by Madison V. Fisler
Dec. 17, 2013. On Sunday, Dec. 15, the inaugural High Country’s Got Talent competition took the stage at Watauga High School. The talent show acted as a fundraiser for Wine to Water, a local nonprofit organization that helps bring clean, drinkable water to people and communities in need around the world hosted by the Maji Club at Watauga High School.
The talent competition featured acts from all around the High Country, including performers from Watauga, Ashe and Avery counties. The first place winner received a cash prize of $250 and second place winner received a prize of $125.
The winners for the inaugural High Country’s Got Talent were:
- First Place: Keith Ward
- Second Place: Audan Parks
- Viewers’ Choice: Taylon Hope Miller
The winners were decided by three judges, and there was also a viewer’s choice award which was decided by voters making donations into jars bearing the likeness of their favorite performers. All of the money collected went to Wine to Water to help fund their initiatives.
“Before expenses, we raised $2,400 including sponsorships,” said Belle Lehmann, who along with Cheyennea Jones coordinated the event.
“We had so much fun with it and we knew it was a great cause, so that made us that much more motivated to make it a great event. It was small, but it was a success and we are hoping to do it again next year.”
Lehmann and Jones are juniors at Watauga High School who are completing an internship with Wine to Water.
“Cheyennea and I have been clogging with Amber, Doc’s wife, forever and as long as Doc has been around we have known what he has been up to with Wine to Water. We decided to do our internship for school with them because we both wanted our internship to be meaningful. We learned so much about event planning, getting sponsorships and what it takes to put on an event like this. It has been great.”
As part of their internship, Lehmann and Jones also founded the Watauga High School’s Maji club.
“Maji means ‘water’ in Swahili,” Lehmann said. “We have a lot of different people involved, with about a dozen members in the club now. They all helped volunteer at High Country’s Got Talent, and it was about a lot more than raising money, it was about raising awareness for Wine to Water and what they do.”
Wine to Water was founded in 2003 by Doc Hendley, who dreamed of bringing clean healthy water to those who need it around the world. Wine to Water became an official nonprofit organization in 2007 after years of hard work, and is still going strong.
“When the idea came to me to start Wine to Water, the only real world job experience I had was tending bar,” said founder Doc Hundley.
“I dreamed of building an organization that fought water-related death and disease using completely different methods than anyone else. So I started raising money to fight this water epidemic the best way I knew how, by pouring wine and playing music. Our goal is to give the fortunate population an opportunity to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves.”
Wine to Water relies on fundraisers to reach as many people in need as possible. The foundation has worked in places like Sudan, Uganda, India, Cambodia, Peru, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Haiti.
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All photos by Karen Radenbaugh Lehmann