He was, by any measure, a success: an ace military pilot, a marathon runner, a respected businessman. Heath feared how having an “imperfect” child, a daughter with Down Syndrome, would reflect on him. His wife Jennifer, though, was firmly pro-life and refused to abort the child, even though she feared continuing the pregnancy might mean the end of her marriage.
Heath didn’t leave his family, although for months he was emotionally absent. Then, when little Paisley was several months old, she smiled at her father—and he realized how precious she was, he felt for the first time that this precious life was just like any other child.
The story doesn’t end there. Heath had learned from his little girl—once unwanted, nearly aborted, now greatly loved—what “perfection” really is, and how beautiful life can be when we welcome each child as a gift from God.
Heath White, his life changed by the gift of this loving child, began to compete in marathons while pushing her stroller. He became an advocate for Down Syndrome children, educating others about the disease, even having “Down Syndrome” tattooed on his chest so that when people looked at him, they would be reminded of the condition just as they were when they looked at little Paisley.
* * * * *
The Whites’ story is the subject of an ESPN report on their weekly show “E:60” and the episode was recently posted on YouTube. “E:60” is an hour-long investigative show which features sports-related stories, frequently highlighting deeply personal, even tragic stories in the lives of competitive athletes.
The segment of “E:60”—which is aptly titled “Perfect”—will make you smile and make you cry. It runs fourteen minutes, long for a blog link; but I know you’ll be happy you took the time to watch.
You may be interested, too, in this article about our government’s lopsided policies toward the developmentally disabled: You can’t call them a name, but you can kill them at will.