It was his story – it was his song.
Donnie McGhee, Jr. just loves making music.
McGhee has long been known for playing countless songs on the guitar by memory, and singing every word with feeling.
He captured the respect of the judges as he sang/played “Blessed Assurance” as part of the recent Madison County Idol Karaoke Contest, sponsored by Madison Advocates for Progress (MAP) – a self-advocacy group for individuals with disabilities.
McGhee’s rendition of the sacred staple earned him a first-place trophy during the event, initially sponsored by the group affiliated with the Madison County Board of Developmental Disabilities (MCBDD).
Dale Jones and Diana Large earned second and third-place trophies, respectively, in an event that saw 16 contestants. Additionally, approximately three times as many people came to support the singers.
MAP President and self-advocate Mike Ellis served as emcee for the event. Fellow self-advocate Sam Elliott was one of the judges, along with MCBDD Community Inclusion Manager Jenn Coleman and frequent volunteer Reid Gates, a fourth grade student at St. Patrick School.
As is true in Special Olympics athletic events, all participants went away with a token of recognition as certificates were awarded to all who sang. In addition to McGhee, Jones and Large, others who performed were Rebecca Bell, Kendra Chapman, Rebecca Dozier-Satter, Sam Elliott, Mike Ellis, Brian Farris, Keith Farris, Cindy Gordon, Tim Moore, Andrea Radley, Shaundra Sayre, Kenneth Stischok and Ashley Whitelow.
MAP meets monthly, providing a variety of activities – some social in nature, but typically with an educational or community service component. Past events have included making Valentine’s Day cards with residents of The Madison Senior Living Community, organizing a dog food drive to benefit the Madison County Humane Society, and co-sponsoring a local conference for people with disabilities. Run in conjunction with People First – another local self-advocacy group – the conference offers a wide spectrum of guest speakers and topics.
Information will be available soon for a fundraising Spaghetti Dinner MAP will be organizing in conjunction with London Music Boosters and Ann & Tony’s Restaurant in West Jefferson. It is the fourth year MAP will be running the fundraising dinner.
To learn more about events sponsored by Madison Advocates for Progress, or to volunteer, call Madison County Board of DD at 740-852-7050.