B, E and I had the pleasure of going to a talent show fundraiser for the Christopher Baron Live Life Foundation last night. It was really an amazing night. I'm so impressed with the talent of so many local kids. From dancing to singing, to instrument playing, all kinds of music, it was all extraordinary showing of talented young people.
We'd first heard the name Christopher Barron when we moved here in 2006. We knew there was a young boy who had leukemia in town. We didn't know him, but we knew the town was really rallying to help him and his family. But we didn't know the family- we didn't really know anyone in Glen Rock and we didn't have a kid yet, so we weren't really involved in anything going on here, especially having to do with kids.
Christopher passed away when he was nine, in 2007. Suzanne Barron took her tragedy and turned it into something positive. She took Christopher's love of comic books and superheroes and helped get comic book art workshops to underserved kids in the area, like schools in Paterson, NJ. Christopher's Comic Book Inspirations is a workshop for fifth graders in School 21, taught by a professional comic book writer. Without this workshop, in 2011, there was no other in-school enrichment program. Because of budget cuts, the school lost art, music and library. Now that they're in their fourth year, three hundred kids have participated and they want to be able to expand to other schools in Paterson.
|photo credit: Amy Newman, Bergen Record|
As soon as B read that they were doing a fundraiser in the high school this week, he told me and we decided to go with E. It did not disappoint. We were in awe of the many kids who were of all ages. Jordan, who I believe was Christopher's best friend started this talent show four years ago and has kept it going ever since. He is an amazing dancer and really got the crowd excited. There was a boy, Gavin, in the third grade, who danced like he could've been on America's Got Talent. There were dancers and singers from Glen Rock, Ridgewood, and other local towns who showcased their talent and their heart.
I have to say- I was also proud, amazed, and warmed by how accepted and applauded boys were doing things so "out of the box" from how B or I grew up. I don't know how cool it would've been for boys to be dancing to Lady Gaga, doing interpretive contemporary dance, or singing show tunes. I don't know that the kids in my graduating class would've been cheering like the kids and parents were cheering last night- especially seeing the vile things I've read on the Facebook pages of some people I grew up with. And I'm from Bergen County. I just think it's fantastic I live in a time and place where kids can just be who they are and show their talents, whatever they happen to be without fear of any sort of social repercussion. Having a seven year old boy who has taken all kinds of dance since he was two and a half years old, and who LOVES it, seeing the boys dance made me so happy. I'm not going to lie- I was also THRILLED to see Jordan and Gavin both do solos. Maybe E won't be so nervous to do his own in a couple of months at his recital.
The girls who performed were fantastic too. I just happen to have a boy, so it's nice to see boys performing in the arts. I've always felt like Glen Rock is such a sports oriented town. It is and it's a fact. However, I feel like a lot of these kids are just so much more well-rounded than we were back in the olden days. Or even just compared to other places in the state or the country. Like, they can play football AND dance. Or play lacrosse and sing. It's ALL good. It's beyond refreshing.
I'm pretty sure Jordan said this was his last year- I assume he must be going off to college. I really hope that this incredible talent event continues to go on, even if Jordan isn't here to organize it. It was a PACKED house last night and it's a really positive event for the entire community. It seems like a really terrific way to honor Christopher's memory.
I think this is a really awesome non-profit to donate to if you're looking for somewhere to send some money. It takes cold, hard cash to get someone to teach in these schools, and to get materials to teach with. You can donate right from their foundation page. Christopher Barron Live Life Foundation
Article about the event at Well Read Books: