A dad's 'thank you' for daughter's determination, devotion and love

Dear Perry,

I remember taking you to your first Gymboree class when you were 2 because your face was so scraped up from countless face-plants that mom and I were afraid people would think we were committing child abuse.

Somewhere in those Saturday mornings, laughing together as you made your way over foam cut-outs and mats and under parachutes and tunnels, evolved a love for movement and a fearless "can do" determination that would carry you through thousands of hours of practices -- by my estimate, at least 10,000 hours -- most well into the night and weekends, pushing through injuries (including concussions and a cracked spine!), sacrificing time with friends and surviving peer pressure, schoolwork in a gym and even driving 22 hours round-trip to compete against the best in the nation.


Countless times I've watched and fought back tears of pride as you stepped up on the awards podium and made that funny face when you raised your arms in that silly but wonderful gymnast's victory salute, knowing it's not about the medals around your neck, but that in a "just do it" society, you did it.

All the while, I've watched you grow, not just into a beautiful young woman, but into my hero.

We've not only shared our sacrifices, we've comforted each other through our personal disappointments and defeats -- and learned to get back up, despite our hardest falls.

And this weekend, as you compete in what may be your last meet, I'll again sit in wonder of you, and thank God for giving me the blessing of being your dad.

I'm going to miss the brief but beautiful time we spend together driving home each night from practices -- well, truth be told, it will be nice to have dinner before 10 p.m.

But what it's taught me is that it's not about gymnastics or soccer or lacrosse or hockey or baseball or whatever else you and your brothers play.

I don't remember scores, or wins or losses -- and I know neither do you or they.

What we remember is our time together, the post-game trips to Subway, the hotel stays, the ice cream stops and putt-putt tournaments, the long drives, the laughs... and the love.

It's what we share. And I'll miss it.

Good luck this weekend, sweet P... and remember to smile for my camera.

All my love,

George Kindel is the managing editor of FoxNews.com and the proud father of Perry and her three brothers, Mac, Casey and Sawyer.