published Friday, August 17th, 2012

Siskin Children's Institute celebrates its 50th anniversary of StarNight on Aug. 25

Siskin Children's Institute celebrates its 50th anniversary of StarNight on Aug. 25. The black-tie gala is one of the area's annual premiere fundraisers.

This year's celebrity headliner is multiplatinum singer/songwriter Josh Turner.

"The night's theme will feature a nostalgic look back at StarNights of yesteryear as the Institute celebrates 50 years of community support for this gala event that has helped and continues to benefit many children and families," said Siskin Children's Institute spokeswoman Laurie Stevens, in a news release.

"In the early 1960s, Institute co-founders brothers Mose and Garrison Siskin established the 365 Club, the Siskin Memorial Foundation's annual fund that encouraged the community to give 'a penny a day or more' to assist those with disabilities. In October 1962, the brothers organized a 365 Club benefit show, the forerunner to today's StarNight," Stevens said.

Through the years, StarNight has featured popular performers including Jim Nabors, Dinah Shore, Connie Francis, Tony Bennett, Hootie and the Blowfish, LeAnn Rimes, Sugarland, Boyz II Men, Trisha Yearwood and Kenny Rogers.

"The music sure has changed since the first StarNight back in 1962," said Mary Barker, who, along with her husband Jack, has attended every StarNight event. "But it's clear that the cause to help children and families remains the same."

Proceeds from the event benefit the children and families served through the Institute's four areas of focus: education, outreach, health care and research, the information noted. In the last 20 years, the event has raised more than $3 million.

"With the support of area businesses, such as Starkey Printing Co., a StarNight sponsor, the Institute is more equipped to adequately and appropriately meet the needs of children with and without special needs," Stevens said. "In 2010-2011, more than 1,500 children were served through the Siskin Early Learning Centers, the Siskin Center for Child and Family Research, outreach services and the Siskin Center for Developmental Pediatrics.

"Starkey has been a proud supporter of Siskin Children's Institute for more than 30 years," said John Shadden, owner and chief executive officer of Starkey Printing Co. "My wife and I know firsthand what parents go through with a child with special needs. I'm walking in those shoes, and I will continue to support the Institute so that more families and children can benefit from the quality resources and services provided there."

StarNight Golden Jubilee is co-chaired by Grady and Phyllis Williams, also long-time supporters of the Institute.

StarNight opens with a cocktail reception, beginning at 6 p.m., and a formal dinner followed by Turner's performance with an intimate, small-venue feel. There will be an after-party with dancing and live deejay.

For more information about StarNight Golden Jubilee, visit siskin.org/starnight or call 648-1707. Gold and silver tables and individual gala tickets are still available.

Siskin Children's Institute, founded in 1950, is a nonprofit organization that provides early childhood education where children with and without disabilities learn together; family support and professional development programs; developmental pediatric health care; and innovative research in early childhood development and special education.

Contact Karen Nazor Hill at khill@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6396. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/karennazorhill. Subscribe to her posts on Facebook at www.facebook.com/karennazorhill.

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