GLYNN COUNTY, Ga. - An adorable video of a Georgia girl with special needs getting on the bus on her first day back to school is sure to put a smile on your face.
Arianna Hopper is 6 years old and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy before she was 2 years old. Her disability doesn't stop her from enjoying life to the fullest -- and especially her time at school!
Arianna started second grade at Altama Elementary School in Brunswick, Georgia on August 8. Her father, Mark Hopper, filmed a video of his daughter giggling with delight as her bright pink wheelchair was loaded onto her school bus that morning.
"Have a good day, Arianna!" Hopper says behind the camera.
The Glynn County Board of Education School Police posted their video to their Facebook page and it has since been shared thousands of times.
Channel 2 Action News spoke to Hopper, a police officer in Glynn County, about how special his daughter is.
"As you can see by her personality, she's just all smiles," Hopper said. "No matter what, even in her situation, she's just joyful and loves life in spite of her disability."
Hopper said he and his wife Page adopted Arianna at 2 years old after fostering her from birth. She didn't show signs of cerebral palsy at first, and Hopper said he and his wife prayed about whether they could care for her after her diagnosis. The couple has seven children, three who are adopted, including Arianna.
"By the time two years rolled around we had a decision to make," Hopper said. "Can we take this on? We prayed about it and decided that we felt comfortable about it and that God put her in our lives to take care of her. And we've been doing it ever since."
Arianna is nonverbal, but the school is teaching her sign language and provides a communication device. Hopper said he thinks his daughter loves school because she gets so much positive attention from classmates and the school is so interactive.
Hopper said when he asked her if she was excited to go back to school, she gave a huge smile and "nodded" her hand, sign language for "yes!".
Hopper said that in the future, stem cell research may pave the way for treatments to help her get more use of her arms and eventually even walk and talk.
Until then, he said he's been delighted to see people's reactions to his daughter's joyful nature.
"Honestly everybody that comes in contact with her at church, at work, they always tell me they love her and how much her smile brings joy to them," Hopper said. "I'm glad that everybody gets to see this joy that she has that she brings to us every day and that everyone else can see and experience it."
Have a great year, Arianna!
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