One dad is warming hearts all over world after sharing a tear-jerking letter he wrote to his daughter, following her long-awaited wedding day.
"Everything that's in that letter I've already said to her before," Paul Daugherty of Cincinnati told ABC News. "The response has been exactly what I hoped it would be, parents pretty much saying, 'We've have the same worries you had and we are just overjoyed that this worked out for her.
"When you have a child with a disabilities, all you want to hear for the first few days is that everything's going to be OK. We didn't have that. We had people telling us all the things Jillian could not do and we threw that all of that in the trash."
In an effort to express how proud he was of his daughter, 26, Daugherty wrote a letter Aug. 26 focusing on how far she has come before her June 27 nuptials.
The letter read, in part:
In two hours, you will take the walk of a lifetime, a stroll made more memorable by what you’ve achieved to get to this day. I don’t know what the odds are of a woman born with Down syndrome marrying the love of her life. I only know you’ve beaten them. What we couldn’t do was make other kids like you. Accept you, befriend you, stand with you in the vital social arena. We thought, What’s a kid’s life, if it isn’t filled with sleepovers and birthday parties and dates to the prom?
I worried about you then. I cried deep inside on the night when you were 12 and you came downstairs to declare, “I don’t have any friends.’’
We all wish the same things for our children. Health, happiness and a keen ability to engage and enjoy the world are not only the province of typical kids. Their pursuit is every child’s birthright. I worried about your pursuit, Jillian.
I shouldn’t have. You’re a natural when it comes to socializing. They called you The Mayor in elementary school, for your ability to engage everyone. You danced on the junior varsity dance team in high school. You spent four years attending college classes and made lifelong impressions on everyone you met.
Do you remember all the stuff they said you’d never do, Jills? You wouldn’t ride a two-wheeler or play sports. You wouldn’t go to college. You certainly wouldn’t get married. Now… look at you...
Daugherty said Jillian married her longtime sweetheart, Ryan, with whom she played on a soccer team for teens with disabilities over 10 years ago.
The wedding day, he added, was something out of a fairy tale.
"The dress fit perfectly, the hair was perfect, Jillian's happy all the time but take that to the next level," he said. "I've never seen her look more beautiful.
"Jillian's the nicest person I know and everyone who's gotten the chance to meet her and not just look at her, has felt the same," he added. "So, to anybody I can tell, parents with newborns or younger children with disabilities, it does get better."
Daugherty said he plans on presenting Jillian with the letter in private, when the time is right.