An amazing young girl from Fairfax County, who learned to play the violin with one arm, is inspiring people across the country.
Isabella Andrea Nicola, who is now 11 years old, took up the violin in 4th grade despite being born with an incomplete left arm. A teacher made a simple prosthetic device to hold the bow, but it did not work well.
That’s where five George Mason University biomedical engineering students came in. They built her a new multi-part 3D printed prosthetic arm with a bow attached. In April 2017, they presented the device to Isabella.
In Hawaii, Lawrence Pleskow was searching online for stories about children with disabilities when he came across Isabella's story.
“I fell in love with the story. Isabella playing a violin with a prosthetic device is incredible. That she will take on that time and energy to learn, it had to be a dream come true,” said Pleskow, who runs the "When U Dream a Dream" charity that gives trips and experiences to children with disabilities.
WUSA9’s Great Day Washington invited Isabella on the program so that Pleskow could surprise her with an all-expense trip with her mother to Massachusetts to see the Boston Symphony Orchestra on Saturday.
On the program, Isabella answered a few questions, then played her scales beautifully. She said she wants to play the violin her “whole life.”
Then, Pleskow sat down beside her and presented her with a basket of treats and tickets to the symphony.
“We’re going to fly you to Boston and we’re going to put you in the first row for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. And it happens to be in row 'I' like Isabella," said Pleskow.
Obviously surprised, Isabella, with a huge smile on her face, was nearly speechless as she laughed and said, “Thank you!”
Pleskow said he had also arranged a police escort from the hotel to the concert hall.
Her mother, Andrea Cabrera, who is a teacher, is taking the day off for the trip. She’s excited, but focused on Isabella.
“She’s my inspiration every, single day,” Cabrera said.
The former college students--now graduates--who built Isabella's prosthetic arm continue to keep it in working order. In fact, the night before Isabella found out about her trip, a piece broke off of the arm. Two of of the students came over to make repairs and another called in on FaceTime from Saudi Arabia to help. Isabella and her mom call them the "Fantastic Five" and consider them part of their family.