Will to Walk

Prepare to have your heart stolen.


A short video, which has circulated widely on social media, shows a delighted child taking her first steps a mere seven weeks after surgery to correct the effects of spastic diplegia cerebral palsy. But it wasn’t an easy journey.

A Rough start

The child is four-year-old Maya Tisdale, from Traverse City, MI She has been given the nickname, “Mighty Miss Maya.” As a premature infant, Maya started life at 1 pound, ten ounces. After three months in NICU, she was sent home, apparently healthy. While she appeared to meet the regular milestones, her mother noticed her legs were strangely tight and knew something was wrong. After pushing for an MRI, the CP diagnosis confirmed her mother’s suspicions. Maya was diagnosed at 22 months with cerebral palsy which affected her hips, back, and legs.

“Super determined.”

Facebook/Mighty Miss Maya - Will to Walk

Facebook/Mighty Miss Maya - Will to Walk

Ann Tisdale, Maya’s mother, describes how badly Maya wanted to be able to run and keep up with her playmates, even though she didn’t ever complain about it. They became aware that Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy surgery could help Maya not only become mobile, but also have less pain. They decided it was worth the risk.

Post-surgery, Maya does exercises twice a day at home in addition to physical therapy five days a week. “She is super determined,” her mom says of Maya.

“No, I got it.”

Maya’s grandmother, K. Wilton, started a GoFundMe page to help pay for Maya’s physical therapy appointments. She describes her granddaughter as ‘tenacious’ and self-motivated and says that Maya eagerly works to keep up with her two brothers and friends. The fundraiser, as of this writing, has raised $35,000. It starts with a quote by Shakespeare, “Though she be but little she is fierce.”

“I’m walking!”

After the corrective surgery, which was performed in St. Louis, Missouri, Maya had five weeks of intense physical therapy before returning home. Her doctors told her family that she would walk, ‘someday,’ possibly in six months to a year with a demanding daily physical therapy schedule. Maya made sure that that day was sooner than anyone expected. In the video, viewers can see the delighted tot at seven week post-surgery, taking her first steps and saying, “I’m walking! Yes!”

“I’m going to therapy to get strong.”

Physical therapy can be a struggle for anyone. Even at a young age, Maya gets the point of physical therapy, and her insight allows her to push herself forward at a fantastic pace. “I’m going to physical therapy to get strong!” she claims. Her tenacity and wisdom for her age makes her more than worthy of the title of “mighty.” Her physical therapists describe her as “a rockstar.”

Support team

Maya hasn’t had to walk alone. Anyone who sneaks a peek through the YouTube videos featuring Maya will meet her two older brothers, Jack and Wes. While they aren’t beyond having a spat or two with Maya on their own, they are her fiercest champions. They can regularly be seen encouraging and interacting with Maya. So, she has lots of fans as she continues her journey—with our hearts in her pocket.

If you are looking for occupational or physical therapy, vestibular rehab, wheelchair training, learning to walk, unweighting, or other services in the Phoenix area, please call Touchstone Rehabilitation at 602-277-1073.