Good Cheer Food Bank manager, 9-year-old partner gear up for Mother's Day talent show

JaNoah Spratt stands with Steve Shapiro and Debora Valis of Island Athletic Club as he accepts a donation valued at $345 for the Good Cheer Talent Show raffle. It’s just one of the many prizes collected by the youngster for the fundraiser. - Photo courtesy of Teresa Spratt
JaNoah Spratt stands with Steve Shapiro and Debora Valis of Island Athletic Club as he accepts a donation valued at $345 for the Good Cheer Talent Show raffle. It’s just one of the many prizes collected by the youngster for the fundraiser.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Teresa Spratt

Just in time for Mother’s Day, the “Mother of All Talent Shows” to benefit Good Cheer Food Bank is shaping up nicely, thanks to the efforts of a couple of unlikely but intrepid troopers.

“We know people in the community have been missing a talent show, and we really want to bring that back,” said Damien Cortez, food bank manager and coordinator of the event.

The show, featuring a variety of talent from throughout the area and a large assortment of prizes, raffle items and audience surprises, will be at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 8, in the South Whidbey High School auditorium.

“We’re really excited about this,” Cortez said Monday. “We want to make it an annual event.”

Helping Cortez in a big way is 9-year-old JaNoah Spratt of Langley, a home-schooler who has made a young career of helping the food bank.

JaNoah spent about two weeks convincing merchants throughout the region to donate $3,500 in prizes for the talent show and raffle. Not only that, but the whole thing was his idea.

“I was giving a tour of the food bank to Norma Smith, our state representative,” JaNoah said Monday. “We were talking about fundraisers, and she said we should do a talent show. It kind of took off from there.”

Cortez said several acts for the show have been signed so far, including fire spinners, fiddlers, tap dancers, break dancers, musicians, an exhibition of the art of painting by computer, and a martial-arts demonstration by Tiger Marshal Arts in Freeland.

JaNoah, who has studied karate for more than two years, will participate in the martial-arts demonstration.

Prizes organized by JaNoah for the event include an electric scooter, an original painting by a local artist, a bicycle, a spa-and-hotel package in Langley, a three-month athletic-club membership and a three-month martial-arts membership and uniform.

There also will be several gift certificates of $125 and smaller donated by local merchants, he said.

Heading the slate of local celebrity judges is Langley resident Jean Shaw, impresario of South Whidbey talent shows past.

Cortez said the judges won’t be ranking talent, but will be giving out prizes based on what they enjoyed.

“It’s still a competition, but in a fun sense,” he said.

Cortez said there’s still time to register to take part in the talent show. Entry forms are available at Good Cheer locations in Bayview, Langley and Clinton.

“My motto is, if you’ve got talent, I’ll figure out a way to put it onstage, as long as it’s family friendly,” Cortez said.

He said raffle tickets also are available at all Good Cheer locations. Tickets are $2 each, three for $5, seven for $10 and 20 for $20.

“This is a great opportunity to give back to your food bank and community while getting to do what you enjoy,” he said.

For JaNoah, son of Todd and Teresa Spratt, this is just the latest in a series of efforts to benefit Good Cheer.

In 2007 and 2008, starting when he was 7, he raised vegetables in his home garden at East Point, along Fox Spit Road, and sold them at a roadside stand. He raised about $50 each year, and gave it all to Good Cheer.

In 2009, he devised an innovative matching program that raised another $2,000 for the food bank, earning him a letter of appreciation from Good Cheer director Kathy McLaughlin.

“You continue to amaze me,” McLaughlin wrote.

“I just wanted to help with the hungry and stuff,” JaNoah said when first interviewed in 2008.

JaNoah said Monday he’s not sure if he’ll operate his roadside vegetable stand this year.

“I’ve moved on to bigger things,” he said.

JaNoah said he has been given permission to solicit donations for the food bank along the ferry holding lanes in Mukilteo.

And he and his father are awaiting word from a publisher on a book they wrote together titled “How I Helped My Community, and You Can Too.” Profits from the book also would go to Good Cheer, JaNoah said.

Meanwhile, he hopes to help fill all 550 seats in the high school auditorium for the upcoming talent show.

“That’s my goal,” he said.

For information about the show and Good Cheer, call Cortez at 221-4868. To contribute prizes, call the Spratts at 360-730-1619, or e-mail

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