Talent show features adults with developmental disabilities


It takes bravery, personality and talent to get onstage in front of people and perform.

Four local adults with developmental disabilities demonstrated those qualities and more in the inaugural Talent Unlimited Showcase on Saturday at Actors Community Theater of Seymour.

Participants were Darin Gillam, Cassie Brock and Danielle Kinnett, all of Seymour, and Alysha Sandlin of Hayden.

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Gillam sang the song “Lean on Me” and later did a stand-up comedy act that left the audience laughing out loud. Sandlin also contributed two acts, singing the song “I Can Only Imagine,” and dancing in a rock duet with friend and choreographer Katrina Hardwick of Seymour.

Sandlin said she loves to be involved in activities and wanted to try singing and dancing. She also is a member of Special Olympics Indiana Jackson County, participating in basketball, softball, track and field, corn toss and bowling.

She said she appreciated all of the people who clapped and cheered in support of her at the show.

“It meant so much and made me really happy,” she said. “I think I did good.”

Brock, dressed in a “Nightmare Before Christmas” outfit, gave a sweet rendition of “Sally’s Song” from the same movie, and Kinnett poured her emotions and talent into singing the Miley Cyrus song “The Climb.”

“I had so much fun singing at the talent show,” Kinnett said. “It was a great way to give adults with developmental disabilities a chance to perform and shine.”

Even though Kinnett’s music cut off early, she didn’t let that stop her.

“I just kept on singing, and the lady that ran the show came up and said, ‘You are a true performer for singing through the song even though the song completely stopped.’ What a special day. My heart is full,” Kinnett said.

Each participant received a medal and a Walmart gift card for participating.

After the show, the performers had the opportunity to talk with audience members and sign autographs.

“One girl came up to me, she was probably in her 20s, and she said to me, ‘I just want to tell you your performance was the best, and during your singing, you brought tears to my eyes.’ It really touched me,” Kinnett said. “It made me feel good to hear words on my singing. I felt truly special.”

Wayne Knight served as a radio DJ host, and Jackson Snelling of Austin gave a special musical performance, singing both covers and originals.

The talent show was staged by a fairly new organization called Everyday Connections.

Jeremy Hendrix and Chrystal Henry of Paris Crossing started Everyday Connections to support, educate and integrate adults with developmental disabilities in Jackson and Jennings counties.

“We’ve been around for about two years now, and our mission is to provide individuals with special needs and their families support, skills and social experiences to lead a more fulfilling and happy life,” Hendrix said.

They advertised the talent show at Jackson Developmental Industries, Developmental Services Inc. and area group homes in order to find participants.

Walmart in Seymour provided a grant to help fund the show.

“We think it was a good, solid show for our first one, but we plan on offering many other activities for individuals with disabilities in the future,” Henry said.

One event they are working on is Christmas in July.

“Our plan is to gather information for adults with disabilities in our area who may not have a strong family support system, such as those who live in supported living homes or those whose families aren’t too involved,” she said.

Area businesses, individuals and groups will then be able to “adopt” an adult and purchase gifts for them in July that will be given to them at Christmas.

For information, visit Everyday Connections on Facebook.

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