Eleven finalists, one Senior Idol

The 11 finalists for the first Chesterfield/Tri-Cities “Senior Idol” competition were all show-stoppers at last Friday evening’s event, held at Thomas Dale High School, but only one could make it to the top as the first-place winner.  

J.A. Winckler, 82, of Chesterfield, had the style, he was able to croon and when he sang the chorus from Frank Sinatra’s That’s Life, belting out “Each time I find myself flat on my face, I get myself up and get back in the race,” the crowd of nearly 500 gave their shouts of approval and moved the judges to name Winckler the winner of the first Senior Idol competition of Chesterfield County and the Tri-Cities.

Judges for the competition, Niki Swann, Ms. Wheelchair VA, Josh Wartham and Una Harrison, had tough decisions to make, because everyone in the crowd thought they were all winners.  The top 11 finalists were selected from earlier judged competitions of 43 entries.

The second-place winners, the Tap Dancing Grannies, had the crowd roaring when they did their finale,  moving to Old Time Rock and Roll.  Linda Mason, Linda Pond, Carolyn Temple and Carol Wrenn took their lead from Alice “Granny” Temple, 88, who, at the end of their performance, pushed her walker to the side to do a dipsy-doodle.  
Placing third was Gerry Seeley, 60, who played guitar and sang an original a song about things you wouldn’t say to your wife.

Entertaining in between acts while the judges were scoring each performance were the emcees for the evening, Scott Fisher and Jeff Beatman.

The remaining finalists in the competition included:  Sherrie Lizarraga, the Beulah Road Quartet, Alberto Babran, Barry Green, Cheryl and Jackie, Inez Johnson, Howard Wynn and Billy Smith.

Wynn was by far the most creative with his performance.  His act was named Three’s Company, and involved a dance routine with two mannequins.

A little nervous backstage before the show began, he said, “I feel like I am going to play a football game.”  Adding, “The Shepherd Center gives you the opportunity to be creative like this without a whole lot of restrictions.”

Tricia Wolfe, executive director for the Shepherd’s Center of Chesterfield, was very pleased with the support from the community and hopes to make the competition an annual event.

“It wasn’t the largest fundraiser for us.  Primarily because this was the first year for the event and the sponsors we approached didn’t seem to have a vision for the impact it was going to have with the community,” she said in an e-mail.   “I’m hoping to build on the success of this one to grow it to be our primary fundraising event in the years to come.” 

Wolfe added: “There were great partnerships formed and the ‘in kind’ donations of posters, space, facility use, volunteers, prizes, etc., was huge.  That part of the ‘fundraiser’ has yet to be calculated.”

The Shepherd’s Center of Chesterfield is a non-profit, interfaith charity organization of volunteers who donate their time, talents, professional expertise, automobiles, gasoline, etc., to help the elderly in Chesterfield County and the Tri-Cities to state active and independent in their own homes.

The Senior Idol event’s proceeds support the services and programs of the center which include the free transportation program that involves free rides to and from medical appointments, for prescription pickup and food shopping; the HandyHands program, which involves minor home repairs for those who are on fixed incomes or otherwise unable to afford the costs of minor home maintenance; and the Adventures in Learning program that is a low-cost mini-college that has a varied curriculum of over 30 class offerings offering classes three times a years, one day a week for eight-week sessions.

Anyone who would like to join the Shepherd’s Center as a volunteer, participate in program or make a financial contribution can call 706-6689.  For more information, visit www.shepctrchesterfield.org.

Visit the Media page for more pictures from the show!

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