NEW ORLEANS-- For Emily Mueller, it's a St. Patrick's Day like no other she's ever experienced.
"I never expected this," said Emily's mother, Amy Mueller. "And really it just goes to show what New Orleans is all about."
Mueller rode in the St. Patrick's Day parade Uptown. It was a very different parade experience from what happened just a few weeks ago.
"Now, so many families have reached out to us and told us thank you and told us their stories," Amy Mueller said.
Emily's story begins during Carnival season at the Muses parade last month. Emily, 11, is autistic. As she and her mother waited along the parade route several college-aged men made fun of Emily because of her disorder.
Reduced to tears, Emily asked her mom to go home. A week later, Amy Mueller wrote a blog entry about what happened-- and it went viral.
"Our hearts exploded for her, when we saw what happened," said Jim McKay of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH).
The Krewe of Muses and several organizations got together to open their float den and gave Emily a chance to experience what she missed that night. Then, a few weeks later, came St. Patrick's Day.
"We thank her for being in our parade," said John Fitzmorris of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. "She's blessing our parade today."
Emily rode in the parade as an AOH Honorary Irish Rose. It is the same nickname Emily's grandfather had for her.
"She was their little Irish Rose and so, when they said that, that was a pretty emotional thing-- and there was no question," Amy Mueller said.
"It was a no-brainer for us that we wanted to include this special young lady-- who we found out later was of Irish descent, has been to Ireland and her grandfather is from Ireland," Fitzmorris said.
It was a day Emily seemed to take all in, as those along the parade route chanted her name.
"It's amazing for me to see someone treat my daughter and see her the way I see her, without seeing any kind of limitations on her," Amy Mueller said. "I'm really, really proud of her. Through this whole thing, she's really stretched her comfort zone and really overcame a lot of barriers."
Emily is set to stretch beyond another barrier. She and her mother signed up with a literary agent this week to write a book about families with special needs children. By telling their story, Amy Mueller said she hopes to also tell the story about how New Orleans came through for Emily.