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Guests Enjoy Out of This World Experience at this Year’s Eden Dreams Gala

Peter Bell, Eden's President & CEO presents Rev Dr. Richard S. Armstrong with Guardian Award


PRINCETON, NJ (January 30, 2017) – Eden Autism hosted its 29th annual Eden Dreams Gala at the Hyatt Regency Princeton on Saturday, January 28, 2017. This year’s gala, Eden Dreams: Beyond the Stars, brought guests together to chase dreams into a sky that has no limits and to celebrate Eden and the individuals it serves. Eden was excited to welcome Lucy Noland, anchor at Fox 29, as Master of Ceremonies and Central Park the Band. Guests enjoyed cocktails, dinner, and dancing and had the opportunity to bid on silent auction items such as a Hamilton ticket and hotel package. This storied event has kicked off the new year in the greater Princeton community for over two decades and is one of Eden’s most visible fundraisers.

The event raised $225,000 to support Eden’s programs for children, adults, families, and professionals who are touched by autism. Over $6 million has been raised through Eden Dreams since its inception in 1989. The evening had many notable moments including the surprise announcement of a contribution of $100,000 from the Wawa Foundation. Lucy Noland, anchor at FOX29 and emcee of the event also presented Eden with a mission-flown flag that was aboard the Orion spacecraft on its flight to Mars. The gift was made jointly by Lucy and associates at NASA. “Eden is blessed to be in the hearts and minds of so many charitable individuals and organizations. Wawa has been with us since the beginning and we are ever grateful for the example it sets for donors and employers of individuals with autism. And now we welcome Lucy to the fold,” said Melinda Gorny McAleer, Chief Development Officer.

In recognition of their outstanding contributions to Eden’s mission, Rush D. Holt and The Princeton Windrows Community were honored with the Friends of Eden Visionary and Guardian awards respectively. Past honorees include corporate citizens and community leaders such as the Hyatt Regency Princeton, Munich Re, Wawa, Peter Dawson, and Nora Orphanides.

Rush D. Holt, PhD, chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and executive publisher of the Science family of journals, leads the world's largest multi-disciplinary scientific and engineering society. A founding member of the Congressional Caucus on Autism, Holt worked to educate legislators about autism and the shortfall in funding autism research. In 2001, Congressman Holt facilitated collaboration between Eden and the US Office of Education for the purpose of making the Eden Curriculum more widely available to public and private schools. In 2010, Holt was on hand to help Eden celebrate 35 years of service.

The Princeton Windrows Community, sits adjacent to the Eden School in Princeton Forrestal Village, has been a friend since 2007 when a small group of spirited residents joined their neighbor, the Reverend Dr. Richard S. Armstrong, in Eden’s 5K and Fun Run/Walk. A public relations, fundraising, and community-building expert extraordinaire, Reverend Armstrong dubbed the group the “Windrows Wonders” and by 2012 the team had grown to over 140 members including Windrows residents, staff, and their families – many of whom also walked or ran in the Fun Run and 5K. In the years since, the Windrows community has collectively contributed some $100,000 for Eden’s programs and operations.

“Recipients of Eden’s Friends of Eden Visionary and Guardian Awards exemplify the important role that critical thinkers, advocates, and influencers play in advancing Eden’s mission. We are grateful to Rush Holt for his demonstrated leadership and to our Windrows neighbors for their outstanding generosity. Eden is proud to honor these individuals at this year’s Eden Dreams,” said Peter Bell, Eden’s President & CEO.

For more on this year’s Eden Dreams gala, please visit

About Eden Autism

Eden is a not-for-profit organization with a mission to improve the lives of children and adults with autism. The organization has over 40 years of clinical experience and success in educating individuals with autism, and training family members, educators, and other professionals in best practices. Eden improves the lives of people with autism: one individual at a time, one family at a time, one community at a time.

  • The Eden School provides a 12-month education program for ages 3 to 21 tailored to the specific abilities and requirements of each student. Community integration, recreation, and pre-employment are hallmarks of the highly regarded program.
  • Eden Adult Services provides essential support to individuals as they age out of school yet require continued support. Services include employment training and placement, residential programs, and community integration and recreation.
  • Eden Outreach provides early intervention therapy, professional development, curriculum, and consultations.

About Autism
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), previously known as just “autism,” is a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. The term “spectrum” refers to the wide range of symptoms, skills, and levels of impairment or disability that children and adults with ASD can have. Some individuals are mildly impaired by their symptoms, while others are severely disabled. ASD is believed to be the result of a neurological disorder affecting the functioning of the brain. Although autism appears to have its roots in very early brain development, the most obvious signs and symptoms tend to emerge during the first two years of life.

Autism Facts

  • Autism now affects 1 in 68 children and 1 in 42 boys
  • New Jersey has the highest rate of autism in the U.S. with 1 in 45 children and 1 in 28 boys
  • Autism prevalence figures are growing (120% higher than previous estimates)
  • More children will be diagnosed with ASD this year than with AIDS, diabetes and cancer combined
  • Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S.
  • Autism receives only 0.5% of total NIH research funding
  • Boys are nearly five times more likely than girls to have autism
  • Currently, there is no medical detection or cure for autism

For more information about Eden Autism visit or call 609.987.0099

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