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Former ‘America’s Got Talent’ competitor to headline comedy show fundraiser in Bowling Green

Ryan Niemiller
The Capitol Arts Center
Ryan Niemiller

A popular comedian and former America’s Got Talent competitor will be in Bowling Green this month for an annual comedy show fundraiser.

Ryan Niemiller will headline an event called “Humor Heals,” which raises funds for Amazing Angels, a local nonprofit that assists bereaved parents impacted by infant loss.

Amazing Angels

Amazing Angels was founded by Ericka and Kevin Church after they experienced their own loss when their infant twin daughters, Abigail and Alison, passed away.

After dealing with the financial and emotional turmoil surrounding the burial process, the two decided to launch the nonprofit to help other grieving parents in the community.

“It was a big part of our healing process,” Ericka Church said. “We decided that we wanted to try and organize a group of people that could help support others in those situations, not only financially, but also emotionally.”

In 2014, the organization secured 501(C)(3) status and established a board of directors made up of volunteers from the area.

Since its inception, Amazing Angels has helped around 1,500 local families.

Finding laughter

While the couple was still in the early stages of grieving, they were invited to a comedy show that featured Niemiller as one of the acts.

Church told WKU Public Radio that the couple was hesitant to attend at first, but they eventually agreed to go, leading the way for a new fundraising effort.

“We laughed like we had never laughed before, because for those 90 minutes, we were able just to be people present with the humor on stage, and we weren’t grieving parents,” she said. “It’s not that we forgot, but it showed us that there can be laughter after loss and that we can find joy again.”

Humor Heals is now the organization’s biggest fundraiser, with all funds going directly to local parents in the community.

“A lot of the time, when infants pass, parents don’t have the opportunity to purchase life insurance, particularly if there is something genetically wrong or life-threatening happening during gestation, yet there is this financial obligation to take care of those end-of-life planning things.”

Church noted that a typical infant burial or cremation is over $600, so organizers hope to raise enough funds to help at least 10 families.

This will be the fifth year for the event, which has raised upwards of $12,000 in the past.

A different kind of comedy

Ryan Niemiller may be a familiar name to fans of NBC's America's Got Talent. The comedian was featured in season 14, where he came in 3rd place.

He's also not your run-of-the-mill stand-up comedian, having been born with ectrodactyly, a medical term describing the absence or malformation of one or more fingers or toes.

Niemiller discusses this condition often in his material and has even refers to himself as the “Cripple Threat of Comedy.”

“Ryan is differently abled. He shares that on stage and finds humor in the adversity that life has brought him,” Church said. "He’s a great human being, for one, but he’s also tremendously funny.”

This year’s event will be held at the Capitol Arts Center in Bowling Green and will be accompanied by adult beverages catered by a local winery and as well as a local brewery.

“This is our first year at the Capitol, and they have been fabulous. It’s such a historic, monumental place, so we’re excited to be right there in the heart of Bowling Green,” Church said.

She added that Niemiller will also surprise guests with a mystery opening act along with new material from his own routine during the headlining show.

“Recently, he became a father for the first time. So, some of his new material talks about the challenges of fathering an infant and fathering them differently because he is differently abled.”

The show heads to the Capitol Arts Center in Bowling Greenon Saturday, Feb. 10, at 7 p.m.

This event is not recommended for patrons under the age of 18.

Jake Foster was born and raised in southern Indiana and earned his degree in radio and television broadcasting from Vincennes University in 2019. He began his professional career as a part-time soundboard operator for WAMW, where he later became a full-time news anchor and morning show sidekick. He then moved to Clarksville, TN, covering government and business news before joining WKU Public Radio.