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News Nov 23, 2015 - 5:23:22 AM

14th Annual STAR Gala Raises $350,000 For Neighbors with Developmental Disabilities in Fairfield County

By STAR, Inc., Lighting the Way…

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Perusing the silent auction at the STAR Gala (photo by Miggs Burroughs)
On Saturday, November 7, 2015, over 250 guests enjoyed ROAD TRIP: Stargazing Along The Pacific Coast Highway a fundraising gala and auction to benefit STAR, Inc., Lighting the Way… a not-for-profit organization for infants, children and adults with developmental disabilities and their families since 1952. The gala, held at Woodway Country Club in Darien, Connecticut, raised over $350,000 for programs in Norwalk, Darien, New Canaan, Westport, Wilton, and Weston. The chairpersons of the gala committee were Rob and Meghan Cioffi of New Canaan, Mary Ferrara and John Masanotti of Darien, and Joseph and Nella Viesta of Stamford. STAR’s Executive Director, Katie Banzhaf, said, “What a wonderful night we had to benefit STAR’s people and programs. We are grateful for the tremendous generosity of our guests, sponsors, auction donors, volunteers and families. It was a record-breaking evening.“

STAR’s President Kenneth (Obie) Harrington-Howes of Darien hosted the evening, along with Executive Director Katie Banzhaf. Auctioneer Bobby Ehlert led the live auction that included a Getaway for Two to Canyon Ranch Spa in Tucson, Seven Day Cruise to Alaska for Two, Seven Day Tuscan Private Villa Vacation for Four, Broadway Lights and Posh Overnight for Four with a backstage tour, VIP Sports Packages to see NY Knicks or Rangers; NY Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox; NY Jets and New England Patriots; and California Duet Wine Tour for Two to the Fairmont Hotels in San Francisco and Sonoma, among other items.

STAR Gala Speakers: Haly Coleman, Sandy Williams, Stacy Tie, Lee Gardella, Maggie Marchesi (speaking for Lisbeth Ehrlich), Patrick Heavey. In front, STAR President Obie Harrigton-Howes and STAR Executive Director Katie Banzhaf. (photo by Miggs Burroughs)
Guests enjoyed elegant hors d’oeuvres and drinks, and bid on over 100 silent auction items that included an African safari for two; getaways to Kripalu, Cape Cod and Block Island; rounds of golf at prestigious clubs such as Winged Foot Country Club, Birchwood Country Club in Westport and Woodway Country Club; a foldable bicycle from MINI of Darien; GoPRO camera from TFI Envision; ceramics from Fairfield County Art & Antiques, Oriental Furnishings and Juliska; Autographed sports memorabilia including Autographed Yogi Berra print, New York Mets and New York Yankees autographed baseballs, gift certificates to area restaurants such as Scena Wine Bar, Quattro Pazzi, Rizzuto’s and Bartaco; local hotel and spa getaways, gourmet delicacies provided by Chocopologie, LaRocca’s Market of Stamford and Romanacci’s of Norwalk. Lovely home and gift items were available for auction from local businesses such as Helen Ainson, Good Directions, West Elm and Simon Pearce, and passes or tickets to sporting and cultural events included the NY Giants, U.S. Open, The Daily Show, NY Comedy Club, B.B. King Blues Club and other local theater and musical venues. Some of the more unusual selections included: a rare autographed black and white photograph of Martha Graham, a framed and signed lithograph by American Artist Stevan Dohanos from the Famous Artists School of Westport, CT, handmade afghan quilts and an Amish quilt, tree maintenance and mosquito and tick treatment from Fairfield County Tree Service and Mosquito Squad and much more.

Guests listened to personal and heartwarming testimonials about the impact of STAR’s work in the community from Stacey Tie, Lee Gardella, Lisbeth Ehrlich, Patrick Heavey, Sandra Williams and Chuck and Barbara Williams. A San Francisco inspired dinner was served and dancing followed. Guests enjoyed the West Coast inspired menu and decorations that included die-cast vintage sports cars and mini-succulents in depression glass votives..

Riaz Rahman makes a winning bid at the live auction. Auctioneer Bobby Ehlert calls it. (photo by Miggs Burroughs)
Sponsors for the event were: David and Phyllis Komansky, Prospect Hill Foundation, Ted and Karen Walsh, Joan F. Dionne Foundation, Fairfield County Bank, Kesten-Brown Insurance, People’s United Insurance Agency, Sandy Hill Foundation, Callari Auto Group, Mickey and Candace Herbst, Honda of Westport, Elaine Banzhaf, CohnReznick, King Industries, The Carl Marks Foundation, Inc., Pullman & Comley, LLC, Connecticut Community Bank, Darien Rowayton Bank, Norwalk Bank and Trust, Shop Rite-Cingari Family, Patriot Bank and W.B. Mason. In-kind sponsors were Bishop Group, Inc., Classic Graphics, Doubletree Hotel of Norwalk, Michael Joseph’s Catering, Miggs B Design, Moffly Media, PCI Creative Group, LLC and Woodway Country Club.

STAR supporters from Deloitte at the STAR Gala (photo by Megan Johnson)
Committee members included: Lynne and Mikael Andren of Darien, Marty Bailey of Trumbull; Rebecca and Assaf Ben-Atar of Norwalk, Judy and Barry Bosworth of Wilton, Karen and Keith Brown of West Redding, Miggs Burroughs of Westport, Kurt and Kim Butenhoff of New Canaan; Flavia Callari of Darien, Sally and Denny D’Amato of Norwalk, Carol and Hilary Donegan of Darien, Mary Lee and John Danaher of Wilton, Joan Dionne of New Canaan, Terry and Russ Geibel of Stratford, Peter and Katherine Gogolak of Darien, Beth and Kenneth (“Obie”) Harrington-Howes of Darien, Candace and Mickey Herbst of Westport, Mary and Ken Kennedy of Weston, Pam and Rob Kesten of Ridgefield, Annie Konidaris of Norwalk, Janie and Jason Konidaris of New Canaan, Doree and Robert Levy of Westport,Bob and Maggie Marchesi of Darien, Deborah and Jack McFadden of Wilton, Mary McGee and Richard Batten of Weston, Ed Musante of Shelton, Jane Pelletier of Darien, Catherine and Ed Piorkowski of Darien, Cathleen and Joe Piscitell of Weston and George Santangelo of Wilton.

Wilton Selectman Deborah McFadden, Wilton based CT State Representative Gail Lavielle and Allison Rhodes-Jacobson, the Safety Mom and author/producer of Good Morning Wilton. (photo by Megan Johnson)
Proceeds will be used to support STAR’s programs and services for individuals with developmental disabilities, and their families. The Gala celebrates people with developmental disabilities who are leading full, productive and rewarding lives filled with friendships, loving family relationships, productive employment or volunteer work and community activities.
STAR, Inc., Lighting the Way is a not–for-profit organization serving individuals of all ages who have developmental disabilities, as well as providing support services to their families. STAR creates opportunities for individuals to live full lives with independence, freedom of choice and personal growth by providing support, services and advocacy while informing and encouraging the community to recognize and appreciate the value of all individuals.

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