Alex Wunder performs at the Ohio Has Talent! competition Saturday night. (Times Bulletin/Lindsay McCoy)
BY LINDSAY MCCOY
Times Bulletin New Writer
VAN WERT - This year's Ohio Has Talent! winner was crowned Saturday night at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. The first place winner was 14-year-old singer, Alex Wunder, a freshman at Fairmont High School in Kettering, who performed the song, "December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)." Wunder sings with an a cappella group and is a member of mens chorus and he also sang the National Anthem at a Dayton Dragons' game last summer. For winning the Sixth Annual Ohio Has Talent! competition, Wunder received a $500 award.
In all, 20 performers from throughout the county and outlying areas showed off their talents to judges and a voting audience. The event is a fund-raiser for Community Health Professionals' Inpatient Hospice Center. The center provides care to families when a life-limiting illness cannot be managed at home. Patient care is provided by trained hospice nurses, and the center provides places to accommodate families."All the funds we generate from this is used towards our patient chair fund and patient care costs," said CHP VP of Operations Shelly Barrett. "OHT allows us to service all those in need including patients without insurance. Without this we don't know if we could continue to move forward with this and not turn anyone down."
Second place and $250 was awarded to Coldwater High School freshman Courtney Bettinger. Bettinger's teammates were present at the event to support her singing Alicia Keys' song, "Girl on Fire." She is a member of the symphonic choir, has sung in talent shows, weddings and school plays.
Third place and $100 went to 16-year-old dancer, Jon Albert. Albert has been dancing for about three years and danced to a collection of popular songs. He is from Fort Wayne, IN, and his favorite styles of music and dance include hip-hop, B-boying, and popping.
Honorable mention was given to Paul Luft and Ben Tuttle. This due of high school sophomores performed the song, "All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down." Luft is a student at Versailles and Ben is at St. Marys Memorial. Both are Boy Scouts and play in a country band, The Shelby County Line.
Also receiving honorable mention was 12-year-old Michaella Johnson. Johnson sang a medley from Disney's Princess and the Frog, accompanied on the piano by her vocal coach, Jake Wilder. Johnson is a sixth grader at Van Wert Middle School where she is a gold card recipient in the Renaissance program. She first competed in OHT when she was six-years-old.
Other talented performers included 19-year-old Miami University sophomore Kristy Ressler. Michael Littleton was born and raised in Columbus and performed to a rap song which he wrote. Ann Brake is a 16-year-old dancer from Ohio City who returned to OHT for the second time. Emma Wurst is a 16-year-old sophomore at Delphos Jefferson High School who sang "I Dreamed a Dream."
Gabrielle Emerick is a 13-year-old Crestview Middle School student who performed the country song, "Mama's Broken Heart." Lincolnview graduate, 23-year-old James Brake, sang and played his original composition, "I'll Be There" on piano. St. Henry High School senior, Grace Stammen, sang, "Didn't You Know How Much I Love You." Rachel Werling, a fourth grade student at St. Henry Elementary School, sang How Great Thou Art.
Matison Lyons is a 16-year-old from Springfield who sang, "Ain't No Other Man." Bryn Dippold, a seventh grader from Coldwater has previously won first place in her age group at the Coldwater Community Picnic talent show. Hannah Wyse of Brayn sang "Think of Me." and previously sang the National Anthem at two major league baseball games.
Scott Turner is a senior at Van Wert High School who played an original piano piece. He previously guest performed an original, memorial composition for 2011 OHT winner Shirissa Seibert. 15-year-old Rachel Green of Rockford sang "Killing Me Softly" accompanied by her father. Natalee Patrick is an eighth grader at Elida Middle School and Catrina Lang from Fostoria, OH each sang.
While votes from the audience were compiled, special guest, Cameron Jones, performed with his band which included an eight-year-old drummer. Jones was the 2012 winner of Ohio Has Talent! and went on to perform at Ohio Idol.
Auditions to compete in Saturday's competition took place in November with judges, Kim Mason, Tricia Profit-Kuhn, and Gary Adams. The event's emcee was Wally Grimm.