Extra Special People, a nonprofit organization serving over 900 individuals with disabilities and their families, will hold its annual talent show Friday at Athens Church.

The talent show will feature acts from 48 participants as part of ESP’s efforts to create transformative experiences for people with disabilities such as autism, cerebral palsy and Down syndrome.

ESP expects 1,000 people to attend. 

“The whole point behind it is to show people how amazing our participants are and to not overlook a person with a disability based on their exterior,” said Hunter Pugh, director of programs at ESP. “We all have special talents, and personalities and cool things about us that you wouldn’t know just by looking at each other.”

The nonprofit was founded in 1986 and has seen an increase in the number of its participants.

“We kept hearing that ESP was this hidden gem, and that more people needed to be able to see all of the cool things that our participants get to do,” Pugh said. “We started this talent show, because it really allowed us to be able to show our community how amazing our participants are.”

ESP began hosting the talent show in 2008 as part of its Big Hearts fundraiser, which raised $1.1 million last year. The nonprofit, which is based in Watkinsville, Georgia, uses the money for its programs, including a summer camp, which serves over 500 participants a season. For example, the talent show in 2021 raised $150,000 for the camp, contributing to scholarships, attendance and activity fees.

We would love to have a sold-out show for our participants,” Pugh said.

The masters of ceremonies for this year’s show are former Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray; his brother, Josh Murray, who has appeared on reality TV shows including “The Bachelor;” Atlanta Falcons linebacker Lorenzo Carter; and Jake Sapp, coordinator of programs at ESP.

A red carpet will be held at 6:30 p.m. where people can cheer on the participants before the show starts at 7 p.m. The Big Hearts fundraiser weekend will conclude with a silent auction and black-tie gala Saturday at The Classic Center.

Ethan Wilcox is a second-year student majoring in journalism.

 

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