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North Fort Myers children win big at local talent show

By Staff | Nov 21, 2011

Local talented children including Ben Lamoureux from North Fort Myers High and Hancock Elementary’s Emily Langoria scored big with judges at the Southwest Florida Addiction Services (SWFAS) Talent Show.

“North Fort Myers youngsters won two out of the three divisions in the Every Child Is a Star Talent Show,” said Susan Bennett, of Susan Bennett Marketing & Media, who helps represent the showcase.

“Emily Longoria from Hancock Ele-mentary is just 10 years old but she’s got a big voice. The high school winner was Ben Lamoureux from North Fort Myers High. He wowed the audience with his melodic voice.”

Elementary, middle and high school students danced and sang their way across the stage at the fifth annual event.

More than 150 people attended the talent show at First Christian Church in downtown Fort Myers, which included contestants singing, dancing and playing the violin and guitar.

Winners were announced in three divisions:

n Elementary School – Emily Longoria, 10, of Cape Coral, Hancock Creek Elementary School, who sang and danced to “My New Philosophy” from “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.”

n Middle School – Bunny Hall, 13, of Bonita Springs, Bonita Middle School, who danced to “Don’t Tell Momma” from the musical Cabaret.

n High School – Ben Lamoureux, 16, of North Fort Myers, North Fort Myers High School, who sang “Stars” from the musical “Les Miserables.”

Each of the winners received a $100 cash prize.

The winner of the art exhibition was Andre Martinez, 9, of Cape Coral, who attends Caloosa Elementary School.

“A highlight of the talent show was a group performance of ‘God Bless the USA’ at the show’s conclusion,” Bennett said.

During intermission, Florida Gulf Coast University students Shane Serena, MC Charelus and Ben Kirchman performed a one-act play called “The Two Faces of Addiction” to demonstrate the deadly consequences of drug abuse.

“Our goal was to provide teens with a fun, safe venue to express themselves without using alcohol, tobacco and other drugs,” said SWFAS Prevention Director Sheree Beau-Wells in a prepared statement.

The contestants were judged by Michelle Hayford, Katrina Shanks of Beat 105.5, Carlyann Guerra and Betty Silva.

In addition to the talent show, the afternoon included a drawing for tickets to Southwest Florida recreational outlets and restaurants and educational material was presented encouraging parents, retailers and community members to do their part to prevent drug abuse among teens.

Additional support was provided by First Christian Church, which provided the location for the event; Bret’s Music Store, which provided sound during rehearsal; local artist Marquita Charles; and Niki Stephens-Lynch of Beat 105.5, who served as mistress of ceremonies.

SWFAS is the most comprehensive substance abuse treatment and prevention program in Southwest Florida, serving 6,000 people per year from ages 9 to 90.

SWFAS offers outpatient and residential programs for both adults and youngsters from five locations in Lee County and two in Hendry County. In addition, SWFAS provides detoxification services for adults, prevention programming, and an Employee Assistance Program for about 60 Southwest Florida businesses.

SWFAS services are not free. Payment plans are available and, in many cases, private insurance may cover some of the cost of treatment. Some prevention and treatment services are partially supported by Lee County and state funding to help income-eligible residents.

SWFAS is a United Way agency. For more information, call Beau-Wells at 931-9815, or visit swfasprevention.org.