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Potential hosts sold-out fundraiser for children with autism

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Caring parents and community members came together to have a great time for a great cause and went home extremely proud that they were able to transform lives.

The occasion was Potential’s recent sold-out Western-themed fundraising gala – the HoeDown, ThrowDown for Autism Treatment. The event at the New Hope Winery, on Saturday, March 23, raised money, provided a fun night out, and honored many caring community members.

Potential, a Newtown-based nonprofit organization, was founded in 2006 by Kristine Quinby and it helps children and adults with autism reach their full educational, social and emotional potential.

“Our expectation was that we would sell 125 tickets and we sold 200, so we are more than happy,” explains Quinby, who is also Potential’s president and CEO.

The gala put a spotlight on the need for more qualified caregivers, since there are 120 children on Potential’s list, some who have been there for as long as two years. Each person hired, as a result of these fundraising efforts, will undergo training at the “ABA Bootcamp” an intensive four-week course in ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) therapy and autism treatment.

The Western-themed event included: line dancing, country decorations, a buffet, silent and live auctions and raffles, and a great deal of heart. Most guests wore their favorite cowboy or cowgirl attire.

Jim Worthington, owner of Newtown Athletic Club, was the guest of honor and received the Community Leadership Award 2018 for his work to support ALS research and for helping to launch Potential’s Car Show for Autism.

“It’s always nice when someone gives thanks back for the things that we do; we don’t expect it, but we certainly appreciate it and I’m honored to be here,” Worthington said.

Cindy Murphy, the co-founder of the Comprehensive Learning Center in Warminster, was the winner of the first Autism Caring Excellence (ACE) Award, established to celebrate those who do exemplary work with children with autism.

“I am honored to receive this award, but it’s always a team effort. It cannot happen without the total commitment of the parents,” Murphy said. “I am happy to do what I love and to make an impact in meaningful ways.”

The five ACE Award finalists recognized at the event, were: Angel Austin, Kathy Murphy, Soh Park, Katherine Pugliese, and Jophany (Joe) Raphael.

“It was very difficult to choose, because all of the finalists were amazing. They all deserve to be recognized for their hard work,” explained Gadi Naaman, director of Development for Potential and The Springtime School.

After four years in his position, Naaman called the successful fundraiser a “bittersweet” event. Sweet because of the great success, and bitter because he is leaving Potential this month to start a new life with his family in Israel, where he hopes to continue helping children with autism.

“For every $4,000 we raise tonight, two kids come off of our wait-list for services,” he said, “and this is awesome.”

For information about Potential, visit potentialinc.org.

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