A woman with numerous disabilities, including cerebral palsy, wowed the audience at the Republican National Convention (RNC) on Thursday evening at the Quickens Loans Arena in Cleveland, with a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem.
News 4 SA reports that Marlana Vanhoose, 20, gave such a powerful performance at the RNC that she was given a standing ovation. As she stood bravely on stage with sunglasses on, she delivered her best a cappella version of “The Star Spangled Banner.”
Doctors told Vanhoose’s parents not to expect her to live past her first year, after she was diagnosed with Cytomegalovirus (CMV) at birth. Within a few weeks of birth, complications of CMV resulted in Vanhoose going blind.
A few years later, Vanhoose was diagnosed with a mild case of ataxic cerebral palsy. Ataxic cerebral palsy is the most rare form of the disorder, affecting roughly 5% to 10% of all diagnosed CP cases. It’s marked by tremors, shaky limbs, poor coordination, and difficulties with movement. People with Ataxic cerebral palsy often have a wide gait when walking, which makes them susceptible to frequent falls.
Ataxic cerebral palsy can also result in speech difficulties, which can lead to abrupt pauses when talking, combined with accelerated speech.
Yet, Vanhoose is living proof that people can overcome obstacles, no matter how difficult, and fulfill their dreams.
Shortly after she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, she began playing piano by ear, which led to learning songs. She began singing at local events growing up, but eventually expanded her singing to include college performances and sports events performances. Reflecting on her past, Vanhoose told ABC News,
I started humming ‘Jesus Loves Me’ as a baby, before I could even talk. God gave me the gift of singing and music.”
In 2012, Vanhoose sang the National Anthem at a women’s basketball game, at the University of Kentucky Basketball. The acclaimed performance marked the first time Vanhoose experienced fame, after a video of the event made its way online and went viral on YouTube. Shortly after singing, she told reporters that she hopes everyone keeps at their dreams and goals.
“I just want people to never give up on their dreams, focus on Jesus and be inspired.”
When asked her favorite thing about taking part in the basketball game, Vanhoose replied,
“I like the crowd. I like the cheerleaders. The band. The excitement. When people get loud because the ‘Cats score.”
According to her website, Vanhoose is a member of the Artist Music Guild, where she’s already won numerous awards, including the recipient for “New Artist of the Year” and “Young Artist of the Year,” and the 2015 recipient for “Youth Artist of the Year.”
Later, she sang at three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Races and a number of NCAA and NBA basketball games. Vanhoose’s performances became so popular that she was invited to, and appeared on, several national television shows, including Inside Edition and Entertainment Tonight (ET). As a Christian, Vanhoose believes that all things are possible through strong faith.
Vanhoose continues to appear regularly at political events and sporting events, where she not only performs the National Anthem, but a variety of other songs, including some that she’s written herself. Her heartfelt performance at the RNC helped silence the boos and the taunts between Trump supporters and protesters.
Watch below to see Marlana Vanhoose in action during her “The Star Spangled Banner” performance at the RNC.