Local single dad, veteran stars in commercial - FOX Carolina 21

Local single dad, veteran stars in ad

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(FOX19) -

How did you spend Father's Day? For a local man, the special day isn't just one day a year.

Ryan Heitkamp of Cheviot is the face of an internet ad for Bounty called "Every Day feels like Father's Day."

Heitkamp is a single father and a veteran who lost his wife to ALS a few years ago, just six months after the birth of his daughter, Aubrey.

Check out the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=soBkBzRMm40&feature=youtu.be

"And though she be but little, she is fierce," said Heitkamp.

He has that line from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and a tiny footprint on Ryan Heitkamp's forearm tell a much bigger story.

"She fought through quite a bit before she even took her first breath," said Heitkamp.

His daughter Aubrey was born eight weeks premature.

"Just about everything about Amanda's pregnancy and Aubrey's birth was abnormal," he said. 

Doctors performed a C-Section to avoid an emergency situation.  She spent a month in a NICU unity weighing a bit more than three pounds.  Her mother, Amanda, was deep into a battle with ALS.  When Amanda was diagnosed, Heitkamp was deployed to Iraq and rushed home to be with her.

"It's just a major blessing she's even here," said Heitkamp.

Amanda died after a nearly two year battle with ALS in 2012.

"She had passed away November 18th.  So, exactly six months from Aubrey's birthday," Heitkamp told FOX19.

Since then, it's just been Ryan and Aubrey.

"There's just that connection that we have as a father and daughter, but also a connection that we've kind of had as a mother and daughter, as well," he said.

Aubrey is now a happy two-year old with a very big personality.  A personality like her mother who she's able to pick out in photos, but won't grow up with.

"She just smiles all the time.  It does remind me of Amanda just about every day because she always had a smile on her face.  She always wanted to make people laugh," he said.

Heitkamp says Bounty got wind of his story after an in-home survey about cleaning products.  One thing led to another, and a crew shot a one-minute piece early last week, making its debut just a few weeks ago.

It already has nearly 310,000 views, and will run for the next eight weeks, Heitkamp says.

"It makes me feel proud."

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