The uplifting messages helped ease his daughter's anxiety at school.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on August 4, 2021. It has since been updated.
One Louisiana family can attest to the power words can have. Chris Yandle has been sending his daughter uplifting notes in her lunch box to boost her morale at school. What started as a motivating gesture on August 14, 2017, ended up lasting years. The dad has sent Addison at least 690 notes that are filled with words of affirmation and heartfelt life advice. Sometimes, dad's sense of humor also comes through in a lot of them! Some of them include "Some days you're the dog and some days you're the fire hydrant!" and "Have a goal or a dream? Be like a postage stamp—stick to it until you get there. Always dream big."
The father-of-two told Good Morning America what inspired the inspirational messages. "It makes me feel like I'm doing my part as a dad," Yandle said. "Seeing how she's growing up and how well she's done at school, her mindset, her attitude -- if I was able help her find that confidence and mold that change then I've done my job as a parent." The family had to move around a lot due to Yandle's career in college athletics. They had to move back home to Louisiana when he lost his job in 2016. This was Addison's fourth school in 5 years and quite obviously wouldn't have been an easy time for her. "After all the moves, this was finally the moment where we started to notice that she was anxious, worried about school and nervous," Yandle said. "I was blaming myself and felt awful and that's where the notes started. I wrote her a message, slipped it in her lunch box and I kept doing it. It was my way of saying, 'I'm here, I'm back.' I was present," he said. "I realized about a month or two in, I was writing them for her just as much as I was writing them for me. Because I needed that reminder of 'Hey, you can get through the day.' A lot of these things parallel our lives."
The notes began making a huge difference to Addison. Yandle recalled that he and his wife Ashleigh "saw a dramatic change when [Addison] started seventh grade -- more confident, more independent -- we finally saw that mood shift. These are messages and words that I've learned the hard way through my adult life," he explained the thought that goes into each note. "And it's also a way of me leaving something with her -- to help guide her as she grows older."
The dad's notes began receiving so much attention that he fundraised enough money to publish a book, Lucky Enough: A Year of a Dad's Daily Notes of Encouragement and Life Lessons to His Daughter. "Each page not only is the message I wrote her, but there's an anecdote or story behind each one," he said. "One thing I've learned throughout all of this, with both Addison and Jackson, our kids ultimately don't care what we do or who we are professionally, they only care that we're here, that we listen and that we care about them," he said. "Not how much money I made or cool places I traveled, ultimately they cared that I came home, sat down with them, did homework and listened." He continued, "Ultimately just being there no matter how you do it -- from batting cages to watching Below Deck -- it doesn't matter as long as you're there and just present I've learned it goes so much further than anything else I could ever do."