Dreams came true for Wellington High School choir singer Bryce Wylie Feb. 5 when he performed in New York City as part of the 2017 High School Honors Performance Series.
Making it to the concert, which took place at Carnegie Hall, was somewhat of an uncertainty for the senior. He initially expected to have to raise about $4,000 for air travel and expenses.
Fundraising through GoFundMe and in-person donations brought in $2,285. While still short of the earlier goal, Bryce and his parents, Gary and April, decided to cut costs by driving to New York.
The singer attended the Wellington school board’s meeting on Feb. 21 to thank donors and those who offered encouragement through the process.
“Everybody there was telling me about how their parents did this and their parents got them there,” he said. “I said, your parents paid for all of this? My town helped me go. You guys helped me. That’s really touching. I’m just thankful for the money you contributed and the fundraising you helped with. Thank you so much.”
Bryce sang in a choir with 250 other students from across the country that rehearsed for about seven hours each day at the event.
“We had two days of rehearsal and then we performed on Sunday,” he said. “We worked really hard and it paid off. We got up at 5:30 in the morning and drove straight from Wellington to New York City,” he said. “The first thing we noticed when we got to our hotel room was we could see the Empire State Building. It was awesome.”
Bryce’s group also took in a showing of “School of Rock” on Broadway, rode a boat past the Statue of Liberty, and recorded a CD of songs performed at the concert.
“Our director said we were only going to have one chance to record,” he said. “I kid you not, we recorded each song at least five times. It was all worth it in the end no matter how many times we had to go over the same part. It came together and sounded amazing.”
The morning of the performance, he woke up around 5 a.m. with an upset stomach and pounding headache.
“That wasn’t good,” he said. “I began freaking out, which didn’t help how I already felt. I said I’d still go and sing feeling like this. They gave me a lot of medicine. My fever broke, the stomach died down, and I was ready to go.”
Seeing the inside of the historic Carnegie Hall was almost worth the trip in itself, Bryce said.
“It was so beautiful. I couldn’t stop looking at these giant white pillars lined with golden trim,” he said. “Every inch of it was detailed and etched with a purpose. It all made me a little nervous, but getting up on stage and thinking how much effort we put in calmed me down.”
WHS principal Tina Drake was one of Bryce’s many donors, and said the opportunity couldn’t have happened to anyone more deserving.
“How do you not support a kid with that kind of excitement?” she asked. “It was just a dream to him. How do you not help a kid fulfill that dream? Bryce started participating in drama club last year and that really helped him broaden his horizons.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.