By Mary Doyle, Fort Meade Public Affairs

Nurturing Talent at Fort Meade

A Fort Meade resident was one of more than a dozen finalists from across the country and from military installations around the world, to compete in the ‘Military Kids Have Talent” contest. Sponsored by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, the competition aired July 31, in a virtual watch party on the foundation’s Facebook page.

Maiya Lindsay, 15, from Fort Meade, submitted a recording of her performance and she was selected to be a finalist in the competition.

“I'm proud of being a military kid,” said Lindsay. “I wanted to be involved in the competition of showcasing military kids' talents. I just set up my phone and started recording.”

In a press release issued by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, the COVID-19 pandemic played a role in the development of the competition.

“COVID-19 has created more uncertainty in the daily lives of military kids,” said Steve Schwab, CEO of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. “We are excited to be able to recognize them for who they are, and give them a chance to have fun sharing their special talents.”

Jocko Sims, an actor with a long film and TV career including appearances in films like Jarhead and Dreamgirls, as well as TV shows like The Last Ship and New Amsterdam, served as host for the show.

"As we all know, the past few months haven’t been a walk in the park,” said Sims. “In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation wanted to find a way to uplift, entertain, and inspire military kids and their families across the nation. We’re so glad we can recognize and celebrate military and veteran kids, or as Senator Dole calls them, America’s hidden helpers.”

The competition showcased the talents of kids in five categories. Ages zero to six, seven to nine, ages 10 to 11, ages 12 to 14 and ages 15 to 18. Talents displayed included everything from stand-up comedy, to tumbling, ballet, playing instruments, as well as skateboard and scooter prowess. Viewers are asked to vote for one contestant in each of the five categories by text message. Winners will be named later in August

Lindsey competed in the 15 to 18 year-old category and sang a passionate rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” 

“I have a deep relationship with God and feel happy when I sing about Jesus,” she said.

The variety of talents demonstrated the unique personalities of military kids. According to Austin Courtney, communication director for The Elizabeth Dole Foundation, the competition was meant to provide hope and unity to military kids and spotlight their wide ranging talents; talents many of them acquire despite the hardships military kids face.

“I've moved 9 times on 3 different continents,” said Lindsay. “It's been tough sometimes moving and leaving your friends, but it's been really easy because the military community is such a close knit family.  Every place we've been, there's been new and exciting opportunities and learning experiences.  It's always hard though moving to a new school, being the new kid, not knowing anyone.  It always works out, and I get to meet some really great people, and make friends.”

Courtney says the prizes for the winners are a secret. “AT&T and Comcast are sponsors of the show, so they will be something good,” she said.

Lindsey says, winning isn’t the main goal. “I'm rooting for everyone, I would be proud and happy to represent our group. There were a lot of talented kids, so it would be an honor to win.”

According to their press release, Senator Elizabeth Dole established the foundation in 2012, to support and advocate for military caregivers’ service and promote their well-being. The foundation works to bring attention to the work of military caregivers and provides a network for them to connect with resources and others who can provide support.

Watch “Military Kids Have Talent” by going to The Elizabeth Dole Foundation Facebook page. To vote for Miaya Lindsay, text “ML” to 512-855-6431 before noon on Aug. 14.