Woman with only a 2 percent chance to live amazes America's Got Talent with performance

All of us face challenges in life, but some people also face challenges to life itself. For 30-year-old singer Jane Marczewski, who goes by Nightbirde when she sings, those challenges are real and immediate in the form of her third round of cancer. Prior to her America's Got Talent audition, scans showed cancer in her lungs, spine, and liver. Her prognosis was daunting—six months to live and a two percent chance of survival.

But to hear her tell it, that small chance is a gift. And hearing her sing about the last year of her life is enough to inspire even the most cynical among us.

She doesn't mention it on the show, but her husband also left her in the midst of her cancer journey. In her blog, she writes powerfully and poetically about these struggles, describing her hours spent curled up on the bathroom floor and the raw, painful conversations with God that have ultimately strengthened her faith. Her positive outlook has been hard-won, which makes it all the more relatable.

As she told the judges of America's Got Talent, "It's important that everyone knows that I'm so much more than the bad things that happen to me." She also said, "You can't wait until life isn't hard anymore before you decide to be happy"—a philosophy that actually means something coming from someone in the depths of heartbreak and hardship.


Nightbirde's performance of her original song, "It's OK," created one of the most moving moments in the history of a show known for moving moments. When you get notoriously hard-nosed Simon Cowell wiping the corners of his eyes, you know you've hit a universal emotional chord. And when he gives the Golden Buzzer, automatically moving a performer to the final round of competition, you know you've truly got talent.

Moreso than the thunderous applause or even the judges' glowing remarks, the weighty pause before the audience erupts in a standing ovation testifies to the power of her performance. Her clear voice, authentic presence, bright smile, and upbeat attitude all come together perfectly here:

Golden Buzzer: Nightbirde's Original Song Makes Simon Cowell Emotional - America's Got Talent 2021 www.youtube.com

The video has gone incredibly viral, and Nightbirde woke up today to her song hitting number one on iTunes.

"Living in a dreamland," she wrote on Instagram as she shared a screenshot of the iTunes song chart.

Nightbirde spoke to NBC4i News in her native state of Ohio to discuss the Golden Buzzer moment and her cancer experience. She said it was just over a year ago that she was given a prognosis of three to six months.

"I've been on a really hard journey," she said, "and a lot of that journey I've walked alone, or at least in secret. There's a lot of hard battles you fight within yourself to be positive and stay present in the world, even when it hurts really bad to do that."

When asked about the overwhelming response to her song. "It's really amazing to see the lessons that I've learned and the person that I've become...it's now able to be a gift to other people."

And she shared the beautiful story of how she chose her professional name, Nightbirde. Definitely worth a watch:

You can find the recorded version of Nightbird's song, "It's OK," on YouTube and iTunes. You can also follow her on Instagram.

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."