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Waukegan Township Senior Idol contestants inspired to perform

ElverPhillips Waukegan singing 'Blessed Like That' Senior Idol talent competitiPark Place Senior Center Sunday December 16 2012 Waukegan IL. Phillips

Elvera Phillips, of Waukegan, singing "Blessed Like That" in the Senior Idol talent competition at Park Place Senior Center on Sunday, December 16, 2012, in Waukegan, IL. Phillips won first place. | Chandler West~For Sun-Times Media

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Senior Idol

First Place: Elvire Phillips of Waukegan, sang “Blessed Like That”

Second Place: Rosa Kiner of Waukegan, sang “Amazing Grace”

Derrell Shepherd of Waukegan, sang “Redeem”

Cheryl Vaughns of Waukegan, sang “Chain of Fools”

Wess Earl of North Chicago, sang “Heartaches”

Jeff McBride of Waukegan, inspiration

Tina Ramos of Waukegan, comedy

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Updated: February 17, 2013 1:41AM

WAUKEGAN — As she took the stage in the Senior Idol Contest, Tina Ramos of Waukegan looked around for any children in the audience.

“Since everybody here is a grown up, I’ve decided say a joke only for grown-ups. A little boy fell in the mud,” Ramos said.

Her “dirty joke” was met with an instant of silence and then laughter as the 300 attendees at Waukegan Township Park Place’s holiday luncheon and Senior Idol contest got the humor.

Ramos was one of seven contestants at the Senior Idol competition. Five of the acts sang and Waukeganite Jeff McBride spoke about how his faith saw him through his liver transplant 70 days ago.

He had cirrhosis, a life-threatening condition that impairs the liver’s ability to function. The liver detoxifies harmful substances, purifies the blood and manufactures vital nutrients.

Before his transplant, McBride had to use a wheelchair to navigate the Waukegan Township Park Place Senior Center. At Sunday’s event, he was able to walk onto the stage.

“God is good. Whenever you have, you go tell it. He’s been good to me. He healed me,” McBride said.

He also got married two weeks after his transplant. He didn’t win the Senior Idol competition, but he said he was glad to be there.

Elvire Phillips of Waukegan sang “Amazing Grace” a capella. She won first place and a 19-inch color flat-screen TV.

“I’m going to relax and enjoy my prize with some Christmas movies. I’m surprised. I couldn’t believe I won. I’m very pleased and thankful,” Phillips said.

A panel of three judges selected first and second place. Judging was based on talent, creativity, originality, stage presence, charisma and appearance. Audrey Pierson of Waukegan, a Grammy-winning singer; Clay Sylvester of Waukegan, piano teacher at Family Piano in the downtown; and Candice Quinn of Wadsworth, a singer with Waukegan Township’s That’s Entertainment, were the judges.

“We have many talented seniors,” said Waukegan Township Supervisor Patricia Jones.

Prizes, as well as funding for the turkey dinner, were donated so the holiday event was offered for free, according to Park Place Director Marty Williams.

The senior center gives services to more than 45,000 people every year, she said. The free dinner has been ongoing for at least eight years.

“What I always feel is there are so many seniors who are alone during the holidays. This gives them the opportunity to celebrate that they may not otherwise get,” Williams said.

The dinner also included musical performances by the St. Dismas Hand Bell Choir, Waukegan High School Rendition Choir, James Snow and Christian Valley Missionary Baptist Church male chorus.

In light of the tragedies this year, such as the Connecticut school shootings and the Colorado movie theater shooting, Jones said the dinner was a chance for the community to come together and pray for those who are suffering. It’s also a time to celebrate the holidays together, she said.

“It’s the end of the year and we want to make sure for those who will not have the opportunity to celebrate, they get the opportunity to enjoy their surroundings, good food and (have) a chance to enjoy the end of 2012,” Jones said.

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