Why Chicago's Hamilton is using his platform to help kids with epilepsy.

Have you ever been in the room where it happens? The actual room where Broadway musicals happen?

Imagine walking into that room. Now imagine seeing Lin-Manuel Miranda sitting there next to other iconic theater legends, waiting for you to begin your audition. It’s the biggest job interview of your life.

You start sweating. You get this random twitch. Dry mouth — you get the driest mouth ever. You forget all your lines.


All of the above would happen to anyone. Except for Miguel Cervantes.

At the very moment of his audition, he was thinking of another room.

All photos are taken by Joan Marcus, courtesy of "Hamilton: An American Musical" in Chicago.

The birth of his daughter Adelaide in 2015 brought indescribable joy to the Cervantes family.

At that time, Miguel had starred in several Broadway shows, including "If/Then," "American Idiot," and "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee." His wife Kelly was working successfully as an NYC event planner. Everything was going as planned for the young family.

But then, Adelaide started to get sick. Doctors couldn’t properly diagnose what was going on with her at first. Miguel — who was booking fewer and fewer auditions — decided to step away from theater to focus on taking care of Adelaide and his son, Jackson, while trying his hand at other business opportunities.

“I’m done with theater, unless Lin-Manuel Miranda calls me,” Cervantes recalls telling his friends. But then, Miranda called.

On the same day Adelaide had just been hooked up to a myriad of test machines, Miranda called Cervantes to come audition in the final callback to become Alexander Hamilton. He had to leave one room for another.

Half of my brain was over there wondering what's going to happen back at the hospital. The other half was ... auditioning for the biggest show and the biggest role ever,” Cervantes says.

Spoiler alert: He crushed it. Miguel Cervantes is Chicago’s Alexander Hamilton. He credits his worry about Adelaide for helping to land the role.

He didn’t have the dry mouth, the sweat, the random twitches brought about by nervousness. Even legendary theater producer Oskar Eustis seemed to notice something in Cervantes’ face, in his demeanor and body during his audition. Cervantes had only one thought going through his mind: “This is an errand. I've got to run this errand so I can get back to the hospital to my daughter," he recalls. “And I wasn't overwhelmed.”

As he takes the stage each night as Hamilton, Cervantes recognizes this role gives him the opportunity to help his daughter and other children like her.

Since moving to Chicago, Kelly and Miguel haven’t throw away their shot at making a huge difference for children with epilepsy like Adelaide, who was diagnosed with infantile spasms — one of the rarer forms of childhood epilepsy that can have serious long-term consequences.

Kelly reached out to Chicago-based Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE) and together they launched a successful fundraising campaign. This included a raffle of Hamilton-themed prizes, like the chance to go caroling with the cast.

The support from the Hamilton community was nothing short of incredible, said Cervantes. “When I asked who [of the cast] was coming with me, who wanted to be a part of this, everyone, everyone was willing to do it, and as incredibly talented people they are all ready to share it and help the cause in any way they can,” he says.

The Hamilton world has supported several other causes along the way as well, from Miranda’s work with Planned Parenthood, to Javier Muñoz's work with STOMP Out Bullying, and the company's work with Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

“I know how lucky I am to be able to use this platform for so much good,” Miguel says of the opportunity to help find a cure.  

“My daughter’s fight is the most important part of my life, and Hamilton is the vehicle that allows me to lead that charge. My daughter is absolutely why I was able to get here, and now Hamilton is helping us to get where we need to go.”

Every night Miguel Cervantes gets to be in both rooms. The first one is the room where one of the greatest musicals of all time happens. The second one is the room where his beautiful daughter falls asleep. Both always elicit standing ovations.

Watch the story of Adelaide and how Miguel and his family aren't throwing away their shot at finding a cure for her and the millions of others affected by epilepsy.

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Welcometoterranova and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Welcometoterranova-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.