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Autism Group Readies For First Outdoor ‘Music For F.U.N.’ Concert



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UPDATE (Tuesday, June 1, 2021): This post has been updated to correct and clarify the date of the concert, Sunday, June 6.

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The Newtown-based autism support nonprofit Families United in Newtown (FUN) has been taking advantage of stellar spring weather and making the most out of the great outdoors.

On May 15, the group drew more than three dozen guests and family members to Castle Hill Farm, where a number of the group’s young participants created belated Mother’s Day cards that were presented during a brief ceremony.

Then, all the moms were treated to Ferris Acres Creamery ice cream, dished out and served by Newtown High School National Honors Society students, who are the backbone of the organization’s support team throughout each school year.

One of those past volunteers, Madi Aug, even showed up to pitch in, fresh from her own graduation from Western Connecticut State University.

While the kids and volunteers swung hula hoops and played a game of freeze soccer tag, adult volunteers and family members socialized around and under the farm’s spacious pavilion.

The group’s final formal activity of the 2020-21 school year is also scheduled to be an outdoor event — the annual spring fundraising concert with the theme ‘Music For F.U.N.’ That activity (weather permitting) will be at the Dickinson Park band shell, near the rear parking area and skate park, Sunday, June 6, beginning at 4 pm.

In the event of rain or extremely high temperatures, FUN founder and concert organizer Linda Jones has secured the Newtown Congregational Church as a back up location. Attendees are asked to watch the group’s Facebook page in the event the concert is moved indoors.

Provided the concert is being held outdoors, attendees are reminded to bring lawn chairs and/or blankets unless they prefer to sit on the grass adjacent to the band shell.

There will be portable restrooms close to the band shell; food, included with the tax-deductible admission fee, will be provided by the Green Grunion food truck, offering California-style burritos (choice of beef, chicken, vegetarian, and gluten free), chips, and a bottle of water. Mac and cheese will be available for kids who want it, and FUN will serve up dessert and coffee at the end of the concert.

List Of Talent

The roster of performers is still growing, but it already contains a list of impressive talents including the aforementioned Aug, Christine Manalo, Chris Samson, Shawn Mangold, Chris Simon, Anne Marie Carlson, Sabrina Spraggins, Kevin Eckler, and WestConn grad Sam Blanchette, who is heading back from Vermont to participate.

Along with the individual musicians, several ensembles will be featured:

The band Eclipse, featuring Dick Neil, Nell Malyszka, Trish Keil, and Andy Lafreniere; a jazz duo with Tim McCarthy and Ryan Brown; and the Ridgefield Jazz Giants with Hunter Sims, Ryan Francis, Sarah DiMiceli, Scott Robert, Caroline Morton, and Thomas Hasselburger.

Dr Margaret Bauman, neurologist and pioneer in the study and treatment of autism, will be honored at the event, as will the National Honors Society seniors.

Tickets to FUN’s 8th Annual Autism Awareness Benefit Concert and Dinner are $25 for adults and $15 for students under 18.

Get them now online at bit.ly/3euqafk, on the FUN Facebook page, or from familiesunitedinnewtown.org (select June 6 in the calendar).

Mail orders are now closed, but any remaining tickets will be available the day of the event at the park. Donations can be made online or by mail by anyone who wishes to support the cause but cannot attend.

FUN was established by Newtown 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 Honors Society students.

Since 2010, the group has held regular social meetings and events for families with special needs children while promoting autism awareness.

The annual benefit concert is a key fundraiser for FUN, with proceeds helping to fund meetings and events throughout the year, ensuring special needs children can benefit from positive peer-to-peer social opportunities while their parents enjoy respite with other parents.

Monthly public meetings have varying themes and include activities such as dancing, arts and crafts, yoga, and games, with special performances provided by supportive local businesses and visits from Maggie the Comfort Dog.

Learn more and support the cause with donations or volunteering by visiting the FUN website or calling 203-512-6284.

Families United in Newtown (FUN) guest Collin Viglietta gets the full Castle Hill Farm experience including an "operator’s eye view" from this retired tractor during the group’s meeting May 15. FUN is organizing its annual spring concert, which will be held outdoors for the first time at Dickinson Park on June 6. —photos courtesy Linda Jones
Ryan Hornick was just one of the Families United in Newtown guests creating belated Mother’s Day cards for a group of moms who attended the May 15 FUN meeting at Castle Hill Farm. All the moms were presented with their cards during a brief recognition ceremony before volunteers, including Newtown High School National Honors Society students Sawyer Findley and Elise Beier, dished out ice cream from the neighboring Ferris Acres Creamery.
Newtown High School National Honors Society volunteers Jessica Nguyen and Brittany Watson "hooped it up" as returning volunteer and WestConn Class of 2021 grad Madi Aug high-fives Christopher Samson, a guest at the FUN May meeting.
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