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Galaxy Of Supporters Tune In For Food Fundraiser For Norwalk's STAR

Katie Banzhaf, executive director of STAR, with Stephen Grubniak, left, and Jeff Russakoff, right, at Galaxy of Gourmets for STAR on Thursday night in Norwalk. The event benefited STAR, which helps people with developmental disabilities. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern
Tony Aitoro, left, owner of Aitoro’s Appliance Showroom in Norwalk, with Barbara Tavella and her father, Phil Tavella, at Galaxy of Gourmets for STAR on Thursday night. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern
STAR’s own Rubberband, a rock 'n' roll group of performers with developmental disabilities and staff members from STAR, performs at the Galaxy of Gourmets for STAR fundraiser for the organization that helps developmentally disabled children. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern
Jimmy Stablein with his wife, Kelly, and their daughter, McKenna, at the Galaxy of Gourmets for STAR fundraising event for STAR Thursday night in Norwalk. The Stableins own Bogey's Grille & Tap Room in Norwalk. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern
State Sen. Bob Duff, left, with Marco Siguenza, owner of Washington Prime restaurant at the Galaxy of Gourmets for STAR event Thursday in Norwalk. Washington Prime employee Eleazar Moran, in back, is busy cooking the steak being served. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern

NORWALK, Conn., -- On a night after a storm ripped through the area, people gathered in an appliance store in Norwalk to enjoy good food and help a nonprofit organization.

Aitoro’s Appliance Showroom in Norwalk hosted Galaxy of Gourmets for STAR an event that showcased food from local restaurants and acted as a fundraiser for STAR, an organization that helps developmentally disabled people.

"This is both a fundraiser and a friend-raiser," said Katie Banzhaf, executive director for the organization. She said it was a successful event on both fronts for the organization.

"It is a great opportunity for people to have a meal and to meet our residents," Banzhaf said.

Tony Aitoro, owner of Aitoro's Appliances said he was happy to be able to help STAR and said it's part of giving back to the community.

"I like to help people and have them make a lot of money," he said. "It's all about the food, the wine and the people. You see all the people smiling, and it's the best."

Musical groups performing at the event include STAR’s own Rubberband, a rock 'n' roll group of performers with developmental disabilities and staff members from STAR.

All proceeds benefit STAR Inc., Lighting the Way’s programs and services for infants, children, adults and seniors who have intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Chefs from the following organizations participated: Brasitas Restaurant, Washington Prime Restaurant, Paella, A Dash of Salt Catering, Don Carmelo’s Mexican Restaurant, Romanacci, Bogey’s of Norwalk, Trattoria A Vuccella, Chocolate Rain, Osteria Romana, Michael Joseph’s Catering and KAZU Sushi. Also contributing to the event are: The Little Pub, Pasquale’s Osteria, Melting Pot of Darien, BJ Ryan’s Banc House, Oak + Almond and Warehouse Wines.

Kelly Stablein, co-owner of Bogey's Grille & Tap Room, was happy to be involved in the event, especially since he opened his business only 10 months ago on Wilton Avenue after years of working in Westport. He said it was natural for him to support STAR, especially since his sister Kathy has Down syndrome. He said he is a longtime supporter of CLASP Homes, a Westport-based organization that is similar to STAR.

STAR provides services to people in Norwalk, New Canaan, Wilton, Weston, Westport and Darien.

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