Local girl finalist in million-dollar contest

KAPA‘A — When Rainbow Star Zephier came to her mother for permission to enter an online video contest, Erika Schneider didn’t think her daughter’s video would be in contention for a million-dollar prize.

“All the videos were so good, I didn’t think we had a chance,” Schneider said.

That didn’t stop the nine-year-old from composing an original ‘ukulele song and enter it in the Gain Smell Like a Million Bucks contest.

“I was on Facebook and I saw this ad that said contest for ‘Gain Smell Like a Million Bucks,’ and I told my mom ‘Can we enter this contest?,’” Zephier recalled.

If they won, Zephier told her mother they could use the money to fix their car, pay for groceries and not worry about the rent.

The single mother of three said she was touched by her daughter’s selflessness. She said that the last two years have been tough for the family: The economy took a toll on Schneider’s business, she was diagnosed with Lyme Disease and her family ended up living without a home for five months.

If Zephier’s video wins the million-dollar prize, the family plans on donating a chunk of the money to local nonprofit organizations.

“We want to support organizations that help children and families,” Schneider said. “Because we were homeless for five months last year, we came to depend on community organizations to help us.”

Schneider said she made a promise that she would give back when she could. 

“I know a lot of single moms who are homeless. I want to create an organization that would help homeless moms and single moms about to lose their homes get back on their feet.”

Despite entering the contest a week late, Zephier’s video gained instant popularity, taking in almost 1,700 votes and landing 13th place in the first round.

“Her idea for the song was Gain smells really good,” Schneider said. “She wanted to do things that smell good, like the ocean, plumerias and the rain of Mount Wai‘ale‘ale.”

Schneider turned the contest into a family project. Zephier’s two brothers, Journey and Tahcha, helped illustrate a storyboard and the family filmed the video on a Flip video camera.

The family’s sixty-second video features the nine-year-old playing her favorite instrument, the ‘ukulele, which she learned how to play a year and a half ago.

A natural performer, Zephier writes her own music, and her favorite genres include reggae, love songs and Hawaiian. The family has videos of her singing covers of popular Bruno Mars and Justin Bieber songs.

Voting for Gain Smell Like a Million Bucks contest ends August 1. People can vote for their favorite videos daily. Visit www.VoteSingleMom.com to vote for Zephier’s video.

•Andrea Frainier, lifestyle writer, can be reached at 245-3681, ext. 257 or afrainier@ thegardenisland.com.

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