On Thursday, February 26, Ward Melville’s SHARP Club welcomed the Three Village community to Three Village Has Talent, where teachers and students entertained the audience through music and dance. Staff members from Ward Melville High School, Gelinas JHS, Murphy JHS, Nassakeag ES, and Mount ES, along with Ward Melville’s Camerata, Senior Choir Women, and Musical Performers volunteered to rehearse long and hard to give a final performance in front of hundreds of people.
Between performances, the Master and Mistress of the Ceremony, Devin Cowan and Rose Kelso, interjected some hilarious commentary before directing the audience’s attention to the judges, Mr. Cereola (English), Ms. Cowan (English), and Ms. Dunbar (Mathematics), whose observations of the acts made the audience erupt in laughter.
At the end of the night, the audience was given a chance to vote for their favorite performance through ballots that were collected by SHARP Club members. The vote was very close, but the winning act of the night was “Hysteria!” which was performed by Ms. Kane, Ms. Kowalenko, Ms. Kraemer, Ms. McCaffrey, Mr. Pelosi, Ms. Stelfax, and Ms. Stringer.
Although the audience picked their favorite performance, it seemed as if every performer was a winner because they had volunteered their time for a great cause. The proceeds from the event would benefit Baby Addy Wardrope, the one-year-old daughter of Mackenzie McCormick Wardrope who graduated from Ward Melville in 1999.
Baby Addy has been fighting a tough battle since she was two months old, constantly visiting hospitals due to SCN8A, an extremely rare disease with less than 100 diagnosed cases worldwide. She is the 12th person diagnosed in the United States. Even though this is an immense hardship for the family, Addy’s father and mother continue to stay positive, taking one day at a time.
It was truly a remarkable night when Three Village showed that they not only had talent, but also a willingness to help others. The audience was amazed to see just how great a community Three Village was. One particular instance that showcased the amazing altruism of the community was when the judges announced the winner of the 50/50 raffle. The raffle had raised 544 dollars. When the winner was selected and given a chance to win 272 dollars, she donated all of the money back without even a trace of hesitation.
Before inviting Baby Addy’s mother up on stage, the director of the club, Mrs. Cusumano, talked about having Mackenzie as a student back when she attended Ward Melville. She said, “I remember Mackenzie as an active participant in every class lesson. Her positive attitude and infectious, bubbly personality was a teacher’s dream.” She went on to add, “Once you’re a student of mine, you’re always a student of mine. And I call [my students] my kids even though they now have families of their own.”
Mackenzie was then brought up to the podium, and she announced that she did not prepare anything to say because she wanted to speak from her heart to thank everybody. Below is her speech:
This past year has been the most challenging of my life. Everybody goes through ups and downs and hardships, but when it comes to your child and you come close to losing your child numerous times, it does something to you that no parent should ever have to experience. That being said, I do not feel sorry for myself, because I have the most amazing daughter ever. For those of you that are not aware, my daughter has SCN8A, which is a recently diagnosed genetic mutation. When Addy was first diagnosed, she was one of 12 in the country and one of 40 in the world. Since her diagnosis in August, the numbers have now gone up to 60 worldwide, so this is something that is starting to be discovered more, mostly because of genetic testing. So, I’m very thankful for the opportunity to tell you guys that this is out there. There are a lot of diseases out there, but this particular one that obviously affects my life is starting to be more well-known. So if you in your thoughts or whatever can think of sharing what SCN8A is about, it’s epilepsy. My daughter is at risk of SUDEP, which is sudden unexplained death in epilepsy, which can happen at any time. We don’t focus on that because my daughter wakes up every morning and she smiles. She has a lot more challenges than normal children her age, but she is a fighter. My daughter spent nineteen days in the hospital in January, and when we left, she could not hold her head up anymore. Before we had gotten to the hospital, she was close to sitting on her own. Well, in the month that has passed since we had been home, she is this close to sitting up on her own again, and she is holding her head and she holds it proudly and she smiles everyday. Before I left, I got a phone call from a friend of mine in Maryland, and she had asked me if I grew up in a really small town. And I said, “No, why?” And she said, “Because you have so many people that are supporting you.” And this night just speaks loudly that Three Village does not just have talent. Three Village has love and support and is the most amazing community that I’ve had the fortune of growing up in. So sixteen years later, I can walk into this building and can be so uplifted by all of you from all walks of Three Village, so thank you. And I just want to say that I was very fortunate. First of all, thank you to my family and my friends and for all of you for coming out here. I can’t tell you how much it means to me, honestly from the bottom of my heart. I was very fortunate to have a family member of mine who unfortunately has passed since, but he wrote an inspiring book called Living for Game Day. It was my cousin, Phil Bracco. And Phil has helped my family get through a lot of hard times. But Phil has specifically taught me two life lessons that I would love for all of you to take away from this, which has helped me get through my daughter’s struggles. ‘Take life on five minutes at a time. If you can get through the next five minutes, you can make it through anything.’ And I can’t tell you how many five minutes my life has taken in this past year. And the last thing and the most important is ‘what is the most daunting thing is to try and eat an elephant. Well how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.’ Well, my daughter, as amazing and strong as she is, is biting this elephant one bite at a time. And we thank you all, from the bottom of our hearts for supporting us and standing by us getting through all of this. So thank you.
Three Village Has Talent was truly a remarkable night for everyone who attended. The community was brought closer together through laughter and tears, and it was all for a great cause.