Originally posted at Shot@Life

Love it when they smile

Last month I took my daughters, 15 and 17 years old on vacation to Mexico. It was our first time spending a whole week away together at a resort. As a divorced dad, I’ve learned to value every minute I get to spend with my girls. Whether we’re eating breakfast before school, going for a bike ride, learning to play field hockey, or simply driving to an activity, every moment is precious. Seeing them every other weekend, I’ve come to terms with the reality that I may not witness every milestone in my daughter’s lives. I may not be a part of every memory. I’ve come to realize that it’s moments – not milestones – that really matter. Moments are what life is all about. 

One afternoon while we were on vacation, I spent some time out in the water with my younger daughter. She started talking to me from her heart – opening up about boys, upcoming lacrosse try-outs, and her thoughts about her final year at sleep-away camp coming up this summer. As we waded out there in the water I realized, this is one of those moments that I’ll treasure for the rest of my life.

Coming back from Mexico, the plane hit some rough air. I used to be one of the most confident travelers, but now that I’m a dad, I’ll admit, I’ve turned into a worrier. What would I do if something happened to them, or me, and I could not be there for them? It’s hard to imagine not being able to protect your children from the dangers in the world.

When I became a dad, my perception of everything changed. I remember my first bonding moment with my oldest daughter – the first time I held her against my chest – we had this instant, incredible attachment. Now that I have them in my life, I spend less time looking at where the world is right now, and focus more on where it is going to be tomorrow.

This is why I believe in paying it forward. Some people call it karma. I reach out and help children all the time, on the street, the beach, the subway, because I would want someone else doing that for my girls. You want to do good because you want people to do good for your kids. I’m not looking for something back directly from them. I really do believe in the “pay it forward” model…and try to infuse it in all parts of my life.

The United Nations Foundation’s newest campaign, Shot@Life, is a perfect cause for other dads who believe in the pay it forward model. Shot@Life educates, connects and empowers Americans to champion vaccines as one of the most cost-effective ways to save the lives of children in developing countries. A national call to action for this global cause, the campaign rallies the American public, members of Congress, and civil society partners around the fact that together, we can save a child’s life every 20 seconds by expanding access to vaccines.

We all have a place in our heart for children around the world and it’s even better when we can help people help themselves. Shot@Life is not just about writing a check – it’s about building awareness about something important. Something that is real. It’s about knowing that by supporting this cause, I’m doing good, and I believe that someone might do good for my girls one day when they need help.

We have the tools and social platforms to make sure that every child gets a shot at a healthy life. Technology can help us spread the word, increase awareness and make it happen. The way I see it, we can all donate our time, influence and social traction… we all have a voice to help pass along this message. You are an influencer – we are all influencers, because we all have friends with whom to share our message.

I have to miss the Dad 2.0 Summit – an annual conference where marketers, social media leaders, and blogging parents connect to discuss the changing voice and perception of modern fatherhood. I see enormous value in this conference and fully intended to be there to mingle and connect with the amazing dads out there building a voice for themselves. While I’m incredibly disappointed to miss out, unfortunately, this weekend is my turn with the girls. I hope all you dads in Austin, TX this weekend will still let me be a part of the Dad 2.0 club. Please understand how hard it is for me to skip a weekend of quality dad time with my girls that I do not have the option of rescheduling.

As a social marketing strategist and a father, it excites me to see so many dads getting involved in changing the perception of modern fatherhood. And, since I can’t be there at Dad 2.0 this week, I thought to virtually ask each of you to take some time to pay it forward. Make sure that the people in your spheres of influence know that programs like Shot@Life exist.

Help spread the word. I like to say…Be good to people. Start here.

Tweet this! I’m paying it forward for kids around the world w @shotatlife. Spread the word. Be good to people: https://bit.ly/xuql7p

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