11th annual Liberty’s Got Talent show held at F-F High School

Participants in Liberty’s Family Support Services afterschool program and children of staff members finish up dancing to “Trolls” with Sue Pacillo assisting on Saturday at the 11th annual Liberty ARC follies at Fonda-Fultonville High School. (The Leader-Herald/Eric Retzlaff)

FONDA — The 11th annual Liberty’s Got Talent Follies had 35 song, dance and comedy acts Saturday at Fonda-Fultonville auditorium — and has grown hugely since its inception.

“We started out with a microphone and CD player,” said Alison Wallace, a Johnstown schools music teacher and an emcee at the event, which lasted three hours.

“Some of the children [served by Amsterdam-based Liberty ARC] have grown up with the show.”

The follies are “a way for the people we support to showcase their talents,” said Erika Krohn, co-chairwoman of the event along with Roslita Lilley.

“They kind of embrace it [entertaining],” said Cesar Ortiz, assistant director of clinical services at Liberty. “They love being up there.”

“I love every minute of it because I like to sing,” said Joyce Albea of Amsterdam, who performed “The Fighter” with Jamie Fredericks and Tiffany Carpenter.

Kenny Hotaling of Amsterdam, who taught himself how to play the acoustic guitar and likes country music and Bon Jovi, sang “Brand New Man.”

“I really love it — I love music and performing,” he said.

People served by Liberty were given rousing cheers and applause by their parents, volunteers and staff. Liberty defines its mission this way: “We work together to support people with disabilities and others in need to achieve a quality of life each person values.”

Colleen Irish started off the program singing the “National Anthem,” followed by Fonda-Fultonville cheerleaders. Near the end of act one, Amsterdam majorettes performed.

Along with the singers were specialized acts. The Liberty sign language class signed to “Sunshine on My Shoulders,” and the Liberty Bell Tones Choir performed to “Somewhere Out There” and “I Love to See You Smile.” Liberty Line Dancers performed to “Baby Shark.” And there was a puppet theater.

A comedy competition was held near the end of act one with Frank Rivera Jr., a comic and impersonator, versus Liberty IT specialist Tim O’Brien.

Rivera was the crowd favorite, and that earned O’Brien a pie in the face from Liberty CEO Jennifer Saunders.

Sharon Bellamy of Hagaman, mother of Nicole Bellamy, said the program “gives our people an opportunity to shine.

Nicole sang “The Climb” with Erica Rossi. “It built her confidence right up,” Sharon said. “She loves to dance and sing, and this gives her the perfect venue for that.”

“The most important thing is it creates a feeling of independence,” said Ken Adamowski, whose son Alex performed “Gangman Style Dance.”

This independence includes the right to take risks, he said. “Our kids have the same wants and desires as other people,” he said.

By Josh Bovee

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