Katie Sweeney, Waisman Center Communications
The Friends of the Waisman Center held its 20th annual benefit concert on Friday, May 1. This was a milestone event celebrating not only the 20th concert, but also the 40th anniversary of the Friends of the Waisman Center. Proceeds from the concert—one of the Friends’ two major annual fundraising events— directly benefit many activities of the Waisman Center focused on improving the lives of individuals and families affected by developmental disabilities and neurodegenerative diseases.
Since 1996, the spring benefit concert has raised more than $300,000 for the center. This year’s concert received more than $25,000 in support which will go toward the center’s areas of greatest need including the Waisman Center Clinics and community outreach events.
The night began with a pre-show gathering featuring a performance by marimba player Ricardo Vasquez. Two hundred guests then gathered in the Friends of the Waisman Center Auditorium for a performance by a renowned piano and flute duo Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society (who also performed at the 1997 and 2008 benefit concerts). The concert was followed by a reception with the musicians.
To add to the celebration, Waisman Center director Albee Messing presented the first Judith B. Ward Award of Excellence. Ward initiated the concert series during her tenure as executive associate director of the Waisman Center and an ex officio Friends board member. She envisioned the concert as an opportunity to raise awareness and good will in addition to funds to support the Waisman Center. In honor of her contributions and long-term support, the Friends of the Waisman Center established this award that will be presented annually at the benefit concert to an extraordinary Friends volunteer or donor. Judith B. Ward is the first recipient of the award.
This year’s concert had 69 hosts in total, including 21 first-time hosts, a new record for the Friends’ concert benefit.