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Local girl's incredible journey to the Braille Challenge finals

Ten-year-old Salome Cummins has thrived since being adopted from an orphanage in the Republic of Georgia

ST CHARLES, Mo. — The first draft of every story deserves a rewrite.

No one knows that better than 10-year-old Salome Cummins. The young author is creating her own sequel to the Harry Potter series.

"I have wanted to know what happens after the battle of Hogwarts, which happens at the end of the last book," she explained.

So far, she's finished about 86 pages.

"I still haven't even started the editing and revising process," said Salome.

And she's writing it in braille.

Salome was born visually impaired and spent the first three years of her life in an orphanage in the Republic of Georgia.

"I found Salome on a blog post about kids with visual impairments who needed families and I just right away felt in my heart that she was our daughter," recalled her mom, Ann Cummins.

Mrs. Cummins teaches students with visual impairments and she knew pretty quickly that this young girl she was bringing home was exceptional.

"She was writing letters and sentences pretty quickly and like learning to read within a year of being home," she said.

Credit: KSDK

Reading and writing may be her passion, but ask Sal her favorite subject in school and she'll tell you art.

"Because it's the most accessible thing in the world because you never need technology," Salome pointed out.

The household is pretty busy these days because the Cummins' adopted two more girls with disabilities, 8-year-old Ahni from Bulgaria and 4-year-old Sona, also from Georgia.

"Every child deserves a family and there's a family for every child," said Mrs. Cummins.

But right now, Salome is getting her moment in the spotlight.

She's a finalist in the 2021 Braille Challenge competition. Again.

"She did it first in the first grade, the first year she was eligible to compete and went to the finals," Cummins told us. "And every year since then she has as well."

The Braille Challenge is the only academic competition of its kind in North America for students who are blind or visually impaired. Competitors are tested on braille skills such as reading comprehension, spelling, speed and accuracy. Salome insists, it's not that hard.

"You just have to know your stuff really," she said laughing.

Traditionally, the finals are held in Los Angeles but because of COVID-19, this year's finals, like last year's, will be conducted remotely. The winners will be announced at the closing ceremonies at the end of the month.

In the meantime, Salome continues to think with her fingers while taking Harry Potter off the shelf.

"She loves to learn," said Cummins. "She's always curious. Very adventurous."

One young storyteller, whose greatest story may be her own.

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