Bridgeport Bluefish General Manager Ken Shepard with STAR Executive Director Katie Banzhaf, BB the Bluefish, Miss Teen CT USA Sydney West, Chairpersons of the Walk The O’Connor Family of Darien, State Senator Bob Duff and Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling. (contributed photo)
Approximately 600 people participated in the 8th Annual STAR Walk, Roll and Stroll on Sunday, May 4, 2014 at the Ballpark at Harbor Yard, benefitting Southwestern Connecticut individuals with developmental disabilities, and their families. The event was chaired by the O’Connor family of Darien and raised over $80,000.
STAR’s Executive Director Katie Banzhaf said, “ STAR’s day at the Ballpark at Harbor Yard hosted by the Bridgeport Bluefish provided a wonderful opportunity to try something new for the Walk, Roll & Stroll event. We could not be more thrilled with the participation and support from the local community to help people with disabilities and are thankful for the hundreds of participants, volunteers, donors and students who contributed to the success of the day.”
The event was introduced by Mark Minnock of STAR’s own Rubberband , with welcome remarks by Katie Banzhaf, Executive Director of STAR, the O’Connor family of Darien, Chairpersons of the event, Mayor Harry Rilling of Norwalk, Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, State Senator Bob Duff, State Representative Gail LaVielle, Miss Connecticut Teen USA Sydney West and Bridgeport Bluefish General Manager Ken Shepard also greeted the walkers.
Walkers were able to walk on the warning track around the home field of the Bridgeport Bluefish and then meet the team members and manager afterwards, plus receive autographs and have photos taken with the players and mascot, BB the Bluefish.
Walkers also enjoyed music by Steve Avitabile and Rubberband (a rock and roll band comprised of individuals with and without developmental disabilities), STAR 99.9 FM and a dance performance by the Marvin School Dancers. They enjoyed a free continental breakfast donated by Stop & Shop, Panera Bread, HPC, Dunkin Donuts, Country Convenience, Village Bagels, PEPSI, Fresh Market and Nestle Waters N.A. Attendees also participated in family activities such as face painting, balloon making, enjoying the clowns and watching the Bridgeport Bluefish vs. Maryland Crabs game.
The STAR Walk, Roll & Stroll is one of the largest fundraisers each year for STAR, an organization that offers a full range of programs for individuals of all ages throughout Norwalk, Westport, Weston, Wilton, Darien and New Canaan. Starting with Early Intervention and Birth to 3 preschool programs, STAR assists individuals with school, advocacy and transitional (school-to-work or training) programs, job training and placement, manages 22 group homes and shared living apartments/condos, hosts recreational activities and trips, senior services and even provides transportation to clients’ appointments and daily activities. STAR also provides trained respite care to families, and its acclaimed Sibshop provides support and encourages siblings of individuals with developmental disabilities. STAR serves approximately 600 individuals with developmental disabilities and their families each year.
Volunteers for the event came from People’s United Bank, Norwalk Community College Honor Society, GE, Darien High School, BuildOn groups from Norwalk and Bridgeport, Fairfield Prep and the community.
Sponsors for the event include: The Komansky Family, Prospect Hill Foundation, The Danaher Family, The Levy Family, The Harrington-Howes Family, The Herbst Family, Fairfield County Bank, Kesten Brown Insurance, People’s United Bank, Pullman & Comley, Ring’s End, Deborah Hodes, Bartlett Tree Experts, Charles and Kathleen Berg, The Bosworth Family,
Cain Management/Dunkin Donuts, Callari Auto Group, Freehand Carrier/Walter Levine Distributor, Garavel Subaru, Burt & Judy Hoffman, Estate of Ruth Krauss, Gen Re, Honda of Westport, Maxim Group, The Piorkowski Family, Liz and Mony Rueven, Miss Laura Blair, Bridgeport Bluefish and Connecticut Community Bank.
In-kind sponsors for the event: Canaiden Media, Country Convenience, Fresh Market, HPC Food Services, iTownstores, Miggs B Design, Miguel Cruz Photography, Nestle Waters N.A., New York Bakery, PSEG Power Connecticut, L.L.C., Panera Breads, PEPSI Bottling Company, Stop & Shop, Village Bagels and Wade’s Dairy
Media sponsors included STAR 99.9 FM, The Hour Media Company and Canaiden Media.
STAR, Inc., Lighting the Way is a not–for-profit organization that serves people of all ages who have developmental disabilities, as well as providing support services to their families. STAR creates opportunities for individuals to live full lives with independence, freedom of choice and personal growth by providing support, services and advocacy. STAR informs and encourages the community to recognize and appreciate the value of all individuals.