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.

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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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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