Students show off talents at second annual Applause for a Cause

Students sang, danced, beatboxed, told jokes and even rewrote a classic children’s song at LINK’s second annual Applause for a Cause talent show on Friday.

LINK is a student-run volunteer organization that provides community service opportunities for groups or individuals. The organization is involved in afterschool programs in Coconut Grove and South Miami.

This year’s Applause for a Cause took place in the I-Lounge and featured fifteen student performances in the categories of dance, vocals with and without instrument accompaniment, and spoken word/poetry. The winners in each category had their prize money donated to a charity of their choice.

Carol Perry, a sophomore who won for vocal performance without accompaniment, made her donation to the Global and Regional Asperger’s Syndrome Partnership.

“My brother has Asperger’s Syndrome and growing up it was hard for him to make friends,” she said. “It was difficult for me to see that.”

Asperger’s Syndrome is a neurobiological disorder characterized by deficiencies in one’s social and communication skills.

Many performers also chose to represent charities to which they had personal connections.

Theresa Crowley, who sang Sarah McLaughlin’s “Building a Mystery,” performed on behalf of Hoger Escuela Genesis, a small school and nutrition center for children in the Dominican Republic which she visited several years ago.

“It was dirty and horrible and I hated it and I swore I’d never go back,” she said. “But since then I haven’t been able to stop going back [there].”

Crowley added she was singing for the children because they gave her hope.

Representatives from United Black Students, Hands for the Homeless and Hecht Residential College judged the acts based upon performance, creativity, showmanship, and talent.

Two of the winning acts raised money for Invisible Children, an organization that provides financial resources to children who are victims of rebel violence in Uganda.

Aside from donating money, students also had the opportunity to showcase their talents to their peers.

South Indian Spice, a group of five girls, choreographed and performed an Indian folk dance to a mix of songs.

Ben Tabak, a graduate student, won in the vocal performance with accompaniment category.

“I didn’t know we had so many talented UM students,” said sophomore Trish Colatorti, who also said Tabak was her favorite performer.

Raneir Pollard, a member of Just Kidding, UM’s improvisational comedy troupe, served as master of ceremonies for the event. The event raised approximately $1,000 through admittance and raffle ticket sales, which was equally split among the winners.

Brittany Lambert, co-chair of special events, said performers were screened in advance to make sure their act was not offensive.

She added that LINK looked in to the charities chosen by participants to make sure they were legitimate. LINK will be writing checks to the winning organizations on behalf of the students.

Stacey Weitz may be contacted at