“Boston is a city of love stories now,” Robert Fogarty writes in a letter to Boston Marathon bombing survivors. “As you heal, know you inspire the rest of us to be better, still.”

Fogarty is founder of Dear World, a photography project that began in 2009 when Fogarty and his team asked New Orleans residents to write “love notes to their city” on their skin. The goal, Fogarty writes on the project’s website, is to tell stories of hope, stories of struggle, and stories of a brighter day.

In February, nearly one year after the Boston Marathon bombing, Forgarty asked survivors to return to the finish line to share their Boston Strong messages with the world.

“I would love for anyone reading these messages to recognize that we’re all going to struggle,” Fogarty told The Mighty. “But here is a group of people who have gone through something that’s brought them together in many ways. Healing is possible.”

Below are just a few of Boston’s Strongest. Visit Dear World’s website to see the entire series. You can follow Dear World on Twitter and like them on Facebook here. 

Celeste Corcoran

Dear World

“That finish line has been a negative space since the marathon,” Corcoran says in a Dear World video. “It was about reclaiming that space in a positive way.”

Sydney Corcoran

Dear World

Dave Fortier

Dear World

Heather Abbott

Dear World

Alyssa and Brittany Loring

Dear World

Elizabeth Bermingham

Dear World


When patients at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago looked out their windows on Tuesday, “Batman,” “Spider-Man” and “Captain America” were outside ready to dish out high fives and fist bumps — through the glass, of course.

In what has become a semi-annual tradition, three window washers donned the superhero costumes while they worked this week, all in an effort to make a few kids smile. The Chicago Tribune caught the heroics on tape (below).

“There is power in laughter and joy and excitement,” Dr. Stewart Goldman, a neuro-oncologist at the hospital, told the Tribune. “I can’t quote you a trial but I know in my heart that it helps.”

“The only difference between me and you is I’ve got eyesight problems and you can see perfectly,” Theo says in the video below. “Well, some of you can anyway.”

The 10-year-old, who is visually impaired, stars in director David Barnes’ International Emmy Award winning series, “Same But Different” — eight portraits of children in the UK who have “differences, disabilities and medical conditions,” according to its Facebook page.

“Theo’s Story” received particular attention when it was chosen as a “Staff Pick” on Vimeo. Take a look at the short documentary below to see why the only thing that makes Theo stand out is his positive attitude.

“Just because someone can’t see as far as someone else, that doesn’t mean they’re really different,” Jake, Theo’s best friend, explains in the video. “It just means, well, that he’s blind. Yeah. So what?”

Five years ago, my wife and I had a truly awful day. In the span of a few hours, we got thumped twice. In the morning, we learned that the baby she was pregnant with was short one organ and maybe more. In the afternoon, we learned that our struggling 2-year-old daughter had a rare chromosome disorder, Dup15q syndrome, and as the doctor put it, her mind probably wouldn’t develop beyond that of a small child.

Lying in bed that night we were shaken and lost. This was not the life or family we had planned. I remember feeling small and hollow, a powerless husband and father. Whether it was a futile attempt to comfort my wife or a way for me to make sense of it all, I told her that we were going to do something good with this. How, she asked. I had no idea. We were in tears.

Annabel Porath and her aunt, Chris Porath
Annabel Porath and her aunt, Chris Porath

Our journey has been far different than we expected. Over time, life’s colors got brighter, deeper and richer. Our highs are higher, our lows are lower and we’re often bowled over by little moments packed with beauty and meaning. It’s a good way to live.

Our daughter has serious challenges, autism among them, but she has grown into a sweet little girl who continues to defy limitations that others place on her. Our second was born with one kidney, but he has no serious medical issues. And we’ve since added another boy whose chromosomes and organs are all in order, but his ears stick out. Hey, nobody’s perfect.

Among the greatest lessons that we’ve learned on this adventure is that the challenges we face truly can become our greatest opportunities. This is where The Mighty began.

Over the last several months, I’ve bought a lot of drinks and dinners for friends and colleagues. I wanted to pick their brains. These are talented people I respect and trust who do amazing work for the likes of ABC News, NBC News, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Yahoo, Forbes, Esquire, MTV, Disney, Google and more.

We kicked around ideas that all came back to a central question: Could we build a media company that actually helps people?

I’m happy to say that we believe the answer is yes. To start, we’re launching TheMighty.com. I couldn’t think of a better person to lead this effort than Megan Griffo, who is taking the helm as editor. Megan walked away from a great gig at The Huffington Post leading its Good News vertical to build something special here. Of more than 400 writers, she was ranked #1 in viral traffic when she dropped me an email that read, “I’m in. Let me know where we go from here.” That takes guts. I encourage you to read her first story here because it says a lot about our site and even more about her: Why I Joined The Mighty.

Stories that inspire people – that can change the path of someone’s day, as my wife says – are a great start, but we are going after much more. Ultimately we want to improve the lives of people facing disease, disorder and disability. This is not a small ambition. It requires a unique business model and strong relationships with non-profits, advertisers, media companies, researchers, educators, advocates and most importantly, people like you. Without a community of people who care and share, we have nothing.

My conversations with colleagues have been energizing, to say the least. The central idea has struck a chord in nearly everyone. Their insights have been incredibly helpful, but what has really surprised me is that they’ve given much more than advice. They’ve asked to help build The Mighty.

Not long ago, I got a Skype message from one of those friends who put together a small team of people to create the website. It was something along the lines of, “here we go: themighty.com.” I clicked. It was just an ugly prototype with a couple sample stories – we hadn’t actually designed a site yet — but it was there, alive. It felt great, so great that I bounced off the couch and just started pacing. That’s when I saw the calendar on the refrigerator and realized the date. It was exactly five years to that awful day when we got my daughter’s diagnosis.

What a journey. From small and hollow and powerless to The Mighty. Join us. We’re going to do something good with this.

UPDATE: Less than one year later…

Steve Rosenfield is used to meeting brave people.

The photographer from Boston, Mass., encounters them every day while he builds a project called, “What I Be,” where subjects put their biggest insecurities in front of Rosenfield’s lens. Some are fighting disease, and some are living with disabilities. Some are going through life with a mental illness, and some are recovering from past traumas. Some are young, and some are old.

But all of these people won’t stand for being labeled by their challenges.

“I just wish we could all understand others better,” Rosenfield, 39, told The Mighty in an email, “and be more kind to each other.”

You can visit Rosenfield’s website to view the entire “What I Be” series, and scroll down to meet a few of his brave subjects.

“I am not my wheelchair.”

Steve Rosenfield photography

“I am not my cystic fibrosis.”

Photo by Ganesh Photography
Steve Rosenfield Photography

“I am not my blindness.”

Steve Rosenfield Photography

“I am not my autism.”

Steve Rosenfield Photography

“I am not my O.C.D.”

Steve Rosenfield Photography

“I am not my insulin pump.”

Steve Rosenfield Photography

“I am not my diagnosis.”

Steve Rosenfield Photography

“I am not my cerebral palsy.”

Steve Rosenfield Photography

“I am not my dis-ease.”

Steve Rosenfield Photography

“I am not my attempt.”

Steve Rosenfield Photography

“I am not my cancer.”

Steve Rosenfield Photography
Steve Rosenfield Photography

I am sitting in a Barnes & Noble in Manhattan Beach, California, struggling to write a piece about why I came to work for The Mighty, when a woman sits down at an adjacent table with a stack of books.

“Defeating Cancer and Other Chronic Diseases”

Breast Cancer Survival Manual”

“Fighting Cancer with Knowledge and Hope”

“Beating Cancer”

“A Breast Cancer Alphabet”

photo (1)

I picture a bookshelf in the “Disease” section with a large gap in it, while she picks up the first book. For some reason, maybe only to avoid my writer’s block, I continue watching her. She’s alone, and I’m tempted to say she looks distraught, but I know this could be my brain running wild with a fictional backstory. For all I know, she’s a student preparing for an exam. For all I know, she’s an accomplished oncologist. For all I know, she’s just curious.

While my imagination runs, a man who I assume is her husband sits down across from her and takes one of the books for himself. Then a fast, almost invisible moment happens where they look up and lock eyes, as if to say, “Well, here we are,” before they both go back to reading.

The glance may seem insignificant. Maybe even I imagined it. But from three feet away, I’m left thinking, “Isn’t it nice to have someone sitting at your table?”

For me, that’s what The Mighty is going to be. A digital table for two. A virtual shoulder to cry on. A fast, almost invisible moment of comfort.

We’re not here to say that your challenges aren’t hard. They are. And we’re not here to say you can’t have bad days. You can, and you’re going to. We’re not going to put your disability or disorder on a pedestal for others to learn from or turn your story into a textbook chapter on how to get through life.

Instead, we’re here to shine a light on the beautiful moments — even the fast, almost invisible ones — that happen when people face challenges.

The Mighty, I hope, will be a place to come if you need to be reminded that you’re not going through whatever you’re going through alone. It’s a place that will make you think about the cards life has dealt you and decide what your next play will be or if you’re even in the mood to make one. I joined The Mighty because there’s a difference between alone time and actually being alone. And that difference may convince someone to not give up just yet.

After all — life’s easier when you’re at a table for two.

Real People. Real Stories.

150 Million

We face disability, disease and mental illness together.