“PERFECT”: ESPN’s Dramatic Story of How Down Syndrome Daughter Won Her Father’s Heart

“Have an abortion,” Heath White urged his wife.
  The couple already had one beautiful little girl, and they had just learned that their second child would be born with Down Syndrome.

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.


  • Janet

    GSN had an old Touched By An Angel episode yesterday with the same theme. Good programing for this month. Kodos to the networks that had the courage to earmark such shows.

  • http://cause-of-our-joy.blogspot.com Leticia Velasquez

    As the mother of child with Down syndrome, it makes me angry to see people with disabilities used in politics. Obama prevented the passage of a law which would protect babies born during late term abortions, and many of them have Down syndrome,since amino results come late in pregnancy, yet his campaign used a letter from a young woman with Downs saying how much he cared. Don’t try to play it both ways.

  • Ted Seeber

    I wrote this poetry blog last May, when I realized that my son’s spina bifida, and my autism, put us in *precisely* the same category that Downs Syndrome children are in.


  • LisaS

    One little quibble on a great piece: Down Syndrome is not a disease.

    • Kathy Schiffer

      Yes, oops, I so agree!

  • http://CatholicNews Thomas Lynch

    Way back in the 40′s in Ireland my cousin Kevin was the pride and Joy of his Family and his two Beautiful sisters took him along where ever they were invited and being Beautiful Girls they had many admirers and unless Kevin was also invited to, the girls would decline. His big brother brought him to School and woe-be- tide any boy who made fun of him. Kevin was downs syndrome but no one in the village would know what that meant and He was called Innocent Kevin . and what a grand name that was.

  • Pingback: Sun-Beams: October 28, 2012