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Eden Autism Services

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Annual Autism Gala Presents Community Leaders with Service Awards

Princeton, NJ, January 25, 2014 --( On Saturday, January 18, 2014, Eden Autism Services’ held its 26th annual Eden Dreams white-tie dinner gala at the Hyatt Regency Princeton. This year’s theme, Dreams of a Gatsby Gala, took you back to the exuberant 1920s, and the height of America’s Jazz Age.

Highlights of the evening included the presentation of the Friends of Eden Award to Peter J. Dawson of Leigh Visual Imaging and the Connor P. Casey Foundation for Autism. The Friends of Eden Award is presented to organizations or individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary philanthropic and/or volunteer support for Eden’s mission.

Marie Gary, Chairman of the Eden Board of Trustees, and Dr. Tom McCool, President & CEO of Eden Autism Services, welcomed and thanked Dreams of a Gatsby Gala co-chairs, Peter Franco and Mary Ann Guarrieri, along with all of those who made this year’s Eden Dreams possible. They also announced the two Friends of Eden honorees for the evening.

Gary presented the 2014 Friend of Eden Guardian Award to Peter J. Dawson for his extraordinary volunteerism and support. In 1992, Dawson joined Eden’s Business Advisory Council with the primary charge to help find employment opportunities for men and women who were enrolled in Eden’s adult day program. Over the past two decades Dawson’s dedication to Eden continued to flourish. He has employed Eden’s adults with autism, served on the board of trustees, and has been instrumental in building Eden’s long-awaited model education and outreach center as chair of the facilities committee.

About Dawson, Gary states “Peter exemplifies the adage, ‘No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.’ He is dedicated to serving numerous not-for-profit organizations throughout the Princeton area while running a successful business and being a committed father and spouse.”

For its extraordinary commitment to families that are in need of financial assistance in order to access essential early intervention services, McCool presented the 2014 Friend of Eden Visionary Award to Dan and Kolleen Casey of the Connor P. Casey Foundation for Autism. McCool explained that in 2001, the Casey’s received scholarship support for early intervention services for their then two year-old son Connor; they vowed to return the favor for another family when they were able. With the support of friends and family, the Caseys have contributed more than $250,000 to date to be used by families in need of early intervention services.

Following the award presentations, Gary took a few moments to recognize McCool, who will be retiring from Eden at the end of the month. She presented him with a plaque that will be hung in the lobby of Eden’s Education and Outreach Center in Princeton. On behalf of Eden staff, families and the board Gary spoke of how grateful she is for McCool’s eight years of service and mentioned his many achievements, chief among them the building of Eden’s education and outreach center and the creation of an endowment fund for adult services.

Gary then went on to introduce Peter Bell who will be starting as Eden’s new President & CEO as of February 1st. Additionally, she acknowledged Eden’s Founding President & CEO Dr. David L. Holmes who was also in attendance.

The evening festivities included a 5-course gourmet dinner, open bar, a silent auction, and the annual “Dream Search” – a theme-related puzzle associated with each year’s Eden Dreams gala.

Event co-chairs Franco and Guarrieri thanked the event’s sponsors which included Event FX; UNITED; Hyatt Regency Princeton; Thomas Gallina, The Sabino Group/Northwestern Mutual; Munich Re; Stewart Films; The Ametek Foundation; Contour Data Solutions; Fallen Angels Foundation; Freeman, Carolla Reisman & Gran; Novo Nordisk; The Olsen Foundation; Orphanides & Associates; Wawa.

For more information on program and services provided by Eden Autism Services visit or call (609) 987-0099. All proceeds from Eden Dreams benefit the children and adults served by Eden Autism Services.

About Eden Autism Services
Founded in 1975, not-for-profit Eden Autism Services was among the first to provide a wide range of science-based services to children and adults with autism through early intervention, 3 to 21 education, employment, adult residential, and consultative programs employing Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). With a national prevalence rate of 1 in 88 births (1 in 49 in New Jersey), autism is the third most common developmental disability. Recognized nationally, Eden is a leader in working with individuals who have the most challenging behavioral and cognitive deficits. Eden's outreach department offers support and training for families and professionals and has made available for purchase the Eden assessment and curriculum, available in print and online (ELMS: Eden’s Learning Management System), which is comprised of nearly 40 years of clinical experience. For more information, visit or call (609) 987-0099. Follow Eden on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
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Eden Autism Services
Aileen Kornblatt

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