WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The performance of the National Anthem before this week’s Winston-Salem Dash vs. Myrtle Beach Pelicans was special for the vocal ensemble of the Enrichment Center.
The music group, made up of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, sent in an audition tape for the season’s National Anthem performance and a few weeks ago learned they won.
"For us to go sing the National Anthem, it's huge, that’s awesome," said vocal instructor Amy Wiard. "The most rewarding part for me, has to be seeing everybody happy and smiling, and succeeding that’s the biggest thing."
Music has opened many doors for the students, especially those like Eric Gist who spoke very little until attending class.
"When he sings he sings his heart out," said Wiard. "This gives him that communication."
After weeks of practice, the group stepped out to home plate Thursday night to perform with the crowd cheering them on. Their performance not only brought praise, but tears.
“It’s very emotional for me," said Gina Miller with the Enrichment Center. "To see them out there singing and know they’ve practiced so hard and they’ve come so far."
Since 2010, the Winston-Salem Dash has worked with the Enrichment Center students in a number of ways including hiring students.
"You can see the passion that they have for it," said Corey Bugno with the Winston-Salem Dash. "The excitement they have when they walk into the ball park, it’s really special for us to have that and to be a part of it."