Chris Nikic is the first person with Down Syndrome to finish an Ironman triathlon. On November 7, 2020, he swam 2.4 miles, rode his bike 112 miles, and then ran a 26.2-mile marathon in under 17 hours, securing his entry in the Guinness Book of World Records. I spoke with the 21-year old athlete from Orlando, Florida, and his father, Nik Nikic, about why he works to become 1 percent better every day.

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Photo: Nik Nikic.

Michaela: Congrats! How was the race? Was there a moment when you thought of giving up?

Chris: The bicycling part was a challenge. Around mile 40, I…


Can a sophisticated platform cooperative help minimize exploitative working conditions in the gig economy, even during a pandemic?

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Copyright: Up & Go.

At first glance, Up & Go resembles any other housekeeping app: When a client requests a cleaning service in New York City, it only takes a few clicks, and a trained housekeeper like Maria Carmen Tapia will show up at the door with her scrubber, broom, and eco-sprays. For a $135 fee she will do a five-hour deep cleaning of a one-bedroom apartment, scrub the bathroom, polish the floors.

But under the surface, Up & Go operates differently than most gig economy platforms, and its structure serves the workers well now in the pandemic. 42-year-old Ms. Tapia is no underpaid…


How renowned scientist Ron Davis is fighting to cure his son’s chronic fatigue syndrome, and why COVID patients may benefit.

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Ron Davis and his son, Whitney, who has been mostly bedridden for 10 years [Photo courtesy of Ashley Haugen]

Palo Alto, California — Whitney Dafoe’s day begins at 2:30pm. His father, Ron Davis, peeks through the keyhole into the 37-year-old’s room. Is he awake?

ABSOLUTELY NO ENTRY is scrawled in red on a handmade sign pinned to the door below a picture of the Dalai Lama. Davis has rushed home from Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, to take the…


Can the notoriously hardline force become an ally to Black communities?

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When Captain Emada Tingirides and Sergeant Christian Zuniga arrive at Nickerson Gardens, a public housing development in Watts, a Hispanic family carries a bleeding toddler to them. A stray dog bit the child in the cheek. As Zuniga comforts the little girl, Tingirides chats up the shy older daughter and gives the mother a phone number for a free family counselor. “Our main job is to keep the community safe,” Tingirides says. “But this can also mean helping a family get groceries or sending a youth to counseling, because…


“Who is my father?” When Ben Norman turns 14, this question turns into his quest. When he finds the answer in a mugshot, the discovery not only uproots his own life, but also the credibility of one of the most renowned sperm banks in the country. This month, the Supreme Court of Georgia will hear the case that might have consequences for the entire fertility industry.

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Wendy Norman and her son Ben. Copyright: Johnathon Kelso.

A man like a dream: At 6’ 4’’ and 170 lbs, with blue eyes and a genius IQ of 160, donor #9623 seems like a perfect candidate to start a family. He describes himself…


Gloria, you’re always on the run now

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Elvis and Priscilla Presley on their wedding day. Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Summertime, …

Gloria is hell-bent on teaching me how to sing.

and the livin’ is easy…she trills, in tune, but with a wispy score. Once upon a time, the petite blonde reaped applause as an opera singer, even sang at the Met, but all the glamour faded after her husband strangled her, crushing her larynx.

I join in, So hush, little baby, don’t you cry.

Gloria sees a chance to repay me for my kindness by offering me singing lessons in exchange for staying in my garage. My old, crummy, windowless, drafty garage. …


No, it isn’t the turkey or the cranberry sauce.

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If we have a happy Thanksgiving depends on a key ingredient I got from Maya Angelou. My hero Maya Angelou granted me an interview for my book Bouncing Forward six months before we lost her bright light, and I asked her the question that has gripped me for years: How do we manage to triumph over adversities?

Angelou’s advice to me was clear-cut: Develop an attitude of gratitude. “I think we have to be grateful,” she told me in her deep, raspy voice. “You could have died last night, you know.” She laughed.

Rather than reveling in the injustice and…


One chef’s color-coded solution to end sexual harassment in her restaurant could just be the blueprint the service industry needs.

When Chef Erin Wade learned that most of her staff had been dealing with sexual harassment at her restaurant Homeroom in Oakland, CA, she was shocked. The inciting incident was a father of four who reached under one server’s blouse in front of his kids. “We’re a family restaurant, our specialty is mac and cheese!” Wade remembers thinking at the time, as if comfort foods were a bulwark against assault. She quickly realized that her restaurant wasn’t a particular hotbed for harassers. …


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Author Julie Rehmeyer. Photo: Kerry Sherck

Science journalist Julie Rehmeyer was so sick she sometimes couldn’t turn over in bed. The top specialists in the world were powerless to help, and scientific research on her disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), was at a near standstill. She was running out of money. And she was all alone, with no one to care for her.


An interview with the artist, former nun, and latex lover Damcho Dyson about the different masks we wear and awakening to who we truly are

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Damcho Dyson. Copyright: Graham Price. Graphics: Daniel Clark.

The image is stunning: A young woman sits in perfect meditation posture, cross-legged, hands folded at the heart, in front of a Bodhi tree leaf, but instead of in a more traditional Buddhist garb she is clad from top to toe in black latex. The story behind the image is even more intriguing: The Australian-born artist Damcho Dyson used to wear a very different kind of outfit. For ten years, she wore the simple maroon…

Michaela Haas

Award-winning author, reporter & consultant. Author of Bouncing Forward, Crazy America, Dakini Power & Ghetto-Swinger. www.michaelahaas.com

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