Every 4.5 minutes, a baby is born with a birth defect in the United States. That equals almost 120,000 babies affected by birth defects every year.
Birth defects are classified as structural changes present at birth that can affect almost any part or parts of the body and impacts how the body looks, works or both. They range from mild to severe.
There are more than 4,000 different kinds of birth defects with the most common being heart defects followed by spina bifida, cleft palate, clubfoot and a congenital dislocated hip. There are three types of spina bifida, a condition that impacts the spine and is a neural tube defect.
It happens when the neural tube doesn’t close up completely along the spine, preventing the backbone from forming as it should. The end result is damage to the spinal cord and nerves. Some individuals afflicted with spina bifida are wheelchair-bound while others may rely on walkers or special crutches.
A radiant little girl named Avah happens to have spina bifida. But this little girl doesn’t let her disability slow her down.
Four-year-old Avah is serving as the flower girl in her mom’s wedding held in Northern Ireland. She has a very important role and she’s dressed for the part in a gorgeous flowing white gown topped with a long-sleeved sweater. Avah has a crown of white roses adorning her head.
The shiny white shoes slipped on her feet peek out from underneath her tulle gown as she is wheeled down the aisle in her gorgeous dress by her grandmother. But Avah has a surprise for everyone gathered to watch her mom get married.
Not too far down the aisle from Avah has a walker wrapped in white roses and garland. The crowd is standing, eagerly watching the miracle that’s about to unfold before them.
Avah has never once taken a step. But that’s about to change. This determined little girl is not going to let spina bifida slow her down. She’s going to make a big entrance at her mom’s ceremony.
A wedding guest and Avah’s grandmother gently tug her out of the wheelchair and help her rise up. She clutches the walker in her hands, at first balancing precariously on her toes.
Finally, she’s ready. Avah takes one tentative step forward followed by another little scoot. She shuffles slowly down the aisle with a smile that beams beautifully up at everyone who is admiring this little girl’s tenacity.
She looks around her and can’t stop grinning. She knows how huge her actions are. She takes the most rewarding and heartwarming baby steps toward the front of the church where her dad is waiting for her. You can hear him encouraging her on.
He shouts supportively at Avah. She takes one more step just like he asked her to, then he swoops her up in his arms and fist pumps the air in victory.
Grandma begins crying and others in the crowd are shedding a tear, unable to hold back their emotions. The murmurs rippling across the crowd gathered for the wedding illustrate just how shocked everyone is at what Avah has just done. It’s truly amazing!
Watch how strong this brave little girl is as she makes her way down the aisle. It’s incredible!
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