Special Talents America

Nine contestants took center stage at the Wentz Concert Hall for a few minutes in the spotlight during the “Special Talents America” show.

The Western DuPage Special Recreation Association (WDSRA) put the event together to give people with physical, mental, and social disabilities a chance to showcase what they’re capable of.

“It’s just amazing to see them open up & come alive,” said Jorie Meyer, Program Manager for the WDSRA. “This is what they’re truly passionate about. So when they’re able to come on stage and showcase their talents for the world to see, they’re shining.”

The first talent to charm the crowd was Alec Hurtubise, a banjo player and singer from Indiana.

“I like to inspire people on what I do and I thought I did excellent,” said Hurtubise. “I thought the crowd was a great audience and I thought they got moving to my music.”

Other acts included more singers, a hip-hop dancer with Light sabers, a harp player, and a group – including two girls from Naperville – performing as the spice girls.

“It’s just really inspiring to see what these kids can do and the hope that they have and the joy that they have,” said Wheaton resident Don Holwerda. “It just blows us away.”

“Anybody who thinks they can’t do something should come to a show like this,” said Penny Linneweh of Glen Ellyn. “You can never say can’t after coming to this show.”

A panel of four judges included singer Jim Peterik of the band Survivor and lead singer of Toto Fergie Federiksen. In the end, they crowned Breanna Bogucki of Cary, Illinois as the winner. She captivated the audience with her rendition of Taylor Swift’s song “Mean.”

“I was not expecting this and I was shocked,” said Bogucki. “I was like super surprised and got all numb & was like ‘What?’ It was weird. But it feels great and I think everyone did really great tonight.”

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