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If you enjoy pizza, or the unmistakable tunes of the 1980s, then a Newtown based autism support nonprofit has a very satisfying evening in store.
Families United in Newtown (FUN) is sponsoring its 6th Annual Autism Awareness Benefit Concert and Dinner at Newtown Congregational Church Great Room, 14 West Street, on Sunday, June 3, at 4:30 pm.
A “Pizza Challenge” featuring the best offerings from local pizzerias will start off the late afternoon event, with attendees sampling pizza from participating partners Carminuccio’s, Franco’s, Lions Bleeker Street, My Place, Red Rooster Pub, and The Villa. Guests will then be asked to vote for their favorite slice.
The winner will receive a plaque for #1 Pizzeria to display at their restaurant.
The concert theme will showcase “Awesome ‘80s” music, and will welcome back a familiar headliner — New Jersey’s YouTube sensation Jodi DiPiazza.
Jodi began improvising piano at age 3 and started taking lessons at age 7 despite her struggle with autism spectrum disorder. In October 2012, pop star Katy Perry invited Jodi to perform a duet during “The Night of Too Many Stars” at the Beacon Theatre in New York City, which was televised on Comedy Central and to date has more than six million YouTube views. This year, Jodi returned to “The Night of Too Many Stars” to accompany Actionplay Chorus and Cynthia Erivo for the finale song “Rise Up.”
The benefit event will also feature a Newtown High School brass group, Dance Dimensions, several community performers, and other special guests including gifted performers who are also on the autism spectrum.
These accomplished musicians are students of Newtown High School, Sandy Hook’s Suzuki Talent Education School, Western Connecticut State University, the University of South Florida, Vanderbilt University, and private regional teachers. Dr Margret Bauman, a renowned neurologist and pioneer in the study and treatment of Autism will be honored at the event, along with Newtown National Honors Society seniors who have volunteered and participated in FUN programs.
Families United in Newtown was established by resident Linda Jones who started fundraising in 2008 with a dream of providing recreational programs and respite for families with special needs children. One year later, following the tragic death of her son, Tyler, the program blossomed with the support of local National Honors Society students.
In October 2010 the group held its first monthly meeting in memory of Tyler, and has hosted regular meetings ever since. The ultimate goal of FUN is to provide an outlet for families with special needs children as well as promoting Autism Awareness.
According to AutismSpeaks.org, it is estimated that one in 68 children will be diagnosed with some form of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Autism and ASD are general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development.
These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviors. ASD can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention, and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances.
Some persons with ASD excel in visual skills, music, math, and art.
Dinner and entertainment tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for students, and are available online by clicking here or by mail (send check to FUN, 16 Walnut Tree Hill Road, Sandy Hook CT 06482).
Tickets are also available for purchase at Bagel Delight and Butcher’s Best in Newtown; and Pemberley Designer Consignments, 605 Main Street in Monroe. Donations are also graciously accepted online or by mail.
To volunteer, donate, or for more details on FUN programs, call 203-512-6284.
Watch Jodi DiPiazza, Actionplay Chorus & Cynthia Erivo Perform “Rise Up” at the 2017 Night Of Too Many Stars
Check out Weird Al Yankovic and Jodi DiPiazza singing “Yoda”