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.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

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In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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Anderson Cooper has interviewed hundreds of people, from top celebrities to heads of state to people on the street. He is fairly unflappable when it comes to chatting with a guest, which is what makes his reaction while interviewing inaugural poet Amanda Gorman all the more delightful.

Gorman stole the show at President Biden's Inauguration with a powerful performance of her original poem, "The Hill We Climb." People were blown away by both her words and her poise in delivering them, especially considering the fact that she's only 22 years old. But it's one thing to be able to write and recite well, and another to be able to impress in an off-the-cuff conversation—and Gorman proved in her interview on Anderson Cooper 360 that she can do both at a level most of us can only dream of.

In the interview, Gorman explained how she dove into research to prepare her poem to fit the occasion, and then how that work was disrupted by the attack on the Capitol.

"I'm not going to say that that completely derailed the poem, because I was not surprised at what had happened," she said. "I had seen the signs and the symptoms for a while, and I was not trying to turn a blind eye to that. But what it did is it energized me even more, to believe that much more firmly in a message of hope and unity and healing. I felt like that was the type of poem that I needed to write and it was the type of poem that the country and the world needed to hear."

After explaining how she used tweets and articles and messages about the Capitol insurrection to hone parts of her poem, she shared thoughts on reclaiming the power of words.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.