When we hit middle age, we often become reflective on what we’ve done, and what we’d still like to do. But for some, life is still a miracle with each day to be treasured as if it were their last. And Richard Castillo might know a thing or two about this, because he’s just turned 50. Now that’s not that old, you might think. However, Richard has defied the odds, including doctors’ predictions, to reach that milestone whilst having the life-limiting condition, Down syndrome.
Now Richard’s daughter is the appropriately named, Richie Anne Castillo, aged 23. Born in July 1995, Castillo is a resident of Cebu City in the Philippines. And she works as a volunteer at the Kythe Foundation, a charity that focuses on helping sick children. What’s more, not so long ago, she had some unexpected words to share about Richard on social media.
So in June 2019 Richard reached a landmark birthday, as he turned 50 years old. To commemorate that significant moment in his life, his daughter wrote an emotional post about him. Along the way, she also made a big revelation regarding his health, which made the occasion even more special.
That’s right, due to his condition, doctors didn’t believe that he would reach this particular stage of his life. But the father-of-one managed to defy those estimates. In addition, Castillo spoke about her father’s parenting skills, which led the Facebook post to go viral. On that note, let’s find out more about the condition.
For many people across the world, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is incredibly important. Whether it’s through their diets or a regular exercise routine, these regimens can help stave off problems later in their life. However, there are countless others who must face down some serious health issues during their younger years.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), genetic disorders are now more prevalent in America than ever before. And Down syndrome is one such condition, with the CDC claiming that around 6,000 newborn children are affected every year. In fact, it’s “the most common chromosomal disorder” in the U.S., according to the CDC.
By 2003, it’s believed that the number of Down syndrome cases in the United States had gone up by 30 percent from 1979. Despite that noticeable rise, though, some promising statistics emerged in 2007. Indeed, the CDC revealed that the average life expectancy of those patients had gone up to around 47 years of age.
As for the condition itself, the Mayo Clinic website provided a detailed description of its effects. For the post read, “Down syndrome is a genetic disorder caused when abnormal cell division results in an extra full or partial copy of chromosome 21. This extra genetic material causes the developmental changes and physical features of Down syndrome.”
From there, the Mayo Clinic revealed a bit more about the disorder. Yes, it added, “Down syndrome varies in severity among individuals, causing lifelong intellectual disability and developmental delays. It’s the most common genetic chromosomal disorder and cause of learning disabilities in children. It also commonly causes other medical abnormalities, including heart and gastrointestinal disorders.”
Meanwhile, another eye-watering statistic came out in 2015. At that time, it was believed that over five million people were living with Down syndrome across the world. So in that regard, plenty of individuals would’ve been familiar with the condition, and the problems it can cause. Moreover, two of those such people are our focus for this article, so let’s get back to it.
That’s right, Richie Anne Castillo could certainly count herself among that number, as her dad had Down syndrome. But while he struggled with his health throughout the years, Richard continued to live his life to the fullest. And In June 2019 he celebrated his 50th birthday in the Philippines. Unbeknown to him, the celebration wouldn’t just be a personal milestone.
For his daughter looked to mark the special occasion on her social media page, too. Indeed, the volunteer wrote up a Facebook message, hailing her father’s strength of character, while also touching upon other points. However, the message might have caught a few people off guard, especially those who didn’t know about Richard’s condition.
For you see, prior to sharing the message Castillo had kept Richard’s health condition to herself. By writing the post, though, she finally revealed that particular secret to the world. Moreover, the Cebu City resident tried to explain why she was hesitant in opening up about the subject as a whole.
“Dear dad,” Richie began. “Today marks a very special and very miraculous moment of your life. You turn 50 today, and I am so blessed that you continue to live such a long and beautiful life. Doctors are still amazed by it!” After that introduction, she then paid further tribute to Richard.
“I know you won’t be able to read this because I don’t know if you have Facebook,” Castillo continued. “But I want the whole world to know how proud I am that you are my dad. I want the whole world to know how beautiful you are inside and out.”
Following those heartfelt words, Castillo then touched upon the secret that she’d carried for many years by herself. Apparently, Richard’s condition proved to be a problem while she was a student, as her classmates found out about him. And as a result, the youngster became subjected to some horrible abuse.
As Castillo went on to explain, “Dad, it took me so many years before I gathered enough courage to face everyone. Not all may know the whole truth because it is quite confusing. Back in grade school, I would be picked on and bullied because they said you were different. As a kid I didn’t see you as different, I saw you as my dad.” From there, Castillo reflected on that period further
For you see, Richie admitted that the bullying initially left her confused and she was at odds at what to do. “I didn’t understand why they were making fun of me and calling me abnormal,” she explained. “I understood this later on and it made me a coward. But you deserve more than the coward daughter that I am.”
While her self-assessment appeared somewhat harsh, she then dropped a bombshell regarding Richard’s health condition. Alongside that, she also revealed why she felt the need to do this now via social media. In her mind, the significant occasion ultimately called for it, as the daughter continued to praise her dad.
“You deserve love, understanding, patience and acceptance as any individual with Down syndrome should,” Castillo said. “Here I am composing a birthday greeting to you because I’ve never done such a thing. You deserve so much more.” After that, the Kythe Foundation volunteer switched her focus to another sensitive topic.
Indeed, Castillo spoke about the issues that Richard has had to overcome as a result of his Down syndrome. As she went on to explain, “Dad, you are the strongest and the bravest human being I know. For almost all your life, you have allowed doctors to insert needles in you, surgeries here and there, a lifetime doing dialysis and a long list of limitations.” But that’s not all.
On that note, Richie revealed that her father didn’t complain about any of the procedures, despite his obvious discomfort. Furthermore, the Cebu City resident then touched upon Richard’s attitude following those sessions with the doctors. And incredibly, he was able to maintain a positive demeanor around his family at all times.
“You are the strongest because after all those surgeries, procedures and nights at the hospital, you managed to say, ‘I’m not afraid because I trust in the Lord,’” she said. “You always put a smile on your face after a long day at the dialysis center, or after a hypoglycemic episode.”
What’s more, Castillo made a poignant point about her father’s inner strength. Indeed, as she continued to praise Richard’s bravery, she admitted that she couldn’t picture herself in his place. For she continued, “You are the bravest because you have been through so much and you have never, not even once, been afraid. I cannot imagine putting myself in your shoes.” But the touching tribute on Facebook didn’t end there.
Yes, because Castillo wrote, “I have seen you at your worst, when you would break down and say that you are tired. Hearing those words ‘I’m tired’ or ‘It really hurts’ made me cry for days, and I couldn’t bear going back to the hospital anymore. I have seen you cry because your knee would hurt because of the fluid.”
With that in mind, Richie lifted the lid on a dream that she harbored during those difficult times. As she explained, “I can’t feel your pain, but how I wish I could take your place so you wouldn’t have to feel any pain anymore. You lost your teeth, but that never bothered you or kept you from eating the food that you love.”
Mind you, the daughter also didn’t forget about the times that her dad made her laugh at home. Regarding Richard losing his teeth again, she said he would “purposely” misplace his dentures, bringing a big smile out of her. However, the social media post then took a rather different turn.
Touchingly, Castillo believed that she could’ve done more for Richard in the last few years, blaming one thing in particular. Yes, the volunteer wrote, “Dad, no amount of words can sum up how sorry I am for being an absent daughter. I’m sorry for not bringing you to the beach more often, or [not visiting] you more often than I should.”
And Richie’s honest assessment didn’t end there. As she went on to explain, “If there is one thing I regret, it is hiding you from my life because I’m still the same little kid who was afraid of getting bullied. But I love you more than you could ever know dad, and I am inspired by you always.”
Meanwhile, she looked to change the tone of the Facebook post following that heartbreaking revelation. And to reflect the celebratory mood back home, she touched upon how well liked Richard was by family and friends. However, she also admitted that gatherings could prove a little challenging at times, even if this was only human nature.
“Everyone adores you and you know that,” Castillo wrote on the social media website. “You could always put a smile and a laugh on everyone’s faces. You annoy people a lot too, but we love you anyways. I understand that you have good days and bad days (your bad days are our bad days as well haha).” But that wasn’t all, though.
For the daughter continued, “You can be mean at times and you push everyone away, including me. But that’s just you and it’s okay. It’s okay to be different.” From there, the Cebu City resident then wrapped up her lengthy post with one final message to her beloved father. And it might make you shed a tear.
Indeed, Richie said, “I could go on and on talking about you, but it would be too long. Happy 50th birthday daddy! Thanks for always calling me your one and only baby girl, because I always will be. I am strong and brave because of you, and I love you so much dad. I think I’m big enough now to defend myself from the bullies.”
Now since being posted, Castillo’s emotional Facebook message has had a massive impact online, quickly going viral. In fact, her words have earned close to 245,000 likes and over 75,000 shares injust three months. Alongside that, the post has generated more than 6,600 comments from social media users as well.
To add to that, most of those messages proved to be supportive of Castillo, praising her openness on the subject. “Wow, very inspiring,” wrote one Facebook user in the comments section. “It will indeed take a brave and great heart to write what you wrote here. God bless you and your dad, and the whole family.”
And those feelings were reiterated by a fellow social media user – but unlike the previous person they knew Richard personally. Furthermore, this individual only had kind words for Castillo’s dad, reflecting the points that she made in her post. But along the way, the user revealed a bit more about their connection too.
“Richie Anne Castillo, I know your father sooo well,” the social media user wrote. “He is such a lovely, lovely person! Kindhearted and very gentle. My father and your family and grandparents were very close, they used to work together right from the very beginnings of International Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (IPI).”
As the comments kept coming in, Castillo was contacted by Cebu Daily News Digital for a chat in June 2019. During their conversation, she shared some additional information about her father, who was now a social media star. According to the young woman, Richard harbored a real passion for one thing in particular.
That’s right, because Castillo said, “[Richard] loves music and is a big fan of Michael Jackson. My best memories of my dad are always when his smile almost reaches his ears. During parties when there would be a live band, he would dance in his wheelchair and pretend like he’s at a rock concert.”
Away from that, Castillo finished the interview by offering up some important advice to those in a similar position to herself. She added, “Never limit their ability to achieve whatever they set their mind to. Also, they are just like any other human out there, so focus on their life, and not on their label as a person with Down syndrome.”