When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.
Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“
Image courtesy of Letters of Love
Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”
Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”
When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.
“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.
Image courtesy of Letters of Love
Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.
Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”
Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.
“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”
Image courtesy of Letters of Love
In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.
“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”
Image courtesy of Letters of Love
Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.
Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.
“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.
Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.
Image courtesy of Grace Berbig
“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”
For more information visit Letters of Love.
Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.
Anyone who's ever had a 2-year-old knows that they can be … a lot. Adorable for sure, but … a lot. Toddlers are just starting to figure out that they have their own free will, but they have zero idea how to wield it or use it for good. They want what they want, when they want it—except when they change their mind and absolutely do not want what they just wanted—and they don't really have the emotional maturity or verbal acuity to adequately express any of these things without crying, whining or screaming.
There's a reason they're so darn cute.
For parents, handling a 2-year-old's 2-year-oldness can be a challenge. You can't rationalize with them. You know they're not being little toddler terrors on purpose. You know that they're just learning and that it's a stage and a phase that won't last forever, but when you're in it? Phew.
The key to getting through it is to be able to find the humor in it. Sometimes it's just so absurd that all you can do is laugh. And laughing with other parents who have survived toddlerhood—or who are running the gauntlet alongside you—is one of the best ways to not lose your mind.
That's why former news reporter Kayla Sullivan has gone viral with a fake news report about her toddler's tantrum at an Olive Garden.
Standing in the hallway outside her son's room, speaking into a toy microphone, Sullivan puts on her professional broadcast voice and says, “Kayla Sullivan reporting live from outside my son’s bedroom where he is currently being detained until naptime is over. Now, this story does involve a minor so I can’t release specifics, but what I can confirm is my son is a 2-year-old terrorist who held me hostage at the Olive Garden earlier today.”
Now accepting donations for babysitters & or take out! Venmo: @Kayla-Sullivan-96 🤣 #NewsVoice #ToddlerMom #EveryKiss #newsvoice #YerAWizard #2022
Sullivan is a former reporter for Indiana's Fox59 and Indianapolis' CBS4 and a former news anchor at WLFI who, according to her TikTok description, is "now coming @ you live from #MomLife."
Her delivery is spot on. People in the comments said they were just waiting for the cut to live footage.
"I brought my son's favorite snacks, and even risked judgment from other moms by bringing an iPad"—oh yeah, felt that.
"Not even Cocomelon could stop this meltdown." Yep, been there.
"Chech-up! CHECH-UUUP!!!" Definitely felt that, too.
We've all had moments when we feel like we completely suck at the "gentle parenting" thing, but fortunately, the tantrummy toddler years don't last forever.
Sullivan's video has been viewed a whopping 30 million times and has gotten praise and shares from tons of well-known people, from Alyssa Milano to Andy Grammer to Nick Cannon. Sullivan hit a comedy nerve that all parents can relate to and did it in an unexpected way.
But she didn't end there. She also posted a follow-up report with eyewitness interviews, and holy moly, the accuracy.
I don’t like to ruffle feathers but… JK I’m a news reporter of COURSE I love ruffling feathers🤣 #FYP #NewsVoice #Funny #Parenting #momtok #2022 #fypシ
We've all run into some Tammys and Karens in our lives—the moms who just can't help telling you you're doing it wrong, despite the fact that they are no more of an expert on parenting than you are. But the caricatures of these moms are hilarious.
Sullivan seems to have successfully carved out a niche for herself in the mom comedy space. Follow her on TikTok @kaylareporting for more.
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The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.
The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.
Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.
To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.
Meet the first four winners:
1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.
2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.
James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.
Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be
3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.
To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.
4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.
Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.
AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.
Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.
Laughter is one of the most natural impulses in humans. Most babies start to laugh out loud at around 3 to 4 months, far earlier than they are able to speak or walk. Expressing enjoyment or delight comes naturally to us, but we're not the only creatures who communicate with giggles.
Researchers at UCLA have identified 65 species of animals who make "play vocalizations," or what we would consider laughter. Some of those vocalizations were already well documented—we've known for a while that apes and rats laugh—but others may come as a surprise. Along with a long list of primate species, domestic cows and dogs, foxes, seals, mongooses and three bird species are prone to laughter as well. (Many bird species can mimic human laughter, but that's not the same as making their own play vocalizations.)
Primatologist and UCLA anthropology graduate student Sasha Winkler and UCLA professor of communication Greg Bryant shared their findings in an article in the journal Bioacoustics.
The authors explored various play vocalization sounds, recording them as noisy or tonal, loud or quiet, high- or low-pitched, short or long, a single call or rhythmic pattern.
But really, what we want to see is what animal laughter sounds like from various species, right? While the researchers said that it can be hard to document laughter in the wild, especially among animals with quieter vocalizations, we do have some examples captured on video.
Check out these foxes laughing like little kids:
Or maybe little kids on helium. How fun is that?
Ever seen a bonobo chimp laugh? Just as cute.
I'm not sure if tickling a baby bonobo is sweet or torturous, though these researchers surely know what they're doing. It's always delightful to see the instinctual playfulness of primates.
Laughter in some animals isn't as audibly apparent as it is in these foxes and chimps, though. Researchers from Humboldt University of Berlin found that rats laugh when they are tickled—and appear to enjoy tickling, as they seek it out—but their vocalizations are ultrasonic, so it's hard to hear them without special instruments.
The UCLA researchers shared that the study of laughter in animals can help us better understand our own evolutionary behavior.
“This work lays out nicely how a phenomenon once thought to be particularly human turns out to be closely tied to behavior shared with species separated from humans by tens of millions of years,” Bryant said, according to UCLA.
“When we laugh, we are often providing information to others that we are having fun and also inviting others to join,” Winkler said. “Some scholars have suggested that this kind of vocal behavior is shared across many animals who play, and as such, laughter is our human version of an evolutionarily old vocal play signal.”
Raise your hand if you just want to see a cow laughing for real now.
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Earlier this month, Stephen Colbert blew humanity’s collective mind by showing a video of a female orangutan driving a golf cart. Not only was the ape an accomplished motorist but she drove in style with just one hand on the wheel, looking as cool and confident as any human.
While Colbert joked that the orangutan was in Florida, it was actually part of a menagerie in Dubai belonging to Sheikha Fatima Rashed Al Maktoum, the daughter of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates.
The orangutan is named Rambo and has been driving various vehicles since she was young.
A YouTube user by the name of SmelfordDip noticed the ape’s cool one-handed driving technique and something clicked. She drives just like Tony Soprano in the iconic opening credits of “The Sopranos"! So he edited the video to mimic the sequence and added the show’s theme song "Woke Up This Morning" by Alabama 3.
Smelfordip named the video “The Zoopranos” and asks “What if Tony Soprano was [a] monkey?” in the video’s description.
The only thing that could take this incredible mashup of an unbelievable video to the next level would be to invite Rambo to New Jersey, throw her behind the wheel of a Cadillac, give her a very large cigar and let her cruise the turnpike in a Cadillac.
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