Viral photo captures moment girl with rare disease stares at Ulta Beauty ad in awe

A photo of a girl with a rare disease mesmerized by a beauty advertisement has gone viral for capturing a heartwarming event.

Carolyn Anderson was with her 4-year-old daughter Maren — who uses a wheelchair — in Leesburg, Va., last Wednesday, when they came across an Ulta Beauty ad of a woman who was also in a wheelchair, according to Good Morning America

"On this particular evening, Maren was cruising on the sidewalk in her wheelchair with a confidence we had not seen before," Anderson said. "She was so eager, we could barely get her to stop at crosswalks. Then, she suddenly stopped and focused all her attention on this image of a woman in a wheelchair like hers. It was amazing."

Maren suffers from a gene mutation that gave her early infantile epileptic encephalopathy, spinocerebellar ataxia and pontocerebellar hypoplasia — all of which have, in turn, led to poor coordination of her hands, eyes and speech. Her mother said she'd never seen her daughter stop and notice an image of anyone in a wheelchair until now. 

"She got to see herself in this picture, and that planted a seed for her to see that there is a place for kids like her in this world," Carolyn said. "She was included."

The mother took a photo of the special moment and then posted it on Facebook, where it has since been shared over 77,000 times, as of Friday afternoon. 

"Well Ulta, you absolutely stopped my girl in her tracks this evening," Carolyn wrote. "It was mesmerizing to watch her stop, turn and gaze at this poster. So thank you."

More than 2,000 people, many of whom were touched by the image, shared words of support. 

"Diversity in all things American promotes wellness and confidence," one person wrote. 

"We already loved Ulta, but we worship them now," another said. 

Amid the overwhelming response, Carolyn said she hopes her post will encourage more conversations about the importance of inclusion, especially when it comes to people with disabilities. 

"Our wish is that one day it won’t be newsworthy to see our daughter and other people with disabilities represented, it will be commonplace," she said. 

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