PASADENA, CA (WCMH)– A singer from Patchogue, New York has earned the Golden Buzzer from judge Howie Mandel.
The 16-year-old contestant, Christian Guardino, performed The Jackson 5’s “Who’s Lovin’ You” as his mother watched backstage with host Tyra Banks.
Before the performance, Guardino and his mother opened up about his journey overcoming blindness. He was featured in a 2016 issue of National Geographic about hope for ending blindness.
According to the article, he was diagnosed with a retinal disease known as LCA, Leber congenital amaurosis. But, after receiving an experimental gene therapy treatment, he can now see well enough to read larger font on sheet music.
Guardino, who told judge Simon Cowell he was nervous before his performance, said he has been singing as long as he can remember.
The judges and audience members were visibly shocked when Guardino started singing, with Mandel standing up to clap within the first thirty seconds of the song.
After he finished, Guardino received a standing ovation from the audience and all four judges.
Mandel asked Guardino, “If you could make one wish, right now this second, to make something come true for yourself, what would you wish?”
Guardino said, “Probably the Golden Buzzer.”
“Well your wish just came true,” answered Mandel, standing up to reach across the table and hit the Golden Buzzer.
Each judge is only allowed one use of the Golden Buzzer, sending the contestant straight to the live rounds. Cowell used his buzzer on Mandy Harvey, a singer who lost her hearing. Judge Mel B. used hers on Darci Lynne Farmer, a 12-year-old ventriloquist.
Learn more about Christian’s battle with blindness here: