When this dad gave his daughter a graduation present, she expected little more than a cringeworthy card. But when she opened up this particular gift, her eyes instantly filled with tears. That’s because she’d finally uncovered a magical 13-year-old secret.
Brenna Martin hails from North Carolina, and like many daughters, she is the apple of her father’s eye. Indeed, dad Bryan simply adored his daughter right from the beginning, and he always wanted her to know just how much he loved her.
Throughout the years, then, he watched his daughter grow up with pride. And from the day she started kindergarten, Bryan encouraged Brenna to excel. So it was an especially happy moment for him when, some years later, it came time for her high school graduation.
And to mark the occasion, Bryan gave Brenna a special gift that he’d wrapped in a bag. “I thought I was getting some cheesy graduation card,” Brenna wrote on imgur in 2012.
Instead, however, Bryan had given his daughter a book: the Doctor Seuss classic Oh, The Places You’ll Go! The tale encourages readers to reach for their dreams and is a popular gift at graduations. As a result, the present didn’t initially impress Brenna all that much.
“Following the ceremony he handed me a bag with a copy of Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Doctor Seuss inside,” she explained. “I just smiled and said that it meant a lot and that I loved that book.”
But that’s when Bryan encouraged his daughter to open up the book there and then. And when she did, what she saw brought tears to her eyes. At first, though, it just didn’t seem to make sense at all.
Because there, on the very first page, was an encouraging message from Brenna’s kindergarten teacher. The strange thing was, she hadn’t seen the teacher since she was a little child. And that’s when Brenna realized that her graduation present had been 13 years in the making.
Bryan later explained how he had created such an ingeniously touching gift. “Every year, for the past 13 years, since the day you started kindergarten I’ve gotten every teacher, coach, and principal to write a little something about you inside this book,” he said.
The doting dad also revealed that he had been working as the principal of an elementary school when he first got the idea. Back then, a pupil’s parent had asked him and his colleagues to write a message in a copy of the same Doctor Seuss story. Bryan loved the idea, and he decided to run with it.
“I thought, ‘Well, wouldn’t that be neat if you expand that and did it over the course of kindergarten to high school,’” he said. And that’s just what he did. For 13 years, Bryan kept the book and his plan under wraps. Indeed, he got the gift out just once a year so that teachers could add their messages.
However, it wasn’t always easy to keep the book both safe and secret. At one point, Bryan revealed that one group of teachers actually lost it. And another time, Brenna almost found it while cleaning up a bookshelf.
But thanks to the combined efforts of Bryan and Brenna’s teachers, Brenna made it to her graduation still clueless about the book. “Apparently, everyone else in my life knew about it,” she joked on imgur. But she wouldn’t have had it any other way.
“I burst out in tears,” Brenna admitted, describing the moment she first realized what her thoughtful dad had done. “Sitting there reading through this book there are encouraging and sweet words from every teacher I love and remember through my years in this small town.”
“My early teachers mention my ‘pigtails and giggles,’” she added. “While my high school teachers mention my ‘wit and sharp thinking.’ But they all mention my humor and love for life. It is astounding to receive something this moving, touching, nostalgic, and thoughtful.”
The gift was jam-packed with inspirational passages, too. But Brenna told Today that one of Brenna’s favorites came from her middle school track coach. “Never stop running in the race of life regardless of the obstacles you face,” they wrote. “Continue to be the dedicated person that you are, and I know that you will succeed.”
The book moved Brenna so much that she decided to write about the gift on reddit. And the online community loved it, too. As a result, 25 million people have since viewed her post, and many of them were full of praise for Brenna’s dad.
“The adjective ‘awesome’ fails to describe the immense amount of dedication and love that this man has shown for his daughter,” wrote one redditor. “For 13 years, he selflessly created a gift for which she had no reason to be grateful for until now.”
However, despite all the attention he received, Bryan remained modest. “I cannot believe Brenna posted this,” he responded via reddit. “She has always been the light of my life. Doing this was just a small way of letting her know. She makes me so proud every day.”
And there’s still plenty more proud moments in store for the doting dad. Because after finishing high school, Brenna went on to graduate from the University of North Carolina Asheville. And no doubt the people she met there have many more nice things to say about her.