A Night of Radiance: South Asian Autism Awareness Centre Third Annual Fundraiser Dinner & Dance
Community Embraces Hope for Autism
Scarborough, ON ~ March 6, 2012 ~ March 3rd marked a watershed moment for the South Asian Autism Awareness Centre (SAAAC) as they held their annual Radiant Night: Gala Dinner & Dance. The newly constructed Scarborough Convention Centre accommodated the night’s festivities, which attracted over 1200 guests. The purpose of the evening was to raise awareness surrounding Autism in the South Asian community along with raising funds to support SAAAC’s therapies and social service programs. The organization serves over 40 families by providing easily accessible and discipline-rich management for Autism and related developmental disorders. Geetha Moorthy, founder and Executive Director of SAAAC, was overjoyed at the success of the evening, “Nights like these are important because they illustrate the support and engagement of the community, including countless volunteers and committee members who give their time. Their contribution goes a long way to help the families and the great children we serve. With support like this we can help children with Autism realize their gifts. Every child is gifted. They just unwrap their packages at different times.”
Talented emcees Manjula Selvarajah and Shanthan Sivapalan presided over the night’s festivities, which saw a host of notable speakers, performances and visual spectacles provided by Butterfly Squad. The key note address came from Kannan Sinniah whose teenage daughter is impacted by Autism. His account brought awareness of the personal struggles parents and caregivers deal with regarding the challenges posed by the disorder. Honest and engaging, Kannan’s address set the tone for what would be a night of hope and celebration. The night also saw an award presentation to the children and adolescent youth of SAAAC. Each individual was given an award to highlight their contribution, creativity, and participation in the SAAAC family.
One of the key highlights of the night was the launch of SAAAC’s LAMP (Lifetime Annual Membership Plan, http://saaac.org/donate/lamp. LAMP was created as another means for supporters to continue to contribute towards SAAAC’s therapies and social service programs and ensuring these programs remain free and accessible for the families they serve. The plan is a call for the continued community participation and support in order to keep SAAAC services sustainable and accessible to any and everyone.
The event would not have been possible without the heavy contribution of key business and community leaders which included the Hon. Rathika Sitsabeisan (PM, Scarborough Rouge River), Minister Brad Duguid (MPP, Scarborough Centre), Bas Billksson (MPP, Scarborough-Rouge River), Mayor Frank Scarpetti (Town of Markham), Councillor Logan Kanapathi (Ward 7, Town of Markham) amongst others . Individuals and organizations such as Christine Williams from Scotiabank, Sorkkam, IWI Consulting Group, All Saints University, Vince Sinnadurai from CIBC, Cashpoint, VMS Travels & Tours and Dr. Shivajan Sivapalan were instrumental in making Radiant Night a possibility. “The beauty of tonight, amidst the size of the crowd and the class of the hall, was that a parent and their child with autism, a student, a young professional, someone from the temple, an office worker, a VP or a minister could all partake in an event together. A community-run organization, as our founder put it, held a community attended event. Autism, and the children and families who live with it, are not something to be managed off to the side. It, like all of our challenges, is to be shared and celebrated by everyone. Radiant Night reminds us that this is not a chore – it’s an honor. Thank you community” stated Jonathan Bertram, SAAAC Board President as he reflects on the importance of ongoing community of supporters.
The night was capped off with live music presented by Sampath/Showcase and the DJ services of DJ Smoove. The festivity continued into the night with people of all ages, connecting and celebrating as a community. This was the goal of Radiant Night, to bring together an entire community to create change and celebrate hope for those families and individuals impacted by Autism. Ultimately, the success of the event will go a long way to help sustain, support, and develop the efforts of SAAAC in 2012.
Media inquires / Interview requests: Shanthan Sivapalan (Media Relations), Geetha Moorthy (CEO and Founder) and Jonathan Bertram (Board President)
*Additional photos are available upon request