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During the eighth round of America's Got Talent Season 17 Auditions, Ava Swiss' stirring rendition of Lauren Daigle's "Remember" earned her a standing ovation. But it was her personal story that truly touched the Judges and audience.
Just before belting out the emotional track, the 18-year-old revealed she was a survivor of the Oxford, Michigan school shooting in November 2021.
“We lost four of our students and seven others were injured, one of which was a teacher,” she said. “It’s been hard. I remember my brother and I, we were talking to each other and said there’s no way we were ever stepping foot back in the school. But we’ve actually been in person in school for about two months now, so things are getting better.”
She also opened up to People magazine about her experience.
"After some time of coping and thinking and everything, I felt like I should use [my AGT Audition] as an opportunity to try to show more people than I ever imagined who Oxford really is," she told the publication. "We're not just a town with a tragedy. I wanted to show them what our community is really like, and most importantly, how a community can come together and how they have proved that things do get better with hope, love, and support."
She continued, "Love is stronger than hate. Lots of people still can't fully heal, especially the four families. It's obviously a lot harder for them. But with time, things do get better with hope and with support and with love from other people."
"In life, it's tough to show up, especially after going through incredible trauma," Howie Mandel said. "The fact that you can break through that and shine the way you did today is so inspirational for every human being."
"I'm just hoping that I can reach even more people and share my message and share my story and my voice," Swiss told People. "...I love being able to meet some more people that are like me, and even people that share passion for singing, it's very cool. I've performed a lot, but not ever this big. It's very surreal."
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