Let there be no doubt about the healing power of music, especially the music on display Saturday night when Bruno Mars singled out Zumyah Thorpe, an 11-year-old girl he called "an inspiration to the world."
Last March, Zumyah's pregnant mother and two younger sisters were killed when a drunk driver in a pickup truck collided with their Volkswagen Jetta in Bedford, Ohio. Zumyah survived along with her older sister, Zulaikah.
Zumyah, who sustained a traumatic brain injury, has spent the last year recovering from "significant impairments to her motor and language skills," reports the "Today" show. Throughout her battle, though, doctors say the music of Bruno Mars has been indispensable in Zumyah's recovery.
"No one can really understand what we've gone through when you see a child that's in a coma and unable to walk, talk," Zumyah's grandmother Ronda told WKYC, reflecting on Mars' impact on the girl. "When she actually wakes up and is able to speak the first thing she does is sing the one Bruno song which is ["Just the Way You Are."]
"I am absolutely convinced that singing those Bruno Mars songs and being able to say 'Bruno Mars' is in itself a miracle," Dr. Nancy Bass, a pediatric neurologist at UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, told WKYC of Zumyah, "and knowing all the words to the songs has helped her recover."
That critical power was not lost on the performer on Saturday, when Mars dedicated "Just the Way You Are" to Zumyah, then hopped off the stage and sang it to her, personally, in the crowd. Fittingly, the chorus emphasizes, "Girl you're amazing, just the way you are."
Mars and Zumyah from his Instagram account:
Mars' caption reads: "Tonight's show was dedicated to this amazing young woman. I love you Zumyah."
Fans told WKYC he also gave Zumyah his guitar, and met with the girl and her grandparents privately for some time before the show.
WATCH the segment of Mars' show where he acknowledges Zumyah, above.