Dad fires back at trolls who mocked his teenage daughter with Down Syndrome after he shared a dance video
Last weekend, English father Neil Markham took his 16-year-old daughter, Ella, to a soccer game. West Ham United beat their beloved Tottenham Spurs, 1-0, but the pair still had a great time. On Twitter, Neil shared a cute video of his little girl decked out in Spurs gear, dancing by herself in the stadium.
"The result is never the most important thing," wrote the proud dad, adding the hashtag #COYS, an acronym for "Come On You Spurs!" The clip went viral, getting more than one million views, and it didn't take long for cruel trolls to post ableist comments mocking his daughter's appearance. Like many others, Ella was born with Down Syndrome, a chromosomal condition that typically results in a learning disability and changes to physical features.
After receiving dozens of vicious messages, Neil defended his daughter. "This is Ella," he wrote, alongside a family photo. "Im 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."
The message sparked a flood of support from well-wishers. "That's a lovely photo mate, and if you get any abuse report them," suggested one Twitter user, while another added, "you sir are a heck of a dad." A third advised, "There are so many people that have hate in their heart not worth giving them the time of day. I am sorry I am going to ignore you 'Ella you are a beautiful girl'. Be proud Neil be very proud."
Spurs player Micky Hazard even fired back at one troll. “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."
Despite the heartwarming comments, Neil expressed misgivings about putting his family out there on social media. "I posted a video of my daughter enjoying herself," he tweeted. "Since then she has been a figure of fun and ridicule to some…..[but it's] not what I joined Twitter for. Maybe it’s not for me."