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.

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.

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."