The awesome way this girl thanked her parents for the sacrifices they made.

“I’m so proud of you because you work so hard."

To say it was hard for Juan and Kathy Peña to leave their home country of Guatemala is a massive understatement.

"I remember thinking, 'I don’t know when I’m going to come back,'" recalls Kathy. "And my family’s everything, so it’s hard."

The couple came to the United States in 2006 so Juan could study and pursue a career in motion graphics and video production.


"We sold everything we had just to get enough money to pay the tuition," explains Juan. "It was a leap of faith."

Juan and Kathy Peña. All photos via Minute Maid.

On top of stretching finances for Juan's school, the couple had trouble getting pregnant.

The doctors had told Juan he had only a 1% chance of being a parent, so they thought it might never happen. But out of the blue, Kathy got pregnant with what they nicknamed their "miracle baby."

While it was a dream come true for the Peñas, the doctors told them the pregnancy was high-risk, which meant Kathy had to be on bed rest for the majority of it. So not only was Juan trying to complete his schooling, he was taking care of his pregnant wife at the same time.

"I knew in my heart we would be all right because we had each other," says Kathy.

Kathy and Juan during Kathy's pregnancy.

Thankfully, Kathy's pregnancy went smoothly, and Juan managed to keep up with his education throughout.

Soon, they were holding their daughter Elizabeth in their arms.

"Our daughter, our miracle. We couldn’t believe it when we had her in our arms," recalls Kathy.

But the blessings didn't stop there. In 2015, they welcomed their son Joseph into the world.

Elizabeth and Joseph drawing together.

Today, thanks to Juan and Kathy's inexhaustible faith and perseverance, they have two happy, healthy children who have everything they need and more.

Juan hopes their life up to this point inspires his kids to work hard and keep dreaming big.

"I think dreams and purpose are the things that drive us as humans," says Juan.

Kathy's also been able to pursue her ambition of becoming a designer of hand-crafted party supplies.

Crafting is Kathy's passion, so being able to throw herself into it has revitalized her sense of purpose.

Her creativity sparked an idea in Elizabeth. She wanted to make something really special for her parents.

Elizabeth's future diploma.

So she started putting together a colorful display filled with hand-drawn pictures of her family, festive hats, and decorations — just like her mom's.

It included one extra meaningful piece of paper: Elizabeth's future veterinarian degree — her dream profession.

When her parents saw what she'd made, they were overwhelmed with emotion. Her mother was so proud to see her daughter showcasing her creativity, and her father knew just what to do with the certificate.

"I will save this, and then we will see it in the future being a reality."

Juan holds Elizabeth's future degree.

Taking a leap of faith isn't easy, but the Peñas' story reminds us that it can be more than worth it in the end.

While there were times when they weren't sure they were making the right decisions as parents, seeing their kids develop lofty aspirations that are totally achievable is all the assurance they need.

The family has a comfortable life with so many opportunities at their fingertips. And it only happened because Juan and Kathy made a decision to finish what they started and stuck to it. While that's a reward all on its own, their daughter showing them what their efforts did for her was the sweetest icing on the cake.

Then she said this, which left them speechless: "I’m so proud of you because you work so hard."

Watch the Peña's whole story here:

They thought they could never have children. And then their miracle babies arrived.

Posted by Upworthy on Monday, September 18, 2017
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Don't test on animals. That's something we can all agree on, right? No one likes to think of defenseless cats, dogs, hamsters, and birds being exposed to a bunch of things that could make them sick (and the animals aren't happy about it, either). It's no wonder so many people and organizations have fought to stop it. But did you ever think that maybe brands are testing products on us too, they're just not telling us they're doing it?

I know, I know, it sounds like a conspiracy theory, but that's exactly what e-cigarette brands like JUUL (which corners the e-cigarette market) are doing in this country right now, and young people are on the frontlines of the fallout. Most people assume that the government would have looked at devices that allow people to inhale unknown chemicals into their lungs BEFORE they hit the market. You would think that someone in the government would have determined that they are safe. But nope, that hasn't happened. And vape companies are fighting to delay the government's ability to evaluate these products.

So no one really knows the long-term health effects of e-cigarette use, not even JUUL's CEO, nor are they informing the public about the potential risks. On top of that, according to the FDA, there's been a 78% increase in e-cigarette usage among high school and middle school-aged children in just the last two years, prompting the U.S. Surgeon General to officially recognize the trend as an epidemic and urge action against it.

These facts have elicited others to take action, as well.

Truth Initiative, the nonprofit best known for dropping the real facts about smoking and vaping since 2000 through its truth campaign. We don't do PSAs. We also need to update so to explain truth – the nonprofit behind the truth youth smoking prevention campaign – you could also say this in a funny way – best known for sharing the facts about smoking and vaping or pull from some old campaigns. Just layer in a description of truth and who the campaign is., is now on a mission to confront e-cigarette brands like JUUL about the lack of care they've taken to inform consumers of the potential adverse side effects of their products. And they're doing it with the help of animal protesters who are tired of seeing humans treated like test subjects.

The March Against JUUL | Tested On Humans | truth www.youtube.com

"No one knows the long-term effects of JUULing so any human who uses one is being used as a lab rat," says, appropriately, Mario the Sewer Rat.

"I will never stop fighting JUUL. Or the mailman," notes Doug the Pug, the Instagram-famous dog star.

Truth, the national counter-marketing campaign for youth smoking prevention, hopes this fuzzy, squeaky, snorty animal movement arms humans with the facts about vaping and inspires them to demand transparency from JUUL and other e-cigarette companies. You can get your own fur babies involved too by sharing photos of them wearing protest gear with the hashtag #DontTestOnHumans. Here's some adorable inspo for you:

The dangerous stuff is already out there, but with knowledge on their side, young people will hopefully make the right choices and fight companies making the wrong ones. If you need more convincing, here are the serious facts.

Over the last decade, 127 e-cigarette-related seizures were reported, which prompted the FDA to launch an official investigation in April 2019. Since then, over 215 cases of a new, severe lung illness have sprung up all over the country, with six deaths to date. While scientists aren't yet sure of the root cause, the majority of victims were young adults who regularly vaped and used e-cigarettes. As such, the CDC has launched an official investigation into the potential link.

Sixteen-year-old Luka Kinard, a former frequent e-cigarette-user, is one of the many teens who experienced severe side effects. "Vaping was my biggest addiction," he told NowThis. "It lasted for about 15 months of my high school career." In 2018, Kinard was hospitalized after having a seizure. He also had severe nausea, chest pains, and difficulty breathing.

After the harrowing experience, he quit vaping, and began speaking out about his experience to help inform others and hopefully inspire them to quit and/or take action. "It shouldn't take having a seizure as a result of nicotine addiction like I had for teens to realize that these companies are taking advantage of what we don't know," Kinard said.

Teens are 16 times more likely to use e-cigarettes than adults, and four times more likely to take up traditional smoking as a result, according to truth, and yet the e-cigarette market remains virtually unregulated and untested. In fact, companies like JUUL continue to block and prevent FDA regulations, investing more than $1 million in lawyers and lobbying efforts in the last quarter alone.

Photo by Lindsay Fox/Pixabay

Consumers have a right to know what they're putting in their bodies. If everyone (and their pets) speaks up, the e-cigarette industry will have to make a change. Young people are already taking action across the country. They're hosting rallies nationwide and on October 9 as part of a National Day of Action, young people are urging their friends and classmates to "Ditch JUUL." Will you join them?

For help with quitting e-cigarettes, visit thetruth.com/quit or text DITCHJUUL to 88709 for free, anonymous resources.

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LUSH

Handmade cosmetics company Lush is putting its money where its mouth is and taking a bold step for climate change action.

On September 20 in the U.S. and September 27 in Canada, Lush will shut the doors of its 250 shops, e-commerce sites, manufacturing facilities, and headquarters for a day, in solidarity with the Global Climate Strike taking place around the world. Lush is encouraging its 5000+ employees "to join this critical movement and take a stand until global leaders are forced to face the climate crisis and enact change."

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Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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The fine folks at Forbes are currently falling all over themselves trying to clean up the mess they created by publishing their 2019 list of 100 Most Innovative Leaders.

The problem: The list included 99 men and one woman. For those not so good with the math, that means according to Forbes, only 1% of the country's most innovative leaders are female.

Have you ever watched a movie that's so abysmally bad that you wonder how it ever even got made? Where you think, "Hundreds and hundreds of people had to have been directly involved in the production of this film. Did any of them ever think to say, 'Hey, maybe we should just scrap this idea altogether?"

That's how it feels to see a list like this. So how did Forbes come up with these results?

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