His mom took care of him when he was a sick child. Now he's paying her back big time.
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Old Navy Cozy Socks

Dashawn Hightower was only 3 years old when doctors discovered he had a tumor wrapped around his kidney.

He went through two years of intensive treatments that included having a needle stuck under his chest to make sure his kidney was still working.

Eventually, he made it out the other side cancer free but sans one kidney.


"Every day, I just think I’m lucky to be here," Dashawn says.

Dashawn Hightower. All photos via Dashawn Hightower, used with permission.

However, the experience wasn't only hard on him — his mother and two younger sisters were seriously affected as well.

Dashawn's mother became extremely overprotective of him, even after he was declared healthy again.

"She didn’t want me to do anything," Dashawn recalls. "No sports. No after school activities."

His mother raised him and his sisters on her own, and it was always difficult to make ends meet. So when Dashawn got into his teens, he decided to find a way to lift some of the burden off of her, even if it meant worrying her a little bit in the beginning.

It began with him attending a 6 a.m. meeting at his school about a student-focused career-building program.

When he reached high school, he joined This Way Ahead — an internship program designed to help teens get a leg up on their future.

An intern working at Old Navy.

The internship program is one of the efforts under Old Navy's cause platform ONward!. The brand is actually expanding the program through a trigger donation this Black Friday. You can buy their cozy socks for $1, and each purchase will result in a $1 donation to Boys & Girls Clubs, up to $1 million. The money will go to creating an employment program for Boys & Girls Club youth, offering them career coaching and a first job at Old Navy stores.  

It's all about giving kids the skills they need to succeed in the workplace.

Every day, the program focused on a different job-based subject — what questions to ask at an interview, how to write a great resume, customer conflicts, etc. Slowly but surely, Dashawn felt his confidence building. He knew he could be a great business leader.

"It taught me responsibility," Dashawn says. "I own all my actions."

As a result, Dashawn started taking care of his sisters more. He'd help them with their homework and get ready for school. And soon, he landed his first job.

Dashawn with his mom at his Old Navy job.

"[The program] helped me to have the upper hand when I interviewed for a position at Old Navy," Dashawn recalls.

Not surprisingly, he aced the interview and was brought onboard as a paid intern in 2014. Last year in November, he was hired as a full-time staff employee, and today, he's a business and training operations specialist at Old Navy's Herald Square location in New York City.

He's finally getting to lift some of the financial strain off his mom, and she could not be happier with how far he's come.

She even remembers the first time he bought her a pair of shoes. She had the receipt framed.

Today, Dashawn takes every opportunity that comes his way to make life better because he knows he might not have had a life at all.

Dashawn with interns in the TWA program.

"I could’ve died when I was 3," Dashawn says. "So I’m going after everything I can, the most I can. I’m hungry."

He tries to instill the same go-getter attitude in his associates and the interns he now manages. Many of them come directly from Old Navy's first jobs program, so they're already at the top of their game. But they still come to him sometimes with questions or concerns about their next steps. Since he's been in their shoes, he shares the same advice he's given himself in the past.

"No matter what you do, you always show your best," he says. "And every time you complete a certain chapter, it’s just a chapter. You have the whole book to complete. You have the whole journey to look forward to."

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

via CNN / Twitter

Eviction seemed imminent for Dasha Kelly, 32, and her three young daughters Sharron, 8; Kia, 6; and Imani, 5, on Monday. The eviction moratorium expired over the weekend and it looked like there was no way for them to avoid becoming homeless.

The former Las Vegas card dealer lost her job due to casino closures during the pandemic and needed $2,000 to cover her back rent. The mother of three couldn't bear the thought of being put out of her apartment with three children in the scorching Nevada desert.

"I had no idea what we were going to do," Kelly said, according to KOAT.

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