Why #FillTheSeats is about more than just selling tickets to the Paralympic Games.

For two weeks in August 2016, it seemed like all of America was glued to their screens to watch some of the world’s best athletes compete at the Olympics.

You could live-stream every single event, and there were thousands of hours of TV coverage. Let’s be honest: It was awesome.

But we don’t have to let the post-Olympic blues set in just yet because the world’s best Paralympians will be competing in Rio starting Sept. 7.


Photo by Andrew Wong/Getty Images.

However, unlike the Olympics, the Paralympics will receive just 66 hours of coverage across the various networks. Sadly, this is actually a huge increase from the mere 5.5 hours of television coverage the London 2012 Paralympics received.

A lack of media coverage isn’t the only issue.

Compared to the record crowds at the 2012 London Paralympics,  only 12% of tickets to the Rio Paralympics had been sold as of Aug. 16.

The causes of these low ticket sales could be debated (think issues like Zika, contaminated water, political upheaval, and protests over Olympic spending), or it could very well be because of the lack of public awareness about the Paralympics.

No matter the reason, these world-class athletes deserve a crowd to cheer them on.

Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images.

Enter Greg Nugent, former London 2012 marketing director, and a simple hashtag to get more spectators to the Paralympics. #FillTheSeats has been trending on Twitter and catching steam recently. One of the coolest parts of this movement? Nugent wasn’t looking to fill the seats with just anyone.

The money raised in the #FillTheSeats campaign will allow Brazilian children and people with an impairment who would otherwise be unable to go to the Games to attend a Paralympic event.

This movement began on August 23 and has received official backing from the IPC and Rio 2016 and an endorsement from Coldplay. Ticket sales are now on the rise as this campaign continues to grow, thanks in part to widespread support on social media from people around the world.

Former Olympic athletes also joined the conversation to voice their support for the initiative:

#FillTheSeats has the potential not only to bring more spectators to Paralympic events, but also to increase support for para-athletes to achieve sporting excellence.

Justin Zook, a three-time gold-medal Paralympic swimmer, put it like this: "I’m hoping this [#FillTheSeats] campaign will find a way to have a long, lasting impact, rather than just an immediate PR and financial effect."

It’s amazing that Paralympians will get to compete on the world's stage in Rio. But just the opportunity to compete isn't enough. We need more media coverage of athletes with disabilities. We need more education about the opportunities for children with disabilities to get involved with sports. We need more than just 66 hours of coverage of the Paralympics.

Paralympians not only are incredible athletes, but they are amazing examples of determination, courage, and perseverance.

With the exposure from the #FillTheSeats movement, hopefully fans at Rio will be inspired by the athletes they witness and will be encouraged to support and learn more about the Paralympic mission.

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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.