Teen uses voice computer to sing National Anthem

AVON -- Fourteen-year-old Mateo Moreno has performed the National Anthem for the Lake Erie Crushers baseball team twice.

"He had to audition with all the other singers and he stepped up and said let me show you how I sing the national anthem," his mom, Tina, remembers.

Mateo was born with Apraxia and Dysarthria, neurological conditions that affect his speaking ability. So to communicate he uses a handheld computer device called a Dynavox to give him his voice.

He's about to use it to sing the anthem for the Avon High School varsity girls basketball game against Vermilion. For the first time though he's a little nervous.

"Because I never sing at a girls game," Mateo says, through his device.

First, he uses the device to introduce himself and then it starts singing the Star Spangled Banner. And just like any other singer, this took a lot of time and practice.

Tina and Mateo spent more than 150 hours using music software to program the song into the computer. They had to assign a note to every syllable.

"This is just his voice and everybody deserves a voice. For me, it's just really special because he can do something that we all take for granted," Tina says.

Her son has impacted her so much, Tina went from being a graphic arts designer to a Speech and Language Pathologist to help other kids like Mateo find their voices too.

When the last note rings out over the court through the microphone, cheers erupt in the gym. Both teams swarm him asking him for high fives. The smile on his face speaks volumes.

Mateo wanted the girls to know his name because next year he'll be attending high school with them. He already runs track and cross country in middle school. But he has other dreams too, including marrying a cheerleader and starting a family. But before that he has a unique career goal in mind.

"I want to move to Florida, work at Disney [and] drive a train," Mateo says.


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