Read up on Sen. Tammy Duckworth, teen author-activist Marley Dias, Glenn Close and other real-life warriors
Not all superheroes wear capes.
Saturday is National Superhero Day, a holiday allegedly launched in 1995 by Marvel employees. But these bona fide warriors — featured in Moneyish interviews, features and op-eds — give Wonder Woman, Thor and Superman a run for their money.
Ahead of this day celebrating strength, fortitude and courage, read up on these real-life superheroes:
Rebecca Alexander: Alexander, inspired by her own lifelong struggles, wants to make it easier for plus-size folks to feel comfortable going out. Her Yelp-style platform, AllGo, will allow people to rate businesses and other public spaces on factors like whether chairs have arms, whether tables and booths move, aisle width, parking, stairs and “environmental, atmospheric factors.” Alexander and her co-founder recently hit their $50,000 funding target on Kickstarter.
Tammy Duckworth: The mother to a three-year-old and a newborn named Maile Pearl Bowlsbey this month became the first senator to give birth while in office — and has already spearheaded a Senate rules change allowing her to bring her baby daughter to work for the required in-person votes. The Illinois Democrat, in a Moneyish op-ed marking International Women’s Day, made the case for overhauling the country’s outdated paid family leave policies.
Rana Abdelhamid: Nearly a decade ago, a man accosted this 24-year-old Queens native and tried to rip off her hijab. Since then, she’s made it her mission to empower young women to defend themselves against harassment — launching a grassroots movement to train young Muslim females in self-defense, and recently expanding the program to include entrepreneurship, business and finance courses promoting strength and self sufficiency.
Glenn Close: The “Damages” star, who was diagnosed with depression in 2008, has spent the past several years fighting the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness. “The worst thing that a human can endure is to be so marginalized, to be left out, to not have connection … and those with mental illness are the people that fall through the cracks,” the Emmy winner told Moneyish. “And stigma is the reason. It’s OK to talk about mental illness, and I like to.”
Erin Kirk-Cuomo: This former combat photographer says the Marines have the least female-friendly culture among the military branches. “The Marine Corps is the only service that segregates based on gender at basic training and we think this directly correlates with male Marines seeing women as other and less than,” Kirk-Cuomo told Moneyish. “Women Marines as seen as token or mascots rather than Marines.” So she co-founded #NotInMyMarineCorps, an advocacy group fighting sexual harassment and assault in the military.
Giselle Burgess: Burgess, the founder and program manager of Troop 6000, started New York’s first-ever homeless Girl Scouts troop last year. The troop now boasts 291 members throughout 14 shelters across the the city — and sold at least 17,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies this month at its first-ever cookie sale. “They get that sense of community, that feeling of belonging to someone, to connect with them, to speak with them,” Burgess told Moneyish.
Marley Dias: This author is also the wise-beyond-her-years 13-year-old behind #1000BlackGirlBooks, the viral November 2015 campaign to collect books featuring black girls as main characters. With her recently released activism field guide, “Marley Dias Gets It Done: And So Can You,” the New Jersey teen hopes to teach fellow kids “how to blend your gifts and talents and the things that you love doing with creating social change in your community.”
Iskra Lawrence: This 27-year-old English model and body positivity advocate decided to change her own narrative after being told she was “too big to be a regular model and too small to be a plus-sized one.” In a Moneyish op-ed for International Women’s Day, Lawrence recounts how she “set out to be the best version of myself, rather than compete with models I never could be like.”
Darlette Johnson-Bailey: Beyoncé could have the founder and creative director of the Kids in Dance studio outside Houston to thank for her show-stopping Coachella performance. Johnson-Bailey remembers Queen Bey as an “incredibly shy” wallflower. “I told her, ‘You are gonna be a world star. You are gonna be so big, the whole world is gonna know you,’” the dance teacher told Moneyish. “And she just looked up at me and grinned, and said, ‘I am?’ And I said, ‘Yes you are.’”
Hannah Lucas: The Cummings, Ga., teen, spurred by her own depression and suicide attempt, launched the app NotOK in January. The app, a tool for people who struggle with mental health issues or simply need help fast, acts as a digital panic button to alert family and friends to their exact location via text message. “We want to make it accessible to anyone and everyone,” the 16-year-old told Moneyish.
Carla Arellano: This Wonder Woman-caliber scholarship recipient comes endorsed by Gal Gadot. Arellano, an 18-year-old college freshman, received the first-ever Warner Bros. Wonder Woman scholarship — a four-year full ride worth more than $250,000 — from the “Wonder Woman” star herself. “I’ve had the privilege of portraying a superhero on screen, but the young women here today are the real superheroes,” Gadot said at the event, calling Arellano “strong-minded, opinionated and gutsy.”
Amy Wright: Wright and her husband have hired dozens of workers with intellectual and developmental disabilities at Bitty & Beau’s Coffee, their cafe named after their two youngest children who were born with Down syndrome — and in December, CNN crowned Wright its 2017 Hero of the Year, awarding her $100,000 to expand her mission beyond coffee. She planned to open a second shop in Charleston, S.C., and eventually expand globally.
Erin Zapcic: Medieval Times finally emerged from the Dark Ages this year, crowning a queen to rule its Lyndhurst, N.J. castle for the first time in the themed tournament’s 34-year history. Zapcic commenced her reign as Dona Maria Isabella in January. “I think we’re going to see a generation of young women who are going to be going after their dreams, and not feeling like they can’t go after those positions of authority that they have felt shut out from before,” she told Moneyish.
The women of Team USA: Team USA’s women won more medals overall at Pyeongchang’s 2018 Winter Olympics than the American men did for the first time in two decades, scoring 12 of the country’s 23 medals in these Games (not including the two that were taken in co-ed events). And fierce females cinched five of the nine U.S. gold medals in record-breaking feats — just a handful of the many barriers badass women across the globe broke for their countries during the Winter Games.
Ciera Sesock: This 13-year-old from Visalia, Calif., was among the youngest tackling the United Airlines New York City Half Marathon last month — and she’s got a big heart, too. Sesock spent almost four months raising thousands of dollars and pounding out hundreds of miles with the American Cancer Society’s DetermiNation team to honor her aunt, who died from lung cancer two years ago. And she logged those miles despite having a fungal lung infection that makes it harder for her to breathe on the run.
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