Car manufacturer Toyota aired a commercial with a strong pro-life message on Super Bowl Sunday featuring the story of Paralympic 13-time gold medal-winning swimmer Jessica Long.
The ad told the story of baby Jessica and her adoptive American parents. Before she was adopted, her soon-to-be parents were told of one-year-old Jessica’s rare condition, and that her legs would have to be amputated.
“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,” Long’s adoptive mother responds, “but it’ll be amazing. I can’t wait to meet her.”
Long is “one of the world’s most decorated swimmers with 23 Paralympic medals, including 13 gold, and 30 world medals consisting of 24 gold,” according to Paralympic.org.
“It’s such an emotional spot,” Long said of the ad, according to Paralympic.org. “It’s so raw. The way Toyota was able to capture all of that, it brings all of these emotions out that I kind of forgot about. I didn’t start out the sport thinking that I was going to win gold medals or to be in a Super Bowl commercial. I started this sport because I truly loved the water. It was a place that I felt really free.”
LiveAction president and founder Lila Rose applauded Toyota for the ad.
“[Thirteen] months after birth, Jessica Long was adopted by an American family,” Rose posted to Twitter on Monday. “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,” she added.
13 months after birth, Jessica Long was adopted by an American family,
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
— Lila Rose (@LilaGraceRose) February 8, 2021
According to CBN News, Long is a strong Christian who’s affiliated with the advocacy group “Fight for the Fatherless,” “a movement led by Christian athletes that aims to encourage orphans and those affected by a disability.”
“I was always angry with God,” Long is quoted on 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.”
“Believe you are capable of incredible things and that God has a plan for every individual,” she continued. “I want you to embrace who God made you to be. To love every part of yourself, flaws and all.”
“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.”
In an Instagram post celebrating the ad, Long 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.”
Toyota is reportedly a longtime partner of the International Paralympic Committee.