When Jesse, from Monroeville, Pennsylvania, read a story in the paper about a girl named Jasmine who was diagnosed with a rare brain cancer in 2011, he decided to write her a letter of support. The two have been best friends ever since, according to the video below.

Recently, Jesse had a Bar Mitzvah where he got $5,000. He donated all of it to Jasmine and her mom, who struggles to pay the bills while flying her daughter to Boston for cancer treatments. To thank Jesse for his act of kindness and to celebrate Jasmine’s strength, Ellen DeGeneres surprised both her guests with a $10,000 check, iPhone 6’s and a visit from the one of the kids’ favorite television stars.

Watch the video below to see Ellen reward these two deserving young people:

h/t GodVine

 Want to celebrate the human spirit? Like us on Facebook.

And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night.

RELATED VIDEOS


A nonprofit called Be My Eyes has created an app that could revolutionize the way we help others.

The app, launched by Danish developer Robocat, allows people with visual impairments to take live video of objects and writing they need help deciphering and send it to sighted volunteers who can describe the objects or read the text aloud, according to the app’s description on iTunes. A person with visual impairments can request help for anything from reading a label to identifying dangerous objects in their surroundings, all using the camera on their smartphone.

The app has been running in Denmark for several months now and so far there are about 700 “helpers” assisting blind users, Gigaom reported.

Apple is planning to feature the app in the App Store which will help to promote it and get more helpers,” Willi Wu, Robocat founder and lead developer, told the outlet. “We are not only looking for helpers, but also blind people so they can get the help when they need it. So we are trying to get the word of mouth out to people who know blind people that could be useful for them.”

Check out how Be My Eyes works in the video below: 

Visit this page to learn more or download the app.

Want to end the stigma around disability? Like us on Facebook.

And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night.


After Randy Lord lost one of his legs from the knee down in a work-related accident, he rose to the challenge of acclimating to the world as an amputee. He embraced using a prosthetic limb, found new ways to exercise and relearned everyday actions such as climbing stairs and driving. But there was one thing he couldn’t do: swim in the ocean. So, he set out to change that.

Because prosthetics and seawater don’t mix, Lord and his wife, Lori, worked to create a swim fin that amputees could wear comfortably in the water, Bangor Daily News reported. They developed a design that fits directly onto the amputated limb, calling it the “Amp Fin.” The Lords claim that single or double amputees can wear Amp Fins in the water all day with no side effects.

When the Lords took Amp Fins to amputee and prosthetist Cory LaPlante, he reported that he could immediately feel muscles working that he hadn’t used in years, suggesting that the fin could also be a valuable tool for physical therapy.

Lord presented Amp Fins on Sunday at a public trial run in at the University of Maine pool in Presque Isle, Maine. “Able-bodied swimmers will have to try and keep up,” he told the crowd, according to Bangor Daily News.

The Lords are currently testing both hard and soft Amp Fin prototypes with five people and hope to have the product ready to market by April 2015.

Watch Amp Fins in action in the video clip below.

Want to end the stigma around disability? Like us on Facebook.

And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night.


This is a man who knows the value in being able to laugh at yourself.

Colin Leggo, a comedian from Cornwall, England, lost his leg to diabetes in 2014, The Falmouth Packet reported. After three months of recovering, Leggo recently made a hilarious comeback to stand-up comedy.

His routine includes light-heartedly poking fun at his recent amputation, as well as some humorous anecdotes from his time at the hospital.

It’s going to be a mish-mash of brand new material based around my new life as an amputee,” Leggo told The Packet. “It’s a bit of an odd direction to come from for comedy purposes, a bit of a unique perspective.”

Leggo plans to donate the profits from performances to a charity called Legs4Africa, which provides second-hand prosthetic devices to amputees in Africa.

Watch Leggo’s first performance after his amputation in the video below: 

Visit Colin Leggo’s Facebook page for updates on his performance schedule.

Want to end the stigma around disability? Like us on Facebook.

And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night.


I’m officially one of those parents.

You know the kind — the ones who shakes their heads, rolls their eyes and wish the problem child would smarten up or just leave. I did all that. Guilty as charged.

My two neurotypical sons have recently started taking martial arts classes. They love it, and that’s all I can ask for. With every class of kids, there’s always one class clown — the disruptive kid, the troublemaker. He talks and talks, spins around and generally acts silly.

The class clown in my sons’ class has obviously been in this class awhile because he has his yellow belt, which at one point prompted me to joke with my boys, “That kid never pays attention. How did he get his belt? Did he buy it himself?” Sad thing is, this kid is so disruptive that I’ve told my boys not to stand near him so they can better focus on their lessons.

Well, I got an eye-opener yesterday when all of a sudden this kid had a meltdown right in the middle of the class. He collapsed to the floor in tears. At first, all the parents watching thought he accidentally got hit. His mom went to him, got him up, and I could hear him saying he was upset because one of the girls in class was laughing at him. He was so upset that he left class and didn’t return — not your typical behavior and certainly, I thought, an overreaction to being laughed at.

I mentioned the incident to my wife later that evening, and she promptly said that maybe the little boy had a disability and I shouldn’t judge him. And that’s when I realized I was one of those parents. Yes, I’m a dad with a son on the spectrum, and I’m more aware of the signs of autism than other parents. But I was oblivious and ignorant to the signs this kid was exhibiting. I’m not saying that he had autism. The point is, I don’t know his story.

So there you have it. I’m one of those parents. It could happen to anyone, and it did. So next time someone acts like one of those parents toward my son, Lincoln, who has autism, I’m going to cut them a bit of slack. Because I’ve been there too and know how easy it is to be that way.

1

Want to end the stigma around disability? Like us on Facebook.

And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night.


I want you to do something for me.

Cry. Write. Sing. Paint. Crochet.

Whatever it is you do to let it all out when you’re frightened or hurting inside.

Promise me you will?

I’m not asking this in reaction to something bad that happened today or yesterday. I’m asking because this autism journey – as an autistic person, an autism parent or carer, as an autism sibling – it can be tough. Sometimes it feels like it’s tough all the time. You need to be strong to get through it.

But what do we mean by “strong”? I spoke to someone who felt like “strong” meant they shouldn’t let their emotions out, they shouldn’t give voice to their fears because that would weaken them and rip them apart.

Maybe. Or maybe that’s what happens if you keep these heavy things bottled up inside, allowing the pressure in the bottle to rise so much that it blows the cork right off the top and everything inside spills out.

Messy. Uncontrollable. Explosive.

I see “strong” as something slightly different. I see strong as not being afraid to give form to the things that scare us – to draw them, write them down, talk about them. It makes them more real and tangible, but it’s only when they become real that we can really deal with them.

I remember the day that my husband and I decided we were going to push for Melon’s autism diagnosis. It was a hot, sunny day. We hadn’t slept more than a couple hours in a night for four months due to Melon’s sleep issues. We’d just watched Melon have her fifth or sixth meltdown that day. She was in torment. We were in torment. We were falling apart. We sat in the back, slumped on the garden furniture, lost in a miserable silence.

My husband looked up and said, “Maybe, when the services open again in September, we should ask them to screen for autism, just to… to… rule it out… Do you think, maybe… it is autism?”
And I remember saying, “I do. I think she is autistic”.

And there it was. I said out loud to him the words we’d been dreading to hear from a professional. And as I said it, I broke down crying for maybe two minutes. I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, it was true. And then, suddenly, it didn’t feel so big. It wasn’t just a nameless, shapeless fear ricocheting around in my head anymore.

We could begin to deal with this reality.

We still are. It’s an ongoing process. There are things every day that make us worried, scared and sad. But we can’t carry them around forever; we have to put them down somehow or they will crush us. We deal in different ways. I write. I find that writing is a way of me taking control of my thoughts and feeling, setting them into some type of order and reason, reflecting on them. My husband is more of a talker. Melon is an artist; she draws it out.

So, go write, jog, knit, talk to someone, type an email that you only ever send to yourself, hold your pillow close and talk to it, lock yourself in the bathroom at work and have a good hard sob for a couple of minutes. Whatever you need to do to give form to your fears, make them tangible and put-down-able. You might just find that you are stronger for it.

IMG_1479

Follow this journey on Cat on a Trampoline.

Want to end the stigma around disability? Like us on Facebook.

And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night.

Real People. Real Stories.

8,000
CONTRIBUTORS
150 Million
READERS

We face disability, disease and mental illness together.