This retired NFL player put up an amazing gym that trains people with disabilities.
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Retired U.S. Marine Brian Aft was in a dark place after losing both his legs to an IED in Afghanistan.

After going through countless surgeries, Aft turned to heroin when he realized the pain wasn’t going away. In time, he became severely addicted.

One day, as he was heading through a parking lot, a dude the size of an NFL linebacker started running toward him. "You’re gonna get robbed," Brian remembered thinking to himself.


Turns out the dude was an NFL linebacker — David Vobora. He had noticed Aft's injury — and apparent addiction — and all he wanted to do was ask what happened.

Little did Aft know that the question would change the course of his life forever.

Vobora always understood the importance of fighting back.

Picked dead last in the 2008 NFL draft, Vobora has the distinction of being that year’s Mr. Irrelevant. But he clawed tooth and nail and eventually became the first rookie Mr. Irrelevant to start a game in over a decade.

Then in 2011, a devastating shoulder injury derailed his NFL career. Vobora played through the pain until the end of the season. But he developed a serious pain-pill addiction along the way and decided to check himself into rehab.

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After going through an intense detox, Vobora started training again. But his drive to play professional football diminished. That’s when he decided to retire. It scared him; football was all he'd ever known.

With the odds stacked against him once again, Mr. Irrelevant found a way to make it work. He moved to Dallas with his family and decided to help other elite athletes at his very own training facility — the Performance Vault.

Vobora’s path took a new turn the day he met retired Army Staff Sgt. Travis Mills.

Mills is one of five living veteran quadruple amputees from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He, like Aft, was injured by an IED while on patrol.

From the moment Vobora saw him, he was drawn to him. "When was the last time you worked out?" Vobora remembers asking.

"I’m sorry. I don’t want to make you feel like an idiot, but I don’t have arms and legs," replied Mills.

That didn’t matter to Vobora. He didn’t see Mills as an Army vet who'd lost his limbs in battle. He simply saw him as a person who had a body. And as Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman once said, "If you have a body, you are an athlete."

Vobora and Mills got to work. And then they worked some more.

It didn’t matter that Vobora had zero experience training someone with Mills’ condition. All Vobora wanted to do was help Mills see what he was capable of.

In time, Mills began to thrive.

That’s when Vobora realized that no gym he knew of was providing the kind of work that they were doing. What about the other people — whether vet or civilian — who had their own physical disabilities?

"They’ve sort of been sidelined," Vobora says. "They fall into the rehabilitation process, but eventually insurance ran out, cash ran out, and where do they go, right? Where do they go to be apart of a collective group that has this community and this ability to push each other?"

Inspired to make a bigger difference, Vobora started the Adaptive Training Foundation.

It’s a nonprofit designed to empower people with disabilities and restore their confidence through athletic movement. By customizing their plan to what each person can do, they’re able to establish a solid training foundation that has the potential to redefine their physical limits.

This is how men and women like Aft were able to change their lives for the better.

The morning after meeting/getting scared by Vobora, Aft came into the gym and started working out.

He came every day for the next three months.

And he trained alongside other incredible athletes.

All of them were pushing themselves to the absolute limit.

No doubt they did things they never would have done at a normal therapy session.

More than just muscle, the foundation is building a stronger sense of purpose into each and every person it trains.

"They make you stronger," explained Aft. "They instill some insane confidence and self-worth back into you. Not just that, they’re giving you something to do, a place to be, a little sense of community with everybody."

At the end of the day, what sets Vobora apart as a trainer and mentor is his ability to make everyone feel equal, regardless of disability.

Because of the program, these athletes are able to shatter barriers they thought were set in stone. But you know what? They powered right through, lifted that dang stone, and hurled it as far away as humanly possible.

Few child actors ever get to star in an award-winning film, much less win a prestigious award for their performance. That fact appeared to hit home for 8-year-old Alan Kim, as he broke down in tears accepting his Critics' Choice Award for Best Young Actor/Actress, making for one of the sweetest moments in awards show history.

Kim showed up to the awards (virtually, of course) decked out in a tuxedo, and his parents had even laid out a red carpet in their entryway to give him a taste of the real awards show experience. When his name was announced as the Critics' Choice winner for his role in the film "Minari," his reaction was priceless.

Grinning from ear to ear, Kim started off his acceptance speech by thanking "the critics who voted" and his family. But as soon as he started naming his family members, he burst into tears. "Oh my goodness, I'm crying," he said. Through sobs, he kept going with his list, naming members of the cast, the production company, and the crew that worked on the film.

"I hope I will be in other movies," he added. Then, the cutest—he pinched his own cheeks and asked, "Is this a dream? I hope it's not a dream."

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We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

There's an old saying that luck happens when preparation meets opportunity.

There's no better example of that than a 2016 discovery at the University of California, Irvine, by doctoral student Mya Le Thai. After playing around in the lab, she made a discovery that could lead to a rechargeable battery that could last up to 400 years. That means longer-lasting laptops and smartphones and fewer lithium ion batteries piling up in landfills.

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Tory Burch

Courtesy of Tory Burch

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This March marks one year since the start of the pandemic… and it's been an incredibly difficult year: Over 500,000 people have died and hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs. But the pandemic's economic downturn has been disproportionately affecting women because they are more likely to work in hard-hit industries, such as hospitality or entertainment, and many of them have been forced to leave their jobs due to the lack of childcare.

But throughout all that hardship, women have, over and over again, found ways to help one another and solve problems.

"Around the world, women have stepped up and found ways to help where it is needed most," says Tory Burch, an entrepreneur who started her own business in 2004.

Burch knows a thing or two about empowering women: After seeing the many obstacles that women in business face — even before the pandemic — she created the Tory Burch Foundation in 2009 to empower women entrepreneurs.

And now, for International Women's Day, her company is launching a global campaign with Upworthy to celebrate the women around the world who give back and create real change in their communities.

"I hope the creativity and resilience of these women, and the amazing ways they have found to have real impact, will inspire and energize others as much as they have me," Burch says.

This year's Empowered Women certainly are inspiring:

Shalini SamtaniCourtesy of Shalini Samtani

Take, for example, Shalini Samtani. When her daughter was diagnosed with a rare immune disorder, she spent a lot of time in the hospital, which caused her to quickly realize that there wasn't a single company in the toy industry servicing the physical or emotional needs of the 3 million hospitalized children across America every year. She was determined to change that — so she created The Spread the Joy Foundation to deliver free play kits to pediatric patients all around the country.

Varsha YajmanCourtesy of Varsha Yajman

Varsha Yajman is another one of this year's nominees. She is just 18 years old, and yet she has been diligently fighting to build awareness and action for climate justice for the last seven years by leading school strikes, working as a paralegal with Equity Generations Lawyers, and speaking to CEOs from Siemen's and several big Australian banks at AGMs.

Caitlin MurphyCourtesy of Caitlin Murphy

Caitlin Murphy, meanwhile, stepped up in a big way during the pandemic by pivoting her business — Global Gateway Logistics — to secure and transport over 2 million masks to hospitals and senior care facilities across the country. She also created the Gateway for Good program, which purchased and donated 10,000 KN95 masks for local small businesses, charities, cancer patients and their families, immunocompromised, and churches in the area.

Simone GordonCourtesy of Simone Gordon

Simone Gordon, a domestic violence survivor and single mom, wanted to pay it forward after she received help getting essentials and tuition assistance — so she created the Instagram account @TheBlackFairyGodMotherOfficial and nonprofit to provide direct assistance to families in need. During the pandemic alone, they have raised over $50,000 for families and they have provided emergency assistance — in the form of groceries — for numerous women and families of color.

Victoria SanusiCourtesy of Victoria Sanusi

Victoria Sanusi started Black Gals Livin' with her friend Jas and the podcast has been an incredibly powerful way of destigmatizing mental health for numerous listeners. The podcast quickly surpassed a million listens, was featured on Michaela Coel's "I May Destroy You," won podcast of the year at the Brown Sugar Awards, and was named one of Elle Magazine's best podcasts of 2020.

And Upworthy and the Tory Burch are just getting started. They are still searching the globe for more extraordinary women who are making an impact in their communities.

Do you know one? If you do, nominate her now. If she's selected, she could receive $5,000 to give to a nonprofit of her choice through the Tory Burch Foundation. Submissions are being accepted on a rolling basis — and one Empowered woman will be selected each month starting in April.

Nominate her now at www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen.