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Georgetown sold her ancestors to pay a debt. Now they’re paying part of their debt to her.

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In 1838, Mélisande Short-Colomb’s ancestors were sold by the co-presidents of Georgetown University to pay down a debt.

This semester, the university is finally repaying part of its debt to her family.

At 63, Short-Colomb is the oldest freshman in Georgetown’s incoming class thanks to a new policy that grants the descendants of the 272 enslaved people included in the 1838 sale "legacy" status, which guarantees them a second look in the admissions process.

The New Orleans resident and professional chef told APM Reports’ Kate Ellis that she had no idea what to expect the day her acceptance letter came.

"I cracked it open. I looked at it a little bit with one eye closed, and I saw that ‘we are happy to…’ and then I snatched it out of the envelope and gave it to my best friend and told her, ‘Read this to me,’" she said in the August interview. "And I was sitting there crying."

Short-Colomb plans to live in the dorms and major in African-American studies. In four years, she’ll graduate with the class of 2021.

Her full story can be found in a recent edition of APM Reports’ podcast.

Georgetown announced the decision in September last year, launching an effort to recruit students who qualify.

“We provide care and respect for the members of the Georgetown community — faculty, staff, alumni, those with an enduring relationship with Georgetown," university president John DeGioia said in a statement. "We will provide the same care and respect to the descendants.”

Some, like Short-Colomb, have expressed gratitude for the gesture.

"I’m not 18, so for Georgetown to do this, it is special, and it does mean something, and I do feel that I have been touched by grace," she told APM Reports.

Georgetown University. Photo by Daderot/Wikimedia Commons.

Others, like Sandra Thomas, whose children recently applied to the school as descendants, have criticized the move as insufficient, particularly with regard to a hypothetical applicant whose ancestors weren’t included in the sale.

"What you going to do for him?" she wondered in an April interview with NPR. "Did his ancestors suffer any less? No."

In response to mounting criticism and activism, other universities have begun to reckon with their historical ties to slavery, though few have gone as far as Georgetown in offering direct support to descendants of those enslaved.

In March, Harvard University convened a conference to explore the university’s complicity in the institution and the slave trade. In February, after a lengthy and contentious debate, Yale announced it would rename its Calhoun College, originally named after pro-slavery lawmaker John C. Calhoun.

At an April ceremony that Short-Colomb attended, the university began to make amends to the families of the 272 enslaved people it sold, starting with an apology.

"It is our very enslavement of another, our very ownership of another, culminating in the tragic sale of 272 women, men, and children that remains with us to this day, trapping us in an historic truth, for which we implore mercy and justice, hope and healing," Tim Kesicki, president of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, said in an address that day.

Since then, generations have come and gone without restitution. For thousands, the move to offer a seat in the classroom came too late.

For others, like Short-Colomb, who plans to wear a tassel to graduation in four years, it turned out to be right on time. Even at 63.

Georgetown Masters of Science in Foreign Service graduation, 2009. Photo by Ben Turner/Flickr.

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14 photos show the abandoned pets of Chernobyl and the humans who want to save them.

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The dogs must have known something was wrong. As hours, then days passed, they must have waited by the door, listening to the town’s sudden silence, wondering when their masters would return home.

In the early hours of April 27, 1986, the people of Pripyat were told to evacuate their town. Something had gone wrong at the nearby Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. People were already getting sick. They could take their important documents and food with them. Nothing more.

As nearly 50,000 of them climbed onto buses, many ended up leaving their family pets behind. It probably didn’t seem like such a big deal — officials had told them they could return in just a couple of days.

But they’d never come home again.

That was 31 years ago. Today, the original inhabitants of Pripyat are long since gone. But the pets — the pets are still there.

Two stray dogs with an old cooling tower in the background. Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

Well, their descendants are, at least. About 900 stray dogs live in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone — 1,000 square miles of restricted, still-partially contaminated Ukrainian forest about two hours north of Kiev. The radiation is high enough that visitors are limited in the amount of time they’re allowed to stay.

An abandoned building in Pripyat, within the exclusion zone. Photo from Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

Many of the dogs live around the power plant, which puts them in contact with the men and women working on sealing it. And that’s a problem.

Several thousand people work in the exclusion zone every day. Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

The workers are there to build the sarcophagus, a huge steel and concrete structure that will seal off the still-dangerous former nuclear power plant. The dogs have learned to rely on the workers and the increasing number of tourists for food.

Without humans, the dogs would have to compete with other forest animals for food. Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

But for every pup who is friendly towards or at least tolerates humans, there are many more who shy away or could even be dangerous. There’s also the risk that they could catch and spread rabies or other diseases from the wolves and other animals that live in the zone.

Radiation isn’t the only danger in Chernobyl. Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

But one group in particular wants to change this. Meet the Dogs of Chernobyl.

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

The group is made of vets, volunteers, and radiation experts from all around the world. Launched by the Clean Futures Fund and working with Ukranian officials, the group runs a recurring vaccine and neutering campaign for the animals.

The campaign runs for several weeks each year. During that time, vets capture the dogs and give them check ups and shots.

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

Rabies vaccines in particular will help keep both the dogs and humans safe.

Not all of the dogs are people-friendly. Tranquilizer darts help the process along for the shyer animals.

The man with the blowgun is Pavel "Pasho" Burkatsky, a professional dog catcher from Kiev. Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

The pups also get spayed and neutered in order to keep the population in check…

Bob Barker would approve. Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

… and given a radiation check.

A Geiger counter reveals this dog has had about 20 times the normal dose of radiation. Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

Researchers are still learning what the long-term effects of the radiation have been on animals and plants.

Ultimately, they are tagged and released.

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

Some of the dogs are also getting collars with radiation sensors and GPS receivers in order to map radiation levels and help researchers learn more about the inside of the exclusion zone.

Locals were initially suspicious of the group but warmed up when they saw how well the animals were being treated.

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

The old, official method of dealing with the dogs had been to shoot them. The vets’ presence put a stop to that. Within a week, the vets were canteen celebrities, says Lucas Hixson, the group’s co-founder.

When they held a weekend event in the city to help spay and neuter stray cats, so many locals showed up to help they had to turn some away.

The campaigns run for several weeks a year, with this year being the first run. Two more are planned, although more might be in the works, Hixson says. They’re raising money to hire a full-time veterinarian to stay year-round.

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

They might even be able to help the dogs find their way back to the homes and families they have lost.

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

In the future, young animals might be able to be adopted or trained as service or therapy dogs, Hixson says. The descendants of those abandoned pups might once again find themselves waiting eagerly at the door.

Only this time, there’s someone coming home to them.

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16 terrifying pics of Spain’s growing desert you should show a climate-change denier.

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If nothing changes, southern Spain will be a desert by 2100.

If you’re headed to the beach in southern Spain, this probably isn’t what you’re envisioning:

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images.

In July, this duo was spotted sunbathing at the Entrepenas reservoir in Duron, the second largest reservoir in Spain.

And the pics really are worth a thousand words.

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images.

The reservoir has shrunken dramatically as water levels drop.

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images.

The receding water has given way to cracked, arid soil…  

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images.

…and abandoned relics reflecting a region that once revolved around life on the water.

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images.

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images.

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images.

Like the reservoir itself, tourism, and the local economy that benefits from it, are drying up too.

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images.

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images.

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images.

So, what the heck is going on at the Entrepenas reservoir? Where has all the water gone?

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images.

The area’s severe drought and dusty countryside are indicative of a larger force shaping landscapes across southern Spain.

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images.

Yep, you guessed it: climate change.

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images.

A 2016 study spelled disaster for the lush Mediterranean region due to human activity.

By 2100, southern Spain will have transformed into a desert, researchers have found — unless drastic measures are taken, like, now, to slash carbon emissions to curb the worsening effects of global warming.

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images.

“The effect of the human is to deforest, to replace with agriculture and so on," lead author of the study, Joel Guiot of Aix-Marseille University, told The Guardian last year.

"You change the vegetation cover, the albedo, the humidity in the soil, and you will emphasize the drought when you do that," he continued, noting the Mediterranean is already very susceptible to the consequences of a warming planet. "If you have the [direct] human impact, it will be worse."

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images.

You don’t have to be in southern Spain to see the alarming effects of climate change, of course.

In the U.S., researchers have pointed to similar dismal findings when it comes to global warming’s impact on things like domestic tourism, expenses related to natural disasters, and food production.

Scientists, however, have not found a friend in the White House.

Unlike other prominent world leaders, President Trump has publicly rebuked the vast majority of climate scientists who say global warming is real and humans are to blame. He appointed Scott Pruitt — who’s argued that the science surrounding climate change is still up for debate — to run the EPA. He’s hellbent on resurrecting a dying, dirty coal industry and, in June, announced plans to pull the U.S. out of the world’s best hope to collectively confront the woes of global warming: the Paris climate agreement.

Why doesn’t Trump care?

Mother Nature certainly doesn’t care about our national borders.

Similar consequences seen in southern Spain can also be seen in the U.S. and around the world.

Wildfires scorch the land near Santa Barbara, California, in July 2017. Photo by David McNew/Getty Images.

We need to act. Now.

Or else sad-looking beach day photos will become the norm.

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images.

To learn more about climate change and to take action, visit the Sierra Club.

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A parenting expert said spanking is like breastfeeding. Science says that’s nonsense.

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"Good Morning Britain" recently hosted two parenting experts for a fiery debate on the topic of spanking as a form of punishment.

One of the experts, Katie Ivens from the Campaign for Real Education, had some pretty strong words about why she believed physical punishment was not only OK but part of a healthy "tactile relationship":

"I’m saying we have a tactile relationship with our children; we hug them, we kiss them, we breastfeed them, and so on," she explained.

GIF via Good Morning Britain/YouTube.

Using an example from her own life, in which she described firmly "shaking" her kids to deter them from running into the street, Ivens argued that physical punishment not only works but is good for kids, the same way breastfeeding or hugging them might be.

Yikes. Unsurprisingly, Ivens’ advice is not grounded in any sort of scientific facts. (The CRE did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

Studies on spanking show it has a negative effect on children.

Joan Durrant, a child clinical psychologist and researcher from the University of Manitoba, puts it simply: "The research is really unequivocal at this point."

Though some of the benefits of breastfeeding may be exaggerated, it’s still a healthy, normal, and fruitful way for a mom to bond with her baby, all while providing vital nutrition. Spanking, on the other hand, has never, ever (did we mention ever?) been shown to have a positive outcome for children, according to Durrant.

Kids who are spanked are more likely to: show higher levels of aggression, display poorer mental health, have a worse relationship with their parents, perform worse in school, and have slower cognitive development.

"Any outcome that has ever been associated is a negative one," says Durrant. "The only thing [spanking] can do, and unreliably so, is make a child comply in the immediate situation. But the child doesn’t learn anything from that."

If the science is so clear, why does physical punishment remain so prevalent?

"Good Morning Britain’s" own informal poll, for example, showed over half of its viewers thought spanking was perfectly fine.

"We hand down this belief across generations," Durrant explains. "We tend to think that whatever happened to us, that’s the norm, that’s the way it should be. So we carry it on." She adds that corporal punishment can also be prescribed by certain religious beliefs, which are hard to change.

It’s understandable why some parents would resort to hitting or spanking, especially when it comes to our kids’ safety. Being a parent means being constantly on guard to keep your kids safe — so it’s not hard to understand why Ivens would give her children a good shake with the intention of deterring them from running into oncoming traffic. But that doesn’t mean it’s the right or best way to handle that situation.

The fact remains that spanking or shaking your kids is just not a good long-term strategy and will actively work against building a healthy relationship between parent and child. There are better, healthier ways to teach your kids to avoid danger and let them know when they’ve done something wrong.

Durrant suggests parents embrace the role of teacher and mentor rather than disciplinarian.

"Two things that are most critical to children’s learning and the parent-child relationship are what I call warmth and structure," she says.

Warmth means making your kids feel safe and supported. Imagine trying to study calculus while walking through a minefield — some environments just aren’t conducive to learning. While stopping harmful behaviors in kids is important, helping them learn why and how to regulate their own behavior is the better long-term approach.

Structure means understanding that learning takes time, kids’ brains can’t change overnight, and simply yelling, berating, or hitting cannot speed it up. It’s far better to exercise consistency in your teaching, and better yet, to consistently model the behavior you want your children to learn.

"So if one thing we want them to learn is how to regulate their emotions, the last thing we should do is show them how to hit people," Durrant says.

Hitting is not part of a healthy tactile relationship. It’s not like snuggling, holding hands, or breastfeeding.

It has never, ever been shown to do anything to improve the parent-child bond, and it is counterproductive for long-term learning. It’s time to listen to the science and consider effective alternatives.

It may be harder during those moments of intense frustration, but a calm and loving approach is better for everyone in the long run.

You can watch the full "Good Morning Britain" interview below:

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A juice company dumped orange peels in a national park. Here’s what it looks like now.

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In 1997, ecologists Daniel Janzen and Winnie Hallwachs approached an orange juice company in Costa Rica with an off-the-wall idea.

In exchange for donating a portion of unspoiled, forested land to the Área de Conservación Guanacaste — a nature preserve in the country’s northwest — the park would allow the company to dump its discarded orange peels and pulp, free of charge, in a heavily grazed, largely deforested area nearby.

One year later, one thousand trucks poured into the national park, offloading over 12,000 metric tons of sticky, mealy, orange compost onto the worn-out plot.

The first deposit of orange peels in 1996. Photo by Dan Janzen.

The site was left untouched and largely unexamined for over a decade. A sign was placed to ensure future researchers could locate and study it.

16 years later, Janzen dispatched graduate student Timothy Treuer to look for the site where the food waste was dumped.

Treuer initially set out to locate the large placard that marked the plot — and failed.

"It’s a huge sign, bright yellow lettering. We should have been able to see it," Treuer says. After wandering around for half an hour with no luck, he consulted Janzen, who gave him more detailed instructions on how to find the plot.

When he returned a week later and confirmed he was in the right place, Treuer was floored. Compared to the adjacent barren former pastureland, the site of the food waste deposit was "like night and day."

The site of the orange peel deposit (R) and adjacent pastureland (L). Photo by Leland Werden.

"It was just hard to believe that the only difference between the two areas was a bunch of orange peels. They look like completely different ecosystems," he explains.

The area was so thick with vegetation he still could not find the sign.

Treuer and a team of researchers from Princeton University studied the site over the course of the following three years.

The results, published in the journal "Restoration Ecology," highlight just how completely the discarded fruit parts assisted the area’s turnaround.

The ecologists measured various qualities of the site against an area of former pastureland immediately across the access road used to dump the orange peels two decades prior. Compared to the adjacent plot, which was dominated by a single species of tree, the site of the orange peel deposit featured two dozen species of vegetation, most thriving.

Lab technician Erik Schilling explores the newly overgrown orange peel plot. Photo by Tim Treuer.

In addition to greater biodiversity, richer soil, and a better-developed canopy, researchers discovered a tayra (a dog-sized weasel) and a giant fig tree three feet in diameter, on the plot.

"You could have had 20 people climbing in that tree at once and it would have supported the weight no problem," says Jon Choi, co-author of the paper, who conducted much of the soil analysis. "That thing was massive."

Recent evidence suggests that secondary tropical forests — those that grow after the original inhabitants are torn down — are essential to helping slow climate change.

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

In a 2016 study published in Nature, researchers found that such forests absorb and store atmospheric carbon at roughly 11 times the rate of old-growth forests.

Treuer believes better management of discarded produce — like orange peels — could be key to helping these forests regrow.

In many parts of the world, rates of deforestation are increasing dramatically, sapping local soil of much-needed nutrients and, with them, the ability of ecosystems to restore themselves.

Meanwhile, much of the world is awash in nutrient-rich food waste. In the United States, up to half of all produce in the United States is discarded. Most currently ends up in landfills.

The site after a deposit of orange peels in 1998. Photo by Dan Janzen.

"We don’t want companies to go out there will-nilly just dumping their waste all over the place, but if it’s scientifically driven and restorationists are involved in addition to companies, this is something I think has really high potential," Treuer says.

The next step, he believes, is to examine whether other ecosystems — dry forests, cloud forests, tropical savannas — react the same way to similar deposits.

Two years after his initial survey, Treuer returned to once again try to locate the sign marking the site.

Since his first scouting mission in 2013, Treuer had visited the plot more than 15 times. Choi had visited more than 50. Neither had spotted the original sign.

In 2015, when Treuer, with the help of the paper’s senior author, David Wilcove, and Princeton Professor Rob Pringle, finally found it under a thicket of vines, the scope of the area’s transformation became truly clear.

The sign after clearing away the vines. Photo by Tim Treuer.

"It’s a big honking sign," Choi emphasizes.

19 years of waiting with crossed fingers had buried it, thanks to two scientists, a flash of inspiration, and the rind of an unassuming fruit.

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Thrilling penguin news! Chile is killing an iron mine that would harm the waddly birds.

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Photo by farenheit75/Flickr.

Ah, Chile. While not typically top of mind for the average American, the unassuming coastal strip has quietly become a sort of … yang to our yin. The delicate floral sucking candy to our taste-bud-annihilating chocolate-caramel-peanut butter-sour-red-hot mouth bomb.

And, increasingly, they are the #RESIST window sticker to America’s MAGA hat.

While the Trump administration rolls back LGBTQ protections, Chile’s president is touting a marriage equality bill. While dozens of U.S. states are trying to regulate out as many Planned Parenthood clinics as the law will allow, Chilean lawmakers recently relaxed the country’s abortion ban, which was one of the world’s strictest (though their new law carves out several exceptions, the procedure is still largely banned in Chile, but still — progress!).

Now, the skinny South American nation is once again playing the U.S.’s bizarro world doppelganger — by siding with a bunch of penguins in a dispute with a mining company.

Photo by Martin Bernetti/Getty Images.

According to an AFP report, Chile recently killed a $2.5-billion iron-mining project to save the health (and, potentially, lives) of thousands of the waddly little birds.

The project was slated to be built just south of three islands where over 80% of the world’s Humboldt penguins live and would include a port to ship iron all over the world. A review by 14 agencies found that the plan failed to sufficiently guarantee that the animals would not be affected.

"We are not against economic development or projects that are necessary for the country’s growth, but they must offer adequate solutions for the impact they will have," Environment Minister Marcelo Mena told the AFP.

That’s not just the polar opposite of what the U.S. would do. It’s the polar opposite of what the U.S. government actually is doing.

Blowing up this mountain in Virginia to get at the coal underneath seems fine. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

In August, the Interior Department outlined a plan to prioritize oil extraction over efforts to protect the greater sage-grouse, a grassland bird that looks like the result of an unforgettable evening between a peacock, a porcupine, and a tarantula.

Earlier this year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, under President Trump, canceled an Obama-era rule designed to protect whales and sea turtles from fishing nets.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration wants to blow up mountaintops so badly they’ve stopped studying whether doing so is detrimental to the health and safety of animals — and human beings — that live nearby.

It’s not just Chile stepping up either, at least where safeguarding the natural world we all share is concerned.

Just ask the 195 other countries that signed the Paris Climate Accord — which commits parties to holding the Earth’s temperature rise below two degrees Celsius — that President Trump announced the U.S. would soon be leaving.

It all adds up to a pretty clear message: The rest of the world is getting with the program, while the U.S. government is sitting here, arms folded, hoping rare birds can adjust to a coal dust and jagged pebble diet.

Photo by Martin Bernetti/Getty Images.

Want the U.S. to get back on the bandwagon? You can let your elected representatives know how you feel and help out groups, like the Environmental Defense Fund, that are pushing back against regulation rollback.

In the meantime, thanks to their friends in Chile, a few thousand penguins are getting to celebrate the news of a lifetime. It may not be happening in the U-S-of-A, but it’s a Hollywood ending all the same. (Anyone know how to say "Morgan Freeman" in Spanish?)

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She was told that extreme sports aren’t for blind folks. Now she’s proving them wrong.

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And now she’s helping others do the same thing.

Nancy Stevens is an adventurer. She’s biked cross-country, walked the Grand Canyon, and climbed huge mountains.

Nancy also happens to be blind.

"I’m kind of a risk-taker, and I enjoy the challenge of it," she says.

Blind since birth, Nancy has never seen the view from the summit of a mountain she’s climbed or the ocean from a kayak she’s paddled. But that doesn’t mean she hasn’t had incredible experiences on each and every one of her adventures.

Nancy having a great time kayaking. Image via Nature Valley.

For Nancy, being out in nature, hearing the trees blowing in the wind, and feeling the kayak paddle cut through the water fills her with the same joy a sighted person might experience.

That feeling translates over to the many endurance sports she’s tried.  

"It’s fun to try different sports so that when I dream, I have all these experiences, and that’s part of my dreams," Nancy explains.

But she doesn’t just try her hand at sports, she pushes herself to the limit.

In 1998, Nancy competed in the Nagano Winter Paralympics in cross-country skiing. She also happens to be the first blind woman to climb the Grand Teton Mountain. When she sets her cap at achieving a new athletic feat, you better believe she’s going to make it happen.

Nancy at the summit of the Grand Teton. Image via Nature Valley.

Today, she’s using her fearlessness to help other disabled people set out on their own adventures.

She works as an outreach coordinator with Oregon Adaptive Sports, which organizes outdoor recreational activities to people with disabilities in order to help them be more active and independent.

Nancy hugging an Oregon Adaptive Sports member after a race. Image via Nature Valley.

If she can help people who also live with disabilities have unforgettable experiences, they’ll likely gain the confidence to try more exciting things.

One memorable example of this mission in action is Nancy’s friend Bruce. When she met Bruce two years ago, he had decided he was going to get rid of all his sports equipment because he was going blind and thought he wouldn’t be able to use it any longer.

"I was like, ‘Oh no no, don’t do that!’" Nancy recalls.

Pretty soon, Bruce was learning to ride a bike under Nancy’s tutelage, so he didn’t have to give up on his active lifestyle.

"It’s an amazing feeling," says Bruce. "I can focus on the sounds and the smells."

Bruce and Nancy after a bike race. Image via Nature Valley.

It’s not always easy to adapt, especially if a disability is new, but Nancy isn’t the type of person to give up on anyone.

She’s experienced discrimination because of her blindness, so she’s empathetic to people who might be struggling, but her purpose at Oregon Adaptive Sports is to push them forward. After all, you can’t achieve great things without stepping through a little fear.

Like with Bruce, it’s about showing people they’re capable of so much more than they thought. It’s about that feeling of crossing the finish line they never thought they could reach.

And as Nancy puts it, "That’s the kind of stuff you can’t experience from an armchair."

Nancy in a bike race. Image via Nature Valley.

Watch Nancy’s whole story here:

She’s taken on some of the most extreme sports in the world while blind. Now she’s helping others get out there and do the same.

Posted by Upworthy on Monday, August 21, 2017

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