During a break, Vincent fought back emotions. "I expected I would feel a lot of compassion. I didn't know that I'd be moved this way," he said. "It's not just the charity thing. I'm blown away at their talent."
The shows started in 2006 by the nonprofit charity Garden of Dreams Foundation, which uses talent from the various parts of The Madison Square Garden Co. — the New York Knicks, Rangers, Liberty, MSG Entertainment, MSG Network and Fuse, among them — to help children facing obstacles. Participants are put forward by partner organizations — like the Make-A-Wish Foundation or Children's Aid Society — children's hospitals and various community-based groups.
Hank J. Ratner, the president and CEO of The Madison Square Garden Co., calls the Garden of Dreams "the most meaningful thing we do." He added: "We do it because we should do it. What's so wonderful about it is that it makes everybody involved happy about being involved."
Backstage, Alyssa, the girl who sang "Beautiful," said she was excited to sing on the Radio City stage. She has beaten rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare soft muscle tissue cancer, and chose the Aguilera song for very personal reasons.
"When I was going through cancer, a lot of the girls were starting to worry about appearance. When you get to be my age, they're all about, 'Let's do our hair,'" said the girl from Prospect, Conn. But cancer treatment had ravaged her hair.
"I just didn't feel very beautiful. I didn't feel myself anymore. It was very heartbreaking. But when I listen to the song, I was like, 'Wow. I'm beautiful, no matter what anybody says and what anybody thinks. I'm going to be me, and that's beautiful in its own way.'"
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