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Cary special-needs student wins talent contest

(Monica Maschak –
Breanna Bogucki, seen here in her Cary home, talks about her experience competing in and winning Special Talents America, a talent competition for kids with special needs. Bogucki, who has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and high-functioning autism, beat out eight acts in the contest, which draws people from Michigan, Indiana and Illinois. Bogucki won the competition last week by singing Taylor Swift's "Mean."

CARY – Posted on YouTube is a video of 15-year-old Breanna Bogucki singing “Mean,” a song by Taylor Swift, in front of a crowd of 500 to 600 people clapping along.

Four judges watch, ready to give her feedback as if she were on “American Idol.”

Breanna occasionally points to the crowd or puts her hand over her heart while she keeps on key during the song. She receives a large round of applause.

“You have the ability to entertain,” judge Fergie Frederiksen, of the rock band TOTO, says on the video clip. “You have the ability to command the stage. And you gained the love and respect of the people by how you handled yourself on stage, not to mention your voice is fantastic.”

Breanna sang at Special Talents America, a talent competition for people with special needs, which she won.

The event, which featured eight other acts, included a banjo player, dancers and a harpist. About 40 acts from Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan auditioned. Nine acts were selected for the Nov. 5 show in Naperville.

Breanna is a Cary-Grove High School freshman. She has obsessive compulsive disorder and high-functioning autism. Before high school, she was in only regular classes but received extra help from an aide. Her only special education class now is math. She still has some extra help with modifications to help her through the day.

She decided to perform “Mean” because she was teased in previous years because of her disability.

“A lot of people can be mean in this world,” Breanna said.

She wants people to have a better understanding that she can function well in the world despite her disability.

“I’m disabled, but I can also be normal,” Breanna said. “I’m like everyone else.”

She had some trouble in junior high because she would ask people the same question over and over, which annoyed some people.

“Her biggest issue was she could make friends, but she couldn’t keep them,” said Mary Ellen Bogucki, Breanna’s mother.

Breanna goes to social skill training to help her understand social cues.

She likes to sing all the time, but not in front of family members, said her father, Dan Bogucki.

She entered the competition after hearing about it through the Northern Illinois Special Recreation Association. The contest was set up like an “American Idol” competition, with judges giving comments and videos about the acts before their performances.

“You don’t know what to think when you think ‘special needs,’ but these people are really talented,” Mary Ellen Bogucki said.

Breanna also participated in the 2010 Special Talents America competition and has performed in music recitals with NISRA.

“We’re like, ‘Share it. God gave you this gift, share it,’” Mary Ellen Bogucki said. “This has been a huge confidence [boost].”

Breanna is now involved in a choir with NISRA, her church and Cary-Grove High School.

After winning the Special Talents America contest, she will get to have a recording session with singer-songwriter Jim Peterik of Ides of March and Survivor.

“I did not expect winning at all,” Breanna said.

On the Net Watch Breanna Bogucki’s performance on YouTube at

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