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Engineering student builds assistive tool for Tallahassee girl to play the violin

Posted at 3:58 PM, May 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-08 14:10:05-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - When you think of a random act of kindness, you may think of cooking a meal for elderly or giving clothes to the homeless.

But for one engineering student in Texas, his version of an act of kindness was to develop a tool to give a five-year-old girl the chance to play the violin more than 700 miles away.

Meet Neriah.

A five-year old girl who enjoys playing the violin.

Until two weeks ago, Neriah could not play the instrument she loves because she was born with a limb deficiency. 

That's where Derew Miles, an engineering student at LeTourneau University comes in. He designed and developed a 3-D printed, assistive device which allows Neriah to pursue her passion.

"I'm so happy that I was able to do this because the Lord Almighty did not make Neriah so that she could miss out, he did not make her the way he made her so that she could not play the violin. He made her for whatever reason he might have to be her and to have as much opportunity as anyone else," said Miles.

The device not only allows Neriah to hold the bow but gives her the confidence she needs to inspire those around her.

"I'm going to play on stage all by myself," said Neriah Rhodes.

"There are times that I think that I can't do something, or I am having a hard time and I look at myself or I watch her do something and I'm just like 'why am I complaining? I'm fine. I can do this," said Elizabeth Rhodes, Neriah's mother.

 Proving that no matter the distance between strangers, one random act of kindness could change an entire family's lives forever.

"Derew, if you are watching this… we could not thank you enough in words for what you've done for Neriah that you've never met and you probably will never meet her and we get to benefit from your hard work and we are incredibly grateful for you," said Elizabeth Rhodes.

Derew Miles said the assistive device took more than 150 collective hours to complete over the course of nearly seven months. Neriah says she plans to play the violin while her Mom sings at church.