Stuck in Florida during Hurricane Irma, Kristen Bell gave back in a big way.

Kristen Bell was in Florida filming her new Netflix series, "Like Father," when Hurricane Irma came to town.

On Instagram, Bell jokingly called the storm a "nasty bitch" as she and her crew prepared to evacuate. Unfortunately, things didn't go exactly as planned.

"We didn't have the option to leave, so here we are," she wrote on Instagram. "Just doing our best and trying to stay positive but cautious."

Hunkered down at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Bell got to work helping out family, friends, and complete strangers ahead of the storm.  

Her "Frozen" co-star Josh Gad posted a thank-you to Bell, who was able to help his parents and extended family secure rooms at her hotel. Gad wrote on Instagram that she "literally saved my parents and my entire family tonight from Hurricane Irma."

Similarly, Bell came through for actress Jennifer Carpenter's aunt and grandma.

On Friday night, Bell made her way over to Orlando's Meadow Woods Middle School for a little sing-a-long with people there taking shelter.

Back at the hotel, a group of seniors from downstate had been evacuated to the hotel, and Bell was ready to make some new friends.

Bingo, hugging, more singing, and hallway wheelchair races kept the crowd entertained.

Bell made the best of a bad situation and used her personal celebrity to help and comfort others.

"It’s sort of sad that it takes a natural disaster to bring out the best in people, but that’s really, truly what I’ve seen," said Bell during an interview with Good Day Sacramento. "Everyone is helping everyone here."

Whether talking about the response to Harvey and its aftermath or the ongoing efforts to help those affected by Irma, it really is remarkable to see humanity living up to its best, showing us the potential and power of empathy.

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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