What happens when the community members and local organizations join forces to support a force for good? SPHERE. At the helm of the powerful force for good is Lori Berisford, President and Board Chair of SPHERE.
Saturday’s 30th Anniversary Gala celebrating SPHERE was nothing short of magical.
At its core, SPHERE is about making the lives of adults with disabilities robust, fun, and fulfilling. The community’s hand in this mission is the love that binds SPHERE.
The Gala began on the picturesque patio of Salem Golf Club amongst an impressive array of silent auction items that promised weekend getaways, front row seats to sporting events, stunning jewelry, dining experiences and more.
The upbeat vibe of the pre-dinner celebration exuded community energy. Poster-sized photos of SPHERE members and community partners bedecked the room, representing the strength and solidarity of our magnificent community.
After camaraderie and silent auction bidding, guests were whisked into the dining room for a sit-down dinner and entertainment courtesy of SPHERE members and community partners including the Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance, and Ridgefield High School students and volunteers.
Much cheer ensued for the night’s guest of honor - First Selectman, Rudy Marconi.
Marconi, the recipient of SPHERE’s 2017 Commitment to Service Award, is a true champion for adults with disabilities. Not only a tremendous supporter of SPHERE, Marconi is credited with advancing the mission of Ability Beyond, securing a second Sunrise Cottage residence on Halpin Lane in Ridgefield, and erecting Accessible Playgrounds on the grounds of Ridgefield elementary schools. “He is more than our First Selectman, he is our friend,” said John Loehr, who presented Marconi with his award.
Kim Pereira, the director of SPHERE’s music and performing arts program, introduced talented SPHERE members who earned a standing ovation from guests. Pianist Susan Choplinski and singer, Robin DiPerrio performed, The Best Things In Life Are Free. “There is something inside all of us that is awesome,” said Pereira. “We are blessed to be supported by our community,” she added.
Fanfare for Rudy (aka Fanfare for the Common Man) choreographed by Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance Artistic Director, Amy Piantaggini and performed by SPHERE members and RHS student and volunteer, Jillian Savoca, commenced with Tom Gollogly, Zachary Sorena, Meleigha Wolffe, and Amanda Grose revealing the letters RUDY on their red shirts.
Emcee Allison Stockel spearheaded a Live Auction and Fund the Mission event before a sweet grand finale that featured decadent desserts and dancing (thanks to Sean Big Daddy McKee who got everyone on the dance floor!)
The Second Annual Gala was wildly successful, raising $128,000 for an incredible nonprofit that has been true to its mission for three decades: to enrich and enhance through education, recreation and the arts, the lives of adults with a broad range of disabilities, while fostering relationships between members and the community.
To learn more about SPHERE or to become a volunteer, click HERE.
*Thank you to Rebecca Pambianchi for capturing the evening in pictures!