More than a dozen acts took the stage at the James Caldwell High School Center for Performing Arts Saturday for a single purpose. The goal of the evening, which included singers, musicians and even some magic, was to raise money for a cardiac surgical mission that will save the lives of as many as 25 children who suffer from life-threatening heart disease.
Proceeds from , presented by The Rotary & Interact Clubs of the Caldwells, will go toward the $40,000 needed to fulfill the mission to an underdeveloped country. The organization has also been raising money through the sales of pins and bracelets, and donations are still being accepted through May 30 at www.giftoflifetalentshowcase.eventbrite.com.
Some of the evening's many highlights included a chance to see James Caldwell High School graduate and Caldwell resident return to her alma mater's brand-new stage with her band The Philth Harmonic; JCHS senior Olivia Polci sing Alicia Keys' "If I Ain't Got You," accompanied by classmate Patrick Wu (who earlier wowed the audience with his beatboxing); and a performance of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" by vocalist Johnnie Jones Tucker.
The Talent Showcase was produced by Rotarian Penny Potentz Winship and organized by a committee of tireless volunteers. Magician David Corsaro and Scott Lamond served as Masters of Ceremonies.
The Gift of Life has saved the lives of 11,000 children around the world.
In his testimonial Saturday night, Rotarian Jerry Smith recounted a mission he went on to the Dominic Republic several years ago. Smith said the team of health professionals he was accompanying were to save 25 lives. But when they got to the D.R., they learned five of the children had succumbed to their illnesses in the weeks and days leading up to the mission.
"When I got to the hotel and found that news out, I really understood the magnitude," Smith said.
Six-year-old Andy Reyes is one of the lucky ones. Reyes was a special guest with his mom, Karen, at the talent showcase Saturday. Andy, who is from the Dominic Republic, had his second surgery just last week at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York thanks to the Gift of Life.
Many who have seen these sick children said Saturday that before their surgeries they are quiet and calm – but after the surgeries they are able to run, play and be ... children.
For more information on The Gift of Life and the Rotary Club of the Caldwells, visit www.caldwellrotary.org.