At Neshaminy High School, community service is not a requirement. But that doesn’t stop students from doing it anyway.
On the evening of Friday, Nov. 15, at the NHS Auditorium, 2001 Old Lincoln Highway, Langhorne, local teens showcased their skills for a more-than-worthy cause during the annual Neshaminy’s Got Talent competition.
Proceeds from ticket and food sales will help Sunshine Foundation, a Southampton-based nonprofit, answer the dream of 9-year-old Philadelphia resident Leani. Diagnosed with Sturge-Weber Syndrome/Focal Epilepsy, her wish is to visit Disney World, LEGOLAND Florida and SeaWorld.
Since its inception in 1976, the Sunshine Foundation has answered the dreams of more than 41,000 chronically ill, physically challenged and abused children from income-limited families. Oftentimes, this Sunshine adventure is their only chance to have such an unforgettable opportunity.
“I’m a huge Lego fan and I love princesses and dolphins,” Leani said with excitement.
Neshaminy’s Got Talent was hosted by the school’s Interact Club – a high school version of Rotary Club International that completes local and international service projects throughout the year.
According to Suzi Drake, Interact Club adviser, the group has been hosting a variation of the talent show (previously Neshaminy Idol, which featured local American Idol finalist Catie Turner) for 15 years. Over that time, about $10,000 has been raised and donated to various charitable organizations.
“Our kids do community service because they’re awesome and they want to make a difference in their world,” Drake praised. “The past three years, the kids have committed to sponsoring a child [from Sunshine Foundation] and have worked on a variety of projects to support that goal.”
At a to-be-determined date, Leani and her family will enjoy a weeklong, all-expenses-paid trip to Orlando, Florida, where they’ll stay at the Sunshine Foundation Dream Village, which is fully accommodated for individuals with special needs. The cost to “adopt a dream” is $5,000, and, with final in-class snack purchases currently taking place, Drake said she expects the Interact Club to contribute $1,000 to that total.
Kate Sample, Sunshine Foundation president, expressed her gratitude to the Neshaminy community.
“Such wonderful performances by the students who showcased their talents to support Neshaminy High School’s Interact Club in raising funds to make Leani’s dream come true,” Sample said. “Thank you to the performers, Ms. Suzi Drake, leaders and students with Neshaminy Interact, Leani and her parents, Nicole Tener and everyone who came out to support Sunshine Foundation on this special evening.”
Beginning at 7 p.m., the audience (which included Leani sporting an Interact Club “Be the good” T-shirt) enjoyed a slew of performances from participants.
Finalists of Neshaminy’s Got Talent included Donny Hill dancing to “Head Above Water” in first place, Ragan Yates singing “Journey to the Past” from Anastasia in second place, Nathan Hoffman playing “Havana” on an electric violin in third place and Eric D’Alicandro singing “Love Trial” as the People’s Choice winner.
“The nice thing is, over the years, we’ve seen kids who are not your stars of the show, who are not the soloist, who, for whatever reason, may not have an opportunity for their light to shine in other ways, get up on stage,” Drake said. “The support they have for one another is just amazing. They really work to make sure everybody is treated well. If somebody drops a line or gets nervous, they rally around them. It’s pretty cool.” ••
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org