Band of Angels logo 2013

Gala, silent and live auction event, including international travel, to take place April 25 at the Townsend Hotel

Media Contact: Sara Przybylski, EAFocus Communications; 248.877.9200,

Rochester Hills, Mich. – April 9, 2014 – Michigan-based Band of Angels, an international outreach organization dedicated to helping individuals with Down Syndrome, autism and other cognitive challenges reach their full potential, is celebrating its annual Starry Night Gala on Friday, April 25 at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham. This year’s theme, Still Roaring, commemorates Band of Angels’ 20th anniversary by providing a look back at the goals the organization has accomplished, the supporters who have helped through the years and the lives of children and adults with Down syndrome who have touched the heart of the organization along the way. 2014 also heralds changes for Band of Angles, says the foundation’s founder Cynthia Hutchison.

“Band of Angels is always growing and changing, because our loved ones with disabilities are always growing and changing. Old obstacles are overcome and new challenges and opportunities arise in their place,” said Ms. Hutchison. “At the start of our third decade serving the disabled community, we’ll be announcing bold new initiatives and bidding farewell to some programs we’re leaving behind.”

In addition to fine food, wine and entertainment, gala attendees will also celebrate with individuals with cognitive challenges who have found success in the arts, athletics and with employers. Honorary event chairpersons for the Starry Night Gala are Chris and Kari Groesser; parents of Owen Groesser, a student with Down syndrome from Auburn Hills who was recognized for scoring two three-pointers at his Van Hoosen middle school basketball game and became a national social media sensation after being featured on ESPN’s SportsCenter in Feb. 2013. Together with Ms. Hutchison and her husband, Joe Hutchison, the Groessers will lead an anticipated 200 guests for a night of celebration and fundraising.

Paula Tutman, reporter with WDIV Channel 4, will serve as the event’s emcee. The evening’s guest speakers are Alexandra (Allie) and Hannah Hayes, ages 16 and 15, daughters of Mark and Dawn Hayes of Troy. Together, Allie, who has Down syndrome, and Hannah will share their story as sisters and how Down syndrome has brought them closer and impacted their career and life goals. Allie will share her successes at Athens High School, including maintaining a 3.1 GPA in general education classes, being elected Homecoming Princess for her sophomore class in fall 2013 and preparing for a career in childcare. Hannah will share the joys of being at school with her older sister Allie, her dedication to giving back through charity efforts and possibly becoming a physical therapist after seeing how the physical therapists have helped Allie and others with cognitive and developmental impairments. Other recognized guests include Owen Groesser.

In addition to a silent auction, there will be a live auction led by auctioneer, Charles Wickens, featuring one of a kind experiences like a trip to Southern Spain, a journey to “Aves del Paraiso” in Mexico, a luxurious four bedroom, five bathroom villa with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and a staff of six including a gourmet chef; a dinner cruise for eight from the Grosse Point Yacht Club with dinner prepared by John Corrao; and multiple fashion items, including private shopping parties at Neiman Marcus and Janet Varner.

Ms. Hutchison notes there are three primary forms of support that children and adults with disabilities need: accurate and current information at the time of diagnosis, guidance for maximizing learning during the academic years and assistance securing employment once reaching adulthood.

“Our work contributes to the inspiring successes of individuals with cognitive disabilities at every stage of their lives. In order to continue to serve these individuals and their support networks, we need to maintain our financial resources,” said Ms. Hutchinson. “We pride ourselves on hosting an event that raises as much awareness as it does money, and this year will be no exception.”

Cocktails and silent auction at the Starry Night Gala begin at 6 p.m. with dinner at 8 p.m. and live auction at 9 p.m. Music by the Dave Bennett Quartet will begin at 10:00 p.m. Starry Night tickets are $250 per person and sponsorship opportunities are available. To purchase tickets, become a sponsor, or for additional Starry Night information, please call 248-377-9309 or visit

About Band of Angels
Celebrating 20 years in 2014, Michigan-based Band of Angels was established in 1994 by Cynthia (Kidder) Hutchison, an international advocate for educating, employing and providing inclusive opportunities for individuals with Down syndrome, autism and other cognitive impairments Ms. Hutchison is a 2006 Detroit News Michiganian of the Year and co-author, along with Harvard-educated Brian Skotko, M.D., a leading physician advocate for individuals with Down syndrome, of the award-winning Common Threads: Celebrating Life with Down syndrome. To learn more about Band of Angels’ mission, please visit