1. ESPN on Tuesday posted the incredible story of Heath White, a pilot turned FBI agent from Texas, who has been writing a very special letter to his daughter, Paisley.
2. In 2007, Heath learned that Paisley, his second daughter, had Down syndrome.
3. His wife Jennifer explains that to a man like Heath, who always strove for perfection in every aspect of his life, learning his daughter wouldn’t be perfect crushed him.
4. The couple have known each other since middle school. Heath proposed to Jennifer in front of his Air Force graduation class. But the couple both admit that Paisley’s looming birth brought the couple to a dark place.
5. Heath confesses that he grew distant and even discussed the realities of Jennifer having an abortion.
6. He said these feelings of distance from his daughter and his family lasted until one day when he was playing with her, tickling her, and she giggled and laughed just like any other kid.
7. Faced with what he now knew was selfishness, he dedicated himself to putting to paper exactly how his mind changed about Paisley.
8. A letter he plans to share with Paisley when she’s older, to let her know exactly how wrong he was.
12. Heath started running marathons, pushing Paisley along with him, to make sure everyone knew exactly how proud he was of his daughter.
13. The two of them ran numerous 5K and 10K races over the last five years, totaling 321 miles. A special number for Heath: Down syndrome manifests as a third copy of the 21st chromosome.
15. Paisley got as big of a kick out of the races as Heath did.
16. The whole video is long, but the story is also incredible. And while ESPN and Heath unfortunately don’t show the whole letter…
17. …the video does end with this very sweet excerpt:
Before you were born I only worried about how your disability reflected on me. Now there is no better mirror in the world. You’re my light in the dark, and it’s a privilege to be your dad. Love always, daddy.