LONG ISLAND CITY – The Carnival of Love Foundation held its 10-year Anniversary Fundraiser on April 27 at Melrose Ballroom in Long Island City with over 300 guests in attendance. The event raised $45,000 to benefit families living with autism or special needs in our local community.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (3/31/16) “1 in 68 US children have autism” www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism.
“We at the Carnival of Love are doing our part to create awareness and looking to open the first ever Healing Arts Community Center in the Astoria/Long Island City areas so that we may offer special needs families access to unique programming such as music + therapy, educational workshops, parent support meetings and fun, family activities,” said Dennisia Slabakis, the Carnival of Love Foundation President and co-founder.
The Fundraiser with a Spanish Flamenco theme this year drew an impressive crowd of supporters for the Foundation. Among the highlights of the event were DJ Savas along with a live Gypsy Kings tribute band- the Los Cintron Brothers Band, flamenco show, casino, bull rides, and a fun photo booth.
A special presentation was made by two young artists with autism. One of the guest stars, Benjamin Giroux, is the 12-year-old author of the poem “I am odd” written for National Poetry Month about his experience with Asperger’s Syndrome, a type of autism.
The National Autism Association posted the moving poem on its Facebook page and it went viral with tens of thousands of likes. The international press reported on the young poet who is inspiring people around the world. Among those inspired by Giroux’s poem is renowned Greek musician Spiro Cardamis who composed an original song for the poem, setting the words to music. The song was performed for the first time ever at the event by the talented young singer, Kyle Baptista, who is also living with autism. Musical direction was by Olympia Milonas who founded and leads the Foundation’s musicLAB, a music therapy and movement class for special needs families.
The successful event celebrated the charity’s success over its ten-year history, while toasting to a bright new future as it embarks on a new journey towards the opening of a Healing Arts Community Centerin the LIC/Astoria areas for families living with autism and special needs. The $45,000 raised at the event will give the foundation a head start in that direction.
The Foundation’s Co-founder and President, Dennisia Slabakis, thanked the community for their love, generosity, and support over the past decade, as their collective contributions brought them to this special moment in time, and has allowed them to fulfill their mission of bringing community, love, and joy to those in need.
The Carnival of Love Foundation’s annual fundraiser was held at the Melrose Ballroom in Long Island City. (Photo by TNH/Eleni Sakellis)
The organization’s main goal in opening the Healing Arts Center is to create a safe and welcoming space where special needs families can come together in a beautiful, artistic, and suitable environment that is sensitive to their collective needs. Programming will include, but is not limited to, art and music therapy, educational workshops, parent support groups, and fun, family activities.
For more information about the Foundation and the Healing Arts Center please contact: [email protected], (347) 927-6444, or visit, www.carnivaloflove.org.
Founded in 2008, The Carnival of Love Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit charity, dedicated to bringing community, love and joy to the lives of children and families living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and other special needs.
Kyle Baptista sang at the Carnival of Love Foundation’s 10th Anniversary celebration. Photo: ©Thanassi Karageorgiou www.naskaras.com
Benjamin Giroux recited his poem about his experience with Asperger’s Syndrome at the Carnival of Love Foundation’s 10-year Anniversary fundraiser. Photo: ©Thanassi Karageorgiou www.naskaras.com
The Carnival of Love Foundation celebration featured a Spanish Flamenco theme with live musical performances and more. Photo: ©Thanassi Karageorgiou www.naskaras.com