Virginia Credit Union TV spot stars local talent
When Virginia Credit Union decided to produce television commercials featuring its members, among the stars who rose to the top in tryouts was Henrico resident Ronald Lanier.
Although he has long been active in the music ministry at Cedar Street Baptist Church, Lanier tends toward the sidelines and considers himself somewhat shy.
As director of the Virginia Department of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (VDDHH), he keeps a low profile as well, helping to coordinate statewide services for the hearing-impaired.
But when the call went out from VACU for members to strut their stuff at an audition, Lanier couldn’t pass it up. “I fit the criteria, and the rehearsals fit my own schedule,” he recalls.
What’s more, Lanier just plain loves to sing.
“Singing has been a part of me,” he says, “from way back.”
Lanier (pictured) showed up at the studio audition fully prepared to sing the National Anthem – a number he is comfortable with after opening a baseball game at The Diamond. But he expected only to sing, having read that dancing was an optional part of tryouts.
After hearing him sing a few lines, however, the judges asked him to dance.
“That I was not prepared for,” he says. “So I put on an embarrassing display of the Electric Slide!”
Henrico residents featured
More than 80 VACU members tried out for the commercial, according to Glenn Birch, director of public and media relations at VACU. The tryouts were held “American-Idol-style,” with local celebrities as judges. “Everyone had fun,” Birch says, “even the people who didn’t make it [into the commercial].”
One dozen members participated in the first commercial that began airing in March, and another dozen (including Lanier) starred in the second commercial that launched this month.
Among other participants with Henrico connections are Stacy Barnett, who teaches English at Highland Springs H.S., and Robbie Cunningham, an Eastern Henrico resident and self-employed jazz musician; both joined Lanier in the second commercial. Justin Morris of Glen Allen, a long-time member of the gospel group The Soulsters, was in the first commercial.
Now that the 30-second spot has been seen locally, Lanier says he is constantly recognized and asked for his autograph.
While the fame and the positive feedback have been rewarding, Lanier says the highlight of the experience was a conversation he had with VACU Vice President of Marketing Deb Wreden, about the importance of providing closed captioning for the commercial.
“She was quick to assure me that it would be done,” says Lanier, “as they had not even thought of it before.”
Captions for the grandkids
A native of Roanoke, Lanier was hit by a car as a child, and doctors discovered soon afterwards that he had suffered a hearing loss.
Between the hearing impairment and his shyness, it took some time for Lanier’s musical talents to come to light.
But, he says now, he always felt that he had something to offer vocally. In his senior year of high school he finally “took the big step” and joined the choir; before long, he was singing the occasional solo.
After moving to Richmond to attend Virginia Commonwealth University, he became a Henrico resident in the late 1970s, and has been a VACU member for 25 years.
Birch says that upon meeting Lanier, he was impressed not only by his efforts to advocate for closed captioning, but also by his commitment to “helping those with hearing difficulties navigate a culture that assumes everyone can hear.”
What’s more, says Birch, Lanier’s commitment to this goal extends beyond his professional interests to a family and personal level. Lanier and his wife adopted a deaf child, now 31; and their son has two children of his own, who are also deaf.
Lanier points out that lobbying for closed captioning does not just benefit those who are deaf and hard of hearing; it also makes sense from the advertiser standpoint.
“Seriously,” he says, “when television programs and commercials are captioned, you invite even more customers into the mix.”
But Lanier readily admits that captioning the VACU commercial benefits him personally as well, by allowing hearing-impaired family members to better appreciate the ad.
“I especially wanted my two grandkids,” he says, “to know what their grandfather is singing and dancing about!”
To view the VACU commercials, visit http://youtube.com/watch?v=sxv9WSKRCUY and http://youtube.com/VACreditUnion; or visit the Virginia Credit Union page on Facebook for photos and clips from the ads.
Citizen Staff Reports 04/16/2015
Last summer, hundreds of Anthem LemonAid stands dotted Central Virginia and raised more than $100,000 in support of cancer treatment and research at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU (CHoR). This July 17-19, Anthem is inviting community members to host an Anthem LemonAid stand in support of the children who are battling the disease. During the past 13 summers, Anthem LemonAid has raised more than $1 million. All funds raised support the Hematology and Oncology Clinic at the Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU.
Anthem LemonAid is Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals’ signature summer event. It’s free to participate and is designed for children, families, community groups and businesses alike. > Read more.
Citizen Staff Reports 03/30/2015
The Henricopolis Soil & Water Conservation District will sponsor a tree seedling giveaway on April 2 at Dorey Park Shelter 1 from 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and on April 3 at Hermitage High School parking lot from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Bare-root tree seedlings are available to Henrico County residents free of charge for the spring planting season.
The following seedling species will be available: apple, kousa dogwood, red maple, river birch, red osier dogwood, loblolly pine, sycamore, bald cypress, white dogwood and redbud. Quantities are limited and trees are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Each participant is allowed up to 10 trees total, not to include more than five of the same species. > Read more.
Citizen Staff Reports 03/30/2015
Wondering where to go to play Bingo? Wonder no more.
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) recently launched an online directory of permitted bingo games played in Virginia. Listed by locality, more than 400 regular games are available across the state. The directory will be updated monthly and can be found on VDACS’ website at http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/gaming/index.shtml.
“Many Virginia charities, including volunteer rescue squads, booster clubs and programs to feed the homeless, use proceeds from charitable gaming as a tool to support their missions, said Michael Menefee, program manager for VDACS’ Office of Charitable and Regulatory Programs. > Read more.
There are several fun events this weekend taking place outside including the third annual Virginia Firefighter Games at Short Pump Town Center; Twin Hickory Park’s “April Showers: A Celebration of Spring” event; the Young Life Richmond West 5k in Innsbrook; and the Gold Festival on Broad which benefits Prevent Child Abuse Virginia. Fingers crossed for no rain! For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
The University of Richmond will host its annual Global Family Concert this weekend – a free, family friendly concert featuring Japanese, Indonesian, West African, Indian, and Brazilian music and dance performances. Country music fans can head to The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen for “An Evening of Country” featuring The Honky Tonk Experience. Enjoy the spring weather at Meadow Farm for “Sheep to Shawl” or join the Henrico Hiking Club at James River Park. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.
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CalendarThe third annual Virginia Firefighter Games will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Short Pump Town Center, in the parking lot between Dick’s Sporting Goods and Macy’s.… Full text