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FUN Benefit Concert Welcomes Back YouTube Phenom

Published: May 11, 2019 at 06:00 am

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Families United in Newtown (FUN) is presenting its seventh annual autism awareness-raising concert, Saturday, June 8, at 5 pm, in the Newtown Congregational Church, 14 West Street.

This year’s concert theme involves popular children show tunes and will welcome back headliner and New Jersey’s YouTube sensation Jodi DiPiazza. Jodi began improvising piano at age 3 and started taking lessons at age 7, despite her struggle with autism spectrum disorder.

In October 2012, pop star Katy Perry invited Jodi to perform a duet during The Night of Too Many Stars at the Beacon Theatre in New York City, which was televised on Comedy Central and to date has more than 6 million YouTube views.

In 2017, Jodi returned to The Night of Too Many Stars to accompany Cynthia Erivo and the Action Play Chorus in Andra Day’s uplifting and inspiring song “Rise Up.”

The Newtown concert will also feature Newtown’s native violinist Lindsey Jones, with violinist Hafez Tagavi (the musical director), as well as other special guests, including several of the community’s gifted performers who are also on the autism spectrum. These accomplished musicians are students of Newtown High School, Sandy Hook’s Suzuki Talent Education School, Western Connecticut State University, and local private teachers.

Tickets for this fundraising event can be purchased during the month of May for $25 for adults and $12 for students (18 and under) on the website listed below or at the following businesses: Bagel Delight, Newtown Savings Bank, Butchers Best, and Queen Street Gifts.

Tickets purchased after May 31 or at the door will be $30 for adults; $15 for students (18 and under). A light movie-themed dinner will be served from 5 to 6 pm during the raffle and silent auction in the Great Room before the concert in the sanctuary at 6 pm.

Dessert will be served after the concert, providing attendees a chance to meet and greet the performers as well as kick off their shoes and dance in the Great Room.

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 her son, Tyler, the program blossomed with the support of Newtown High School National Honors Society students.

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

According to autismspeaks.org, it is estimated that one in 59 children will be diagnosed with some form of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Autism and ASD are general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviors.

ASD can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination, and attention and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. Some persons with ASD excel in visual skills, music, math, and art.

For more information and to order tickets, visit FUN on Facebook at Families United in Newtown, visit famliesunitedinnewtown.org, or call 203-512-6284

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