Gala 2016 – Celebrating Every Child: A Lucky Night for All!
Friday the 13th might scare off some folks, with thoughts of bad-luck and superstition. But for the Federation, Friday, May 13th was a night of luck, good times and good friends as we celebrated Gala 2016 – Celebrating Every Child!
Horseshoes, ladybugs, lucky pennies, keys, elephants and four-leaf clovers were just some of the many “luck” themed decorations that greeted guests at Boston’s Westin Waterfront Hotel. In keeping with the theme, guests started out their evening bidding on some wonderful items in categories such as “It’s Your Lucky Day”, “Lucky Little Ones”, “Luck Be a Lady” and “Winning Streak” during the silent auction and reception that preceded dinner and the evening’s program. This year’s auction featured an exciting Diamond Earring GiveAway! Cocktail entertainment was provided during the reception by the Longwood Symphony Orchestra Chamber Players.
Guests entered the ballroom at 7:30pm, where they were welcomed by the Federation’s Executive Director Rich Robison and former WCVB news anchor Susan Wornick who served as Master of Ceremonies for the third year in a row. This year, Wornick had help in her emcee duties, and was ably assisted by co-host Amy Robison.
Before dinner, guests were treated to a performance by the D’Ja View Chorus, from Riverview School who performed an original piece “It’s Time To Move On” written by one of the students about the Riverview journey, and Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop Thinking About tomorrow!”
Following dinner, Federation Board President Anne Howard came forward to kick off the presentation of the evening’s awards. Federation Board member Philomena Asante introduced this year’s President’s Award honoree, Dr. Deborah Allen, describing her as “a true champion for Children with Special Health Care Needs and their families”. Dr. Allen spoke of the importance of parent advocacy, noting that “Every child needs at least one adult who is irrationally crazy about them.”
The Martha Ziegler Founders Award was presented to Amy Weinstock. Amy was introduced by Federation Board member Tere Ramos who said that Amy embodied Federation Founder Martha Ziegler’s spirit and ability to advocate for positive change, as evidenced by her ability to mobilized thousands of people to write, contact, or visit legislators, ensuring the passage of autism insurance legislation (ARICA) through which thousands of individuals in MA have gained access to therapy. In recognizing the many people who contributed to the success in getting ARICA passed, Amy paid homage to Martha’s legacy by noting “my work is really a continuation of the systemic change that Martha started, and it’s an honor and privilege to get to do it”.
The evening’s final honoree was Maureen Brenner, Head of School at the Riverview School, who received the Patricia Blake Advocacy Award. Maureen was introduced by Ned Reichenbach and his father, Federation Board member John Reichenbach. Maureen congratulated the Federation on the work they have done over the years in empowering parents to advocate for their children, noting that the Federation had “written the book” on advocacy. She also urged all in attendance to support young people in finding their own voices, and becoming advocates for themselves, saying “It’s wonderful to see how empowered young people can be, and what good decisions they can make for themselves when they’ve been taught to use their own voice…when young people with special needs are given opportunities equal to those that are given to their non-disabled peers, they embrace them, and they surprise themselves.”