Girl, 11, Who Is Blind, Goes Viral After She Reads Lyrics in Braille and Wows with Her Voice

Single Mom to Blind Daughter Goes Viral for Sharing Their Story and Her Daughter's Incredible Voice
Single Mom to Blind Daughter Goes Viral for Sharing Their Story and Her Daughter's Incredible Voice

Courtesy of Sadaya Paige Sadaaya Paige and mom Dora

When Dora J. first became a mom, she knew she had a lot on her plate.

Going about her pregnancy alone and welcoming a baby girl with no family support, the young mom was prepared for hard times. But just 15 hours after giving birth, she'd learn that her daughter had a rare condition — septo-optic dysplasia diagnosis, which causes underdevelopment of the optic nerve, pituitary gland and certain parts of the brain, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

"Sadaya was diagnosed 15 hours after I gave birth," J tells PEOPLE. "Upon me cradling her in the nursery, I noticed that her eyes were rolling all around. I was only able to see the white area, which led me to ask the nurses, 'can my daughter see me?'"

At first, they thought she was a nervous new mom until she showed them what she meant. Within moments, "they rushed in a team of about 13 different specialists."

It would take MRIs and blood work over the course of the next 24 hours for them to determine that Sadaya was born completely blind.

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"It was very difficult immediately, especially because it was not diagnosed during pregnancy. Receiving the news was very hard for me. It took on a lot of emotional stress."

She continues, "It gets me sad every time I say it, but I was a single mom throughout my pregnancy and after I gave birth too. I didn't have a companion there to understand the pain that I felt when I found out my daughter's diagnosis."

"And my family didn't understand me. There was so much that I had to worry about, finding services for my daughter."

Doctors directed Sadaya's mom to different resources, including the Golden Gate Regional Center, to help provide services for Sadaya while also offering support to her mom. "Connecting to them was very helpful in terms of me handling it alone, without the typical support system to communicate my emotions to."

The mother and daughter got help and into a routine, with mom always emphasizing positivity and spreading joy. From very early on, Sadaya chose to do that through music.

"She always gravitated towards anything musical, obviously because she didn't have the visual perception. So any toys that had sounds, household items, she always reacted to them with interest. I would say at about age two is when I got her her first little keyboard key piano from Target, and she absolutely loved it."

"Ultimately, she learned how to play her first song on the piano at about four and a half years old. And she's always been a little singer, but she really fell in love with me when she was about five or six."

Sadaya's now starting vocal training thanks to vocal coach Sheryl Porter, who found her on Instagram last year and asked her mom if she could work with her. The 11-year-old dreams of one day collaborating with her current favorites —

"Right now, I would choose Adele, Rihanna, and Andra Day," Sadaya tells PEOPLE, sharing her favorite songs are "Easy On Me," "Lift Me Up," and "Rise Up," respectively.

"Music alone has given my daughter so much boost in her confidence, and she's been practicing so much effortlessly every single day and has gotten better. With her vocals and things like that, she's been doing classes, and we flew out there in November to work with Cheryl. And we're gonna go back in April."

It's the kind of moment of community that Dora J. was hoping for when she decided to start sharing Sadaya's story online, hoping to connect with other families touched by disability. "It's very important to me to express how I feel. I cried every day — for two and a half, three years every single day — frustrated and unable to express what it was like."

"I had to find a community that understands me. So initially, I created her Instagram account when she was 5, to be able to share a journey and connect with parents online that had children with any diagnosis," she explains. "And that's where it all began."

Dora J. believes that them embracing community by supporting others and always being honest but positive is what attracts people to her and Sadaya.

"We keep it raw, talking about emotions around everything we go through. So many people love that about both of us in general. They love seeing how Sadaya will not let her diagnosis stop her. They're excited to see me as a single mom, inspiring her, lifting her up. It's been a great experience that keeps us going as well."

Dora J. and Sadaya are dedicated to focusing on positivity, which isn't always easy as mom touches on "going through so much, I could literally write a book."

"There are so many things that I've gone through with my daughter that I am not ready to put out there because it's so hurtful. Our life has been in danger in the past. It's always been very important to me to raise my daughter to be uplifted and empowered, even when we were living in a low-income neighborhood with shootings by our house every day. I have to let her know that this is not what we were brought to this Earth for, that we're bigger than this."

As a mom, it can be "reassuring" to the mom to see others support her parenting, especially when she "feels like I'm failing."

"We're still in San Francisco, but it's a very traumatic city for us. Ultimately our goal is to just have our moment, move and start our lives over. Live how we should be, the way she really deserves."

When it comes to their online presence, it's been a fun bonding activity for mother and daughter, but it doesn't take over who they are.

"Our intention is more to let others know that, no matter the differences that she or I may have, we're ordinary people trying to succeed in life. And we're not letting anything stop us, no matter what."

Dora J. is also given comfort by seeing conversations about inclusivity spawn from Sadaya's videos, which sometimes showcase the different tools she uses to get through her day-to-day life.

"It's so important to be more inclusive where we're able to be," she says. "It's very reassuring and makes us very happy that everyone's wanting to learn about Sadaya and the details of her life. They're excited to learn about her diagnosis and what she has to go through on the daily basis. And we're excited to be teachers and spread positivity while showing what's possible when we're inclusive."

For Sadaya, she's "super proud" to be raising awareness of the blind and visually impaired community while spreading her love of music along the way.

"It's a pleasure and I love it," the 11-year-old tells PEOPLE. "It makes me feel so happy and puts a smile on my face. Who wouldn't want to educate people about blindness if they don't know about it? I am super proud to be blind, and I want the world to know that."