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How $1 Taught Me to Be a Better Dad

They came in a handwritten envelope. My wife opened it, took out a little ziplock bag with blue rubber bracelets and handed me one. They cost a buck each.

I’d never worn a bracelet – I don’t even wear a watch – but when you get a diagnosis like we did and you don’t have any answers, you do whatever you can to show support. I needed to be part of this.

"Believe" bracelet

One side of the bracelet was inscribed with the word BELIEVE and the other with the website of our new community, a strong group of 800 families around the world who never asked to be part of this club.

I slipped on the bracelet reluctantly. I thought the word BELIEVE was hokey.

The diagnosis was heartbreaking – far worse than we expected – but it was also a relief to finally have an answer to why our daughter was the way she was. We could manage this.

BELIEVE felt like an empty word that gave other people comfort. Every cell in my daughter’s body had an extra chromosome. There was no cure. I didn’t need the false hope.

Fast forward five years. An old woman with a happy smile stands with me in an elevator. “What is the bracelet for?” she asks. I know she’s genuine, not just making small talk. I only have three floors to go, but this is what I want to tell her.

I have a sweet little 7-year-old girl with a rare chromosome disorder called Dup15q Syndrome — it is autism, cognitive delays, sensory issues and so much more — and it has really challenged me as a dad. When I look at this little blue bracelet, it reminds me to BELIEVE.

Daddy daughter dance

Three years of potty training and then the other day, my daughter walks me to the potty and pees and giggles. I BELIEVED she could do it.

Her two little brothers tackle each other to the floor and then stop to give her the gentlest of goodnight hugs and kisses. I BELIEVE they will be better people for having her in their lives.

I BELIEVE my wife and I have a special marriage because we have a kid with special needs who has taken us on a journey through more beautiful moments than you could imagine.

I BELIEVE unconditional love is the most powerful kind.

I BELIEVE we all have so much more strength than we’re asked to summon.

I BELIEVE small milestones are worth celebrating.

I BELIEVE faith and science are better friends than enemies.

I BELIEVE when you need help, you should ask for it. That took a long time to learn.

And I BELIEVE that without a sense of humor, you are pretty much screwed.

I’m sorry I got out of the elevator and didn’t tell you all this. I responded, “My daughter has a rare disorder and we wear these to support kids like her.” Just before I stepped out, you said, “That’s beautiful.”

Thank you. I BELIEVE you’re right.