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“American Idol” contestant inspired by friend with Down Syndrome

MADDIE ZAHM,AMERICAN IDOL
American Idol | ABC Television
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He sees her for who she is, regardless of appearances.

On Sunday’s audition episode of the revamped “American Idol,” contestant Maddie Zahm, a 19-year-old from Boise, Idaho, shared her story of going from a normal, popular girl in school to an outcast who was bullied because of her weight. Specifically, she gained 100 pounds in one year.

The reason, as she finally discovered during her senior year, was polycystic ovary syndrome which causes you to gain weight because of hormone imbalances. The lifelong musician and singer not only lost her friends, she lost her confidence and ability to perform the songs she used to love.

During that time, Maddie accidentally walked into a music class for kids with disabilities. She now calls it “the best mistake I ever made.” That’s where she saw Marcus, a young man with Down Syndrome, performing a Katy Perry song.

Maddie sensed he could use a friend, too, and the two have become best friends. She appreciated the fact that Marcus sees her for who she is, not how much she weighs. And in encouraging Marcus to become more social, Maddie pushed herself out of her comfort zone as well, returning to music and auditioning for “Idol.”

She now works with special ed kids, but is giving a music career a shot. For her audition, she was accompanied by her family and Marcus. Watch the video below.

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