Walla Walla’s Got Talent: A New Tradition

Zoe Brown, Staff Reporter

Whitman students and Walla Walla community members alike gathered in Cordiner Hall on Friday, March 2 for Kappa Alpha Theta’s annual philanthropy event, Walla Walla’s Got Talent. The event is a talent show featuring contestants from around the Walla Walla area, including Whitman students, Walla Walla University students and community members. Performances included dancing, comedy and even hand-walking. All proceeds from Walla Walla’s Got Talent went to benefit the local branch of the National Court Appointed Child Advocates (CASA) Association.

This year, the sorority chose to hold a talent show instead of Walla Walla’s Best Dance Crew, their previous main fundraising event. Theta’s philanthropy chair, sophomore Nikki Delgado, discussed the challenges with getting entries for the previous event.

“It was very difficult to get people to participate last year,” Delgado said. “We had I think eight acts total, but a lot of people don’t want to take the time to choreograph a dance, and somebody in my sorority suggested doing something different, so we thought of doing a talent show instead. Because if people are passionate about something and they have a great talent, why not do that instead of making people take the time and effort to do something they’re not passionate about?”

The change in theme helped Theta to reach their goals of increased attendance and participation. This year, there were a total of seventeen acts. According to Delgado, so many people tried out that somewhere between ten and fifteen groups had to be cut. After auditions, the final lineup ranged from singing to juggling, making for an exciting showcase of a variety of talents.

Participants had various reasons for auditioning. Junior Kirk Lange played the last two preludes of a set of twenty-four by Chopin. Lange auditioned for Walla Walla’s Got Talent because it gave him an opportunity to perform.

“People have always said I don’t look nervous when I’m performing, even though I still am somewhat nervous,” Lange said. “I think it was when I got to perform at my high school graduation–that’s kind of when I realized, you know, I do kind of like performing because it does better myself as a musician. Also–because I’m not a music major, I’m only minoring in music–after Whitman I’m not going to get any more chances to perform, so I want to take as many opportunities as I can.”

Performers competed to win in three categories: the Danza Classica Ballet Company won the award for most money fundraised; Sophomore Riga Moettus, who performed a juggling skit, won the Judges Choice Award; and In Step Dance Studio won the People’s Choice Award.

Both Danza Classica Ballet Company and In Step Dance Studio were entries from Walla Walla Community members. Sophomore Rachel Price, the co-head of fundraising expressed the importance of including the community in the event.

“A big part of the importance of the event is including the Walla Walla Community because all the proceeds from this event go to the Walla Walla and Columbia County chapter of CASA, and so it’s affecting that community,” Price said. “That’s why it’s important to have this event reach out and cater to that larger community that it’s really having the most impact on.”

Judges appoint CASAs to help children that have been abused or neglected. These volunteers help to represent the voice of the child in court and provide a constant adult presence in their lives until their case is closed. According to Delgado, in the Walla Walla Area, the local CASA program is working with more than 70 kids on limited funds.

At the end of the talent show, Theta presented the local CASA with a check for $12,247 dollars, the total amount raised by fundraisers this year.

Price helped to gather these donations through collecting from businesses, coordinating smaller fundraisers such as “Crushes for CASA,” getting other Thetas to participate in the smaller fundraisers and, of course, from Walla Walla’s Got Talent.

“This is our main philanthropy event,” Price said. “We do little things in the fall, sort of to fundraise leading up to it, but this is the culmination of all of that work.”

Sophomore Eliza Wyckoff, the event’s co-marketing chair, emphasized the importance of this event for the Whitman and Walla Walla Community.

“I think it’s important to host at Whitman and make a big deal of at Whitman because, as you’ve probably heard of, the Whitman bubble … A lot of times you don’t take notice of the gap that is in Walla Walla between socio-economic groups and kids often get ignored when you [don’t] see that gap, and it’s very important to bring that gap back into the public’s vision,” Wyckoff said.