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Year in Review - 2014 Norwalk Business
Basketball Tournament Raises Awareness on Hearing Disorders


Year in Review - Fairfield County Gives Back

A look back at stories of generosity in our area

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Norwalk, CT | Added on December 24, 2014 At 12:56 PM

From walks raising funds and awareness about diseases like Alzheimer's to individuals using creativity to help those in need, 2014 was a year of giving back to the community.

In Greenwich, one Sacred Heart senior is funding schooling for 45 girls in countries like Kenya, Uganda, Haiti and Paraguay - and it all started with her sewing machine. Mary Grace Henry makes unique hair bands, bows, ribbons and other accessories with a 100 of the profits going to Reverse the Course. 

"I knew that education would be a good way to help one girl because it just changes her life completely. it lets her be in charge of her own destiny. I really liked my own education and I wanted to help give that to someone else," said Henry. 

In November, Mary gained national attention by appearing on the Queen Latifah Show. The television show host helped Mary get one step closed to her goal of providing funding for 100 girls to go to school by donating $4,000 to Reverse the Course. Mary is currently working on a plan to continue with Reverse the Course when she heads to college in the Fall of 2015.

Another Greenwich family made headlines this year, this time giving back to find a cure. The Zaccagnini family made history by setting a fundraising record for the Alzheimer's Association of Connecticut. Barbara and her sons Douglas and Steven,  who own Dougie's Stand By in Port Chester, raised $50,000 to benefit the Walk to End Alzheimer's - the largest donation from a single team the organization has ever received. 

"It was very rewarding. We found out many people that we knew had someone related to them that has Alzheimer's and not that many people were aware that the organization needed money [for research]" said Barbara.

"Someone was always connected. Somebody was always passionate about it. I never knew how many people it affected until we did this,"said Steven.

The Zaccagnini family is already planning an event to benefit the Alzheimer's Association of Connecticut on September 20th, 2015. 

Stamford's Ferguson Library honored a man who gave so much to the community. Ernest DiMattia, known to his many friends as Ernie, was president of The Ferguson Library from 1976 until his death this past June. Earlier this month, the library rededicated its Main Library in his memory. 

Ernest Abate, Chair of the Ferguson Library Board of Trustees said, "Naming this building in Ernie's honor will be an inspiration to all of us as we go forward."

Senator Richard Blumenthal said, "Ernie I think, more than the bricks and mortar wil always be here in his values and his great vision for Stamford and for each and every individual fulfilling his or her potential."

"We have lost one person who would fight for the City of Stamford, for the people of Stamford, first and foremost for the children of Stamford and for the education of the world around him. It's now our turn to pick up the mantle, to carry it forward and to do something with it, with the lessons he has left for us," said Brian DiMattia, Ernie's son. 

In Norwalk, making music and raising awareness go hand in hand for husband-wife duo Che-Val. On November 18th, Che-Val released their latest project "Don't Give Up On Me," for purchase with all proceeds earned from downloads and streams being donated to the National Parkinson Foundation - a cause close to musician Kenny Cash's heart.

"For some reason, I was in my car driving listening back to the mix and it made me think of my situation with my mom having Parkinson's Disease. My grandfather was also diagnosed with the disease," said Kenny.

Singer/songwriter Laura Cash said, "Kenny has always felt a little helpless with it. He felt that this is a way I can feel like I am doing something. There is no know cure so he felt that they way he could give back is to help raise money for research."

"More and more people are being diagnosed every year [with Parkinson's Disease] and it is something that is going to continue to rise. Even if this makes one person's life a little bit easier, I would be really happy with that," added Kenny.

Through the sales & streams of the song, the duo has raised almost $1,000 for the National Parkinson Foundation.

Finally, For 26 years, one Norwalk couple has turned their home into a winter wonderland to dazzle the community for the holidays. Norwalk's own Mr. and Mrs. Claus Rick and Joan Setti received an extra special Christmas gift their final year putting up their Christmas Village - the grand prize of $50,000 on the season finale of ABC's "The Great Christmas Light Fight."

"Going out as top dog is something we will never forget" said Rick Setti during the show's finale which aired Monday, December 22nd.

"We've made a lot of friends over the years and we've watched the kids from being 1 and 2 years old when their moms and dads brought them up, to now when they are married and bringing up their children. It makes us feel great." said Rick.

Joan Setti said, "The kids. It makes them happy and their eyes just light up."

"What I'm going to miss the most are the children," said Rick.

In a message on their Santa Setti Facebook page, the couple wrote - "Just know that as much as we have been a tradition to you, you have been a tradition to us. It is bittersweet to go out on top after 26 years. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Merry Christmas from Rick & Joan Setti.

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