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Autism Group's '80s Concert To Be Televised For Entire Community

Published: June 12, 2018 at 12:00 am

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Nearly 200 audience members joined about 100 other volunteers, supporters, and performers for the 2018 FUN 'Awesome '80s' spring concert at the Newtown Congregational Church June 4.  (Phil Keane photo)
Nearly 200 audience members joined about 100 other volunteers, supporters, and performers for the 2018 FUN 'Awesome '80s' spring concert at the Newtown Congregational Church June 4. (Phil Keane photo)
New Jersey's YouTube sensation Jodi DiPiazza, left, joined Amanda Goodman on the Heart song, "Alone."  (Phil Keane photo)
New Jersey's YouTube sensation Jodi DiPiazza, left, joined Amanda Goodman on the Heart song, "Alone." (Phil Keane photo)
The FUN Awesome '80s concert featured Chris Samson on guitar performing Michael Jackson's "Human Nature."  (Phil Keane photo)
The FUN Awesome '80s concert featured Chris Samson on guitar performing Michael Jackson's "Human Nature." (Phil Keane photo)
Renowned autism researcher Dr Margaret Bauman was a guest at the FUN '80s concert and received a donation for her work. Master of Ceremony Jay Thomas and FUN founder Linda Jones are pictured in the background listening.  (Phil Keane photo)
Renowned autism researcher Dr Margaret Bauman was a guest at the FUN '80s concert and received a donation for her work. Master of Ceremony Jay Thomas and FUN founder Linda Jones are pictured in the background listening. (Phil Keane photo)
Dance Dimentions - Rachel Litt, Mark Smith, Riley DeLoughy, Mark DeLoughy, and Tainah DaSilva entertained the audience with some groovy moves set to the song, "Footloose."  (Phil Keane photo)
Dance Dimentions - Rachel Litt, Mark Smith, Riley DeLoughy, Mark DeLoughy, and Tainah DaSilva entertained the audience with some groovy moves set to the song, "Footloose." (Phil Keane photo)
From left, Kevin Eckler, Austin Jones, Madi Aug, and Brittany Watson perform "The Rose."  (Phil Keane photo)
From left, Kevin Eckler, Austin Jones, Madi Aug, and Brittany Watson perform "The Rose." (Phil Keane photo)
Joe Eckler is joined by Duane Jones helping out during the FUN Awesome '80s concert June 3 at the Newtown Congregational Church  (Phil Keane photo)
Joe Eckler is joined by Duane Jones helping out during the FUN Awesome '80s concert June 3 at the Newtown Congregational Church (Phil Keane photo)
Lisa Schwartz, Newtown's Poet Laureate, created two original works that were presented during the 'Awesone '80s' concert.  (Phil Keane photo)
Lisa Schwartz, Newtown's Poet Laureate, created two original works that were presented during the 'Awesone '80s' concert. (Phil Keane photo)
FUN founder Linda Jones chats with 'Awesome '80s' musical director  Hafez Taghavi back stage at Newtown Congregational Church.  (Phil Keane photo)
FUN founder Linda Jones chats with 'Awesome '80s' musical director Hafez Taghavi back stage at Newtown Congregational Church. (Phil Keane photo)
Philip Palilla could not contain his enthusiasm during the FUN Awesome '80s concert after party.  (Phil Keane photo)
Philip Palilla could not contain his enthusiasm during the FUN Awesome '80s concert after party. (Phil Keane photo)
While nearly 300 attendees and participants gathered to support the June 3 "Awesome '80s" concert and fundraiser hosted by Families United For Newtown (FUN), the entire community and anyone with an internet connection can share in the joyous musical offerings in the coming weeks.

Group founder Linda Jones and key partner Steve Bennett announced that, thanks to Greg Van Antwerp and his team at Newtown's public access cable network CTV192, a video production created following the event will air on the cable network and will be available as a play on demand program online.

The finished production, Party Like It's the '80s, can be viewed on Charter cable channel 192 and Frontier cable channel 6054 at 11 am and 4:30 pm on Sunday, June 17, and Sunday, June 24.

The programming will simulcast on the internet - and will be available for viewers outside the cable company's service area and for non-subscribers by clicking here

To watch on demand after its on-air debut Sunday, June 17, viewers may click here - and search for Party Like It's the '80s.

The concert served as the main event for a three-part fundraising activity for FUN, which was organized by Ms Jones tapping the talents of Newtown High School National Honors Society students and various community members and supporters.

Monthly during each school year, Ms Jones hosts events that offer social and recreational opportunities for attendees, as well as entertainment.

The events provide a chance for the Honors Society students to interact with attendees, most who are on the autism spectrum or who have developmental disabilities, while parents and caregivers can enjoy an hour or two of respite time and networking with others.

Over the years, friendships among attendees and NHS students have been formed, as well as relationships among parents and caregivers.

The June 4 '80s themed event, held at Newtown Congregational Church, was the culmination of the organization's 2017-18 school year programming. It also featured a pre-concert party, a silent auction, raffle prizes, and local Pizza Contest where attendees voted for their favorite slice.

That competition was narrowly won by Lions Bleeker Street Pizza and their original "Grandma's Pie." My Place scored a close second place and was awarded a "Specialty Pie" prize for their Philly Cheese Steak Pizza, according to Ms Jones.

Following the concert, guests enjoyed dessert, refreshments, and dancing to '80s favorites.

The main event welcomed back a familiar headliner - New Jersey's YouTube sensation Jodi DiPiazza - and featured performances by a Newtown High School brass group, Dance Dimensions, several community performers, and other special guests, including gifted performers who are on the autism spectrum.

These accomplished musicians are students of Newtown High School, Sandy Hook's Suzuki Talent Education School, Western Connecticut State University, the University of South Florida, Vanderbilt University, and private regional teachers. Dr Margret Bauman, a renowned neurologist and pioneer in the study and treatment of Autism, was also honored at the event. She was presented with a $1,000 donation.

Additional scholarship awards of $300 were presented to the 2017-18 student leader of FUN, Maddie Findley, and $200 to Emma Delia, who participated in a number of FUN events during the year.

Families United in Newtown was established by resident Ms 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 her son, Tyler, the program blossomed with the support of the National Honors Society students.

In October of 2010, the group held its first monthly meeting in memory of Tyler, and it has hosted regular meetings ever since. The ultimate goal of FUN is to provide an outlet for families with special needs children as well as promoting Autism Awareness.

Learn more about the group, how to volunteer, contribute, or participate by visiting FUN on Facebook @FamiliesUnitedinNewtown; the group's website, familiesunitednewtown.org; or by calling 203-512-6284.

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