Elkhart girl born blind qualifies for National Braille Challenge

Published: May. 31, 2023 at 6:39 PM EDT
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ELKHART, Ind. (WNDU) - A 10-year-old Elkhart girl is putting her lifelong learning of Braille to the test on the biggest stage.

Willow Townsend, a student at Roosevelt STEAM Academy, will compete at the National Braille Challenge in Los Angeles from June 23rd through June 25th.

“I’m nervous actually and really excited,” admitted Willow. “I made a new word: nervous-cited.

Willow’s mother, Ash-lee, introduced her daughter to the system of raised dots at a young age.

“When she was about 3, she was fairly comfortable with the concept of Braille because we would read stories together at night, you know, just like any other family would,” said Ash-lee. “She just took to it.”

It’s a natural ability, combined with dedication, that has booked Willow’s plane ticket to nationals where the competition serves as a Braille literacy contest.

“For her, it’s not about winning. She wants to go and make new friends and all those new connections,” Ash-lee explained.

For Willow, life isn’t about dwelling on being blind.

“It is amazing just to be blind, and I know most people would be like, ‘Ew. I don’t want to be blind. I want sight.’ But for me, I like being blind, and I pretty much would never change the way I am because I like the way I am,” she said.

A GoFundMe has been established to help Willow and her family enjoy the trip to Los Angeles for the National Braille Challenge. Click here to contribute!