Shaler woman, family meet stars of TV's 'American Idol'
By Tory N. Parrish
Published: Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Mariah Carey now has a Terrible Towel.
Ashley Urso, a Shaler resident who met Carey in Los Angeles last week on the set of “American Idol,” gave the singer one of Pittsburgh's iconic souvenirs.
“We were talking about our (butterfly) rings that we had on. And I told her that when I graduated from high school, I requested her song ‘Hero' because my dad is my hero,” said Urso, 22, who has Down syndrome.
A small Tillson, N.Y.-based nonprofit, Gifts from the Heart for Downs, sent Urso and her family to the set of the singing competition, which is Urso's favorite show. The nonprofit grants wishes for people with Down syndrome who don't qualify to have their wishes granted by other organizations.
On April 10, Urso, her parents and her brother attended a rehearsal and live taping of “American Idol.” Urso was able to sit in a judge's seat and critiqued contestants, according to her mother, Cindy Urso, 43.
Judge and country singer Keith Urban sat beside Urso at the panel.
“It was like she'd known him her whole life. She just talked his ear off. It was hysterical,” Cindy Urso said.
Ashley Urso also met judge Randy Jackson, host Ryan Seacrest and the six contestants, including her favorite, Angie Miller.
“(She was) so nice. We were talking about music,” Ashley Urso said.
The Ursos' five-day trip, in which meals, a rental car, their hotel stay and airfare were covered, cost about $5,000, said Kim Adams, founder of Gifts from the Heart for Downs.
Part of the Ursos' trip was paid for with a $2,000 donation that the nonprofit received from the York Area Down Syndrome Association.
The Fox network provided the family with passes to a rehearsal, tickets to the taping and a chauffeur-driven Cadillac Escalade to the show.
“I try to make everything special for each and every wish,” said Adams, who adopted two children with Down syndrome.
Ashley Urso's wish was the 69th that Gifts from the Heart for Downs has granted.
The family's trip, during which they visited tourist spots such as the Hollywood Walk of Fame and TCL Chinese Theatre, formerly known as Grauman's Chinese Theatre, far exceeded their expectations, Cindy Urso said.
The Ursos are determined to pay it forward, she said.
“This is something that we would love for other kids to experience. It was just unbelievable. Our family has never had so much fun,” she said.
The Ursos have placed containers in Pittsburgh-area businesses to collect donations for Adams' daughter's fundraiser, Dimes for Downs. It helps pay for wishes that Gifts from the Heart for Downs grants.
So far, the Adamses and Ursos have collected 119,000 dimes, Adams said.
Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.