Thousands of people chipped in to help this dad find a new cup for his son with autism.

If there's one thing Marc Carter's son Ben loves, it's his blue sippy cup.

Ben is 14, and he has severe autism.

He's almost completely nonverbal, but that doesn't mean he can't communicate his dedication to this simple, blue cup.


It might not look like much, but Ben has been drinking from it almost exclusively for his entire life.

Marc says he replaced it, once, with an exact replica, but even that took great care. First he swapped in a new base, then a few weeks later, he added a new top. Ben was skeptical, but he eventually adjusted.

The National Autistic Society reports that it's quite common for people with autism to become attached to or obsessed with certain behaviors, interests, or even specific objects, like Ben's cup. The organization writes: "The interest can ... provide structure, order and predictability, and help people cope with the uncertainties of daily life."

So, to Marc and Ben, the cup is also a little more than just a cup.

Unfortunately, Marc recently found out that the manufacturer, Tommee Tippee, is no longer making this model of sippy cup. That's a huge problem for Ben.

Marc's not kidding around when he talks about how important this cup is to his son. He says Ben has been hospitalized twice from dehydration after refusing to drink out of anything but his sippy.

The cup, he says, literally keeps his son alive.

As a father, he knew he had to do something. The current cup Ben uses is three years old and falling apart at the seams. It would only be a matter of time until it was unusable, and what then?

So Marc put out a call on Twitter, hoping that someone, somewhere, might have an old cup like Ben's laying around.

Before long, his tweet was retweeted thousands of times. The hashtag #CupForBen was flooded with kind offers from strangers who wanted to mail Ben their old sippys.

Tommee Tippee, the manufacturer of the cup, even heard about the campaign and offered to look through their warehouses to see if they still had some left.

(According to Marc's latest update, they've found one.)

One user even mocked up a digital model of the cup in case Marc wanted to have it 3D-printed.

To call this heartwarming response overwhelming would be a massive understatement.

"I've got some coming, some as in enough to last us a few years," Marc wrote. "If that's all I get then that's great."

He says Ben's behavior is unlikely to change at this stage, and he'll likely rely on his blue sippy cup for the rest of his life.

Thanks to the unending kindness of some random Twitter users, Ben and Marc won't have to worry about running out. For a long while, at least.

Despite all the attention, Marc insists he's not a "hero dad." He's just doing the very best he can for his son.

"In all this it's so important to realize this isn't about me, it's not about a little blue cup, it's about autism," he told the blog Rainbows Are Beautiful Too.

"My heart goes out to all of the carers who have to struggle daily with things that seem so trivial to the rest of the society β€” I think you are all fab parents and I admire you all."

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."