Watch 3-year-old Grace Anna Rodgers belt out the national anthem with boundless vigor and joy and it’s hard not to smile.
Thousands of people have now viewed the video of the little girl singing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” a surprise delight for her mother, who says she feels the love and welcomes it.
“It feels like we are getting a big hug from the world,” Angie Rodgers told TODAY Moms in an email. “If people knew how hard it was to get her here and the heartache we've experienced over the past five years, they would know why we feel honored they've chosen her to love.”
Rodgers, who lives in Liberty, Ky., with her husband Jeff, suffered three miscarriages before Grace was born, she said. When she was three months pregnant with Grace, doctors told her the little girl was going to be "different,” she recalled.
Grace was born with Conradi Hunermann Syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes skeletal malformations, skin abnormalities, cataracts and a short stature, according to The National Organization for Rare Disorders.
The girl has already undergone countless procedures, including spinal fusion, three cataract surgeries, and a glaucoma surgery, her mom said. Doctors can't give her parents a definite prognosis for Grace but the family believes she can live an average life span.
Grace started singing when she was about a year-and-a-half old. Rodgers said she always sang with and for her daughter when she was in the hospital, and when Rodgers couldn't hold the little girl, she would lay her head on Grace’s bed and sing while her daughter played with her hair.
Rodgers would also sometimes sing the national anthem and one evening, Grace just started singing along, her mom said.
When Rodgers recently posted the video of her daughter singing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the reaction was overwhelming.
“We have been to the point of tears several days reading emails, Facebook posts, YouTube posts on how our little girl has inspired people,” Rodgers said.
“There have been sick people, people with disabled children, people down on their luck, heartbroken people reach out to us and express their love for our daughter. As a parent, it just gives you hope that our little Grace can make a difference no matter her disability.”