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Community Impact

A Father’s Struggle to Learn Acceptance—An extraordinary Journey

In Fuzhou, Fujian Province, China, there’s a heartwarming story about a young boy with Down syndrome who, with his father’s support, became a champion.

The young man’s name is Dai Renfei, and his father is Dai Xiaobin. Dai Renfei was diagnosed with Down syndrome when he became ill at just six months old.

Dai Xiaobin’s story:

‘“On the surface, I acted strong, but my wife cried. She couldn’t accept it, and I felt helpless. It’s indescribable, that sense of being lost. When friends came to visit, I was embarrassed to introduce my son because I hadn’t yet accepted him myself,” Dai Xiaobin said.

Man with his two young kids.

When Renfei was four years old, we found out he had heart issues and needed surgery. His doctor told us, “Children with Down syndrome and congenital heart disease will still face challenges in intellectual capability and self-care after heart surgery. They need lifelong care and support.”

My heart sank. Outside the Shanghai hospital where he had surgery, I wrapped him up, tucked the last of our money into his jacket, and left him in a corner of the building in the early morning. I watched from a distance, torn between hoping someone would come and take him away and yet not wanting anyone to.

I couldn’t leave him though—I brought him back and wept. From that day on, I kept him by my side, even till now.’

“An azalea is an azalea; a gerbera is a gerbera. They have their own blooming seasons and growth patterns, but both are perfect, impeccable, and lovely. Similarly, there are various perspectives on special children like ours,” Dai Xiaobin reflected.


He recalled an occasion where a colleague asked him not to bring his child to attend a wedding party, only to find other children there. It was clear they were discriminating against Dai Renfei. “We can’t change their views, but we can change our own. As our perception shifts from embarrassment to joy, others come to accept us too.”

Years later, Dai Xiaobin learned of a school in Kunming that accepted children like his son. Under patient guidance, his son overcame low self-esteem and other challenges. He even began sharing his toys and snacks with classmates, a significant change.

Four athletes in matching tank-top uniforms.

In 2010, Dai Renfei won a gold medal in individual football skills at the Special Olympics National Games in Fuzhou. His grandmother gathered the village together to watch the event on TV; proud of the honor he brought to his family, his village and his neighbors.

Once, when Dai Xiaobin was ill in Kunming, his son cooked him egg fried rice. Though it was not cooked perfectly, this was the most delicious bowl of rice Dai Xiaobin had ever had because it showed his son’s gratitude.

Dai Renfei expressed his simple wish, “I want to be free and live my own life.”

His father responded, “Together, we’ll make dreams come true. When you’re well, I’m well.”

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