Jayla's Vision: Blind girl overcomes obstacles, serves as inspiration

Jayla's Vision: Blind girl overcomes obstacles, serves as inspiration

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Some kids' stories can't simply be told - they need to be traced. Back to the beginning, back to the moment they were born, to get a clear picture of what you see today.

For Jayla Raymond, that moment was four months early: March 12, 2006, when she weighed 1 pound 3 ounces. The odds she'd survive were even smaller than that.

"People will tell me all the time she's special, she's awesome, but I'm thinking I'm a teacher, so I'm like, everybody's kid is awesome," said Jayla's mother, Nicole Simmons-Raymond. "But I'm starting to see more and more. She is really a special, special kid."

A special kid who, although she's blind, sounds just like the other kids when describing her school days. And inside the halls of Lafayette Academy in Mid-City, Jayla is inspiring her peers, and even the adults.

"It's amazing to see somebody who has needs, special needs, push grownups to want to be better," said Sherie Garza, who works at the school. "It really is incredible. She challenges you because you see she puts her mind to something, and she gets it."

When Jayla first enrolled, there was perhaps some concern that even simple tasks like walking up and down stairs might be a challenge. But as everyone soon discovered, this was a girl with no limits.

Jayla knows where she's going, where she's been and who she's met.

"Michelle Obama, Stevie Wonder, Tom Hanks, Patti Labelle and the children from Blackish," Jayla says, rattling off the list.

A unique opportunity arose when a woman at Ellis Marsallis Center for Music caught wind of Jayla's desire to meet the First Lady. The woman just so happened to be a personal friend of the First Family. And when word of Jayla's wish reached the White House...

"Mrs. Obama made sure that we made it to the Christmas lighting ceremony," said Simmons-Raymond. "She said it would be a perfect time for Jayla to come enjoy the festivities and meet her, as well. She actually was only supposed to meet Jayla for 15 to 20 minutes, and they wound up talking for about an hour."

And the Obamas aren't the only ones who want to hang out with Jayla.

"Stevie Wonder called my mom," Jayla said.

The Motown great flew Jayla and her mom up to Columbus, Ohio to his show and invited her to sing with him on stage. All because he heard that Jayla has a voice.

Jayla sings and travels with Delfeayo Marsallis' Uptown Musical Theater. She's performed on Broadway with the group.

This girl ignores obstacles. They're out of sight and they're out of mind.

Jayla Raymond can't see, but her vision is perfect.

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