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Drummer with disabilities pursues a dream – a shot at America’s Got Talent

Born with an enlarged kidney, three holes in his heart and defective eyes, Rory Burns of San Clemente has lived with disabilities through his 31 years. He finds joy in a set of drumsticks.

He picked up music by ear during childhood and learned to play drums. Now he is about to pursue a dream, having been accepted for an open-call audition for Season 12 of television’s “America’s Got Talent” on Feb. 11 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

He intends to submit an audition tape, and Michael Merrigan, owner of OC Tavern in San Clemente, has set up an evening for him to record it. At 9 p.m. Friday, OC Tavern will invite the public, free admission, to watch Rory Burns – or RooStar, as he calls himself – create an audition video.

“Anything to help out a local musician,” Merrigan said. “It’s going to be a fun night. I hope a lot of people will come out to support him. He’s following his dream.”

Burns said he was born with a rare genetic condition and is just happy to still be here. “The doctor said I wouldn’t live past the age of 7,” he said.

“He was given last rites when he was born,” said his father, Kevin Burns.

Rory has endured a lifelong series of medical challenges including five heart surgeries, Kevin Burns said. Totally blind in one eye, he has very limited vision in the other. He attended special-education classes through school.

“I pretty much pushed myself through everything,” he said. “I had the strength to do it. I love life.”

Rory worked for a time at Costco, has been on disability and lives with his parents, immersed in his music. He doesn’t play in a band, but last summer he performed on Avenida Del Mar at the San Clemente Fiesta Street Festival, and it gave him a confidence boost, his father said.

“I’m proud of him,” Kevin Burns said. “Rory is a special kid. He’s one of the toughest people I’ve ever met in terms of being able to endure all these problems. He has a heart of…

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