‘Miracle Idol’ winner crowned

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 21, 2007

FRANKLIN—Evelyn Owens now knows what it is like to be an idol.

A sales associate in Health and Beauty Aids at Wal-Mart, Owens won a local singing contest that took her to a culminating event where she placed second out of 17 participants.

Crooning &uot;Brand New Life,&uot; all of her efforts benefited area children.

&uot;A Miracle Idol&uot; was held at each individual Wal-Mart store in the market (or district) area, which is composed of about 22 stores, and was a fund-raiser for the Children’s Miracle Network, which in turn gives money to the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk. Wal-Mart is one local store that supports CMN, continually raising funds throughout its fiscal year in a variety of ways. The money donated stays at the Norfolk CHKD.

This was the first time &uot;A Miracle Idol&uot; had been held, and was the brainchild of Lea Ternes and Brenda Kuntz, assistant coordinator and coordinator, respectively, for CMN. The singing competition was modeled after &uot;American Idol.&uot;

&uot;This year, all the Wal-Marts in Market 99 got together,&uot; said Sherry Lackey, who co-chairs for the Franklin store’s CMN committee, along with Mandy Bailey. Lackey is Lawn and Garden Department manager and Bailey is Electronics Department manager.

&uot;We held our competition after a morning meeting,&uot; said Bailey. &uot;It cost $1 to cast a vote. We raised more than $350.&uot;

Owens was responsible for getting most of that money, as she was avidly working to drum up votes after she realized she could make an impact.

&uot;It was like pulling teeth,&uot; said Bailey about initially trying to get her to enter the local contest. &uot;I begged and pleaded with her [to participate].&uot;

Lackey said, &uot;Then she realized how many people would vote for her.&uot;

Owens said the determining factor was realizing the money would be going to the children.

As the winner of the local contest, Owens competed against the winners from the other Wal-Mart stores during a Family Fun Day held in Sam’s Club parking area in Chesapeake.

&uot;There was a lot of competition,&uot; Lackey said. &uot;There were some good singers there. I saw one of the other singers put money in Miss Evelyn’s bucket.&uot;

Owens said it was overwhelming to be a part of the fund-raising event.

&uot;There was a child in the parking lot there who had cancer,&uot; she recalled. &uot;His mother came over and was talking about it. She said, ‘He’s still here.’

&uot;I cried before I sang and I thought, this is what we’re singing about.

&uot;It’s like winning a million dollars and giving it to someone else.&uot;

In addition to her second-place trophy and a welling heart, Owens was asked by radio personalities Chuck, Jenna

and Woo Woo of 94.9 The Point, who were at the contest, to sing to the children at CHKD during another fund-raising event that will held around Christmas.

A preacher’s wife, Owens has been singing for more than 25 years in church choirs. Her home church is Piney Grove Baptist, but now she is a member of Oak Grove Baptist Church.

&uot;I like my hymns,&uot; she said. &uot;I have sung for more funerals than I have weddings.&uot;

Owens said a big thank you goes out to those who voted for her during the Franklin fund-raiser.

&uot;Some people voted for me who I didn’t even know,&uot; she said.

The market that includes the Franklin store is thinking about making the &uot;A Miracle Idol&uot; an annual event.

&uot;I feel like if I had just started working on this a little harder, I could have gotten more votes,&uot; said Owens.