6:30 p.m. Friday, 2 and 6:30 p.m. Saturday, with hot drinks and treats, Discovery Canyon Campus, 1810 North Gate Blvd., $8, $21 VIP; 15thofdecember.com

Two years ago, Jared Anderson found himself at a South African concert that blew his heart wide open.

During a mission trip with a friend, the singer-songwriter performed alongside 40 kids with Down syndrome at Club 21, a nonprofit learning center in Pretoria that educates and develops people with the genetic disorder. It's the only organization of its kind in the country.

After returning home, that same friend asked Anderson if he could think of a way to help the nonprofit. "15th of December: A Not So Perfect Holiday Concert" was Anderson's answer. The third annual event is Friday and Saturday at Discovery Canyon Campus.

"The guy who did the introduction at the (South Africa) concert said research has indicated that people with Down are the happiest people on Earth," said Anderson, a former worship pastor at New Life Church. "There is no pretense, no dominance. There's so much joy and forgiveness in these people. This to me is the picture of what the holidays represent."

All proceeds from the event go to Club 21. Hundreds of dollars were raised in 2015, and last year's event made $5,000 to $10,000.

Attendees can expect a holiday-themed variety show with live music, dancing and comedy sketches. Anderson, who's now a full-time musician with four solo records to his name, has written about half of the show. Other performers have written their own material, and there also will be some standards.

"The first half is real festive and funny," he said. "And the second half is more reflective and inspirational."

Featured performers will be high school kids, families recruited through word of mouth and special needs kids.

"These kids have been on the sidelines watching their siblings at football games and cheerleading events," he said. "This is their chance to take the spotlight. That's our goal. It's called a 'Not so Perfect Holiday Concert' because this is their time to shine. You never know what's going to happen when you put a bunch of special needs kids up, but this is the place for that."

JENNIFER MULSON, THE GAZETTE, 636-0270, JEN.MULSON@GAZETTE.COM

Contact the writer: 636-0270

A&E and features reporter

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