Last night, more than 250 guests, including Miss New York 2012 Johanna Sambucini, packed the house at the ultra-cool Avenue lounge in New York City for the fifth Autism Speaks to Young Professionals winter gala. The annual event is designed to bring together young professionals from all industries to generate funds and awareness of autism. Co-chaired by Jesse Morris and Danny Ryan, the Autism Speaks to Young Professionals winter gala raised over $33,000 dollars for Autism Speaks’ research and advocacy initiatives.
A special thanks goes out to the sponsors who helped make the event such a special evening, including RBS, Brooklyn Brewery, Crop Organic Vodka, DonQ Rum, Farmers Botanical Organic Gin, Given Tequila Liqueur, Magner’s Irish Cider, and Tito’s Handmade Vodka. And finally, thank you to Lauren Colatrella of Bakari for the delicious and festive cupcakes!
Be sure to scroll through all of the great pictures below.
This post is by Phillip Hain, the West Region Director for Autism Speaks.
Ever since my 19 year old son, Andrew, was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome at the age of 3½, I’ve learned—and shared this sentiment with other parents—that we measure success and milestones on a different chart. I had recently one at the Love Ride, an annual motorcycle event that for 28 years has raised money for various children’s causes. Autism Speaks was fortunate to be the beneficiary for the 2nd consecutive year.
A traffic accident on the freeway caused a major delay getting to the ride’s endpoint and the young man scheduled to sing the national anthem was stuck in traffic. It quickly became apparent he wouldn’t make it in time, even while we were already stretching the program as much as we could. I had this idea that made me feel like the stage manager in an old Hollywood musical movie: Andrew could go on in his place! He loves to sing, has done the national anthem before at one of our Walk Now for Autism Speaks events, has no fear of performing before a crowd, and definitely enjoys being the center of attention.
When I presented him with the idea there was a big surprising response: he didn’t want to do it.
I was really shocked and asked him why and his response had all the indications of being a teenager rather than anything borne out of genuine fear or stage fright. He said, “I’m more into singing pop music now. That doesn’t interest me.” I was simultaneously amused and annoyed so I just tried to reason with him, explaining that he would be doing a big favor because they really needed someone. The next few minutes were a series of him partially agreeing, then changing his mind, my continued pleading mixed with patience, until he finally said, “Ok, I’ll do it.” I wanted to make sure he was comfortable and he said yes.
When he strode onto the stage, you would have thought he was a pro. He started singing and two lines into the song, he broke for a moment to say, “Everybody join me.” Talk about working the crowd for maximum effect! He finished the song to the sound of rousing applause and cheers. (I later read on a blog post about the event that his performance was the highlight of the afternoon.) He was justifiably proud and said, “I’m glad I did it. I made the right decision.”
Many kids—and adults— with autism have an affinity for music and other arts. It calms them and provides the opportunity to express themselves in creative ways, and breaks the stereotype of children completely locked in their own world and unable to emerge. That was certainly confirmed in the Emmy-winning documentary “Autism: The Musical.”
It is with that spirit which inspired our Los Angeles chapter to create an event rooted in music which we are calling the Blue Tie-Blue Jean Ball. It will be a fun, casual, anything-but-boring evening to celebrate music and lift our souls at the House of Blues Los Angeles on December 1. Guess? Jeans has signed on to be our presenting sponsor. We’re fortunate that the incredible Sarah McLachlan has agreed to perform as the headliner at our inaugural show. A few more special guests have strongly hinted that they will drop by for the festivities.
We’re also honoring a fantastic rock music photographer named Rob Shanahan, who has taken some absolutely stunning pictures of the biggest names in the industry. Some of his subjects include Sting, Dave Navarro, Sheila E. and Barry Manilow. And the foreword to Rob’s new book, Volume 1, was written by Ringo Starr. It doesn’t get more impressive than that. Rob’s work will be on display that night and he’ll also be signing books. You can get a sneak peek at his website www.robshanahan.com.
So, if you live in the Los Angeles area, or just made the snap decision to be here December 1, you will treat yourself to an amazing night. And if you have friends or relatives nearby, make sure they plan to attend. You don’t want to be the one who hears them complain, “Why didn’t you tell me?”
The event website is http://events.autismspeaks.org/bluetie.
Check out this great video by CelebrityWire here!
Autism Speaks to Young Professionals (AS2YP) is the budding younger-generation oriented event series that began in New York City in 2009. To-date AS2YP New York City has hosted four fundraising events- the most recent of which took place on February 3rd, at trendy NYC hotspot Avenue – and has also seen a sister chapter start up in Chicago (the Chicago chapter had their first event on January 19th), with chapters in the works in both DC and LA.
The event on February 3 at Avenue was pretty much AS2YP in a nutshell. The event sold out a week in advance- par for the course at this point, with three sold out events under our belt – and was attended by 300 New York City area young professionals who sipped and danced the night away in a venue reminiscent of a 1920’s speakeasy (think Boardwalk Empire set). The evening was sponsored by RBS for the second year in a row, and featured beverages from Brooklyn Brewery, Crop Organic Vodka, DonQ Rum, Farmer’s Organic Gin, Given Tequila Liqueur, Magner’s Irish Cider and Tito’s Handmade Vodka. AS2YP’s DJ of choice, Caleb Loftus, alternated between old school tunes and new hits, and kept everyone’s head bobbing with an occasional impressive move thrown in on the dance floor.
Midway through the evening, event chairs Amanda Niederauer and Danny Ryan spoke about what AS2YP means to them. As the sister and father of Liam and Jonathan, both of whom are on the autism spectrum, they know better than anyone how important it is that this younger generation of Autism Speaks supporters get behind the cause as early as possible. And with $32,000 raised (and counting) we think that we have made a pretty good start.
For more information on AS2YP (and to see pictures from last night’s event at Avenue) please visit our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/as2yp.
Check out additional photos and coverage from this event at Guest of a Guest
On Monday, September 20, 2010- which was arguably one of the best days of weather we have enjoyed this year- Autism Speaks proudly kicked off its Inaugural Autism Speaks Fall Classic. Joining us was our title sponsor, Shop Rite, and together we hosted an exciting day of golf at the illustrious Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, NJ. It was a wonderful day that included an afternoon shotgun start on Baltusrol’s famed Lower Course. The tournament included several course contests and culminated with a Hole in One by Dr. Peter Kapsimalis who will take away a lease provided by Ray Catena Lexus of Freehold. We are thrilled to announce that the Fall Classic raised over $200,000 for Autism Speaks!
Evening cocktails included a silent and a live auction that offered an opportunity to help fund family services initiatives for adults with autism. Honorary Co-Chair and Autism Speaks Co-Founder Bob Wright rolled highlights from the first annual and highly successful “Light It Up Blue” initiative on World Autism Awareness Day, on April 2. Event Co-Chair and President of The Bachman Company, Scott Carpenter hosted the evening program which included a “Thank You” video with a personal message from himself and fellow event Co-Chairs, Anne & Dave St.Clair. The video was a touching piece that provided the Baltusrol audience with an overview of what autism is and why their support is so crucial to our cause.