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.

In 1997, we used the internet primarily for email and for the novelty of being able to look things up on the "worldwide web." The internet wasn't even 10 years old and was a tiny fraction of one percent the size it is now. Speeds that seemed fast then would make us throw our laptops at the wall now. There was no Google, no social media, no Zoom. This is what the top search engine looked like:

Wayback Machine

We knew the internet had some potential, but we had no idea how reliant we would become on it for pretty much everything. Our vision of what the future might hold still looked like the Jetsons in many ways. Flying cars. Bulbous architecture. Inexplicably pointy clothing. Some kind of cool communication devices that would allow us to see one another's faces in real-time.

And yet, Archie Comics got one thing eerily right in a 1997 Betty comic titled "High School 20201 A.D." Virtual, online school.

Of course, it wasn't happening due to a pandemic, but was simply the way school happens in their imagined future.

"Kids today are SO lucky! They're able to go to school in their own home!" says Betty's Dad. "They never have to carry books to school...and they never have to worry about the weather!"

Flashback to this winter, when schools contemplated whether or not to have "snow days" for kids doing school at home.

"'Scue me, folks!" says Betty. "Class is about to begin!" She sits in front a definitely-not-2021-accurate computer with a hilariously huge camera atop it, but the basic gist is spot on. Especially when we see the sign on the wall that reads "VIDEO MONITOR MUST REMAIN UNCOVERED AT ALL TIMES."

Kids turning off their cameras was one of the hundreds of challenges teachers have had to deal with through the 2020-2021 school year. Phew.

Screenshots of the first page of the comic have gone viral on social media as people point out how bonkers it is that the comic pinpointed this year for their online, at-home schooling idea. Snopes had to do a fact-check as people asked if it was real, and Archie Comics themselves wrote up a page on their site about the prescient comic.

They wrote:

"The 6-page story, originally titled 'Betty in High School 2021 A.D.' was written by George Gladir, with art by Stan Goldberg, Mike Esposito, Bill Yoshida, and Barry Grossman. In this story we find Betty and her friends in Riverdale dealing with the struggles of virtual home schooling!

When this story was reprinted in 2015, the year in the title was changed to '2104 AD' (probably because we didn't have flying cars yet) but rest assured, the original story was published in 1997 and eerily predicted elements of virtual home schooling now commonly found across the world!"

Archie Comics went ahead and shared the rest of the comic on Facebook, and it's fun to see what was eerily accurate and what was hilariously not.

"My video phone is flashing!" Betty thinks, as her pink magic-mirror-looking phone rings. Remember, most people didn't have cell phones at this point, and smartphones with cameras were a more futuristic idea than flying cars, oddly enough.

And as bizarre a year as it's been, I don't think any schools have instituted "closet detention" for at-home schoolers.

Betty's friends' "special video screen" she puts behind her to make her feel like she's not alone in class is pretty funny, and not terribly unlike the Zoom backgrounds we can virtually put behind ourselves.

They actually overshot a little with the super short skirts, as the micro-mini actually made a comeback in the early 2000s.

And yep, there's the good ol' futuristic flying car. Is there anything we've been more wrong about than the likelihood of flying around in cars by now? I don't think so.

The rest of the comic is the teens checking out the old high school museum, where they could see the cafeteria and bulletin board and "an actual classroom."

And Betty ultimately saying she wished she could "go back to the days of our old and obsolete high school."

Yep. That part's accurate for a lot of actual 2021 students as well.

Virtual schooling has been a mixed bag, with some kids thriving at home without the pressures and social drama of in-person school, while others have struggled without the structure and social stimulation of it. But no one was prepared for the sudden shift to online learning. The past year has been one long stretch of trial and error, forced flexibility, and constant adaptation. And it definitely wasn't the future—or present—any of us had hoped for.

Hopefully, we'll get those flying cars one of these days. In the meantime, we'll settle for basic in-person schooling and some semblance of normalcy.

RODNAE Productions via Pexels
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The past year has changed the way a lot of people see the world and brought the importance of global change to the forefront. However, even social impact entrepreneurs have had to adapt to the changing circumstances brought on by the Coronavirus pandemic.

"The first barrier is lack of funding. COVID-19 has deeply impacted many of our supporters, and we presume it will continue to do so. Current market volatility has caused many of our supporters to scale back or withdraw their support altogether," said Brisa de Angulo, co-founder of A Breeze of Hope Foundation, a non-profit that prevents childhood sexual violence in Bolivia and winner of the 2020 Elevate Prize.

To help social entrepreneurs scale their impact for the second year in a row, The Elevate Prize is awarding $5 million to 10 innovators, activists, and problem–solvers who are making a difference in their communities every day.

"We want to see extraordinary people leading high-impact projects that are elevating opportunities for all people, elevating issues and their solutions, or elevating understanding of and between people," The Elevate Prize website states.

Founded in 2019 by entrepreneur and philanthropist Joseph Deitch, The Elevate Prize is dedicated to giving unsung social entrepreneurs the necessary resources to scale their impact and to ultimately help inspire and awaken the hero in all of us.

"The Elevate Prize remains committed to finding a radically diverse group of innovative problem solvers and investing unconventional and personalized resources that bring greater visibility to them as leaders and the vital work they do. We make good famous," said Carolina García Jayaram, executive director, Elevate Prize Foundation.

The application process will take place in two phases. Applicants have till May 5 for Phase 1, which will include a short written application. A select number of those applicants will then be chosen for Phase 2, which includes a more robust set of questions later this summer. Ten winners will be announced in October 2021.

In addition to money, winners will also receive support from The Elevate Prize to help amplify their mission, achieve their goals, and receive mentorship and industry connections.

Last year, 1,297 candidates applied for the prize.

The 10 winners include Simprints, a UK-based nonprofit implementing biometric solutions to give people in the developing world hope and access to a better healthcare system; ReThink, a patented, innovative app that detects offensive messages and gives users a chance to reconsider posting them; and Guitars Over Guns, an organization bridging the opportunity gap for youth from vulnerable communities through transformational access to music, connectivity, and self-empowerment.

You can learn more about last year's winners, here.

If you know of someone or you yourself are ready to scale your impact, apply here today.