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Easton Birthday Bash Celebrates All Abilities

"Night with the Stars" is an event to celebrate those with disabilities, said Athan Crist of Easton, who started the event six years ago after members of a group home entered his sports shop and warmed his heart. "Our tagline is that we don't look at the word 'dis,' just the word 'abilities,'" he said.

About 300 guests attended the event Sunday night at the Easton Community Center. This year's theme was "Every Day is Like my Birthday," and local bakeries donated cakes to celebrate. Each guest had his or her picture taken upon arrival and other guests wrote birthday wishes around the photos.

The theme was chosen after Shaun Brennan, who had Down syndrome and Alzheimer's disease, died last year at the age of 54. Brennan's birthday was in April.

Rob and Cindy Citrone of Southport donated $5,000 to the Kennedy Center at the event Sunday.

"Shaun was just fantastic. He had a great zest for life — we called him the mayor because he knew everybody," said Cindy Citrone.

Crist said Gina Orticelli is "the spine of the whole event." Orticelli led the group of volunteers, who consisted of students from Joel Barlow High School, Helen Keller Middle School, Fairfield Prep and Fairfield-Ludlowe High School. Orticelli said Panino's Restaurant in Monroe was "extremely generous" and donates food for the event.

The Agape Society , a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of special needs individuals, sponsors the event. The Kandoo Band played songs such as "My Girl" as guests danced and ate dinner and cake.

Did you attend the sixth annual "Night with the Stars?" Tell us what you thought about it in the comments section below.

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