Nearly 250 guests experienced all the excitement and the next best thing to a Billy Joel concert as they supported the  seventh annual Magic Moments fundraiser for the Kennedy Center’s Autism Project. Mike DelGuidice & Big Shot — The Premiere Billy Joel Show performed all of Billy Joel’s greatest hits, including “My Life” and “Piano Man,” plus some of the lesser known tunes.

This major autism benefit, which was held on April 6, also served up food by Celebrations by Carlson, and fine wines and spirits provided by Moet Hennessy USA and Harry’s Wine & Liquor Market in Fairfield.

Big Shot featured two members of Billy Joel’s band, and Billy Joel's Broadway Musical Movin Out Band. The group captivated and moved the crowd at the Quick Center for the Arts at Fairfield University. At times, the audience waved and clapped their hands in the air, danced in the aisles, and even sang along.

This popular fund-raiser serves as the main funding source for autism programs at The Kennedy Center. This year’s well-attended event netted more than $121,000 and raised vital support for non-funded programs.

Autism programs offered by the Kennedy Center have expanded greatly over the past seven years due to high demand.  In fact, more than 400 local families have participated in The Autism Project.  The most recent CDC figures indicate that the rate of children reported with autism is now as high as 1 in 50 and some projections are even higher.

Special thanks to all the generous sponsors, especially the Event sponsors: Cindy and Jeff Dworken of Easton and Monica and Shawn Matthews of Fairfield.  Red Cape Sponsors were Carol and Mike Dworken of Fairfield, while Magic Hat sponsors included Susan and Frank Carroll of Wilton. White Glove sponsors at the next generous level of giving were: Fairfield residents Joy and Paul Horton, Kristine and Pietro Andres, Lindamood Bell, Resource Natural Spring Water, and the Estate of Ruth I. Krauss.

Silver Ring sponsors included: Bank of Fairfield, Cognizant Technology Solutions, Commerce Park Children’s Dentistry and Orthodontics, Dworken, Hillman, LaMorte, Sterczalla, P.C.; Gam Investment Management; Deb and Chip Rubenstein of Milford, Margaret and Scott Buddenhagen of Weston; Diana Paulin and Michael Lynch of Stratford, Joanne and Richard Krantz of New York, Mercedes Benz of Fairfield, Mr. and Mrs. Collin Baron of Fairfield, Lynn and Stephen Cohen of Stamford, Pediatric Healthcare Associates, Inc., Mr. and Mrs. John Ferraro of Glouchester, MA; Mariella and Michael Trager of Washington, DC; and Susan Frieden of Greenwich.

The Autism Project supports youth with autism through a variety of programs such as after-school programs, day services, family supports, referral resources, seminars, respite services and Social Activity Groups, which are its largest program for 3 to 21 years of age.  Two new autism specific Day Support programs have recently opened, including Project Voyage and Project Ability for young transitioning adults with autism.

For more information about the Kennedy Center’s Autism Project call 203-332-4535, ext. 247 or visit the website thekennedycenterinc.org.

The Kennedy Center is a nationally accredited, non-profit, community-based rehabilitation organization that currently serves 2,000 individuals annually. The agency actively responds to the needs of the community by offering innovative, comprehensive service options to persons with  disabilities and special needs, from birth to senior years. The Kennedy Center operates 24 community experience programs, 16 group homes, an industries program composed of six businesses, supported and competitive employment and job placement services, a family support and respite service, travel training, and  a variety of children’s programs.