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FUN Celebrates Concert Success, Plans Valentine’s Event



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On the heels of their popular winter fundraising concert that united consummate student and professional musicians with local members of Families United in Newtown (FUN), organizers and volunteers working with the autism support and social/recreational nonprofit are looking forward to hosting their annual Valentine Costume Dance Party.

That event is happening Saturday, February 11 at Newtown Community Center from 3:30 to 5:30 pm.

The event will welcome attendees in Valentine-themed costumes, which are encouraged but not required. Guests will also decorate Valentine’s Day cards for military troops located in the United States, and will be able to enjoy dancing to DJ music.

Pizza will be served toward the end of the event (gluten-free items will also be available).

Parents/families are encouraged to come as a couple/family and have some time together while the student volunteers help watch your kids. Caregivers are Newtown High School National Honor Society High School juniors and seniors and student volunteers.

The Valentine’s event follows what FUN co-founder Linda Jones said was their 10th Anniversary Benefit Concert, which was held at the Newtown Congregational Church December 30.

“Over 100 attendees enjoyed the ‘FUNRaiser’ that included an evening full of seasonal jazz tunes and several traditional holiday songs followed by a dessert hour in the Great Room with more live jazz music and several scrumptious desserts and drinks for the guests,” Jones wrote in a recent letter to The Newtown Bee.

Families United in Newtown was established by residents Linda and Duane Jones, who started fundraising in 2008 with a dream of providing recreational programs and respite for families with special needs children. One year later, following the tragic death of their son, Tyler, the program blossomed with the support of Newtown High School National Honor Society students.

“The Newtown National Honor Society students and other volunteers helped decorate, serve desserts and mentor students during the show,” Linda Jones said of the concert and reception that followed.

“Among the many participants were Jay Thomas (MC); Hafez Taghavi and Madelyn Aug (music directors); Alexandra Saraceno (pianist); Grant Ossendryver (technical director); Maggie Alexander and Ava Holmes (stage managers); Peter McLoughlin (videographer); John Voket (performer and editor at The Bee); Mae Wong, photographer; Dr Margaret Bauman, neurologist and brain researcher; and 26 musicians who donated their time and talent for our cause,” she said.

Pre-Concert Holiday Jazz Tunes and music for the after party was provided by TH Factor featuring Thomas Hassleburger — baritone sax; Sarah DiMiceli — drums; Ryan Francis — alto sax; and Scott Robert — piano and bass.

The mix of performers included Christopher Simon, Shaun Mangold and Christopher Samson, Madelyn Aug and Brendan Fox, Leah Crebbin and Jules Kessler, Kevin Eckler, Lindsey Jones, Kim Gannon and Walter Kent, Dasha Lipke, and the Eclipse Band with Matt Wilkie, Nell Malyszka, Trish Keil, Andy Lafreniere and Dick Neil.

Senior NHS Student Angie Romano presented a ceremonial check to Bauman representing funds raised to help underwrite Bauman’s autism research, and a warm welcome to attendees and participants was offered by First Selectman Dan Rosenthal and State Rep Mitch Bolinsky.

Register to attend the Valentine’s event online at: bit.ly/ValentineFUN

And for more information or to donate, visit FUN on Facebook @FamiliesUnitedinNewtown — or online at familiesunitedinnewtown.org — or call 203-512-6284.

Families United in Newtown, a local autism support and social/recreational nonprofit held its “Home for the Holidays” benefit concert December 30 at the Newtown Congregational Church. The program mixed professional and student musicians with alternately abled FUN members and included the popular favorite, “Feliz Navidad” with Chris Simon conducting Madelyn Aug, Shaun Mangold, Dasha Lipke, Kevin Eckler, and Chris Samson. —Mae Wong photos
Families United in Newtown co-founder Linda Jones, far right, stands with Newtown High School National Honor Society students who served as chaperones and volunteers during the December 30 FUN Benefit Concert at the local Congregational Church.
A duet featuring Brendan Fox and Madelyn Aug with piano accompaniment by Alex Saraceno was part of the FUN concert program.
Jules Kessler and Leah Crebbin channeled Ingrid Michaelson and Jason Mraz as they performed “Christmas Valentine” for the FUN concert audience.
NHS senior Angie Romano stands with Linda Jones as the pair presents a ceremonial check representing a donation to Dr Margaret Bauman to help underwrite her renowned autism research during a break from the holiday benefit concert activities.
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