Behind nearly every great individual is a parental figure who fueled their passions and encouraged them to meet their potential. Whether it's helping pay for college tuition, coaching their child's youth sports team, or merely giving their kids a hug or encouragement for a job well done, all parents try to help their little ones achieve greatness in their own way and deserve credit for their efforts... but some parents just seriously deserve an award for how incredibly supportive they are. These parents went way above and beyond what others may have expected of them, and made amazing, life-changing decisions to ensure their child's happiness. They are #parentinggoals for sure, and if more parents tried to follow their examples, the world would become a way better place for everyone.
15 Man completes triathlon carrying daughter with cerebral palsy
Rick van Beek's daughter Maddy has cerebral palsy, and when he saw her looking extremely happy while being pushed in the Grand Rapids Marathon a few years ago, he decided to get in shape and quit smoking so he could do marathons alongside her. Since then, he has competed in a number of triathlons with Maddy, pulling her in a kayak while he swims, in a cart behind her as he cycles, and carrying her or pushing her in a buggy as he runs. While Maddy is unable to talk, Rick can tell how much she loves the outdoors and wants to keep competing in events to put a smile on her face. "Call it inspiration, call it motivation, call it what ever you want, I call it LOVE," he wrote in his blog. "That will never fade...She is my heart and I am her legs, though someday she might not physically be able to be there with me, she will always be in my heart, quietly cheering me on."
14 Selfless father protects his son from the foul weather
Ideally, when it rains, a dad will have one umbrella for himself, and another for his child. Unfortunately, things don't always work out that way. So, stuck with one umbrella, most dads would hold the umbrella high and get their little one to stand close, so it can cover both of them... but if it's windy or the rain is coming down at an angle, that typically means they'll both still get a tiny bit wet.
This dad wasn't letting that happen to his precious son. It didn't matter that he was in dress clothes, carrying a nice briefcase and seemingly some take-out. It didn't matter if he was heading off to work and was going to be damp all day, or if he just got off from a long day at the office. His child's warmth and comfort were all that mattered.
13 Dad gets tattoo to match son's brain cancer surgery scar
When eight-year-old Gabriel Marshall underwent surgery to remove a tumor in his brain, he was left with a large scar on the side of his head. According to his father, Josh, the scar left Gabriel feeling like he was a monster because people would stare at the mark in fear. In an attempt to make his son more comfortable, Josh went out and got a scar tattoo that perfectly matched Gabriel's. “[I wanted] to take away some of the stares or attention from him," he told People. “He’s now very proud of his scar because he knows that that it means that he was tougher than [the tumor] that tried to hurt him. He calls it his battle scar.”
Sadly, it was announced this weekend that Gabe's cancer is back, but that won't stop these two from fighting it with everything they have.
12 Brave parents each donate a lung to save their son's life
Twelve-year-old Mari was dying of cystic fibrosis and needed a double lung transplant, but his doctors in Germany couldn't find a suitable donor. However, upon finding out that they had compatible blood types and suitable lung sizes, Mari's mom and dad both agreed to donate a lung so he could finally get a working pair. Mari spent 155 days in the hospital recovering from the transplant, but his "prognosis and quality of life" are "much improved," and now he, his mom and his dad are all happy and healthy. Many parents say they'd be willing to sacrifice anything for their children, but not everyone is brave and selfless enough to step up like that when the time comes.
11 Father gets cochlear implant tattoo to support hearing impaired daughter
Alistair Campbell's six-year-old hearing impaired daughter Charlotte had no problems wearing her cochlear implant. “She’s never felt different, just because she’s deaf or she’s got a thing stuck to her head,” he told Today. “She’s never felt like she didn’t fit in. And she does well at school. She’s got a lot of friends." However, that didn't stop him from shaving his head and getting a matching implant tattoo in a sign of support and love for his little girl. “I just want to show Charlotte the love. At the moment, she’s not a great understanding of it but as she gets older she will... I wanted to show her, hey, I could go for a little bit of pain, too, even though it’s nothing compared to what she goes through."
10 Mother writes book to support her son's love of playing dress up
Cheryl Kilodavis' son Dyson doesn't conform to stereotypical gender roles, and one of his favorite ways to express himself is wearing clothes typically meant for girls. When he declared to his mother that he considers himself a "princess boy," Kilodavis wrote My Princess Boy to show support for her son. "This is my son and I don't want you to kill his spirit. If he selects the pink thing and dress thing, we're okay with that," she told Parents that would tell Dyson's teachers at school. "The greatest joy is both my kids coming to their own conclusions and their own decisions. Sometimes I get it; sometimes I don't. Sometimes I agree; sometimes I don't. I think it's a little piece of who they are becoming and I like that puzzle, the little pieces along the way."
9 The sweetest birth announcement ever
Kai Bogert knew he was trans for several years before telling the rest of his family, but he wanted to "find the right moment." When he finally told his mother Yolanda, he expected a bit of a reaction, but he recalled to Australia's Today that the big reveal was far less dramatic than expected. It was “extremely boring and dull... She just went, ‘Oh, you’re trans? Oh, cool.’” Yolanda didn't only take the big news extremely well, she then went on to make one of the sweetest displays of public support ever by making a retraction in the local newspaper to fix a long overdue error and "celebrate" her son's big news. After telling the world her daughter Elizabeth Anne is actually her son Kai, she wrote, "Loving you is the easiest thing in the world."
8 Dad sends his son's favorite toy (and his imagination) into space
Ron Fugelseth's son has an amazing imagination, and loves using it while playing with his favorite toy train, Stanley. In an attempt to make his son's day, Ron attached Stanley to a weather balloon with an HD camera so they could watch the train go all the way up to space. They attached an old cell phone for GPS to the structure so they could locate Stanley after the balloon popped, and then watched as the toy reached the stratosphere, approximately 18 miles up. Twenty minutes after the balloon burst, Ron's son found his favorite toy 27 miles away from where his journey began, and the smile on his face in the YouTube video of the event (which now has over 5 million views) shows just how great of a dad Ron must be.
7 Gamer dad won't let his daughter think girls can't be heroes
Mike Hoye loved playing video games with his daughter Maya, but couldn't get over the fact that there weren't many representations of strong, independent women in their favorite games. While playing Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, in which a young boy goes on a quest to rescue his sister, Mike noticed that while Maya could change the main character Link’s name to whatever she wanted, Link was frequently given male pronouns in the game. “As you might imagine, I’m not having my daughter growing up thinking girls don’t get to be the hero and rescue their little brothers,” he wrote on his blog. Mike went on to modify the game and change every gender-specific reference to the main character in the game from masculine to feminine, making "he” become “she,” “master” become "milady” and “swordsman” become “swordmain."
6 Dad and his army of Elsas
Having five daughters can be a nightmare in itself for some fathers, but it can be made infinitely more terrifying when all five little girls want to go as Elsa for Halloween. This dad seemed to be all for it. Each girl has a slightly different costume, so it looks like he must have gone to five different costume shops so each daughter could look unique while still looking like their favorite Disney Queen. Then, he went one step further and found an Elsa dress in his size so he could match his girls. There's the typical "supportive" that we use to describe most parents, and then there's throwing away your dignity and publicly humiliating yourself to put a smile on your kids' faces and support their intense love for an empowering female role model. What a great dad.
5 Dick Hoyt has pushed and carried his son through over 1,000 races since 1977
Rick Hoyt was diagnosed as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy at birth and doctors advised his parents Dick and Judy to institutionalize him because there was no chance of him recovering. They Hoyt family never gave up, got him admitted into public school at the age of 13, and a degree from Boston University in Special Education 18 years later. When Rick told his father in 1977 that he wanted to participate in a 5-mile benefit run for a Lacrosse player who had been paralyzed in an accident, his father agreed to push him in his wheelchair and they finished all 5 miles. The pair came in second to last, but Rick told his father that when they're running, he no longer feels handicapped. Hearing that, Dick realized that competing in races had to become a new tradition. Since then, they've completed over 1,000 races, six of which were actually Ironman competitions!
4 Military dad helps make his daughter's dream camouflage prom dress
Mariah Herron wanted a Prom dress that reflected her individuality and love for hunting, and none of the pink, sequined options in the stores seemed to match the look she desired. So she turned to her father David, a military man who learned how to sew during his service, for help. "About two years ago, my wife gave me a sewing machine. I've made some quilts and pillows, but this dress was something else," Herron told the Marshfield News-Herald. He made the dress out of some white camouflage fabric he found with his daughter at a local fabric store, and added the tops of shotgun shells to the waist of the gown to reflect her passion for hunting. It took him two months to finish. "I think she likes it," said Herron, proudly. "She asked me if I'd make her a wedding dress."
3 Comedian father sacrifices his dignity to make his daughter's day in viral dance video
Comedian Mike Hanley's daughter Jessica wanted to surprise her Bat Mitzvah guests with an unforgettable father-daughter dance, and judging from the 17 million views on the video of their performance, she got exactly what she wanted. Mike is clearly no professional dancer, but he did everything he could to support his daughter on her big day, from cranking that Soulja Boy, to attempting to mimic Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" moves. He threw a few classics from his old days like "Thriller" and "Greased Lightning" into the dance mix, but you can tell that he wouldn't have minded if the dance was nothing but Jessica's favorite modern pop hits. Not many dads are willing to endure that level of public humiliation at a family party, let alone online for millions of viewers to see.
2 Dad helps his son realize he shouldn't be afraid to "come out"
Coming out of the closet can be an absolutely terrifying experience for teenagers, especially if they don't know how their parents will react to the news. This note went viral because of how supportive the dad who wrote it was towards his son, who was anxious about revealing his sexuality. "The only thing I need you to plan is to bring hope OJ and bread after class. We are out, like you now," is pretty much the perfect icebreaker and a great way to make someone realize that their sexuality isn't a huge deal and shouldn't change their relationship with the people they love. He went on to remind his son that he's always loved him, and if that wasn't enough, he added a nice little note saying that he approves of his son's first boyfriend. If everyone could be as accepting and supportive as the father who wrote this note, no one would have any reason to be afraid of coming out.
1 Woman gives birth to her own grandchildren
When 51-year-old Maria da Gloria discovered that her daughter Fenanda, who was unable to carry children, was also unable to adopt, she agreed to become a surrogate mother and give birth to her own grandchildren. Even though one doctor said such a pregnancy would be too risky due to her advanced age, Da Gloria took hormones to restart her menstrual cycle and was successfully impregnated with two embryos. She had a C-section four weeks early and gave birth to two healthy girls, which was probably the greatest gift she could ever give her daughter, and the greatest sacrifice she could ever make for her family. 'I couldn't be happier,' Fernanda Medeiros told Portuguese news website G1.globo.com.