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ConnectAbility to host talent show this weekend
The Dawson County Performing Arts Center. - photo by Jessica Taylor

The eighth annual ConnectAbility Night of Stars Talent Show is going to be bigger and better than ever. ConnectAbility, a nonprofit dedicated to the support of adults and children with special needs, has partnered with the Dawson County Exceptional Kids program to put on the talent show at the Performing Arts Center Jan. 26.

“ConnectAbility is devoted to creating communities where people of all abilities are valued, included and empowered,” said Community Based Instruction Program Lead Edith Banta. “The talent show is one of their annual events and we held the first event together in the Performing Arts Center last year. This year is going to be even more amazing.”

This year, ConnectAbility has partnered with the CBI program for the second time and plans for the biggest talent show yet, with a live band, professional sound and lighting and a special guest performance. Banta said that many CBI students will be performing in the talent show as well as serving coffee – which has become a morning staple at the high school - at the concession stand.

“We are so excited to be partnering with Dawson County Schools and the Unified Tigers group again this year,” said ConnectAbility President Jaqueline Daniel. “We are also so excited to highlight the talents of the Unified Tigers by offering their specialty coffee drinks to the community.”

Rion Paige, who was a finalist on the X Factor in 2013, is the special guest set to perform at the talent show. The 18-year-old, who has a rare condition called arthrogryposis multiplex congenital which has caused permanent damage to her arms, received fifth place on season 3 of the national show under the mentorship of superstar Demi Lovato.

“We work hard to ensure that people of all abilities are able to share their gifts and our talent show is the pinnacle of that principle,” said Daniel. “Our stage is open to many performers who will share songs, dances, poems, jokes, group acts and many others. For some, it will be the first time they have had the chance to share their gifts from the stage.”

Daniel, who started ConnectAbility in Dahlonega in 2001, says this year’s show is dedicated to the memory of someone very special: Clifford Hudson, a friend of the ConnectAbility organization, who died in 2017. Hudson loved the annual show and would always sing along to his favorite country songs – usually Alan Jackson. He performed a song for his girlfriend Elisabeth Virga at last year’s show.

The Performing Arts Center is located next to the Dawson County High School at 1665 Perimeter Road. The ConnectAbility Talent Show will begin at 6 p.m. Attendance and concessions are free and all are welcome to attend. For those interested in attending, please visit to sign up and reserve admission.