"I personally speak from the perspective of being a sister of a special needs brother, Immanuel," 17-year-old Mount Saint Joseph Academy senior Amilyn Thomas said before the United Nations' Sept. 16 panel.
Her 9-year-old brother was born with severe cognitive delays, seizure disorder and a rare genetic condition. He has been undergoing treatment at Children's Hospital in Philadelphia since March.
"All my life I wanted to find a way to speak up for my little brother. He has done so much for me and for my family being a little angel in our lives," said Thomas.
Among all the challenges this family has faced, it would have been perfectly understandable for Thomas to be consumed by a sense of despair and misery and sadness. But she isn't.
"Every time I looked at him, I saw that he was fighting to keep living," she said. "I knew that he was suffering so much, and this was my way to repay him. I couldn't be sad because he wasn't."
It was that determination that led her to speak before the United Nations' committee.
"My daughter changed all the negatives into the positive. She is standing for special needs kids," said her father, Jose Thomas.
Many of Thomas' family and friends were able to watch her speech back in her homeland of India.
"I am really proud of her because she stood up and she spoke for children who are special needs and who can't talk," said her mother, Merline Augustine.
"As a family, we were going through all this trouble and this is joy in the midst of the sadness," said her father.
For her part, the high school senior credits her brother for the inspiration he has been.
"And speaking for him at the UN was an inspiration and truly the perfect cherry on top," she said.