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South Hills Stars Special Needs Color Guard lets everyone shine

South Hills group lets everyone shine
South Hills group lets everyone shine 03:17

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The 24 young women and men who make up the South Hills Stars Special Needs Color Guard are proving everyone deserves some time in the spotlight, and this troupe of performers is getting a lot of attention lately.  

They've performed on stages, marched in parades, cheered at fundraisers and showcased their skills at halftime of a Duquesne University women's basketball game. 

Recently, the team, along with its dedicated volunteers, put on a show for parents and loved ones at the Bethel Park Community Center, where they practice once a week. 

Director Emily Columbus formed the squad in the spring of 2022.

"We're open to anyone with a disability to come and have fun with us and learn the skills of color guard," Columbus said. 

She said the volunteers and the families get as much out of the experience as the participants. 

"They absolutely love this," Columbus said. "You can just see on their faces, the pure enjoyment they have and they just love coming here and it's independence and knowledge that they're getting to help them in life."

Meredith Ambrose is one of the "stars" and a skilled performer. 

"I've been doing this for three years," Ambrose said. "The stars mean everything to me. We learn different stuff throughout the year. I'm nervous performing in front of people, but I do my hardest to do it. It makes me think I achieved my goal."

 Most of the families are from the South Hills, but Cher Redwood drives to Bethel Park every week from McKeesport. 

"This means everything to me that my daughter can come and participate in a social activity like this and be able to showcase her talent and have fun and meet new friends, and build her self-confidence and self-esteem," Redwood said.

The South Hills Stars Special Needs Color Guard has been showcasing its talents at several end-of-the-year performances, one of which raised funds for UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh's Free Care Fund Telethon. 

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