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Sun., Oct. 4
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The show will go on for the St. Lawrence County Talent Challenge


LISBON - The show will go on for an altered version of the St. Lawrence County Talent Challenge, thanks to three event alumni who took it upon themselves to organize the Jules of Life Foundation-sponsored extravaganza on May 24 at Lisbon Central School.

Upon hearing last week that the 4th annual talent challenge - which raises money for children with cancer - would be postponed due to time restraints and organizers’ prior commitments, Troy M. O’Brien, 16, a junior at Potsdam Central, Kaitlyn G. LaShomb, 16, a Heuvelton junior, and Kelsey A. Newtown, a sophomore at St. Lawrence Central, came together and suggested an evening of entertainment by alumni performers.

“We heard the show was cancelled and in talking, decided we wanted to do something about it,” said Ms. LaShomb, who, as a result of her participation in the past three talent challenges has formed a group, “Kaitlyn LaShomb and Friends,” with Mr. O’Brien, Nick Rycroft of Canton, and Wayne Brown, Lisbon.

“It goes past just singing,” she said. “You meet new people and make a difference. These kids are so young and go through so much. If you can put a smile on their faces by getting up on stage to sing and have a good time, it’s inspiring. It’s hope.”

Mr. O’Brien said his involvement was inspired by Carmen J. and Blake P. Gendebien, Lisbon, the founders of The Jules of Life Foundation.

“The Gendebeins have given so much, I thought it would be cool if there was something we could do to carry on the tradition they’ve provided for the past few years,” he said. “They do as much as they can to help these kids with their treatments. To take a moment to recognize these kids? It makes me appreciate what I have.”

Ms. Newtown said she’s learned a great deal over the past three years of participating in the event.

“The talent challenge, at first, was my first opportunity to sing on stage. I didn’t even realize that first year what the bigger goal was,” she said. “The second year, I watched the show and listened to the stories and realized it was an opportunity to help other people. It became not just for the love of singing. It became for a good cause.”

The show begins at 7 p.m. in the auditorium at Lisbon Central School, will run about two hours.

Performing in addition to its organizers are Brooke Arquitt, Hammond, Ben Foster, Gouverneur, Kane Jordan, Lisbon, Lindsay Tennant, a Heuvelton graduate now attending SUNY Plattsburgh, Keith Gallucci, a Heuvelton graduate at SUNY Oswego, Morgan Sabre, Madrid, Cassidy Scott and Allysa Ryan, Waddington, and Allexa Hooper, Ogdensburg.

All performers will participate in group numbers at both the show’s beginning and end.

The youths have been assisted by their parents, Todd M. and Michele A. O’Brien, Joseph and Stephanie LaShomb, and Rick and Rebecca Newtown.

“The alumni performers have been inspired by the actions, donations and contributions of those involved with the Jules Foundation,” said Todd O’Brien. “Jules allowed the performers to experience a platform to display their talent and have accepted with vigor and excitement the opportunity to give back in a way they hope raises money for this valuable cause.”

All proceeds from the event help families with children battling cancer, including Oliver White, 3, Canton, and Kristen Hays, 5, Gouverneur, each afflicted with leukemia, and Travis Gilbert, 15, Canton, and Jacob Marcellus, 5, Norwood, who both have brain tumors.

Mary Lou Robinson, a member of the Jules of Life board, said the organization has been overwhelmed by the alums coming forward to save the day.

“It’s very rewarding to us to know that we’ve touched these kids lives and that they, in turn, are touching the lives of others,” she said. “Sometimes we don’t give teens enough credit.”

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