Earlier this month I had the honor of emceeing the “Night of a Million Lights”.  The gala sold out, with 570 people filling the spectacular Gotham Hall in Manhattan on December 5.  The event raised more than $625,000 for Life’s WORC and the Family Center for Autism, which offer services for autism and other intellectual challenges.  Based in Garden City on Long Island, these two programs provide homes and non-residential services to thousands of adults, children and their families in Manhattan, Queens, Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

Patti Ann Browne Dec 2017 Night of a Million Lights

Patti Ann Browne emcees autism benefit

The gala honored Rocco Commisso, the founder and CEO of Mediacom, the nation’s fifth largest cable TV provider.  He’s also Chairman of the NY Cosmos soccer team.  Rocco is a generous benefactor of Life’s WORC.  A self-made billionaire, Rocco is proud of his Italian immigrant roots and has not forgotten the less fortunate.

NY Cosmos Chair Rocco Commisso - Night of Million Lights 2017

Mediacom CEO Rocco Commisso

Life’s WORC CEO Janet Koch (a fellow St. Francis Prep grad) spoke of how Life’s WORC has helped thousands of adults and children with challenges to live fulfilling lives. She introduced Stacy and Jon Zauderer, who spoke movingly of how their 24-year old son Matthew has thrived from living in a LW home.

Life's WORC CEO Janet Koch - Night of a Million Lights benefit emceed by Patti Ann Browne

Janet Koch – CEO of Life’s WORC

Also speaking was Rick Del Mastro, Chairman of the Board of Life’s WORC, whose name is on the Family Center for Autism.  He owns the marketing firm City USA.  Rick noted that he and Rocco share much in common, including being married to their lovely wives for many decades (Rick & Cynthia 51 years, Rocco & Catherine more than 40.) Kudos to them!

Dec 2017 autism benefit emceed by Patti Ann Browne

Rick & Cynthia Del Mastro

Music was provided by the very talented Michael Korins, an award winning 24-year old singer and keyboardist who happens to be on the spectrum. The guests rose to their feet for a long standing ovation following Michael’s performance.

Dec 2017 autism benefit emceed by Patti Ann Browne

Michael Korins

The night concluded with the stirring Celine Dion/Andrea Bocelli song “The Prayer”, with Cynthia Del Mastro noting the line: “Guide us with your grace, to a place where we’ll be safe.” Life’s WORC and the Family Center for Autism provide such places for thousands in the New York area.

Photos by Mark Levine. For more click on this Flickr album.