Gala raises money for Autism Project


Fairfield residents Mark and Bonnie Newman, left, and Joy and Paul Horton attended the Magic Moments fundraiser for The Kennedy Center’s Autism Project. The Hortons were also sponsors of the event.

Music is a universal language that touches hearts and expresses deep emotions. Musicians of all ages, including a prodigy pianist, moved the nearly 200 guests who supported the eighth annual Magic Moments benefit for the Kennedy Center’s Autism Project on May 3.

The event was held at the Bijou Theatre in Bridgeport and was emceed by Jocelyn Maminta, a News 8 medical reporter and advocate for autism. Patrons dined on cuisine prepared by Celebrations by Carlson and listened to music performed by New York City Swing and 8-year-old pianist Ethan Walmark of Westport.

The fund-raiser, which serves as the main funding source for autism programs at the Kennedy Center, netted more than $111,000 and raised support for non-funded programs. The co-chairs of Magic Moments were Fairfield residents Monica and Shawn Matthews and Marinelle and Mark Mayo.

The most recent figures from the Centers for Disease Control indicate that the rate of children reported with autism is now as high as one in 63, and autism programs offered by the Kennedy Center have expanded greatly over the past eight years due to high demand. More than 450 local families have participated in the Autism Project.

Sponsors of Magic Moments included Monica and Shawn Matthews of Fairfield, Cindy and Jeff Dworken of Easton, Cantor Fitzgerald, Carol and Mike Dworken of Fairfield, Susan and Frank Carroll of Wilton, Winston Prep School in Norwalk, Kristine and Pietro Andres of Fairfield, Susan and Peter Evensen of Southport, Joy and Paul Horton of Fairfield, the Estate of Ruth I. Krauss and Diana Paulin and Michael Lynch of Stratford.

For more information about the Kennedy Center’s Autism Project call 203-332-4535, ext. 247, or visit

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