AUTISM GALA CELEBRATES 25 YEARS OF FRIENDS, FAMILY
Princeton, NJ – On Saturday, January 19, 2013, Eden Autism Services celebrated a quarter-century of Eden Dreams, the not-for-profit organization’s annual white-tie dinner gala held each year at the Hyatt Regency Princeton. Raising $140,000 in net proceeds, Dreams of Dreams Remembered commemorated the strength of the individuals and organizations that support Eden by recalling special people and revisiting fantastical places from yesterday, while looking forward to the achievements of tomorrow. The focus of the evening was adult services and in honor of Eden’s milestone event, William Christopher (Father Mulcahy from the hit TV series MASH) served as Master of Ceremonies. Christopher, who served on the Honorary Committee for the very first Eden Dreams, has an adult son with autism and has been very active in raising autism awareness over the years.
Christopher acknowledged his admiration of Eden and the organization’s prominence in the field of autism services. On behalf of his fellow parents he thanked guests for attending and encouraged them to act upon what they had learned about the need for continued support of Eden.
Statistics indicate that 1 in 88 American children are diagnosed with autism. Children with autism grow up to be adults with autism and services for adults are severely underfunded.
Eden Chairman of the Board of Trustees Marie Gary, who is also the mother of a 19-year old with autism stated, “I am here to tell you that despite the outstanding education that Scott has received – courtesy of Eden and federal law - my husband Jeff and I worry more about his future now than we ever have before. Unlike my two other children, Scott cannot simply take what he has learned and apply it in the real world unassisted. Once he and his classmates graduate they are no longer guaranteed the necessary supports and services they will need for the rest of their lives. And what of the other 8,000 adults in New Jersey who are on waiting lists for residential services?”
She continued, “Tonight is about dreams and the people who make them come true. I will continue to dream about a future for my son that includes people who care about helping him to live a meaningful, productive life and the organizations that employ such people.”
The evening also provided Eden with the opportunity to present its Friends of Eden Awards, which are given to organizations or individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary philanthropic and/or volunteer support for Eden’s mission. 2013 Guardian Award recipient Bristol-Myers Squibb served as the first Primary Corporate Sponsor of Eden Dreams in 1989 and has been a generous supporter of Eden Dreams every year since. 2013 Visionary Award recipient Nora Orphanides has been supporting Eden for more than 25 years and served for many years on the steering committee for another Eden fundraiser, “Eden Evening on the Town.”
Along with the awards presentation, the evening included a 5-course gourmet dinner; open bar; a silent auction featuring a limited number of distinctive prizes; the annual “Dream Search” – a theme-related mental puzzle associated with each year’s Eden Dreams gala; and the drawing of Eden’s 50/50 raffle.
Event co-chairs Mark Berkowsky and Mary Anne Guarrieri thanked Dreams of Dreams Remembered Primary Sponsor Orphanides & Associates, along with Guardian Patron Sponsors Berkowsky and Associates; Bloomberg; Bristol-Myers Squibb; Gina DelGiudice-Asch, MD & William Asch; Event FX; Fallen Angels Foundation; Thomas Gallina, the Savino group/Northwestern Mutual; Hyatt Regency Princeton; Cathy & Tom McCool; Munich Re; Novo Nordisk; the Olsen Foundation; Stewart Films; Turn-Key Environmental Services; UNITED; and Wawa.
All proceeds from Eden Dreams benefit the children and adults served by Eden Autism Services.
Since 1975, the not-for-profit Eden Autism Services has provided early intervention, education, employment training and residential services for children and adults with autism. Eden offers both in-person and online support and training programs for families and professionals. Recognized nationally, Eden is headquartered in Princeton, NJ. For more information about Eden visit www.edenautism.org or call (609) 987-0099. Follow Eden on Facebook, Twitter, and EdWeb.net.