11/13/14 8:00am
11/13/2014 8:00 AM
Brandon Boardman (at piano) and his teacher, Billy Johnson, perform at the Long Island Music Hall of Fame Gala on Oct. 23. Mr. Boardman, a Riverhead resident who has Asperger's syndrome, received a standing ovation following the performance. (Credit: Long Island Music Hall of Fame photos)

Brandon Boardman (at piano) and his teacher, Billy Johnson, perform at the Long Island Music Hall of Fame Gala on Oct. 23. Mr. Boardman, a Riverhead resident who has Asperger’s syndrome, received a standing ovation following the performance. (Credit: Long Island Music Hall of Fame photos)

You won’t see Brandon Boardman using sheet music when he plays piano. That’s because the 20-year-old Riverhead musician can bang out an entire tune — mistake-free — after hearing it just once.

Mr. Boardman, who has Asperger Syndrome, was one of just a handful of performers to receive a standing ovation during last month’s Long Island Music Hall of Fame Gala at The Paramount in Huntington. (more…)

09/29/13 5:00pm
09/29/2013 5:00 PM
CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Riders traveled from as far as Poughkeepsie to take part in Saturday's fundraiser.

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Riders traveled from as far as Poughkeepsie to take part in Saturday’s fundraiser.

About 400 motorcyclists took to the road Sunday afternoon to raise money for a program benefiting children with autism.

Riders drove from Suffolk County police headquarters in Yaphank to Pugliese Vineyards in Cutchogue for the fourth annual Land & Sea Sports Club fundraiser.

The nonprofit club provides children on the autism spectrum and other developmental disabilities with programs and activities — swimming, surfing, sailing and karate —  that have both recreational and therapeutic benefits.

Bill LaMaire and his wife Maria said they started the nonprofit nine years ago for their son Christopher — to give him the opportunity to participate in activities with other children.

“There are so many families impacted by autism,” Mr. LaMaire said. He added that more than 500 families benefit from the programs, which take place at colleges and yacht clubs throughout Suffolk County.

The riders lined their bikes up at Cutchogue East Elementary School and walked over to the vineyard for an afternoon of food and music and raffles.

The vineyard donated the property for the event, said Peter Pugliese, winemaker.

Rider Bernie Woods, whose son Seamus, 17, participates in the programs said “the kids light up when they take part. They have their own thing they can do. It’s special to be able to provide them with that.”

Mr. Woods helped get the word out about the event, which has grown since being founded four years ago.

Mike Davis, who helped coordinate the ride said, “The cause is incredible. To see what the parents do and to give kids a chance to participate, that’s why we’re here.”

The riders were escorted the entire way with support from the Suffolk County, Southampton, Southold and Riverhead police departments, he said.

About 20 school-aged volunteers from the local NJROTC helped out at the event, assisting with everything from parking to doing crafts with children at the event.

“Bikers have big hearts,” said Kathy Ciano, who rode out with her husband, Jim. The Ronkonkoma couple said their godson Bill, 13, has autism and participates in many of the activities offered by the club.

“He does the sailing, swimming, anything with water. He loves the water. It calms him,” she said. “It’s a very important cause.”

To learn more about the cause visit the Land & Sea Sports Club website.

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07/07/12 3:00pm
07/07/2012 3:00 PM

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Artist Alicia Munch with one of her pieces on opening night at Lenz Winery. Flower petals were among the materials Ms. Munch used to create the work.

A unique exhibit of artwork created by autistic and differently abled people is currently on display at Lenz Winery in Cutchogue, thanks to the winery’s partnership with Family Residences and Essential Enterprises Inc., or F.R.E.E.

Through July 31, visitors to Lenz will be able to view and purchase works from either of two collections on display. “Revelations” is a collection of individual artists’ perceptions on varied life themes. “Flags of Hope” reflects inner turmoil and expressions of containing and structuring that turmoil, according to Ed Regensburg, F.R.E.E.’s art therapy director.

“What you’re looking at are the results of people who have worked through layers of emotional conflict, discord and developmental challenges of expression,” Mr. Regensburg said. “It’s psychotherapy through art, not with it. It’s integrated, intense expressionism because of pent-up energy that’s always been kept inside. We’re just channeling it.”

Mr. Regensburg recalled that when he began his work with F.R.E.E., he was introduced to a man named Al, whom he was told couldn’t speak. He said Al didn’t even make eye contact at first but now, four years later, Al sometimes attempts speech, makes eye contact and gives staff members the thumbs up and thumbs down.

“Art therapy gives people a voice,” he said. “Even if they can’t use their own.”

Mr. Regensburg was at the opening “meet the artists” reception on June 22, as were three artists from the program who talked about their works.

“This is grass that grew right on the property,” artist Michael Specht said of the mediums he worked with for a piece made during an art therapy class. “The grass was cut two hours before I went out and picked it.”

Mr. Specht added that he chose a deep blue for the sky because “the sky out there is bluer and you can see the stars at night.”

Supervisor Scott Russell, who also attended opening night, said he hopes F.R.E.E. representatives will sit down with him to discuss organizing similar showcases, perhaps at the new Peconic Community Center on Peconic Lane.

“As a collector of art, I have many works from local artists that have lived in Southold over the years and I don’t have anything as visually stunning or as heartfelt as any of these works,” Mr. Russell said. “These are absolutely amazing to me.”

Manorville resident Dara Gray was the first buyer at the exhibit’s opening reception.

“I just love the colors,” Ms. Gray said, “The way the swirls and vibrant colors offset the black frame. It has a lot to say. It’s like turmoil, but with confidence, and pretty all at the same time.”

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