STAR 65th Anniversary Raises over $440,000 for Neighbors with Developmental Disabilities in Fairfiel

November 16, 2017: On Saturday, November 4th, a record breaking crowd attended STAR Inc.’s 16th Annual Fundraising Dinner and Auction that was a celebration of the organization’s Sapphire Anniversary. Guests enjoyed cocktails, professional photos by Miggs Burroughs, delectable hors d’ouevres, a filet mignon and salmon duet for dinner and dancing ‘til midnight. Proceeds raised from the event will support STAR’s programs and services for individuals impacted by intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), and their families. STAR, Inc., is a not-for-profit organization that has served infants, children and adults with I/DD and their families since 1952. The gala, held at Woodway Country Club in Darien, Connecticut, raised over $440,000 for programs helping people in Norwalk, Darien, New Canaan, Westport, Wilton, and Weston. The event was highlighted by several heartwarming testimonials by STAR participants and family members describing how their lives have been impacted by STAR’s programs and services. “We saw our future, and it was bright” says Maritza Rodriguez of Norwalk about her little girl, Belen, who was born with Down syndrome. After her diagnosis in utero Maritza said, “I prayed and prayed. When I saw my perfect baby with her beautiful black eyes, I knew I had my miracle. Belen is an energetic, playful and smiling little girl who learns so much every week she amazes me! The STAR team teaches me how to teach Belen, they are so special.”

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 truly an inspirational and fun evening.”

STAR’s President Assaf Ben-Atar of Norwalk hosted the evening, along with Executive Director Katie Banzhaf. Professional auctioneer Bobby Ehlert led the live auction that included one-of-a-kind experiences such as a Broadway Lights and Overnight for Four with backstage meet and greet with the actors, Trip for two to the Country Music Awards in Nashville, Six tickets to the US Open in June 2018 and Dinner for eight in your home catered by Private celebrity chef, Marlon Alexander.

Guests enjoyed elegant hors d’oeuvres and drinks, and bid on over 100 cool and unique silent auction items that included rounds of golf at prestigious clubs such as The Stanwich Club in Greenwich and Winged Foot Country Club in Westchester; a BMW Cruiser bicycle; beautiful glass works from Simon Pearce; hand-signed Tory Burch Book and tote; hand painted sports balls with images of team players; a garden of roses; tickets and photo opportunity to the Dr. Oz show and one week at Camp LiveGirl were among the many incredible auction items. Some of the more unusual selections included: a weekend driving a Maserati and overnight stay at a boutique hotel, five night stay in Quebec, a roll off dumpster for home cleanup projects, a baseball signed by 2017 World Series MVP, George Springer, and much more.

Sponsors for the event were: The Komansky Family, People’s United Insurance Agency, Prospect Hill Foundation, Ring’s End, Wusthof-Trident America, Callari Auto Group, Fairfield County Bank, The Herbst Family, Honda of Westport, Pullman & Comley, LLC, Sandy Hill Foundation, The Network Support Company, The Andren Family, King Industries, The Konidaris Family, Elaine Banzhaf, Mr. & Mrs. Assaf Ben-Atar, Mr. & Mrs. Kurt Butenhoff, Mr. & Mrs. Rob Cioffi, Ms. Joan Dionne, Middlesex Mortgage Group, LLC, Merrill Lynch/ Black Rock, Robinson+Cole, Mr. Adrian Sisser and Mrs. Joanna Galvin, Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Piscitell and Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Viesta.

In-kind sponsors were Bishop Group, Inc., Classic Graphics, Doubletree Hotel of Norwalk, Matt Glass, Michael Joseph’s Catering, Miggs B. Design, Moffly Media, Paul’s Prosperous Printing, PCI Creative Group, LLC and Woodway Country Club.

Committee members included: Lynne and Mikael Andren of Darien, 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, John and Mary Lee Danaher of Wilton, Joan Dionne of New Canaan, Carol and Hilary Donegan of Darien , Joanna Galvin, New Canaan, Peter and Katherine Gogolak of Darien, Candace and Mickey Herbst of Westport, Rob and Pam 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, and Cathleen and Joe Piscitell of Weston.

STAR, Inc., Lighting the Way is a not–for-profit organization established in 1952 to serve individuals of all ages who have intellectual and 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. STAR’s customized employment program for people with I/DD leads the state in job placements and hours worked. Likewise, STAR’s birth to three program continues to exceed state and local average results with 100% of the children reducing the gap, and 93% caught up in developmental milestones. Headquartered in Norwalk and with new offices in 15 Cross Street, Norwalk and 111 Elm Street, New Canaan, STAR is able to serve over 600 individuals from birth through their senior years in Fairfield County. They aim to inform and encourage the community to recognize and appreciate the value of all individuals.

For information about STAR or to donate or volunteer for STAR, please visit or call (203) 846-9581 x 302.

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