'Special Talents America' highlights strengths of performers with disabilities

October 25, 2012 10:13:33 AM PDT
Performing artists with disabilities get a chance to showcase their talent in ''Special Talents America.'' It is a competition designed just for people with disabilities.

Special Talents America was created in 2007 by Western DuPage Special Recreation Association and a local video/television production company. Nine finalists were selected out of 36 from the Midwest to perform on stage with live audience and celebrity judges.

The last Special Talents American took place in 2010 at North Central College's Wentz Hall. The next performance is Nov. 5, 2012.

Jorie Meyer from Western DuPage Special Recreation Association coordinates this program.

"How it works is we put on our website that we're looking for applicants...They send in DVDs to us...and from there we chose the top nine that we think would be best for the audience," said Meyer.

Talents include singing, dancing and playing instruments.

One of this year's finalists is 21-year-old Mia Strayer.

"It's feels amazing," said Strayer. "I've never done this before."

Strayer is blind and has a mild form of cerebral palsy. She plays the harp.

"I love classical music, Celtic music and a lot of Christian music too," said Strayer.

Jim Peterik, of the rock band Ides of March, is one of the celebrity judges

"I was lucky enough to be one of the judges at the special talent show in 2010, and I was so moved," Peterik said.

This year's host is professional singer Lisa McLowry.

"I'm excited that I'm going to get to know each contestant personally," said McLowry.

"We are looking for a performance that is going to engage the audience with the celebrity judges," Meyer said. "They've talented. I mean, they blow a lot of people out of the water It's going to be a tearjerker night, and we really want people to come out and see what it's all about."

The 2012 Special Talents America concert is November 5 at Wentz Concert Hall at North Central College in Naperville from 7 to 10 p.m.


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