Proud dad Jay Handlin had no idea his tweet congratulating his daughter, Rachel, who has Down syndrome, for graduating from CalArts would go viral.
This is my daughter, Rachel Handlin. Tonight, she earned her full Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Photography & Media from the prestigious California Institute of the Arts, @CalArts. Rachel has #Downsyndrome.— Jay Handlin (@jayhandlin) May 16, 2020
I am officially the proudest father on the planet.
Fight me. pic.twitter.com/t39gY58Gqf
Since Saturday, the post has garnered over 222,000 likes, and it’s been retweeted over 19,000 times. The 10,000 comments include those reaching out to congratulate Rachel for completing her BFA at the California Institute of the Arts, but people also share their own heartwarming stories.
One of Rachel’s teachers tweeted in response to Rachel’s dad with a picture of him with Rachel in class. He said he was so happy to have been at CalArts while she was there.
Rachel was in my first lighting class I taught at calarts, im so happy to have been there to be a part of her journey at calarts. pic.twitter.com/ypFKGZdlpi— Rafael Hernandez (@2071photo) May 17, 2020
One mom said, “I could not love this more,” in response to Handlin’s tweet. Inspired by Rachel’s accomplishment, she shared that her own daughter, who is a high school junior with Down’s syndrome, “found CalArts online and came to me, saying she’d found the perfect school.”
Rachel’s story inspired so many parents of young children with Down’s syndrome who posted pictures and thanked Rachel for showing their kids that they too could fulfill their dreams.
Congratulations Rachel! So amazing and you give so many of us parents who also have special children like you, hope. This is my Samira. pic.twitter.com/hUhcajKc0f— 𝒫𝐸𝑅𝒮𝐼𝒮𝒯 (@twendi66) May 18, 2020
Congratulations to your brilliant daughter! I hope my own little girl, who also has that extra chromosome, will be so successful. pic.twitter.com/pNEwCGoWsR— The Irish For 🖱️ (@theirishfor) May 17, 2020
Handlin describes himself in his Twitter bio as a “fierce father” and a “disability/ inclusion zealot.” His endless support is undoubtedly a huge part of Rachel’s success.
One Twitter user wrote Handlin, offering the assurance that the title of “Proudest Father on the Planet” is rightly his to claim: “You deserve the title as she would not be what she is without your love, support, and encouragement. Congratulations Rachel and wear the proudest Dad title well, sir.”
Let’s all take inspiration from Rachel and her dad, and keep at it. Don’t give up!