Sarah Hardwig sings national anthem
She will sing at Miami Dolphins game.
Sarah Hardwig will belt out the national anthem at Sun Life Stadium for the Miami Dolphins-Tampa Bay Buccaneers preseason NFL game.
"I am excited and I might get a little bit nervous to sing in a big crowd like that," said Sarah, who was born with Leber's congenital amaurosis (LCA), a genetic disorder in which retinal dysfunction causes vision loss.
Sarah, who wore a Miami Dolphins jersey for the audition, was selected from 350 singers of all ages who auditioned Saturday at the stadium.
"Sarah is a super adorable little girl and, on top of that, she has so much feeling in her voice that we could not overlook her, a tiny little gem in a sea of huge singers," said Jamie Quadrozzi, entertainment coordinator for the Miami Dolphins.
"We are pretty pumped that we found her."
Auditions were held in suites. Singers sang in front of a panel of a total of 15 judges. Winners got through a first, second and final round.
Quadrozzi said additional singers were selected to sing the national anthem in four to six other games.
"I was shocked that I got picked," Sarah said. "I felt very proud of myself."
Her parents, Greg and Susan Hardwig, feel the same way.
"Susan and I just feel so blessed and proud for what Sarah's accomplished — both with her music and outside of that," said Greg Hardwig, sports editor of the Naples Daily News.
"People have told us how inspiring she is, and she's definitely inspiring to us as well."
The Calusa Park Elementary fourth-grader has made a name for herself, singing at Fort Myers Miracle games, Opera Naples, KidzAct Youth Theater and other events in Southwest Florida.
This will be Sarah's 12th time singing the national anthem at an event. But this will be one of her first times singing in front of thousands.
Sarah's dress rehearsal is at 4:30 p.m. Friday. The preseason NFL game kickoff is 7:30 p.m. and will air on TV locally.
"I'm surprised that I get to sing far away from my home," Sarah said.
Sarah will start her busy day singing to open the Collier County School Board meeting at 8:30 a.m. Friday.
Sarah, who wants to be a professional country singer when she grows up, said she could not say who is her favorite country singer because she likes many of them.
"She told us from a very early age, after listening to different radio stations over and over every night, that she wanted to be a country music singer," Greg Hardwig said.
He has posted more than 50 YouTube videos of his daughter singing.
"She's been blessed with talent and also the support of a countless number of people to make it to this point, and we're excited to see where Sarah's journey takes us next," he said.