Our “Stars” performed at The 17th annual Sonoma International Film Festival Saturday morning in the Children’s Program at the Sebastiani Theatre.
In a touching series of performances, youths from “Everybody is a Star” danced and sang while a film of their journey into stardom, shot by McEvilley, aired behind them. “Everybody is a Star” is a not-for-profit organization that aims to showcase the abilities of special needs youth by linking them with music and film professionals, and producers to create films of their performances, allowing them to have the chance to be a “star.” McEvilley, and Sonoman Howard Sapper, founded the self-esteem-promoting program for Howard Sapper’s daughter Eva Sapper, and children with special needs like hers. Just before Eva Sapper was born, she had a stroke, followed by a series of seizures after birth, which was later diagnosed as cerebral palsy. While a senior at Sonoma Valley High School in 2012, Eva Sapper and her family came up with the idea for the program to allow Eva to not only showcase her abilities onscreen, but also to allow her to participate in the school’s senior project. After she sang “Love Story,” by Taylor Swift, on Saturday, Eva Sapper told the audience that doctors predicted she would neither speak nor walk after she was born. “Look at me, I can speak and dance and sing,” she said, beaming.”
All the stars performed their songs, Glenn Leigon danced to his DJ mix, Mikayla Barber sang a beautiful rendition of “Who Says” reminding us all the we are beautiful. Loren Moale charmed all with his rendition of “I just haven’t met you yet” and Jeannette Denny brought smiles to our faces as she beamed out “Here comes the Sun” It was at truly heart-warming and joy bringing experience. And for those who have been following the “Stars” you could see how each one had grown so much in their stage presence and mastery. The opportunities EIAS is providing to these children is making a hugs difference to them, to their families, and in raising awareness of the beauty and talent kids with special needs can shine out into the world.
“The highlight of the program for the stars was a performing alongside Nick and Richard Olate and the Olate dogs, who won “America’s Got Talent” in 2012. Trainer Richard Olate grew up in Chile as one of 22 children, his son and fellow performer, Nicholas Olate, said. Nicholas Olate was also featured in McEvilley’s short, “Le Sauvetage,” and wowed the audience with his R&B melodies and raps.
Throughout the program, Nicholas Olate introduced the famous Olate dogs and shared the story of how his father came to America as a young man on the promise of becoming famous with his dog show. The Olate men and nine of their dogs performed their act, complete with a playground slide, a rolling cylinder and lots of barking for an enthusiastic crowd.
The children’s show was put on courtesy of local producer Howard Sapper and Halo, Purely for Pets.”