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March 31, 2015 > Local band wins first-ever Special Needs Got Talent

Local band wins first-ever Special Needs Got Talent

Submitted By Friends of Children with Special Needs

A Fremont band, along with two others, won the first-ever ÒSpecial Needs Got TalentÓ (SNGT) competition on Saturday, March 14 in Santa Clara. More than 600 people packed the Santa Clara Convention Center Theater for the event that attracted Grammy and Golden Globe winner Kitaro to the judgesÕ panel, along with state-wide officials.

Friends of Children with Special NeedsÕ (FCSN) band, Dream Achievers (Gregory Hebert, Alice Jen, and Lawrence Wang), was among 12 finalists from the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California who competed at SNGT, an event referred to as the Special Needs CommunityÕs answer to ÒAmerican IdolÓ and ÒThe Voice.Ó The event showcased talent in a range of areas from instrumental performances to interpretive dance to comedy to vocal.

The Dream Achievers performed ÒRude,Ó which won them a $500 cash prize, crystal trophies, and a broadcast quality video to promote themselves in the entertainment world. Magic Makers, a four-member ensemble from the 17-member special needs band based in Santa Clara, also won with its performance of ÒLa BambaÓ and the BeatlesÕ ÒTwist and Shout.Ó San Jose harpist David Ren was the third winner with his rendition of ÒSomewhere Over the RainbowÓ and ÒRomance Without Words.Ó

Ten other performers who received honorable mentions from the February preliminary competition also took to the stage. All 12 finalists received a trophy and $100 cash. Finalists and honorable mentions all received a certificate of recognition from the California State Legislature, gifts from San Francisco Giants and FCSN.

Three years ago FCSN launched an in-house talent show that became an annual event. Surprised at the talent within its own special needs community, FCSN Vice President of Local Programs and Community Relations Anna Wang came up with the idea to expand beyond FCSN to create a talent search state-wide that she believes will one-day go nation-wide. ÒWith SNGT, we set out to create hope and get people within the special needs community to reach for the stars in themselves,Ó says Wang. ÒAnd we have done it.Ó

Wang said she was inundated with appreciation from parents who were so grateful that their children and adult-children had the opportunity to perform on stage. ÒI kept saying I was sorry that there could only be three winners,Ó said Wang. ÒAnd parents kept telling me, Ôthank you so much for just giving my child the chance to be up on stage. ThereÕs always next year.Õ People are already planning for next year, and thatÕs what we want.Ó

ÒWe want to showcase performers who are ready to be stars, but even more, we want to create future stars with Special Needs Got Talent,Ó said Wang. ÒWe want to give people something to strive for. We want to give people purpose and people in the special needs community need purpose. ItÕs why we all live.Ó

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