Tony Award-nominated actress Jenn Colella brought Broadway talent to the Reach for a Star Luncheon on Tuesday, April 9 at Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury. The annual event raises awareness and vital funds for extracurricular programs and afterschool activities for students with severe physical disabilities at the Henry Viscardi School at The Viscardi Center.
Colella performed a selection of songs, including the showstopper “Me and the Sky” from her current role in the hit musical Come from Away, to a crowd of supporters, students, and staff. At the end of the set, students joined Colella on stage for a sing-along and to present her with a piece of original artwork created by one of their classmates.
“I had several aha moments while visiting the Henry Viscardi School,” explained Colella, who toured The Viscardi Center last fall. “The first was how beautifully connected the staff and the students were. It felt like a family; it felt like a place where people came to hang out and have a community together. The next aha moment was seeing the facility itself and all of the various activities.”
Many students at the Henry Viscardi School require life-sustaining medical supports throughout the day and need accessible transportation to get to and from school, leaving few options for socialization outside of class. Every year, the Reach for a Star Luncheon aims to expand opportunities for children with disabilities to explore interests, be independent, and spend time with friends.
“The programs and activities this Luncheon supports are critical to our students’ social and emotional growth,” said John D. Kemp, President and CEO of The Viscardi Center. “Personally, I cannot imagine a school year that did not include wheelchair basketball, Friday Night Rec, swimming in the pool, and overnight stays at our independent living house.”
The Reach for a Star Luncheon included a cocktail hour, which featured over 100 auction and raffle prizes, a sit-down lunch, and live entertainment. Special guests at past Luncheons have included Broadway performer Kara Lindsay (Newsies, WICKED, and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical), Jennifer DiNoia, formerly Elphaba in Broadway’s WICKED; Chilina Kennedy, star of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical; and Hoda Kotb, co-anchor at NBC’s TODAY.
About the Henry Viscardi School
The Henry Viscardi School at The Viscardi Center is a New York State supported 4201 school that offers children with severe physical disabilities (Pre-K through age 21), who often require life-sustaining medical treatment throughout the day, a traditional educational setting option that provides rigorous academics and opportunities for personal growth and leadership development. Its specialized, accessible educational setting provides a fully enriched academic program, a variety of therapies, assistive technology, and medical supports to students who may otherwise need to receive instruction in their homes or at a hospital.