From being ashamed of her legs to embracing them and realizing the true gift they are, the swimmer's story is an inspiration to us all.
While the 2021 Super Bowl may have had the attention of numerous people, as usual, it wasn't the only thing that made a true impact. In fact, it was an advertisement by car company Toyota that had everyone's praise for the story of strength and resilience that it showed.
But it wasn't your normal advert. Instead, it was the story of Jessica Long, the 28-year-old Paralympic swimmer who underwent tragedy at a very young age only to rise up against it and earn the numerous awards credited to her name. The ad showed the story of baby Jessica and her adoptive American parents and how before she was adopted, her soon-to-be parents were told that their new child's rare condition would require her legs to be amputated, according to Marie Clarie.
“We found a baby girl for your adoption, but there’s some things you need to know,” a woman from the adoption agency is heard telling the parents in the commercial. “She’s in Siberia and she was born with a rare condition. Her legs will need to be amputated. I know this is difficult to hear, but her life — it won’t be easy.” “It might not be easy,” Jessica’s adoptive mother responds, “but it’ll be amazing. I can’t wait to meet her.”
Soon enough, at 18 months, Jessica's legs had to be amputated below the knees. Undergoing such an operation at that tender age certainly left its impact on the young woman. “I was always angry with God,” she said, a strong Christian who’s affiliated with the advocacy group Fight for the Fatherless, as quoted by the group’s website. “I couldn’t understand how a God could make me without my legs. When I was 8 years old, I kinda accepted him, but it was more out of fear and wanting to just go to heaven. There wasn’t a relationship and I still never felt good enough. Years later when I was out in Colorado springs training, I felt God truly work in my heart. I was raised the right way, but I still had to come to Christ on my own."
"Eventually I decided I wanted to give Jesus my whole heart. It was the best decision I’ve ever made. It doesn’t mean I don’t have tough days! I now just know who ultimately has my heart and I’m learning to trust God. Growing up I had multiple surgeries to help with boney overgrowth. What made this so difficult was the healing process and not understanding why I had to go through all of that pain. I also had to learn how to walk each time, but looking back quitting was never an option. I got through every single challenging moment of my life because of my determination that God gave me.”
"For so long, I was so as ashamed of my legs and I used to hide them, but I now know God made me this way to be a light in this world,” the athlete added. “Being born without legs was never a punishment. I now look at my legs and think of all the people I’ve been able to touch because God made me this way. Embrace who you are! Shine bright and never ever give up on your dreams.”
The proof lies in the pudding as she has amassed 23 Paralympic medals, including 13 gold, and 30 world medals consisting of 24 gold, according to Paralympic.org while receiving many more awards.
13 months after birth, Jessica Long was adopted by an American family,— Lila Rose (@LilaGraceRose) February 8, 2021
At 18 months, both of her legs were amputated below the knees
But despite the adversity, she grew up to become a strong, beautiful & accomplished woman—winning 60+ world championship medals in swimming
In an Instagram post celebrating the advert, the young Paralympian posted, “No words will ever amount to how much this means to me. To have my story shared in such a way brings absolute chills. Thank you to Toyota for bringing my story to life. Thank you to my parents for adopting me and giving me the best life. Thank you to my friends and family for supporting me all these years. Thanks to my coaches for pushing me to be the best. Thank you to my husband for loving me unconditionally.”
On Twitter, the commercial was a success and some people called it their favourite of the night, with many praising Toyota for highlighting Long’s inspiring story.
Toyota wins the #SuperBowl ad game. That had nothing to do with cars, but it was excellent.— Evan Daum (@evandaum) February 8, 2021
Ok, that Toyota adoption commercial. All the feels.— David French (@DavidAFrench) February 8, 2021
Watch the full video here: