Jerry Windle had wanted to be a father for as long as he could remember — and then he heard about a little boy who needed a forever home.
One day, he recalls, “I started thumbing through a magazine and there was a story in there of a man who adopted a child from Cambodia, and it didn’t mention a mother.”
“The story went on to talk about the close relationship between the father and his son, and something kind of clicked in my head … The article listed (the number of an adoption service) and so I called the number and I said ‘I just read an article, is it possible for a single person to adopt a child?’ and they said ‘Yes, it is.'”
Months later, he held a very sick little boy in his arms at a Cambodian orphanage. Severely malnourished and fighting infection, Jordan was struggling to stay alive.
“He was 2 years old but he was 16 pounds. I didn’t know if he would live or die,” Jerry said. “I promised him that I would do everything that I could, that he wouldn’t ever have to suffer again. I would make every sacrifice I could as a parent to get him every opportunity.”
Jordan Windle represented the United States on the U.S. Olympic Diving Team in Tokyo.
Jordan’s journey to the Olympics began at an early age. When he was just 7 years old, a man named Tim O’Brien told Jerry that his son reminded him of the legendary diver Greg Louganis. O’Brien’s father, Dr. Ron O’Brien, had been Louganis’s Olympic coach, and coached Team USA over the course of eight Olympic Games.
“He said that he just saw something in Jordan, and it was kind of physiological but also inexplicable, and so Jordan said he wanted to go into diving lessons and I said ‘OK, if it’s something you want to do, let’s do it,'” Jerry said. “And so at 7 years old he started diving, and he won his first junior national championship two years later, which is almost unprecedented for somebody that just got into a sport.”
“I know the hard work that he’s put into it, it’s been earned, and I’m just really excited and proud that with his coaching staff, he’s been able to accomplish such an amazing feat,” said Jerry.
As for lessons his dad taught him, Jordan recalled a moment where he came to the defense of a gay teammate on Cyd Zeigler’s Five Rings to Rule Them All podcast:
“I have been trying my whole life to be a role model to other people and show that we’re just one huge family and that we have to treat each other like a family. And my dad has been teaching me that since the beginning and in that one instance, it was easy for me to defend him. I wouldn’t take it back for anything and I’d do it again if I had to.”