Mom makes red hats for newborns to help raise awareness of what happened to her baby.

32 years ago, Sue Hipple gave birth to her third child, Timothy. It seemed that everything was exactly as it should be.

"A quick, easy delivery — half an hour and he was there!" Sue told Upworthy.

While he was smaller than her other two children had been when they were born and his lips were a little blue, the doctors assured Sue and her husband that Timothy was just fine.


Photo provided by Sue Hipple, used with permission.

It wasn't until the next morning — which just so happened to be Father's Day — that another doctor realized something was amiss.

Timothy was immediately flown to another hospital with more resources and specialists. There, a pediatric cardiologist listened to Timothy's heart.

"He didn't think Timothy would still be alive by the time my husband got there," Sue said.

But Timothy did make it through the day. And by the time he was 10 days old, his tiny body had undergone two heart surgeries for what doctors had believed was a single heart defect.

It turned out, however, that Timothy had four separate heart defects.

"The nurses called him a little fighter," Sue said. So for his one-month birthday, Sue knitted itty-bitty boxing gloves and made trunks for little Timothy.

"I always tell people babies have an amazing will to live," she said.

The little fighter, wearing his boxing gloves and trunks. Photo shared by Sue Hipple, used with permission.

Timothy's will was strong. He was transferred to a third hospital, where he continued to fight as doctors did their best. Unfortunately, Timothy passed away at 9.5 weeks old during a major open-heart surgery.

Sue reflects on her time with Timothy fondly, despite how difficult it must have been:

"He was an amazing little kid. He had a personality and we got to know him and there were all the ups and downs encapsulated in that summer that you have in raising any child — a little more dramatic, though. We had a lot of joy and laughter, as well as tears and sorrow, and we grew a lot in our faith. [We] learned a lot about unconditional love and putting people ahead of things. It shaped our family."

33 years later, Sue looks back on Timothy's brief time on Earth with a full heart.

She points out how far medical science has come in that time: "Today, things are so advanced, maybe he would have lived."

Sue and Timothy just three days after he was born. Photo provided by Sue Hipple, used with permission.

She also knows how much Timothy's life meant. "Even in our sorrow and sadness 33 years ago, we can look back now and see that his life mattered," Sue said. "He has effected change, and his legacy still continues."

To honor Timothy's memory, Sue joined an initiative by the American Heart Association to knit red caps for newborn babies.

The Little Hearts, Big Hats project is a way to spread awareness about congenital heart defects, which are the most common type of birth defect in the United States. Last February, babies born in hospitals around the country were given tiny red caps, all knitted by volunteers like Sue Hipple.

Photo provided by the American Heart Association, used with permission.

"Last year, volunteers from all 50 states and six countries ... knitted more than 15,000 hats for Chicago’s Little Hats, Big Hearts project," Corey Rangle, director of communications for the American Heart Association, told Upworthy. The hats were distributed to hospitals in three different states.

Photo provided by the American Heart Association, used with permission.

The response was incredibly positive. This year, there are even more volunteers, and the hats will be delivered to over 260 hospitals in 33 states (and counting).

Sue joined the project again this year. She even customizes her hats with a special heart and tag to memorialize Timothy.

Photo provided by Sue Hipple, used with permission.

Sue's plan is to knit 33 hats in honor of Timothy — he would have been 33 this year.

Not only are these hats raising awareness (and funds) for congenital heart defects, but they're spreading a lot of smiles because ... cute, squishy newborns in tiny red hats!

All photos of painfully cute babies in red hats provided by the American Heart Association, used with permission.

While I could look at these adorable babies all day, it's important to remember why they're wearing those cute red hats.

Sadly, congenital heart defects continue to affect babies at a high rate — over 35,000 American babies born each year will have one.

And, second only to the federal government, the American Heart Association is the largest funder of pediatric heart research. If you'd like to help, you can check out the Little Hats, Big Hearts page.

Unfortunately, Timothy's story didn't have a happy ending. But because of awareness, research, and fundraising, many more babies born with heart defects today have a chance at a healthy life!

Courtesy of Amita Swadhin
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In 2016, Amita Swadhin, a child of two immigrant parents from India, founded Mirror Memoirs to help combat rape culture. The national storytelling and organizing project is dedicated to sharing the stories of LGBTQIA+ Black, indigenous people, and people of color who survived child sexual abuse.

"Whether or not you are a survivor, 100% of us are raised in rape culture. It's the water that we're swimming in. But just as fish don't know they are in water, because it's just the world around them that they've always been in, people (and especially those who aren't survivors) may need some help actually seeing it," they add.

"Mirror Memoirs attempts to be the dye that helps everyone understand the reality of rape culture."

Amita built the idea for Mirror Memoirs from a theater project called "Undesirable Elements: Secret Survivors" that featured their story and those of four other survivors in New York City, as well as a documentary film and educational toolkit based on the project.

"Secret Survivors had a cast that was gender, race, and age-diverse in many ways, but we had neglected to include transgender women," Amita explains. "Our goal was to help all people who want to co-create a world without child sexual abuse understand that the systems historically meant to help survivors find 'healing' and 'justice' — namely the child welfare system, policing, and prisons — are actually systems that facilitate the rape of children in oppressed communities," Amita continues. "We all have to explore tools of healing and accountability outside of these systems if we truly want to end all forms of sexual violence and rape culture."

Amita also wants Mirror Memoirs to be a place of healing for survivors that have historically been ignored or underserved by anti-violence organizations due to transphobia, homophobia, racism, xenophobia, and white supremacy.

Amita Swadhin

"Hearing survivors' stories is absolutely healing for other survivors, since child sexual abuse is a global pandemic that few people know how to talk about, let alone treat and prevent."

"Since sexual violence is an isolating event, girded by shame and stigma, understanding that you're not alone and connecting with other survivors is alchemy, transmuting isolation into intimacy and connection."

This is something that Amita knows and understands well as a survivor herself.

"My childhood included a lot of violence from my father, including rape and other forms of domestic violence," says Amita. "Mandated reporting was imposed on me when I was 13 and it was largely unhelpful since the prosecutors threatened to incarcerate my mother for 'being complicit' in the violence I experienced, even though she was also abused by my father for years."

What helped them during this time was having the support of others.

"I'm grateful to have had a loving younger sister and a few really close friends, some of whom were also surviving child sexual abuse, though we didn't know how to talk about it at the time," Amita says.

"I'm also a queer, non-binary femme person living with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and those identities have shaped a lot of my life experiences," they continue. "I'm really lucky to have an incredible partner and network of friends and family who love me."

"These realizations put me on the path of my life's work to end this violence quite early in life," they said.

Amita wants Mirror Memoirs to help build awareness of just how pervasive rape culture is. "One in four girls and one in six boys will be raped or sexually assaulted by the age of 18," Amita explains, "and the rates are even higher for vulnerable populations, such as gender non-conforming, disabled, deaf, unhoused, and institutionalized children." By sharing their stories, they're hoping to create change.

"Listening to stories is also a powerful way to build empathy, due to the mirror neurons in people's brains. This is, in part, why the project is called Mirror Memoirs."

So far, Mirror Memoirs has created an audio archive of BIPOC LGBTQI+ child sexual abuse survivors sharing their stories of survival and resilience that includes stories from 60 survivors across 50 states. This year, they plan to record another 15 stories, specifically of transgender and nonbinary people who survived child sexual abuse in a sport-related setting, with their partner organization, Athlete Ally.

"This endeavor is in response to the more than 100 bills that have been proposed across at least 36 states in 2021 seeking to limit the rights of transgender and non-binary children to play sports and to receive gender-affirming medical care with the support of their parents and doctors," Amita says.

In 2017, Mirror Memoirs held its first gathering, which was attended by 31 people. Today, the organization is a fiscally sponsored, national nonprofit with two staff members, a board of 10 people, a leadership council of seven people, and 500 members nationally.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, they created a mutual aid fund for the LGBTQIA+ community of color and were able to raise a quarter-million dollars. They received 2,509 applications for assistance, and in the end, they decided to split the money evenly between each applicant.

While they're still using storytelling as the building block of their work, they're also engaging in policy and advocacy work, leadership development, and hosting monthly member meetings online.

For their work, Amita is one of Tory's Burch's Empowered Women. Their donation will go to Mirror Memoirs to help fund production costs for their new theater project, "Transmutation: A Ceremony," featuring four Black transgender, intersex, and non-binary women and femmes who live in California.

"I'm grateful to every single child sexual survivor who has ever disclosed their truth to me," Amita says. "I know another world is possible, and I know survivors will build it, together with all the people who love us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

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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."