Two talented musicians are performing at Special Olympics this weekend, and they’ve had to overcome life’s obstacles to get to this moment. 7’s Kevin Ozebek on Tonight’s 7 Spotlight.
They work together in perfect harmony to find those magical moments that audiences will love.
Jacob Velazquez, 14, and his sister Skylar Velazquez, 10, are passionate about their music. To see them play, you would never know that they are both autistic.
Jacob Velazquez: “I think every day has a new hurdle to overcome, and I think that’s, you know, that’s pretty good because it just makes you better every day.”
Jacob started playing the piano at the age of 3.
The music helped him focus on his therapy. By the age of 12, he was so advanced that he won a spot on the TV show “America’s Got Talent.”
Jacob wowed the judges with an original piano song. Then he played a surprise drum solo.
When COVID hit, Jacob decided to learn other instruments.
Jacob Velazquez: “I started playing guitar and all other instruments like cello, saxophone, bass, harmonica and even a small ukulele.”
Now he and Skylar are busy training for a very special performance. They will perform and sing together at the upcoming Special Olympics USA games in Orlando.
Tina Velazquez, mother of Jacob and Skylar: “They’ve come so far since they were little. The two had so much therapy between them. It was food therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy.
Kids say it’s important to know that being on the spectrum doesn’t mean you can’t achieve great things.
Skyar Velazquez: “I feel like autism doesn’t make you weird, but it makes you different, but good to be different from other kids.”
One of the songs they will perform was written by the whole family.
It’s called “Behind Blue Eyes,” dedicated to 12-year-old Drake Hardeman. The Utah boy took his own life after being bullied.
Skylar Velazquez: “The lesson is to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.”
Jacob will perform “A Time to Shine” with teen singer Ashley Marina, who was also on “America’s Got Talent.” He says their song celebrates the spirit of Special Olympics.
Tina hopes their songs will also inspire parents who face challenges with children with special needs.
Tina Velazquez: “I really hope that, you know, anyone going through a new diagnosis can turn to Jacob and Skylar and say there’s hope.”
Jacob and Skylar couldn’t be more proud to represent South Florida. They will perform at the Special Olympics on June 7 and 8.
Kevin Ozebek, 7News.
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