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This year's hospice talent show may have been best yet

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Krystal Bravo (9), Jared Salmeron (8) and Kai-Lai Campos (9) perform Tico Tico at last Saturday's Hospice talent show.

If you elected to stay home this past Saturday night instead of attending the 2010 Hospice Talent Show at Sunnyside High School, you missed an exciting and energetic community affair.

The night included 23 acts that ranged from personal musical performances to remarkable dance routines. But most of all, it was an exceptional example of how a community pulls together to not only entertain, but to help others in need.

The acts were a diverse collection. Three audition days and two rehearsals whittled the original 30 acts to 23 as the Sunnyside High School leadership class organized the event. These students not only worked as the master of ceremonies for the show, but they gathered sponsor support and prepared prizes for the winners.

Those winners were a varied collection of acts that highlight both individual efforts as well as team cooperation. Crystal Rivera's rendition of the Jackson Five's song "Blame it on the Boogie" got the audience moving and won her third place honors. Denise Granado inspired judges with her singing and piano talent with the song "Here I am to Worship" for the second place prize.

First place honors went to a talented group of nine students called PDC Youth. These students took the stage in black clothing and white gloves. As the song "It's My Time" began, PDC Youth allowed their hands to do the singing and dancing. Learned over the 2009 Christmas break, the performance was a mix of sign language and interpretive dance. Sunnyside High School freshman Jessica Bonilla, who helped choreograph the performance with her cousin Natalie Alvarez, stated they have no exact plans for the prize money, but plan to put it toward something useful.

While this show has been put on for 11 years, it was markedly different. The leadership class found several ways to update the show that not only entertained but also informed.

Mr. SHS candidates raced around the auditorium and through the aisles to collect donations for the Children's Village of Yakima in a segment called Dash for Cash. Patrons were ready and willing to give, holding money into the air for a runner to come and pick it up. For three minutes, these gentlemen chased the raised hands to collect the money in buckets. At one point, a few dollars even fluttered down from the catwalks above the seats. In all, the Mr. SHS candidates collected $500 in three minutes.

But amid all the laughter and cheers, the students of this year's leadership class did not want to lose focus on the purpose of the talent show. During intermission, guests who took to the high school commons for some refreshments found a PowerPoint. Put together by high school student Anthony Aguilar, the screen provided information and photos about Lower Valley Hospice and Palliative Care.

An even more poignant new feature was the addition of a video following intermission. Projected onto a screen over the stage, this video introduced the audience to Lower Valley Hospice and Palliative Care. Hosted by Rev. Ron Jetter, executive director of the hospice efforts, the video highlighted the plight of Little Ray, a local toddler with a life threatening heart defect, and their work to assist his family through HeartLinks for Kids.

Through all this and every performance, there was one constant: the audience. The moment they took their seats, the guests were ready to be entertained. They cheered each act emphatically, laughed heartily and even joined in to sing Happy Birthday to a fellow audience member. During second place winner Denise Granado's performance, they pulled out their glowing cell phones to wave in the air and rushed the stage to congratulate the participants for all they had accomplished at the close of the show.

A big congratulation belongs to the Sunnyside High School leadership class for putting the talent show together, the performers for taking the time and energy to participate, and to the audience, for supporting it all in the end and giving more than $3,000 in donations for Lower Valley Hospice and Palliative Care.

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