After spine surgery, Mighty Miss Maya is joy personified.

Sarah Klein
July 06, 2018

Most parents are overjoyed by a child's first steps. But joy is an understatement when it comes to the first independent steps of 4-year-old Michigan girl Maya Tisdale, known affectionately as Mighty Miss Maya.

After spine surgery, Maya, diagnosed at age 1 with cerebral palsy, took her first steps on her own earlier this week. The triumphant Instagram video capturing her feat has since gone viral—warming hearts in every corner of the internet.

"First Steps - 4 years, 10 months," explains the caption on the family's Instagram account. "I can’t even put into words how we are feeling. Nothing seems to fit the enormity of this moment for us. We are beyond proud of our Mighty Girl."

"I'm walking!" Maya exclaims in the video. "I even took a big step!"

Her family can be heard marveling at her steps and balance. "Without my canes!" she adds for emphasis.

Maya was born four months premature in 2013, weighing just over a pound. She was diagnosed with spastic diplegia cerebral palsy at age 1, according to the family's YouCaring page. It's one of the four main types of cerebral palsy (CP), all of which stem from abnormal brain development or damage to a developing brain and result in limited ability to move or control the muscles, states the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Maya's type of CP causes the muscles in her hips, legs, and feet to be tight or spastic," according to their YouCaring page. That made standing or walking without the use of a walker or canes nearly impossible for Maya. 

But nothing could stop Maya, her mother, Ann Tisdale, told ABC News. "We're always trying to help her and she always says, 'No, I can do it!'" she said. "She doesn't need or want help to do things. She's going to try to do it herself."

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Maya and family traveled to St. Louis, Missouri for a "life-changing" selective dorsal rhizotomy, a surgical procedure that involves cutting nerve fibers. "This surgery is the only option to permanently reduce Maya’s spasticity, giving her the ability to live with less pain and greater mobility," the family's YouCaring page reads.

It's clearly paid off. In another Mighty Miss Maya Instagram post from after the ABC News segment aired, we see Maya using canes at a therapy session—happily singing along to "Hakuna Matata" from The Lion King.

"It's been a crazy 24 hours," the caption reads. "It's all been fun, but we're over here just doing what we do ... #celebritystatus #businessasusual."

Mighty indeed!