Emily Peck loves to dance. A devotee since the age of 3, Emily, now 8, said she originally started participating in dance because it was fun. She now dances ballet and jazz at Erika’s Dance Academy on Fort Bragg.

However, Emily is not your typical young dancer. Born deaf, she received cochlear implants at ages 9 and 12 months, said her grandmother, Mimi Anderson. These implants allow her to hear by providing sound signals to the brain.

Although she is able to hear the music, Emily said she also uses the beat coming through the floor to help her as she dances.

According to her teacher, Jan Hernandez, Emily’s best quality as a dancer is her willingness to please. Last Spring, Hernandez worked with Emily and her grandmother to create a special moment for the Peck Family.

Emily’s father, Staff Sgt. Robert Peck, Warrior Transition Battalion, was in a helicopter crash in 2014 that has required dozens of surgeries. Peck and his wife, Allyson, are currently temporarily stationed in Richmond, Virginia, as Peck receives additional surgeries.

While her parents were in Richmond, Emily worked with Hernandez on a special dance choreographed to Justin Bieber’s song “Purpose.” With lyrics such as “You’ve blessed me with the best gift that I’ve ever known/You give me purpose,” the song served as the perfect background for Emily’s dance, said Hernandez.

The dance was a hit, and Emily has continued her dance journey this fall with additional lessons in lyrical dance. She performed in two dances in the dance academy’s annual holiday program, Saturday.

Surrounded by snowflakes, Christmas trees and snowmen, Emily danced in a lyrical dance to “Ave Maria,” with her partner and best friend, Brylan Hernandez. As she took a bow, the smile on Emily’s face conveyed what she said earlier that day — dancing makes her happy.