Two talented musicians are performing at the Special Olympics this weekend, and they had to overcome life’s obstacles to get to this moment. 7’s Kevin Ozebek has tonight’s 7 Spotlight.
They work together in perfect harmony to find those magical moments the audience will love.
Fourteen-year-old Jacob Velazquez and his 10-year-old-sister Skylar Velazquez are passionate about their music. To see them play, you would never know that they both have autism.
Jacob Velazquez: “I think every day has a new obstacle to be overcome, and I think it’s, you know, it’s kind of good because it just makes you better each day.”
Jacob began playing piano when he was 3 years old.
Music helped him focus on his therapy. By the time he was 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 song on piano. Then he played a surprise drum solo.
When COVID hit, Jacob decided to learn other instruments.
Jacob Velazquez: “I started playing guitar and all the other instruments like cello, saxophone, bass, harmonica and even a little ukulele.”
Now he and Skylar are busy practicing for a very special performance. They’ll be playing and singing together at the upcoming Special Olympics USA games in Orlando.
Tina Velazquez, Jacob and Skylar’s mom: “They’ve come such a long way just from when they were little. Both of them had so much therapy between the two of them. It was feeding therapy, speech therapy, occupational.”
The 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 having autism doesn’t make you weird, but it makes you different, but good to be different from other kids.”
One of the songs they’ll perform was written by the whole family.
It’s called “Behind Blue Eyes,” dedicated to 12-year-old Drake Hardeman. The Utah boy committed suicide after being bullied.
Skylar Velazquez: “The lesson is to make sure that happens to no one 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 the Special Olympics.
Tina hopes their songs will also inspire parents who are facing challenges with special needs children.
Tina Velazquez: “I just really hope that, you know, anyone else going through a new diagnosis that they can look to Jacob and Skylar and say, there is hope.”
Jacob and Skylar could not be prouder to be representing South Florida. They’ll be performing at the Special Olympics on June 7 and 8.
Kevin Ozebek, 7News.
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