Have you ever received a gift so precious it’s difficult to find words adequate to express gratitude? This Saturday, our fourth annual Washington’s Got Talent fundraiser will be held at Trinity High School from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Doors open at 5 for a wonderful spaghetti dinner (courtesy of Michael Passalacqua of Angelo’s), Cupcake Wars and a ticket auction. Why is this a great gift? Because our talent show is the brainchild of our daughter Amy Podgurski Gough. Four years ago, she moved from New York City, where she was a stage manager; her biggest gifts to me are named Jonnie, Lily and Evan, and she and her husband decided to raise these precious little ones near their Nonnie and Pop-op (that’s me and my husband). She conceived of the talent show and pretty much singlehandedly inspires a team of young people and volunteers to make it happen. The SHO (Students Helping Others) committee of the Washington Hospital Foundation is a driving force behind the event. Dedicated adult advisers and enthusiastic young people work long hours to create an inspiring show. Young people are involved in every aspect of the event, from stage crew to sound/lighting to ticket sales to doing whatever needs done. Amy is their inspiration. Watching your daughter grow to adulthood and thrive is thrilling; observing her passion for the work to which you’ve dedicated your life is a joy beyond description. Gracie, Amy. I love you.
I don’t envy our judges. These teens are talented. I’m in awe at rehearsals. Our judges are experienced, however, and I know they will do an excellent job. This year we are thrilled to have Adam Brock as our celebrity judge. Adam made our community proud last year on “American Idol”; he was also our emcee for our first Washington’s Got Talent. Returning to judge from last year are Rep. Brandon Neuman, Four Townsmen singer John Marcischak and Katrina Thomas, owner of Tumble Academy by Katrina.
This column is committed to honoring and respecting the voices of young people. Traditionally, I dedicate the column before the talent show to the 14 young finalists who will compete for three monetary prizes ($1,000 and $500 for first- and second-place winners, and $500 for fan favorite). They responded to the following three questions: 1. Please tell us why you enjoy performing; 2. What does performing in Washington’s Got Talent mean to you? and 3. Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Their answers follow.
Aliyah Brooks: 1. It is really fun, and I enjoy singing. I like connecting with people, feeling what they feel. When I sing I like feeling the emotion. 2. It means the world to me, because I have always wanted to be part of something like this. 3. I see myself in college getting my degree to be a doctor.
Tamairra Bunge: 1. I enjoy the feeling of suspense. The audience never knows what I’m going to do. When I perform I can express myself. 2. It means so much! I have never represented my school before. 3. I see myself saving animals. I want to be a companion animal veterinarian. I also see myself performing all around the world, doing what I love best.
Ashaleah Davis: 1. I don’t really perform a lot, but it just makes me feel like there’s actually something I can do right that people notice. 2. It’s an achievement that I actually can get somewhere with my voice. 3. Graduate of Georgia State, married with a job in physical therapy.
Alexis Fuqua: 1. I like the compliments I get when it’s over, and I like the experience every performance gives. 2. It means a lot to be able to show my talents to people coming to watch all of us. 3. I see myself with a good education making something of myself.
Weylin Gomez: 1. I enjoy performing. When I perform it’s like nothing else in this world matters. I go into my own world and am consumed by the music and lose myself in it all. It’s also a good way to express my feelings in a positive way and share my passion with the world. 2. It means the world to me because there are no dance classes at Trinity, so it’s nice to be able to show my classmates what I can do. 3. I see myself as an actor or dancer in California.
Carolyn Hock: 1. It’s my source of comfort. When I’m on stage I feel like I’m at home. 2. It’s a complete honor. I never thought I’d get this far. 3. Hopefully touring across the country with my band, making music, performing, living life.
Elia Jablonsky: 1. I enjoy performing because it gives me a chance to embrace what I love to do. 2. Washington’s Got Talent means a lot to me. I can grow as a singer and performer and have fun at the same time. 3. In 10 years, I’d like to see myself take on my dream. I hope to be a strong and developed musician.
Ashley King: 1. I enjoy performing because all eyes are on me. For those three minutes, I get to try my best to make myself memorable. It’s the best feeling when someone compliments you after for being so entertaining. 2. It means that even though my school doesn’t support the program, I can show that I, myself, support it freely. 3. Anywhere onstage. Performing is my favorite thing in the entire world!
Liza Lee: 1. I enjoy performing because I love being on stage and entertaining. 2. It means so much. I’m proud to represent my school and dance studio. 3. I see myself having my own dance studio.
Timmy Lesso: 1. I enjoy performing because I like the energy it creates. There’s something about being in front of a large mass of people that can really awaken you and make you feel alive. 2. Performing in Washington’s Got Talent means a lot to me. The fact that I was chosen out of all the other talent at my school to represent Chartiers-Houston is special. 3. In 10 years, I see myself as a successful man who’s possibly married, has a big house and a lot of cars. Maybe I’ll even have a goldfish named Peter.
Hannah Ogburn: 1. I enjoy performing because I like to entertain people and show them what I am capable of doing. 2. Performing in Washington’s Got Talent means that I can represent my school while showcasing my talent. 3. In 10 years, I see myself a successful college graduate.
Luke Paskert: 1. I love music. It is an escape to a whole new world for me. 2. It means a lot. I’ve been with the program before, and it’s an incredible opportunity. 3. If not in music, then in the Marine Corps.
Leah Rupinsky: 1. I enjoy performing because I like to show people my talent and to entertain people. 2. Performing in Washington’s Got Talent means I can show people what I’m capable of. 3 . In 10 years I see myself in college.
Sarah Tomko: 1. Because performing brings me wonderful friends and memories. 2. The talent show means that I’m doing well at something I love beyond measure. 3. Hopefully in New York, interning at 30 Rock or backstage at a theater.
Justin Walker: 1. I enjoy all aspects of performing ... seeing people’s reactions is probably the biggest enjoyment for me. But everything involving performing is just such a larger-than-life feeling. 2. Being in this is really cool for me. Super honored to be able to be in this with other fellow talented contestants. 3. In 10 years, I would love to be touring all around the country. Living in NYC or LA. In a hard-working/semi-successful band and always staying hungry for more and more.