Cake Close UpAnd I was so pleased to have the opportunity to sing "Happy Birthday" along with Anna, who has the most amazing pitch for someone so young. She even treated her guests to a rendition of "You Are My Sunshine" and "I'll Be Loving You Always," her grandmother Sherree Sauer's favorite song. Anna is also a huge football fan — the Tennessee Titans and Alabama Crimson Tide among her favorites — and she is a math whiz.

But Anna, who was adopted from China as a 2-year-old, also has had many challenges in her life. She is blind, has autism and albinism. A student at Tennessee School for the Blind, she has come a long way in just a year her family said. "She's had birthdays before, of course, but I think this is the first year where she woke up and said, 'I'm going to be a different number,' " Sauer said.

Anna, who can distinguish some light and color, was able to get a close-up look at the Chihuly exhibit's amazing glass-blown works, which were lit up for the evening viewing. Although this was Anna's time to shine, I was impressed with the level of detail in Anna's birthday cake. Franklin resident and family friend Sharon Hanson, who bakes cakes just as a hobby, made this amazing half-yellow and half-chocolate cake as her gift to Anna. Using fondant, Hanson created her own version of a magical garden for Anna with items celebrating the milestone. There were eight koi fish swimming in the icing pond, eight pumpkins, eight frogs, eight rose bushes and more. Even the garden's wrought iron gate included the number eight in the design. On top of that, everything on the cake was edible. The textures and 3D effects also allowed Anna to trace her fingers along the stiff fondant.

"A waterfall!" she exclaimed as she figured out exactly what icing feature flowed down the side of her cake. Hanson did have some help with the cake. John Gentry of Nashville's Sweet Wise learned how to blow sugar to create miniature edible sculptures that were similar to the Chihuly glass art. Red and yellow blown sugar was set in a white boat in the middle of the pond on top of Anna's cake to complement The Boat, a full-size Chihuly creation floating directly behind the party in Cheekwood's reflection pool. An opportunity for Anna to experience the exhibit also carried an inspirational message. Dale Chihuly, the renowned glass sculptor, is blind in his left eye. The injury is the result of a car accident in the mid-1970s. "I think this can serve as a positive inspiration for her," said Anna's mother, Ginger Goad.

"It doesn't matter what issues you have in life. You always have the potential to create something beautiful and wonderful with your own unique gifts."