Reminder: McConnell overcame polio as a kid with big help from the government.
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Long before Mitch McConnell was attempting to dismantle the Affordable Care Act as majority leader of the U.S. Senate, he was fighting for his health as a small child growing up in Alabama — with help from the federal government and private donations.

When he was just 2 years old, McConnell was diagnosed with polio, Death and Taxes reported. As McConnell explained to his Senate colleagues in 2005, his mother had been "perplexed about what to do"; his father was serving overseas in World War II at the time, and — as these were the days before Medicaid or Medicare — health care options were limited. McConnell's mother worried her son might become disabled.


McConnell was fortunate to live a short drive away from Warm Springs, Georgia, where a polio rehab center had been established by President Roosevelt.

It was funded, in large part, through public efforts.

A child in bed recovering from polio in 1950. Photo by Douglas Grundy/Three Lions/Getty Images.

In the mid-1930s, roughly a decade before McConnell started receiving treatments at the center, Roosevelt's March of Dimes fundraising strategy for the center grew into a remarkable success. The president had asked Americans to send dimes to the White House in support of children living with polio, and within just one month, $268,000 (about $4.6 million today) had been raised. Kids like McConnell benefited greatly.

“We had left Warm Springs for the last time, and the physical therapist there had told my mother, 'Your son can walk now,'" an emotional McConnell told the Senate in 2005. "'We think he’s going to have a normal childhood and a normal life.'"

McConnell's health scare from seven decades ago —concerning a disease that's now eradicated in the U.S., no less — is incredibly relevant today.

Children who are in similar circumstances as McConnell once was — kids living with costly, threatening health ailments, whose family situations complicate their access to care — could be harmed greatly should the Republican leader's attempts to overturn the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) be successful.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

GOP senators are hovering around the 50-vote threshold to pass an alarmingly heartless bill that would strip Medicaid funding by billions of dollars — a move that'd disproportionately hurt the poor, the elderly, and the disabled. The overhaul would also allow states to drop certain benefits, like maternity care and mental health services, set in place by the Affordable Care Act.

Should the bill become law, wealthy Americans and drug companies — on the receiving end of massive tax breaks — would benefit greatly.

Anxieties over the bill's passage prompted dozens of demonstrators — many of whom were disabled and use wheelchairs — to protest the deep spending cuts outside McConnell's office on June 22.

In total, 43 were arrested. Many were forcibly removed.

"People with disabilities depend on Medicaid for our lives and for our liberty," Stephanie Woodward, one demonstrator who was arrested, explained in an interview.

A video of her chanting, "no cuts to Medicaid," as Capitol police carried her away from the senator's office quickly went viral in the protest's aftermath.

A lot has changed since McConnell's brush with polio in the 1940s, but the importance of valuing basic compassion in our health care system hasn't.

If anyone's experiences underline that, it's Senator McConnell's. Let him and every legislator know how you feel when it comes to access to health care.

Call your senator to tell them you don't support the GOP's efforts to overhaul the Affordable Care Act.

Please note: Upworthy has reached out to Sen. McConnell for comment. This article may be updated.

This article was updated 6/26/2017 to clarify the difference between public funding and private donations.

Courtesy of Verizon
True

If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

Keep Reading Show less