A father in England has received several messages of support after he was forced to defend his teen daughter, who has Down Syndrome, from internet trolls who ridiculed her for dancing in a viral video.
Neil Markham was excited to take his 16-year-old daughter, Ella, to see the Tottenham Spurs take on West Ham United over the weekend. The proud dad shared a sweet video of the girl, clad in Spurs gear, dancing in the stadium.
“The result is never the most important thing #COYS,” he wrote of the soccer game alongside the dance clip, which has been retweeted more than 1,600 times and has over 1.7 million views. However, the proud father’s joy briefly turned to grief when Twitter users replied to the video with ableist, negative comments.
Just hours after sharing the video, Markham tweeted a photo of Ella smiling, and wrote, “This is Ella. Im [sic] not asking you to say how beautiful she is or for you to like the post. All I really want after tonight is to treat her as a normal person who would smile at you and doesn’t deserve to have fun poked at her.”
About one in every 1,000 babies in the United Kingdom are born with Down Syndrome, and there are about 40,000 people in the country living with the condition, according to the U.K.’s Down’s Syndrome Association. The condition occurs when an individual is born with an extra copy of chromosome 21, and those with Down Syndrome usually have a learning disability.
As Markham defended his daughter, several social media users sent well-wishes to the father and left sweet comments on his Twitter account. One tweeter even encouraged social media users to report the trolls.
“Some of the abuse directed at @NeilMarkham1 and his daughter is sickening,” the Twitter user wrote. “Especially from Spurs ‘fans’. Check them out and report, thanks.”
Another added: “This is amazing, Keep dancing beautiful girl
, all us girls @thlfcofficial would be right by ur side dancing with you if we were there!”
He even received support from former Spurs player Micky Hazard, who confronted a troll on the social media site.
“Hey mate do you realise what you are saying, this is a very special Lady having a good time, you owe this wonderful family an apology at the very least,” the athlete tweeted. “Try to behave with more class in future.”
Still, despite the praise, Markham expressed regret over joining the social media site.
“I posted a video of my daughter enjoying herself….since then she has been a figure of fun and ridicule to some…..not what I joined Twitter for,” he wrote in a tweet. “Maybe it’s not for me.”
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