FRESNO, California (KSEE/KGPE) — For Gilbert Camarillo, lip-syncing a song by legendary artist Santana was not just a way to victory in a competition, but a way for the 8th grader to step out of his shell.
Watching the video, Camarillo, sporting a wig and rocking out to the tune “Corazón Espinado,” doesn’t appear to be nervous. However, Camarillo says that just a year ago, the showmanship exhibited here was just not his style.
“I was not the type of person to do that,” Camarillo said. “My brothers were.”
With encouragement from the “Future Unique Enthusiastic Leaders,” or FUEL, expanded learning program, Camarillo helped lead Monson-Sultana Joint Union Elementary School to victory.
The 8th grader’s achievement came amidst family tragedy as Camarillo accepted the responsibility of helping to take care of his grandfather who had suffered a stroke.
“It really affected our family a lot,” Camarillo explained. “So I had to stay home and help him out more often.”
With the help of the FUEL organizers, Camarillo says he managed to help his grandfather and take on the competition.
“He has all these things going on, but he kills it in the video,” said Catherine Diaz, CEO of FUEL.
Camarillo says taking part in the unique competition brought him closer to his friends and lifted his grandfather’s spirits.
“It made my grandpa cry watching the video you know,” Camarillo says. “When we got first place, it made my grandma and grandpa proud.”