When blind teenager Marlana VanHoose delivered a rousing national anthem before Monday night's Cleveland Browns home game, it was just the latest step in an inspiring journey.
VanHoose, 19, drew a roar from the crowd at FirstEnergy Stadium before the Baltimore Ravens' last-second win over the Browns with her latest performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner."
VanHoose was born blind because her optic nerve never formed. When she was 2 years old, she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
"I just want people to never give up on their dreams, focus on Jesus and be inspired,'' Marlana told TODAY.com.
A big sports fan all her life, particularly when it comes to the University of Kentucky, she has used her beautiful voice to become a welcome part of the gameday experience at venues around the country. VanHoose, who lives with her parents, Teresa and David, in Denver, Kentucky, first came to national attention with a breakout performance at a University of Kentucky women's basketball game in 2012 that went viral.
She has since been profiled on ESPN and sang the national anthem before Game 6 of last year's NBA Finals at the home of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
"A lot of people have reached out saying they are really inspired by her, and they're not giving up,'' Teresa told TODAY.com. "From the very beginning, she's never been nervous. I have been."
Since Marlana can't see any of the action on the field or the court, she feeds off the energy and noise of the crowd. Monday night's performance in Cleveland was the latest example. Marlana is normally a fan of the Browns' in-state rival, the Cincinnati Bengals.
But for one night, at least, she was a Browns backer. "They were awesome,'' Marlana said about the team's fans. "Loud and proud."
Marlana has become so in demand that she now travels at least once a week to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner." On Tuesday night, she will be singing before the Ohio State men's basketball game. She also has upcoming performances for the Detroit Red Wings, Cleveland Cavaliers and the University of Kentucky men's basketball team.
She also has created her first album of songs, "Do Right,'' written and co-produced by Christian and country music singer-songwriter David L. Cook.
"They have really helped me to go across the country and sing,'' Marlana said. "It's been awesome."
Follow TODAY.com writer Scott Stump on Twitter.