1. All Eyes

For years she couldn’t speak, then she found her voice through song

Jennifer Reynolds, 42 and her daughter, Cierra Reynolds, 18, pose for a portrait together at their home in Largo. 
Jennifer Reynolds, 42 and her daughter, Cierra Reynolds, 18, pose for a portrait together at their home in Largo. MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE | Times
Published Jul. 24, 2019
Updated Jul. 25, 2019

For a time she wasn’t understood.

Cierra Reynolds was diagnosed with autism when her parents noticed she wasn’t meeting certain milestones. She would flap her arms, wouldn’t talk.


Her mother, Jennifer Reynolds took her to a doctor who confirmed, high-functioning autism. She would be fine, but she’d probably be a little slower than the other kids, not process things as quickly. The doctor told Jennifer that Cierra would probably be the kid who misses the joke.

"I didn’t think that was very funny,” Jennifer said. “My kid will get the joke.”

Monday night at Tropicana Field, Cierra sang the national anthem at the Rays series opener against the Red Sox. She wore a red dress and hoped she wouldn’t be taken for a Sox fan.

Cierra Reynolds, 18, takes the mic at Tropicana Field to sing the national anthem at the Rays game on Monday. MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE | Times

When she sings, it’s as if Cierra’s making up for those years she couldn’t speak. She has a strong, clear voice; commanding and steady. She never seemed nervous.

“I’m not nervous,” Cierra said. “I’m just going to sing for fun.”

Jennifer filmed from the sidelines, tears sliding down her cheeks. She is her daughter’s biggest supporter; her videographer, her promoter and her best friend. Cierra finished strong with a smile that suggested she didn’t expect anything less. There was clapping, applause and her mother’s waiting arms.

Saturday Cierra will audition for The Voice. She will sing “Diamond Heart” by Lady Gaga, she feels that song describes her. Jennifer knows she will be amazing. She never doubted Cierra would be heard.


  1. Yesterday• All Eyes
    Historical photos of NBA star, Kobe Bryant. Bryant, the 18-time NBA All-Star who won five championships and became one of the greatest basketball players of his generation during a 20-year career...
  2. Arrrgh!, The pirates of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla along with thousands of spectators descend on the Tampa Convention Center and Bayshore Boulevard.
  3. Parade goers braved chilly early morning temperatures in downtown St. Petersburg Monday to watch what is billed as the the nation’s longest-running parade honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  4. Young pirates lined Bayshore Boulevard Saturday for the annual Children's Gasparilla Parade. On Saturday Jan. 25 pirates will invade Tampa for the annual Gasparilla Parade of Pirates.
  5. Geshe Ngawang Damcho continues to sweep the sand grains for the dissolution ceremony of a sacred sand mandala during the Sacred Arts Tour of Tibetan Monks at Florida CraftArt on Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020 in St. Petersburg.  [MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE  |  Times]
  6. The Sacred Arts Tour of Tibetan Monks, 2020 brought seven monks to St. Petersburg once again this year, where they spent a week, creating a colorful sand mandala featuring a medicine Buddha and an...
  7. Benjamin Ehas has been charged with DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide in the death of George Gage.
  8. Young cross divers will brave the chilly waters of Spring Bayou as they attempt to retrieve the cross for a year of blessings.
  9. The Buccaneers lose to the Falcons in their final home game at Raymond James Stadium, 28-22.
  10. On the last Christmas of the decade, we are reminded that this sacred holiday is celebrated around the world by many cultures. We are fortunate to admire the work of dedicated photojournalists and...