Months after her daughter’s death, this mom is coping with grief by spreading happiness.
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Northwestern Mutual

“Brooke was, from 3 months, like the happiest kid I had ever seen in my life,” says Brooke's mom, Amy.

“She had colic the first three months, so I can’t include that time,” she laughs. “But, from that point on, she was so easy, so good. Just happy, happy all the time.”

All images via Amy Stanton Mulford, used with permission.


"She liked everything," says Amy. "She loved trying new things. She loved traveling to new places. We tried to make everything we did an adventure."

Brooke's cheerfulness was remarkable, Amy continues. “She could run into a doorknob with her head and fall back and start laughing. Nothing fazed her at all."

“And none of that changed when she was diagnosed with cancer.”

At age 4, Brooke was diagnosed with an aggressive neuroblastoma — a cancer of the nervous system that started on her adrenal gland and spread throughout her bones. It would make her life exceedingly difficult for the next eight and a half years.

In the spring of 2017, Brooke passed away. But she left behind a legacy of kindness with all the people she touched.

Brooke's uncanny empathy for others lives on in a charity she started to help other kids suffering from cancer.

Brooke and Amy were inspired by their first experience in the emergency room at their local hospital.

"Here I am in the ER with her for I think it was probably like eight hours that day with a 4-year-old who's not feeling well and having absolutely nothing to do," says Amy.

Once she was formally diagnosed, toys and games began flooding in from family and friends — more than they knew what to do with. But Brooke never forgot about the other kids in that hospital without toys of their own.

"We got to thinking — they have so many people donating stuff at the children's hospital. We should do something like this here," Amy says, referring to their local hospital, whose ER didn't have toys or anything to occupy a child.

And just like that, Brooke's Toy Closet was born, with the first donations coming from Brooke herself.

Today, Peninsula Regional still gets donations for the Toy Closet from community members and from The Brooke Mulford Foundation. Through her Toy Closet, Brooke continues to have an uplifting impact on hospitalized children.

With her cancer, Brooke and her mom had plenty to worry about on their own. But they wanted to help others too.

When she created the Toy Closet, Brooke wasn't thinking of herself because that was just her way: When she was in pain, she thought of others who might be too.

"These kids that get stuff from the Toy Closet — hopefully that's the only time they're going to be in the hospital. But it's still not an easy thing. It can be a scary place," says Amy.

"Brooke definitely felt for any kid who had to be in that position because she had to be doing it so often."

Now, Amy copes with her grief by continuing to do the work that Brooke did during her life.

Until the last, Brooke and Amy maintained hope that scientists would find a cure for her cancer. Now, Amy continues to work with the Brooke Mulford Foundation, which was formed to raise funds for neuroblastoma research, in hopes of finding a cure for other families with that same hope. She also works with other organizations dedicated to prevention, research, and finding cures for different pediatric cancers.

Because, for Amy, it's all about paying it forward.

"I hope that's my purpose," she says, "to continue to do these things, to hopefully fulfill what I was put here to do."

Northwestern Mutual worked directly with Brooke and her mom as a sponsor for ALSF and Wonder Capes in hopes of raising funds and awareness for pediatric cancer research and, now, to honor her memory.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

The year 2018 was a pivotal one in the produce industry, the Red Delicious was supplanted as the most popular apple in America by the sweeter, crisper Gala.

It was only a matter of time. The Red Delicious looked the part of the king of the apples with its deep red, flawless skin. But its interior was soft, mealy, and pretty bland. The Red Delicious was popular for growers because its skin hid any bruises and it was desired by consumers because of its appearance.

But these days it's having a hard time competing with the delectable crunch provided by the Gala, honeycrisp, and Fuji.

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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."