Teenager brilliantly shows how to deal with bullies by fundraising off of them.
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Dannie "Dee" McMillan was in study hall when she received a text that would bring many of us to tears.

The Texas teen learned that another student had created a Twitter account calling her a "fat whale." The account featured an unflattering photo of her with an image of a whale over her face.

Funny? Not at all. Painful? Definitely.


Photo courtesy of Dannie McMillan, used with permission.

"At first I had no clue," McMillan explained of the Twitter account mocking her. "It started with weird looks in the hallways and people giggling behind my back. ... It was awful, the shame and embarrassment I felt. I left school right away and went home where I locked myself in my room and cried for hours. I stayed at home watching the [number of followers on the Twitter page] grow for three days."

Hurt by her classmates' cruelty, McMillan messaged Laura Lee, a plus-size model the 16-year-old looks up to, on Facebook.

A photo posted by Laura Lee đź’‹ (@misslauraleej) on


"I jokingly told [Lee] part of me wants to cry all day," McMillan explained to KCEN News of the conversation. "And the other part of me wants to get a T-shirt with a whale on it and wear it to school to show that they can't get to me. And, she was like 'oh, we should.'"

So McMillan did just that ... and she took it up a notch.

McMillan launched a fundraiser selling shirts to benefit the Save the Whales Foundation and got to spite the bullies who wronged her.

Her efforts have garnered more than $6,700 for the nonprofit, an educational initiative that promotes whale preservation.

The shirts read "Dee the Fat Whale Saves the Whales."

Photo courtesy of Dannie McMillan, used with permission.

What's more, McMillan also set up a GoFundMe page that has raised an additional $10,700 toward the nonprofit.

"It has given me a much larger sense of confidence," McMillan told Upworthy about the overwhelming support. "It makes me feel like I am making a difference."

Those shirts are pretty much amazing because McMillan's not only fighting back with a great cause, she's reclaiming the word "fat" while she's at it.

After all, the adjective "fat" shouldn't be an insult, as activist vlogger Meghan Tonjes has explained, "it’s all the things you attach to the word 'fat,'" like lazy, ugly, or unhygienic that are nothing more than inaccurate, degrading stereotypes. Fat is just an adjective, like skinny or tall or short, and to see McMillan take her experience being bullied for her weight and turning it into something that gives "fat" a positive association is an incredibly important message.

One glance at McMillan's fundraiser pages, and it's obvious her actions aren't just helping whales — they're inspiring people too.

Reading through the comments, it's hard not to smile:

Trey McMillan has his daughter's back too. "I just want her to be happy and successful in what she does and be proud of what she does," he told KCEN.

And as far as Lee? She's over the moon. "No joke, I'm a teary mess seeing this fabulous story," the model wrote on Facebook, noting she's beyond thrilled to know the story is making waves.

McMillan is a shining example of how to turn something awful into a beautiful thing.

"I can take someone's hate and use it to spread love," she wrote on her GoFundMe page. "Overcoming things like this is not easy, but people need to know that it is possible and they have support."

You can help support McMillan by purchasing a shirt here or donating to her GoFundMe here.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Courtesy of CeraVe
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"I love being a nurse because I have the honor of connecting with my patients during some of their best and some of their worst days and making a difference in their lives is among the most rewarding things that I can do in my own life" - Tenesia Richards, RN

From ushering new life into the world to holding the hand of a patient as they take their last breath, nurses are everyday heroes that deserve our respect and appreciation.

To give back to this community that is always giving so selflessly to others, CeraVe® put out a call to nurses to share their stories for a chance to be featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series shining a light on nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to patients and their communities.

First up: Tenesia Richards, a labor and delivery nurse working in New York City who, in addition to her regular job, started a community outreach program in a homeless shelter that houses expectant mothers for up to one year postpartum.

Tenesia | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Upon learning at a conference that black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women's health, Richards decided to take further action to help her community. She, along with a handful of fellow nurses, volunteered to provide antepartum, childbirth and postpartum education to the women living at the shelter. Additionally, they looked for other ways to boost the spirits of the residents, like throwing baby showers and bringing in guest speakers. When COVID-19 hit and in-person gatherings were no longer possible, Richards and her team found creative workarounds and created holiday care packages for the mothers instead.

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