, people in need, families, everyone — people are genuinely good at the core of themselves," adds Lindsey. "They want to help people. They just need an opportunity to do that."

Keep spreading that positive message, ladies!

The most amazing thing about Project Wave isn't the miles they racked up — it's the message they've spread along the way: Look in your hearts, find what it is you love, and use that special something to make an impact and pay it forward in your own little way.

It's one thing to see a little kid skateboarding. It's another to see a stereotype-defying little girl skateboarding. And it's entirely another to see Paige Tobin.

Paige is a 6-year-old skateboarding wonder from Australia. A recent video of her dropping into a 12-foot bowl on her has gone viral, both for the feat itself and for the style with which she does it. Decked out in a pink party dress, a leopard-print helmet, and rainbow socks, she looks nothing like you'd expect a skater dropping into a 12-foot bowl to look. And yet, here she is, blowing people's minds all over the place.

For those who may not fully appreciate the impressiveness of this feat, here's some perspective. My adrenaline junkie brother, who has been skateboarding since childhood and who races down rugged mountain faces on a bike for fun, shared this video and commented, "If I dropped in to a bowl twice as deep as my age it would be my first and last time doing so...this fearless kid has a bright future!"

It's scarier than it looks, and it looks pretty darn scary.

Paige doesn't always dress like a princess when she skates, not that it matters. Her talent and skill with the board are what gets people's attention. (The rainbow socks are kind of her signature, however.)

Her Instagram feed is filled with photos and videos of her skateboarding and surfing, and the body coordination she's gained at such a young age is truly something.

Here she was at three years old:

And here she is at age four:


So, if she dropped into a 6-foot bowl at age three and a 12-foot bowl at age six—is there such a thing as an 18-foot bowl for her to tackle when she's nine?

Paige clearly enjoys skating and has high ambitions in the skating world. "I want to go to the Olympics, and I want to be a pro skater," she told Power of Positivity when she was five. She already seems to be well on her way toward that goal.

How did she get so good? Well, Paige's mom gave her a skateboard when she wasn't even preschool age yet, and she loved it. Her mom got her lessons, and she's spent the past three years skating almost daily. She practices at local skate parks and competes in local competitions.

She also naturally has her fair share of spills, some of which you can see on her Instagram channel. Falling is part of the sport—you can't learn if you don't fall. Conquering the fear of falling is the key, and the thing that's hardest for most people to get over.

Perhaps Paige started too young to let fear override her desire to skate. Perhaps she's been taught to manage her fears, or maybe she's just naturally less afraid than other people. Or maybe there's something magical about the rainbow socks. Whatever it is, it's clear that this girl doesn't let fear get in the way of her doing what she wants to do. An admirable quality in anyone, but particularly striking to see in someone so young.

Way to go, Paige. Your perseverance and courage are inspiring, as is your unique fashion sense. Can't wait to see what you do next.

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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