The internet's rallying behind these kids big time after a tragedy took their parents.

Unthinkable tragedy struck the Clemens family of Texas in April.

On April 7, 2018, Jim and Karisa Clemens — along with their 2-month-old, Julieanna — were killed driving home from a family outing.

A vehicle crossed the highway median and struck the Clemens' Suburban, killing the parents and baby, according to San Angelo Live. Jim and Karisa's four other children, who'd all been in the car too — Angela, Zachary, Wyatt, and Nicholas — survived the crash with varying degrees of injury.

The Clemens family months before the accident. Left to right: Zachary, Karisa (pregnant with Julieanna), Angela, Jim, Wyatt, and Nicholas (in his dad's arms). Photo via Teresa Burrell, used with permission.


There are no words to describe what Angela, Zachary, Wyatt, and Nicholas are going through after that.

The emotional and physical toll they've endured the past few weeks — recovery from a multitude of injuries and the devastation of losing both parents — is unfathomable.

Nicholas, 2, was released from the hospital a few days after the accident, the children's great-aunt Teresa Burrell confirms. He's doing well. Wyatt, 4, experienced brain trauma and strokes in the aftermath of the crash, leaving him with paralysis on his left side.

Zachary, 5, suffered significant setbacks, including bruised lungs and a broken back. And 8-year-old Angela sustained broken legs from the crash and severe head trauma. She was in a coma the first week after the crash, and the family still isn't sure how much brain damage has occurred, Burrell says.

The physical and emotional healing is just beginning for the Clemens kids. But they're "very resilient," according to their great-aunt. And, crucially, they have each other.

A few days ago, Angela and Zachary were reunited for the first time after the wreck.

A physical therapist at the hospital caught the heartbreaking yet hopeful moment in a photo as the brother and sister laid side by side, hand in hand.

The image has tugged on the heartstrings of many.

Angela and Zachary. Photo courtesy of Teresa Burrell, used with permission.

"My heart is bursting!" someone commented on the photo, which was shared with a note describing each child's progress and the challenges that lie ahead. "They are such special spirits."

"I’m so glad these beautiful kids are surrounded by their loved ones and improving every day," someone else chimed in.

"Omg," another wrote. "This picture has a million feelings running through me."

Through an online fundraiser, Burrell is keeping family and friends — and now big-hearted supporters from around the world — updated on the kids' recoveries.

The family launched the page to help with the massive financial burdens associated with the tragedy. "The children will need extensive care for many months," Burrell wrote. "We are seeking funds to help with the funeral arrangements and for medical care [for] these sweet little children."

Zachary, Wyatt, and Angela. Photo courtesy of Teresa Burrell, used with permission.

Faith has always been important to the Clemens family. So the outpouring of positive thoughts and prayers from people near and far — from Germany and New York to Taiwan and California — has made a big difference.

"We have been upheld from people of many different faiths and beliefs who have prayed for us and the children," she says. "It is humbling and brings peace in a very difficult time."

Fortunately, there have been many milestones worth celebrating since Angela, Zachary, Wyatt, and Nicholas entered care.

While the extent of Angela's brain damage has yet to be determined, the improvement she's shown has been encouraging, Burrell says. In a matter of days, the 8-year-old went from speaking just one word to reading and singing along with her siblings.

Wyatt, too, has made remarkable progress. Working with a physical therapist, he took his first steps after the accident. He's able to lift his left arm above his head and throw a ball. "Now they have to make sure he doesn't try to run away from them because he doesn't have his balance yet," Burrell says.

Wyatt. Photo courtesy of Teresa Burrell, used with permission.

Zachary has a particularly tough road ahead though. "We are asking for prayers for our little Zachary," Burrell requests, noting he's still fighting through respiratory issues and will have many more surgeries down the road. "He is really having a hard time with his internal injuries."

But the Clemens kids have "astounded" doctors with their recoveries thus far. And there's plenty of reason to hope that progress will continue in the weeks and months ahead.

It won't be easy. But these kids have an incredible support system to rely on — and lots of fun sibling time to sustain the smiles when times get tough.

Photo courtesy of Teresa Burrell, used with permission.

"We have all been moved by [the kids'] faith, courage, and support [for] one another," Burrell wrote in a Facebook post. "It is a testament of their wonderful parents."

To stay updated on the Clemens' recoveries and support the family's fundraiser, visit Burrell's page on Facebook.

Courtesy of Amita Swadhin
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In 2016, Amita Swadhin, a child of two immigrant parents from India, founded Mirror Memoirs to help combat rape culture. The national storytelling and organizing project is dedicated to sharing the stories of LGBTQIA+ Black, indigenous people, and people of color who survived child sexual abuse.

"Whether or not you are a survivor, 100% of us are raised in rape culture. It's the water that we're swimming in. But just as fish don't know they are in water, because it's just the world around them that they've always been in, people (and especially those who aren't survivors) may need some help actually seeing it," they add.

"Mirror Memoirs attempts to be the dye that helps everyone understand the reality of rape culture."

Amita built the idea for Mirror Memoirs from a theater project called "Undesirable Elements: Secret Survivors" that featured their story and those of four other survivors in New York City, as well as a documentary film and educational toolkit based on the project.

"Secret Survivors had a cast that was gender, race, and age-diverse in many ways, but we had neglected to include transgender women," Amita explains. "Our goal was to help all people who want to co-create a world without child sexual abuse understand that the systems historically meant to help survivors find 'healing' and 'justice' — namely the child welfare system, policing, and prisons — are actually systems that facilitate the rape of children in oppressed communities," Amita continues. "We all have to explore tools of healing and accountability outside of these systems if we truly want to end all forms of sexual violence and rape culture."

Amita also wants Mirror Memoirs to be a place of healing for survivors that have historically been ignored or underserved by anti-violence organizations due to transphobia, homophobia, racism, xenophobia, and white supremacy.

Amita Swadhin

"Hearing survivors' stories is absolutely healing for other survivors, since child sexual abuse is a global pandemic that few people know how to talk about, let alone treat and prevent."

"Since sexual violence is an isolating event, girded by shame and stigma, understanding that you're not alone and connecting with other survivors is alchemy, transmuting isolation into intimacy and connection."

This is something that Amita knows and understands well as a survivor herself.

"My childhood included a lot of violence from my father, including rape and other forms of domestic violence," says Amita. "Mandated reporting was imposed on me when I was 13 and it was largely unhelpful since the prosecutors threatened to incarcerate my mother for 'being complicit' in the violence I experienced, even though she was also abused by my father for years."

What helped them during this time was having the support of others.

"I'm grateful to have had a loving younger sister and a few really close friends, some of whom were also surviving child sexual abuse, though we didn't know how to talk about it at the time," Amita says.

"I'm also a queer, non-binary femme person living with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and those identities have shaped a lot of my life experiences," they continue. "I'm really lucky to have an incredible partner and network of friends and family who love me."

"These realizations put me on the path of my life's work to end this violence quite early in life," they said.

Amita wants Mirror Memoirs to help build awareness of just how pervasive rape culture is. "One in four girls and one in six boys will be raped or sexually assaulted by the age of 18," Amita explains, "and the rates are even higher for vulnerable populations, such as gender non-conforming, disabled, deaf, unhoused, and institutionalized children." By sharing their stories, they're hoping to create change.

"Listening to stories is also a powerful way to build empathy, due to the mirror neurons in people's brains. This is, in part, why the project is called Mirror Memoirs."

So far, Mirror Memoirs has created an audio archive of BIPOC LGBTQI+ child sexual abuse survivors sharing their stories of survival and resilience that includes stories from 60 survivors across 50 states. This year, they plan to record another 15 stories, specifically of transgender and nonbinary people who survived child sexual abuse in a sport-related setting, with their partner organization, Athlete Ally.

"This endeavor is in response to the more than 100 bills that have been proposed across at least 36 states in 2021 seeking to limit the rights of transgender and non-binary children to play sports and to receive gender-affirming medical care with the support of their parents and doctors," Amita says.

In 2017, Mirror Memoirs held its first gathering, which was attended by 31 people. Today, the organization is a fiscally sponsored, national nonprofit with two staff members, a board of 10 people, a leadership council of seven people, and 500 members nationally.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, they created a mutual aid fund for the LGBTQIA+ community of color and were able to raise a quarter-million dollars. They received 2,509 applications for assistance, and in the end, they decided to split the money evenly between each applicant.

While they're still using storytelling as the building block of their work, they're also engaging in policy and advocacy work, leadership development, and hosting monthly member meetings online.

For their work, Amita is one of Tory's Burch's Empowered Women. Their donation will go to Mirror Memoirs to help fund production costs for their new theater project, "Transmutation: A Ceremony," featuring four Black transgender, intersex, and non-binary women and femmes who live in California.

"I'm grateful to every single child sexual survivor who has ever disclosed their truth to me," Amita says. "I know another world is possible, and I know survivors will build it, together with all the people who love us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

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."