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Ormond Beach Observer Saturday, May 3, 2014 5 years ago

24th annual Very Special Arts Volusia Talent Night honors local talent and long-time director

by: Emily Blackwood News Editor

More than 50 Voluisa County performers put on a show for The Luminaries, the 24th annual Very Special Arts Volusia talent night. 

With a packed house, over 50 performers and a surprise for show director

Barbara Wolfson, The Luminaries was a very special night indeed.

The 24th annual Very Special Arts Volusia talent night was held Friday at the Ormond Beach Performing Arts Center. It showcased the talents of students and adults with developmental disabilities, health related issues, at-risk youth and other challenges. Among the performers included show veteran and Ormond Beach resident Ashley Townsend.

Now 23 years old and a graduate of the Florida State University School of Music, Townsend first performed in the talent show when she was 9 years old.

“I was in fourth grade,” Townsend said. “It was awesome. Mrs. Wolfson came to my elementary school and she asked me, my sister and my two best friends who are twins to sing together. It was really hard and we were really scared but we had a great time doing it.”

More than 10 years later, Townsend credits much of her success as a singer to Wolfson. During the talent show she stopped her performance of “Brave” by Sara Bareilles to thank Wolfson and dedicate “I Hope You Dance” to her. It was the first song she sang in the talent show.

“When I was little I liked the song because it was pretty and had nice words,” Townsend said. “Over the years, it’s come to have such a strong meaning to me and I always think of Barbara Wolfson when I hear it. I really believe that she embodies everything that song is talking about by really living your life, reaching out to others and not taking a moment for granted.”

Wilson, the director of Very Special Volusia, said she was touched by Townsend’s words and the involvement of the community.

“I can’t tell you how much it has meant for me to meet all of these performers through the years,” Wolfson said. “I’ve been doing this for 22 years. When you see the wealth of entertainment and the total joy that these performers bring not only to you but to themselves and their families it is worth fighting for to keep Very Special Arts Volusia going. We have been fighting an uphill battle for a long time but I promise I will keep in this fight. Thank you for the inspiration for all these years.”

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