Tough Competition 'Sandhills Has Talent' Funds Guide Dogs for Children
BY MELANIE COUGHLIN
Special to The Pilot
Performers aged 5 to 72 will duke it out for a $500 cash prize and bragging rights at MIRA Foundation's talent show at the Sunrise Theater on Saturday, March 3, at 7 p.m.
"Sandhills Has Talent" brings to the stage a broad range of musical styles with gospel, rap and classical singers pitted against a button box player and break dancer.
Proceeds from the event will help provide guide dogs to blind children. MIRA is the only organization in the United States that provides guide dogs for children, and it does so at no cost to its recipients.
Sandhills' most talented performer will be decided by judges Cinny Beggs, Mike Haney and John and Sylvie O'Connor. Joey Rouse will preside over the event as master of ceremonies.
Among the show's 18 contestants is 20-year-old Zach Erickson, who will rap about life as a college student at Sandhills Community College. Though the rap he wrote is littered with humor, it also addresses the challenges he faces supporting himself financially through -college.
"The school gave me a scholarship so I could stay in school. The song is about thanking the college for the money," Erickson says. "It's supposed to be a lot of fun, move people and show them that good things happen."
Sixteen-year-old Union Pines High School student Lizzie Womack will play guitar and sing a solo she composed. She hopes the audience will relate to the piece she wrote about the object of a crush last year.
MIRA executive director Beth Daniels says, like Erickson and Womack, all the performers show not only their talent but also a part of their own life in their selections.
"One of my favorite quotes is from Joan Didion: 'We tell ourselves stories in order to live,'" says Daniels. "I always think of telling -stories through words, and this (event) is a whole different way of telling -stories. That's what this -talent show is about."
A heartwarming story of "Sandhills Has Talent" is that of 13-year-old Samantha Duerring, a student at New Century Middle School. Her participation in the show is personal; she received a guide dog from MIRA last summer.
Duerring's mother, Judy, says the dog, an 80-pound Labernese named Gale, has changed their lives. Samantha has more confidence, Judy says, and calls Gale her "eyes and savior."
For her talent, Samantha will be singing Alison Krauss' "A Living Prayer."
She's doing it for fun and because she knows the show's proceeds will help other blind children get a guide dog. Each dog requires an investment of $60,000 due to training, travel and ongoing support, and MIRA hopes to provide dogs to eight children this summer.
Tickets to "Sandhills Has Talent" are $20 and available in Southern Pines at The Country Bookshop and Neville's Bar, in Pinehurst at The Faded Rose, in Aberdeen at Moore Coffee and in Aberdeen at the MIRA office.
The event is sponsored by Spectrum Eye Assoc-iates.
Call MIRA at (910) 944-7757 for more information.
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