The level of talent in and around Santa Clara remains unmatched. On the heels of the auditions for NBC’s America’s Got Talent earlier this year at the convention center, Friends of Children with Special Needs held its very own competition, letting talented individuals show their skills in a contest made especially for them.
In the first ever event of its kind, FCSN put on a talent competition for individuals to show their skills and vie for prizes in the first annual Special Needs Got Talent.
The event, held on March 14 at the Santa Clara Convention Center, showcased the ability of 12 performers – and eight honorable mention performers, plus two opening acts – who had made it past the first round of the competition. From Santa Clara’s Magic Makers performing “La Bamba” and “Twist and Shout” to Lyric Theatre’s Bernard Smith playing piano and singing a Gershwin tune, “They Can’t Take That Away from Me,” it was a night unlike any other in the city.
“I’ve hosted many events before, but this may have been the most energetic and fun for both the performers and audience,” said ABC’s Matt Keller. “Special Needs Got Talent lived up to its name. It really was framed like America’s Got Talent … The excitement they showed for just being on stage and when they delivered, you could tell they were proud of their talent and opportunity to perform in front of an audience.”
Judges Kitaro – a Grammy and Golden Globe winner – Senator Jim Beall, Assemblymember Kansen Chu, State Director of the Department of Developmental Services Santi Rogers and ABC’s Mimi Kwan had a tough task, deciding between performances to come up with the three winners. After much deliberation, FCSN’s Dream Achievers, performing Magic!’s “Rude,” harpist David Ren performing “Over the Rainbow” and Gabriel Faure’s “Romance Without Words,” and David Ladd Anderson’s Magic Makers came out on top, receiving $500, a high–quality recording of their performance and trophy. All participants, however, received a trophy, $100, a California State Assembly certificate of recognition and gifts from the San Francisco Giants and FCSN “for their incredible achievements and for their courage to share their talents to bring awareness to the tremendous abilities of people with special needs,” according to FCSN’s Johnna Laird.
Three years ago, event chair Anna Wang came up with the idea by hosting a talent show within the FCSN community. As the event grew Wang decided it was time to produce it on a larger scale, and SNGT was born. “We hope Special Needs Got Talent can inspire and create a star to reach for within our community,” said Wang. “We hope SNGT will motivate and encourage people with special needs to embrace who they are, hold fast to their dreams and let the world see their abilities … In a society where people with special needs can be stereotyped, SNGT reminds us that people with special needs have talents.”
All money raised during the event went to offset the cost of producing it and any additional funding received through donations will go to help build FCSN’s Dream Center in the South Bay. Visit www.fcsn1996.org for more information.