Tom Brady may have won his seventh Super Bowl Championship ring as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers dominated the Kansas City Chiefs in Sunday’s 31-9 blowout victory, but the big winner in the annual contest of commercial advertising during the big game was clearly Toyota, and it wasn’t close either.
The car manufacturer’s commercial, called “Upstream,” featured USA Paralympic Team gold medalist Jessica Long. The 28-year-old, who was born to a Russian teenager in 1992 and given up for adoption, had a birth defect that required both of her legs to be amputated below the knees when she was 18 months old. As Long is pictured growing up in a montage of walking, swimming, and competing, an actress portraying her adoptive mom answers a phone call from the child placement agency explaining the circumstances of Jessica’s birth and that she would require surgery to amputate her legs.
The voice on the phone explains, “Her life – it won’t be easy.” And her mom pauses as she takes that in, and then, as the camera cuts to adult Jessica in the pool seemingly waiting to hear what her adoptive mom says, hears these words, “ It might not be easy, but it will be amazing. I can’t wait to meet her.”
Jessica smiles as she “hears” her mom say those words, and while you’re trying to deal with the lump in your throat, Toyota explains that they are a proud sponsor of Team USA.
She’s won 23 Paralympic medals, starting with a gold medal when she was 12, and 60 world championships overall. In the year 2006 alone, Jessica broke a world record 18 times.
Her birth parents in Russia, whom she later met, were unwed at the time of Jessica’s birth, but eventually married and had three other children.
Long is also a Christian, and talks openly of dealing with her struggles concerning her disability before she came to Christ, and how yielding her life to Jesus allowed the emotional healing to begin.
It takes courage for people like Jessica’s parents to decide to adopt a child with special needs, but the message of the commercial, which goes way beyond selling automobiles, is that you can’t measure the worth or potential of a person by their disabilities.
Adoptive parents instinctively understand this. One such parent is my boss, Paul Batura, Focus on the Family’s Vice President of Communications, and author of a book about famous adoptees called Chosen for Greatness: How Adoption Changes the World.
“Adoption is often a gritty and even imperfect process,” the father of three adopted sons of his own told me. “But isn’t that like life itself? History demonstrates that adoption puts children on the verge of everything, setting them up to live the lives God has planned for them – often adventures beyond their wildest expectations. It’s serendipitous sovereignty. There are so many stories of individuals who were adopted, from presidents to philanthropists – and yes, even Olympians, who found themselves on certain streets in particular cities, with parents with certain skills, whose futures were forged by this fate.”
And that would certainly go for Jessica Long, who thanks to an automobile commercial, great parents, and an unshakeable faith in her Savior, is much more than an athlete, daughter and car salesperson.
She’s an ambassador for Christ.
Photo from YouTube