At this year’s Spring for Abilis Gala, Jeff Zimmerman of Darien spoke about his young son being diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder and the support his entire family received through the Abilis Birth to Three early intervention program. His voice cracked with emotion as he told the gala guests: “We know that this might be a lifetime journey. And we also know that Abilis is there for us and will be there for us every step along the way.” Stories like this underscore the critical work that Abilis does, and that’s why guests help raise over $400,000 during the evening, as part of Abilis’ 65th anniversary celebration. The night raised awareness of Abilis and funding for its programs for people with special needs (currently, the organization serves 700 individuals and their families in Fairfield County).
The evening paid tribute to the parents and program participants new and old, who have reached developmental milestones and life goals, such as competitive employment, because of Abilis. There was applause and cheering throughout the room, when President/CEO, Dennis Perry shared pictures and anecdotes about 20 program participants whose parents and relatives were at the gala. While its programs and services continue to grow, Abilis remains a tight-knit and supportive community of participants, families, staff and donors.
The gala included a silent and live auction, as well as a Giving Garden with staff wish list items. Following the live auction, there was dancing and a truffle-making station provided by Voila Chocolat of New York City. The decor built upon the Spring for Abilis theme with stunning flower and candle centerpieces on all of the tables and 3-dozen gerbera daisies, one for each Giving Garden wish list item in the silent auction cocktail area. Brett Walkow, an actor and comedian based in Chicago, was the emcee for the evening. The gala was co-chaired by Margot Michalski, Adriana Ospina, and Martha Perry. All three have very strong family connections to Abilis. Ms. Michalski, of Greenwich, is an Abilis Board member and her brother, Ian participates in one of Abilis’ day programs. Ms. Ospina, of Greenwich, and Mrs. Perry of New Canaan, are both mothers of young adults in the Abilis Life Skills Program, Alejandra and Ross, respectively.
Photographs Courtesy of Abilis