Baier wasn't able to fit Atlanta into his initial book tour but was finally able to find time to return to Atlanta for a speech and book signing at the All Pro Dad Live conference at the Greater Atlanta Christian School August 23.
He hopes to bring his son, the star of "Special Heart." "He likes to sign books with me," Baier said in a recent phone interview from his home base in Washington D.C.
He will be joined by comic Jeff Foxworthy, University of Georgia football coach Mark Richt and Super Bowl champ Tony Dungy, among others. (You can buy general admission tickets here for $49.)
While in the hospital, he chronicled the hardships in a series of emails to friends and colleagues. Baier's brother Tim compiled those emails and sent them out with pictures. "I looked at that and thought, 'There's probably a book here that could help some families.' "
He also decided to also give all the proceeds of the book to Children's National Medical Center
where his son was treated as well as some non-profit pediatric heart research groups. Based on sales to date, he hopes to donate at least a couple hundred thousand dollars.
Baier said that going so personal was not in his normal wheelhouse as a journalist. "It's not exactly comfortable when you start dealing with emotions and family and life and death situations," he said.
But the reaction to the book has made it all worthwhile, he said: "It's been enriching to listen to so many personal stories of people going through adversity. I've had dads come to signings wearing hospital bands with kids in the hospital recovering from surgery."
Paul, now seven, didn't have it easy by any stretch. He's been through three open heart surgeries and multiple angioplasties. But in many ways, he's just a normal kid who grows like a weed.
"He's doing great," Baier said. "He's bouncing off the wall at summer camp. He's in golf camp. He did tennis camp. He plays soccer. He's very athletic. He's the tallest kid in his class."
And better yet: he's got Baier's full head of hair. "Looks like the Lego snap on," he joked.
His son has one more big surgery to replace a valve when he's about 12 or 13. "We try not to think about the stuff that's ahead," he said. "We try do normal family stuff. We''ll enjoy the good health and some time on the beach."
Paul is not quite old enough to have read the book but "when he's 16 or 17 and asks for car keys, I'll say, 'Go read that book and see what you put your mother through!' "
If you go
All Pro Dad Live
Saturday, August 23, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
$49 general admission ($79 with special meet and greets and a $29 group rate)
Greater Atlanta Christian School
1575 Indian Trail Road, Norcross