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Watching a friend chase his dream is inspirational

There are times when we question what we’re doing with our lives — or how we’re spending our time. We might look at someone else’s skills or talents and say, “Wow, they’re good!”

Watching that person do what they do can be fascinating and even exhilarating.

We may not know them on a personal level, but the experience can still motivate us.

It can also help tap into something that’s been hidden. When it’s someone you know who’s living their dream and making things happen, however, it’s a different story.

I’ve been friends with Altoona native and musician Jimmy Mowery since high school. I’ve always had the utmost respect for how resilient he is in pursuing a career in music, and his unwavering motivation to fulfill his late father’s dream of becoming a professional singer. He started out playing in several local bands and it didn’t matter if he performed in front a crowd of one or one thousand. He did it because he loved it.

That passion didn’t burn out after high school. I went to quite a few of his shows and watched that flame ignite as he branched out on his own to begin a solo career upon moving to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. His determination genuinely motivated me to look at my own life and realize what I needed to do to fulfill my dream of becoming a writer. So, I continued to follow his career — not only because I was excited for him, but also because I started to notice something very unique.

I began to see that Jimmy relies on people listening to his music so he can build upon his career. I realized he needed to be “discovered” as a musician to get anywhere in his line of work — the same way I needed to be discovered as a writer.

That’s something I’ll never forget because it’s incredibly surreal. Not only that, but it truly hit me when I legitimately started getting work as a writer.

When I found out that Jimmy had made the cut on the NBC show, “The Voice” last year, my heart jumped out of my chest.

I knew he auditioned before, but didn’t realize he had been turned down 10 times by various mainstream competition shows prior to getting a call back from a producer at “The Voice” to audition again.

I was honored when I was asked to cover his progress on the show for The Altoona Mirror — having known him for so long and how incredibly hard he worked to have this opportunity in his grasp. He made his way to the top 24 contestants with the help of nationwide votes by home viewers — earning weekly praise from his coaches Adam Levine and John Legend, as well as fellow coaches Kelly Clarkson and Blake Shelton.

He unfortunately wasn’t chosen to move on in the competition. I was sad to see Jimmy’s time on “The Voice” come to such an abrupt end. I sent him a message afterward, saying, “This is just the beginning!”

I waited to see where this opportunity would take him. I was even more excited to see who might notice his talent. I didn’t have to wait too long, as he returned to Altoona to play two shows a few months later. However, that would only be the tip of the iceberg.

I was scrolling through Facebook a few weeks ago, when I saw an announcement from Jimmy – saying he would be opening for John Legend at an event in Rhode Island in October. The show is a week before Jimmy comes home Oct. 12 to perform at a local benefit at the Jaffa Shrine, with a portion of the proceeds going to Shriner’s Hospital in Philadelphia and the Jaffa Shrine Capital Campaign.

It’s amazing to think that Jimmy is now having the incredible opportunity to open for one of the biggest names in the music industry.

He is a big motivator to myself as well as others. Each and every time I see him, I’m impressed with his continued growth. We both thrive from the following and support of many people, and it’s what keeps us going!

Erin Kelly, 34, was born with cerebral palsy in Korea, and lives in Altoona. In addition to this column, she also writes for online publications The Huffington Post, The Good Men Project, Upworthy, and Real Talk Magazine. Email her at WriterWheels28@gmail.com.

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