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Lupita Martinez

For 14 years, Lupita Martinez had lived in silence—never speaking a single word. So, imagine the amazement of her parents when she one day turned to her father and said, "Papa."

"Hearing Lupita speak was one of the most emotional times in our lives," her mother, Amanda, recalls.

Lupita, who was born five months early, weighed just one pound at birth. While she miraculously survived, she wasn't able to escape the complications that often afflict premature babies. She was diagnosed as visually impaired and soon was found to be suffering from severe developmental delays, including delays affecting her ability to talk.

In working with Lupita for the last nine years, Junior Blind's Special Education School has been committed to helping her fight these delays and develop to her fullest potential.

Accordingly, when Junior Blind was invited to take part in a research study helping non-verbal children build their communication skills, staff could not wait to have Lupita involved.

No one, however, could have anticipated her progress would be so incredible. Since uttering her first word less than one year ago, Lupita has learned dozens of other words to use at school and home, such as "hi," "bye," "book" and "walk." Even more, Amanda and her husband are finally able to hear their daughter say, "I love you."

Amazingly, in this short amount of time, Lupita has also begun to develop a basic understanding of Braille—recognizing that dots represent letters, letters form words and words help share ideas. Using a Braille typewriter, she is taking her first steps ever toward learning how to spell her own name.

As Lupita continues to beat the odds and improve her ability to communicate on so many levels, her parents could not be prouder. Shares Amanda, "We both know that there is so much inside our little girl and so much that she can share with the world. She is our little miracle, and we are grateful to Junior Blind for helping the miracles continue."