The Honor of Being a “Girl Dad”

Written by Jake, Dad of Starlight Kid Demi

Becoming a father is one of life’s greatest honors, and I am lucky enough to be called “dad” by three incredible kids, including my daughter Demi.  

There’s something so exciting about being given the incredible opportunity to be a “girl dad.” The day I found out Demi was going to be a girl was something special – in that moment, I knew I would do anything to protect her and be the person she could always count on.   

In 2019, I learned that like many things in life, not everything is in our control. When Demi was diagnosed with leukemia at just 2 and a half years old, my promises to protect and shield her suddenly felt out of reach. But Demi’s strength and bravery through her cancer journey taught me so much more about being a father. I couldn’t take the cancer away, but I could show her unending love and encouragement as she persevered through this diagnosis. 

Through her journey, Demi learned that life is full of unexpected challenges. Thanks to the kindness and generosity of everyone who supported her, she also learned that with each challenge comes a chance to make someone’s day better. I hope that as Demi continues to grow, she will always look back at this time and remember those that stood by her side during those challenges – her brothers who loved her so, the doctors and nurses that helped her through her toughest days, and organizations like Starlight that gave her a reason to smile during her long hospital stays.  

While she was being treated at Erlanger Children’s Hospital in Tennessee, Demi experienced the joy of Starlight Deliveries, which brought her love of toys and crafts straight to her hospital room. As a father, there is nothing better than seeing your child experience moments of happiness in a seemingly hopeless place – I knew that even when we struggled as a family, someone would always be there to help Demi smile. 

I know now that I can’t protect Demi from everything that may come her way, but my role as a “girl-dad” has changed – seeing her smile, even in her most difficult moments, is the most important thing. 

Demi is one-year cancer-free, and she continues to be my strong, brave little girl. It is my hope that as she embraces the gift of life, she will be inspired to give back to those who need it, just as so many did for her.   

Every year, Starlight programs support millions of kids and their families, just like Demi and Jake. From isolated illness to lifelong medical challenges, every child who visits the hospital deserves a helping hand. With your support, Starlight can reach even more hospitalized kids across the US and ensure that they have a reason to smile during their most difficult moments.   

Give today to bring comfort to parents and guardians like Jake as they support their child through serious illness.

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