When an Odessa, N.Y.-based high school theater director named Holly Campbell lost her 11-week-old son, Jake, a decade and a half ago, she could have never imagined that his tragic death would lead to a beautiful friendship with another mom who was living on the other side of the country in Oregon — or that one day she and that mother, Kim Scadlock, would be standing onstage together in Los Angeles, holding hands and singing for the America’s Got Talent judges.
But that’s exactly what happened Tuesday, as the vocal duo now billed as 2 Moms United by One Heart auditioned in the episode’s final emotional slot.
“Back in 2007, my son unfortunately passed away and he became an organ donor, and his heart went to Kim’s son,” Campbell revealed. “And the last song I sang to Jake, to say goodbye to him, was ‘For Good’ from the musical Wicked.”
“My son was 16 days old at the time. He got the heart. We lived thousands of miles apart and had no idea who each other was ever met,” said Scadlock. However, the two women shared a musical bond even then, as Scadlock explained: “When [my son] Beckham was finished with his heart-transplant surgery, I wasn’t allowed to hold him. I could just kind of stroke his head. And the first thing I did when I stroked his head is I sang that song — ‘For Good,’ from Wicked.”
“We were blown away when we found out; it was really an amazing moment,” Campbell marveled.
According to a post on 2 Moms United by One Heart’s Instagram account, Holly’s son, Jake Campbell, stopped breathing in his bassinet on Aug. 13, 2007. His father performed CPR and called 911, but after Jake was admitted to an pediatric intensive care unit, doctors was determined that he would never recover. The grieving Holly and her husband “almost immediately asked about organ donation, a decision immediately cemented when [they] learned that there was a two-week-old baby boy in Iowa who was a perfect match,” and as the Campbells said their goodbyes and sang “For Good” for Jake, “the line, ‘You’ll be with me like a handprint on my heart’ felt especially poignant and fitting as we let him go.” Kim’s son received “the gift of life” three days later. Beckham now celebrates two birthdays, the second one being on Aug. 16, the date of the life-saving transplant operation that Jake and his family made possible.
Years passed before the two women actually met, after Scadlock wrote Campbell a thank-you letter. “We kept in touch, and then we had the opportunity to meet each other for the first time and she gave me a big hug. And it was one of the best moments of my life,” Campbell told the AGT audience, choking up.
“I don’t even know what to say,” gasped stunned judge Simon Cowell, who had just been visited on the AGT set by his own son, 9-year-old Eric. “I mean, it’s such a sad story, and the fact that you shared it with us… I’m a dad and you know, I get it. That story you just told me about the same song — that’s unbelievable.”
2 Moms United by One Heart then warbled “For Good,” and while their vocals were a bit wobbly due to their obvious nerves and high-running emotions, their performance was — absolutely no pun intended — full of heart. By the time they stared into each other’s eyes, finished with the line “because I knew you, I have been changed for good,” and embraced, judge Sofia Vergara was in tears. And once Scadlock’s now 16-year-old son, Beckham, emerged from the stage wings, happy and healthy, there wasn’t a dry eye in the AGT auditorium.
“I’m just lost for words. I just want to come and hug the three of you, to be honest with you. What strong women. What a story. That was very powerful,” said judge Heidi Klum.
“This is the first time in my life that I’ve felt a connection to this kind of [theater] music. That was probably the most magical moment I have ever experienced on America’s Got Talent,” gushed judge Howie Mandel.
“This is a moment we’re always going to remember. … Obviously you guys were meant to have this between you,” said the weepy Vergara.
It remains to be seen if 2 Moms United by One Heart possess the vocal chops to make it to the live shows and compete against Season 18’s many other strong singers, like Putri Ariani, Lavender Darcangelo, D’Corey Johnson, and Mzansi Youth Choir. But it seems like Holly and Kim have already won, because their main reason for coming on the show was simply “to spread the word about organ donation. If we can change the heart of one person, it’s worth it.”
“I think you were really nervous. That was very brave. What you did — the connection of how that song links you together — it was actually remarkable,” declared Cowell, who then assured them, “And let me tell you something: This will make a difference.”
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