News & Events

Gala & Beyond – A Night of Reflections

Hundreds of community members joined Ability Beyond on April 27th for a night of reflection and hope during Ability Beyond’s “Gala & Beyond” as we honored Dr. John M. Murphy with the 44th annual Robert S. Young Humanitarian Award.

The Gala was chaired by Ginny Young, with generous support from Diamond Sponsor Bedoukian Research as well as Platinum Sponsors Belimo, Colonial Automobile Group, Linde, Mulvaney Mechanical, Mutual of American and NFP.

More than 350 people gathered at The Amber Room Colonnade in Danbury for the event. Special guests for the evening included Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, State Senator Julie Kushner, Danbury Mayor Roberto Alves, Bethel First Selectman Dan Carter, and Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi.

“The annual gala is Ability Beyond’s largest fundraiser of the year and generates funding for many initiatives and enhancements that support the people we serve,” said Tracy Conte, the Vice President of Development and Community Engagement. “We are so grateful to the many donors and sponsors who came together to raise over $390,000 to support people with disabilities in our care.”

Robert S. Young Award

For 44 years, the Robert S. Young Humanitarian Award has been presented to an individual or group whose efforts have positively contributed to improving the quality of life in the communities served by Ability Beyond.

“Dr. John Murphy is a man of exceptional substance and integrity,” said Dr. Harvey Kramer, Board of Directors Member Emeritus who introduced Murphy during the event. “He is an incredible supporter and continued advocate of Ability Beyond.”

Murphy and Nuvance Health have been instrumental in helping to launch our telehealth program in Connecticut. Additionally, our collaborations have included COVID-19 vaccination clinics and providing emergency mental health interventions.

Most recently, Nuvance Health joined our nationally-recognized Project Search program that provides internships for recently graduated young adults with disabilities and helps them gain the necessary skills for competitive employment. The program is in place at Norwalk and Danbury Hospitals, and there are plans to expand. We are proud to say our program has a 98 percent employment rate for participants upon completion.

We can’t do the work that we do without strong community partnerships, and that’s why I’m so happy that we are honoring Dr. John Murphy tonight,” said Jane Davis, Ability Beyond’s Chief Executive Officer. “Through his leadership, we’ve been able to expand our partnership with Nuvance Health for the benefit of the people we serve.  “We couldn’t be more excited to honor such an outstanding pillar of the community.”

Man in the Mirror

The highlight of the evening was a musical performance of Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” by a group of individuals served in our Bethel and Bristol day programs.

Amber Sullivan, a Career Development program manager who helped coordinate the performance, said karaoke is a regular feature of the day program.

“It’s a way for people to express themselves who may not have another outlet. By doing so, they can find tremendous joy and a sense of accomplishment. It’s truly incredible to witness and is a highlight of the day program.”

Click here to view photos from the event courtesy of Fairfield County Look and click here for our Mirror Photobooth gallery.

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