13-Year-Old with Rare Respiratory Disorder Sings 'God Bless America' at Peach Bowl: 'It Was a Dream Come True'
This article originally appeared on People
There wasn’t a dry eye in the Georgia Dome on Saturday after 13-year-old Andi Jones sang “God Bless America” to a cheering crowd of 75,000 football fans.
The teen from Atlanta, Georgia, was diagnosed with ciliary dyskinesia, a rare genetic disorder that causes chronic and sometimes life-threatening respiratory issues. But she doesn’t let her illness define her.
“I’m working hard to stay healthy so that I can keep singing,” Andi tells PEOPLE. “I’m so grateful for my voice, it is truly a gift from God.”
Andi was given the opportunity to perform at the end of the first quarter of Chik-fil-A’s Peach Bowl between Alabama and Washington by Make-A-Wish Georgia — and she practiced for months in preparation for the big event.
“The entire experience has been a dream come true,” she says. “It was bigger and better than I could’ve ever imagined. I had never performed to an audience of 75,000 and to be able to do that, and have the support of so many was incredible.”
Andi, whose favorite song to sing is “The Voice” by Eimear Quinn, aspires to be a professional performer one day, singing under the stage-name AKJ.
“I’m excited to continue to share my voice with others,” she says. “I hope I can inspire others to believe that if they work hard, anything is possible.”
Andi doesn’t know where her voice will take her in the future, but says: “Right now, I would love to be a Broadway singer.”
Fans can follow the teen on social media using the hashtag #Wish4Andi and by visiting georgia.wish.org/Wish4Andi.
“When I was diagnosed with PCD four years ago, I was scared I was no longer going to be able to sing,” says Andi. “But the good news is that despite PCD being a respiratory illness, I have been able to face it head on and continue to pursue my passion of singing.
“Every day is a blessing.”