Thanks to everyone who chose to Be the Light at HeartShare’s 2021 Virtual Gala, HeartShare is thrilled to announce that it reached its event fundraising goal of $1M.

The Gala, which took place on April 15th, is HeartShare’s largest annual fundraising event and the $1M raised will go a long way toward supporting an annual budget that depends, in part, on contributions and donations raised from special events.

The funds will help cover unexpected and unbudgeted costs incurred due to COVID-19 and reduced government funding. Ultimately, the funds will be applied to the programs and services HeartShare provides to help people with autism and other developmental disabilities live their best lives: group homes, pre-schools, schools for children and teens with autism, day habilitation programs, vocational training programs and our recreational, family support and long-term therapy services.

“The HeartShare family is incredibly loyal and supportive,” says HeartShare President and CEO William R. Guarinello. “The fact that people opened their hearts and their wallets in these tough times speaks volumes about them and we can’t thank them enough. The fact that we were able to reach such a challenging goal—not with our usual in-person event, but with a half-live, half-virtual event—speaks volumes about our ability to adapt and innovate, two traits that have defined HeartShare’s approach to changing circumstances for more than a hundred years.”

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, HeartShare’s 2021 Virtual Gala was a hybrid event, combining pre-recorded content with a live broadcast. Board Member and co-host of “Good Day New York” Rosanna Scotto opened the show from the Fox 5 Studios in Manhattan and then handed the baton to fellow Board Member, legendary Q104.3 DJ, Radio Hall of Fame Inductee Jim Kerr, live from Gargiulo’s Restaurant in Coney Island, where HeartShare President and CEO Bill Guarinello and his family, several Board Members and their families and other HeartShare supporters were gathered for a socially distanced dinner.

Two of the Gala’s three honorees accepted their awards in person: Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc., President Chris Perry graciously accepted the 2021 HeartShare Visionary Award, and HeartShare President and CEO William R. Guarinello accepted the HeartShare Leadership, Innovation & Impact Award for his incredible 51 years of service at HeartShare. The Gala’s third honoree, “Inside Edition” anchor Deborah Norville, delivered a moving acceptance speech for the 2021 Heart of a Champion Award via video: “Since tonight’s theme is Be the Light, if you are a part of this event, then you are a part of the light.”

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