'Determined' 4-Year-Old with Spina Bifida Walks for First Time as Friends Cheer Her On — Watch!
Four-year-old Kenydii Parker has had one dream: to be able to walk.
The Durham, North Carolina, girl was born with Spina bifida and has long used a wheelchair, her father, 36-year-old Kenneth Parker, tells PEOPLE. But after setting her sights on walking, Kenydii was determined to make her dream come true — even after leg surgery left her in a cast for six weeks.
“Kenydii has the kind of spirit where she’s gonna do what she wants to do. She said just about every day that she’s gonna walk, no matter what,” Kenneth recalls.
“She said, ‘Dad, I’m gonna walk! Dad, I wanna walk!’ Even when she had the cast on her leg … she’d jump off the couch. She’s got that determination in her. She never gives up.”
Last week, Kenydii made her dream a reality. She took several steps outside W.G. Pearson Elementary School on Feb. 25, with her classmates clapping and cheering her on. Kenydii smiled and laughed as the little kids chanted “Kenydii! Kenydii!”
The little girl’s aunt, Yvette Parker, captured the footage and quickly shared the video on Facebook where it has been viewed 4.6 million times and has amassed more than 100,000 shares. Yvette says Kenydii was in physical therapy using her walker just outside the school when she arrived.
“A class came outside and saw her walking and they started rooting her on!” Yvette tells PEOPLE. Yvette joined in and can be heard in the video telling Kenydii, “Yay, girl! Look at you go! They’re cheering for you!”
“I was shocked! I couldn’t believe she actually was walking and the smile on her face was breathtaking,” Yvette says. “She is always a happy little girl but that day her smile made me cry because all she ever wanted was to walk.”
Kenneth and his wife Terry Parker, 31, learned when Terry was 18 weeks pregnant that Kenydii had Spina bifida, a condition in which a baby’s spinal chord fails to develop properly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Kenneth says the diagnosis was a shock to the couple, but he and Terry were determined to do all they could to care for their little girl.
The doting father of seven says there’s never a dull moment with the “bubbly” Kenydii. Photos on Kenydii’s Instagram account (@itsme_kenydii) show the 4-year-old smiling, laughing, and posing.
“She’s very talkative, she’s a character, she has a great sense of humor. She’s just the best,” Kenneth says. “She loves to sing and dance. She’s always dancing. She loves music, that’s one of her favorite things.”
He adds that he and his wife became emotional when they saw the video of Kenydii walking.
“The first time I saw the video, I was at work,” he says. “It broke me down because everyone was cheering her on. Seeing her accomplish her main goal was a beautiful thing.”