Richie Anne Castillo found a unique way of marking her father’s 50th birthday with a moving message on social media. Castillo’s father, Richard Castillo, celebrated his birthday on Sunday. As Castillo writes, he was not expected to live this long because her dad has Down syndrome.
Her message, which has gone viral, begins:
Dear Dad. Today marks a very special and very miraculous moment of your life. You turn 50 today and I am so blessed that you continue to live such a long and beautiful life. Doctors are still amazed by it! I know you won’t be able to read this because I don’t know if you have Facebook, but I want the whole world to know how proud I am that you are my dad. I want the whole world to know how beautiful you are inside and out.
In the post, Castillo, 23, explains that fear of being bullied has stopped her from sharing about her father openly and overcoming that fear prompted her to write the beautiful message. Her post has been like almost 200,000 times and shared more than 60,000 times at this writing.
Castillo, who is now a product manager, wrote to her father, “If there is one thing I regret, it is hiding you from my life because I’m still the same little kid who was afraid of getting bullied. But I love you more than you could ever know, Dad and I am inspired by you always. I’m inspired at how much you love the Lord and I came to love the Lord myself and its amazing at how incredibly intelligent you are…. Happy 50th birthday, Daddy! Thanks for always calling me your one and only baby girl because I always will be. I am strong and brave because of you and I love you so much, dad. I think I’m big enough now to defend myself from the bullies. Lots of love, your daughter.”
In an interview with the Cebu Daily News Digital, Castillo explained that she shared the post to support other people who have a family member with Down syndrome. She said, “I want to tell the people who are going through the same thing to give out as much love and support but also allow them to grow on their own. Never limit their ability to achieve whatever they set their mind to. Also, they are just like any other human out there, so focus on their life, and not on their label as a person with Down syndrome.”
Last month, Sader Issa shared a similarly moving tribute to his dad who also has Down syndrome. People with Down syndrome continue to be killed in abortion at alarming rates around the globe. In some nations, virtually 100 percent of people diagnosed prenatally with Down syndrome are aborted. In the United States, the number is around 67 percent (or higher). The experiences shared by Castillo and Issa show the injustice of this discrimination. The hundreds of thousands of reactions to their stories shows how powerful they are.
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