Night of Too Many Stars!

We had the best Saturday night ever! Julie treated the Difflearn gals to the taping of the Night of Too Many Stars: An Overbooked Concert for Autism Education at the Beacon Theatre in NYC.

Hosted by Jon Stewart, we were treated to side-splitting appearances by Tina Fey, Chris Rock, Ricky Gervais, Steve Carrell, and many others with live performances by Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings!

We won’t spoil it for you – the show is going to air on October 21, at 9 pm EST on Comedy Central – but some highlights included how much people will actually pay to meet George Clooney and what it’s worth to have Chris Rock call someone you’re really mad at. Temple Grandin was in the audience and our good friend Dr. Bridget Taylor was featured in one of the segments.

The event was incredible, both in the hilarity of the performers and in the intense generosity of the attendees. We were particularly impressed at how tuned-in the organizers were to the real and pressing needs not just of children with autism, but of their families and their futures and how it will continue to impact them across the lifespan.

This is the third time that Jon Stewart has teamed up with Comedy Central to put on this event and to date, they have raised more than $7 million for autism education!!!!

The money raised benefits a variety of autism education and family service programs across the country. In 2008, the benefit raised over $2.8 million dollars, with money going to:

  1. Establish the Autism Training Institute at Hunter College for teachers and therapists to learn how to teach children with autism. Many of these trained teachers have now entered public school systems where appropriately trained special education teachers can be scarce.
  2. Program Expansion for more than a dozen model schools for children with autism, especially ones that were struggling financially to keep their doors open.
  3. Development of a program that teaches public school students to become peer mentors and teach individuals with autism.
  4. Expansion of an innovative afterschool program  that focuses on play and community from Illinois to several other states.
  5. Fund a program in Arizona that trains teenagers with autism for jobs at places like the zoo and library where they can work aside their typical peers.
  6. Fund a program in Seattle that helps teens develop social skills.
  7. Fund a program in Georgia that trains First Responders about autism.
  8. Support the New England Center for Children’s “Autism Curriculum Encyclopedia” which is an online manual that features lessons and programs that teachers can use to educate children with autism worldwide.

This year, one of the new initiatives is the Institute for Brain Development, an all-inclusive center positioned to undertake collaborative research into the most effective treatment of autism spectrum disorders. It will be a collaboration between New York Center for Autism, New York Presbyterian and it’s medical schools of Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and Weill Cornell Medical College.

Please tell your friends and do tune in on October 21 at 9pm. The show is fantastic and there will be more opportunities to contribute to an excellent cause.