Talent, spirit rise from competition
September 30, 2011
FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Roars of applause filled the Elkhorn Conference Center Sept. 22 as Operation Rising Star contestants competed for $500 and a chance to advance to the Armywide event.
"We have some great talent out here tonight ... there are no losers here ... we wish everyone the best, regardless of what the outcome is tonight," said Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. James A. Kilpatrick.
Ten hopefuls -- two active-duty Soldiers and eight Family members -- stepped on stage to amaze the crowd with their musical talents. Soldiers from units across the installation came out to encourage their favorite singer. Votes from the audience counted for half the winning decision.
"The other half came from three judges who critiqued the contestant's musicality and stage presence," said Gigi Holman, Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.
After each contestant performed, the judges collaborated and the audience handed in their ballots. The performers filed onto stage before Varinia Herrera was announced as the Fort Carson 2011 Operation Rising Star winner.
"I am so excited, I will probably cry when I get home," said Herrera, who placed second in last year's competition. "I owe it all to the people who came out here tonight to support me."
A video of Herrera's winning performance will be submitted for consideration to compete in the Army-wide Operation Rising Star.
Angela Ramirez was the runner-up.
Along with voting, units in the audience competed for a $300 spirit award, which was given to the unit with the most passion and cheers for its favorite contestant.
"We wanted to make sure all the singers have great support as well as having a great time … the spirit award builds camaraderie within the competition," Holman said.
From the 10 units represented in the crowd, the competition was concentrated between 759th Military Police Battalion and 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, as Kil-patrick went back and forth between the two groups judging the intensity. After powerful cheers and shouts, Kilpatrick chose 759th MP Bn. for the spirit award.
"We came out to support Cynthia and participate in the event," said Chap. (Maj.) Don Williamson, 759th MP Bn., who supported Cynthia Maldonado, who finished third. "The money will go (toward) our (military) ball so we can make the tickets for Soldiers cheaper."