“Deafness does not define me –
it motivates me!”

Katerina Kraeutler, age 14,
Summit Speech School graduate

Summit Speech School’s 23rd Annual Spring Benefit: A Day and Night to Remember - Celebrating Success for Children with Hearing Loss


On The 23rd Annual Spring Benefit was co-chaired by Christine Preston and Kara Kraeutler, both parents of Summit Speech School students.  Major sponsors included Bayview Foundation, Judith E. Campbell, C. R. Bard, Inc., Dearhaven Fund, The MCJ Amelior Foundation, Pluckemin Inn – Gloria LaGrassa, Prospect Hill Foundation, and Sandy Hill Foundation.

Special thanks to our 2013 Committee members, from left: Maggie Reilly, Lisa Hooker, Mary Chimenti, Melissa Carbeau, Jayne Kredatus, Maryam Robati-McDonald, Courtney Blundin, stylist Derek Warburton, Keynote Speaker Kara Ross, Event Co-Chairs Kara Kraeutler and Christine Preston, Michelle Porraro, Lisa Haarmann, Leslie Minsch, Donna Stevens, Lynn Hendricks Rand, Karolyn Stephenson, and Karen Murphy.  Not pictured: Kevin Huffman.

Two community heroes, Abel Flores of Summit and Neil Kleinwaks of Raritan Township, were honored for their work on behalf of the School and its children.  Both local business leaders have sponsored long-running charity golf events that have raised a combined total of more than $100,000 to support our programs.

An emotional high point of the event came as Co-Honoree Neil Kleinwaks recounted how he first got involved with the School through his friendship with the Zerbo family and their 4-year-old daughter Michaela who was a student in our Preschool.  Neil was surprised - and the audience moved to tears - as Michaela herself, now a 15-year-old high-school honor student, appeared to give him a hug and share with the audience why Summit Speech School is so special to her.  She and her mom Heidi had flown all the way from their home in Florida to share this special moment with Neil.

As an added treat, another Summit Speech School graduate, 14-year-old Katerina Kraeutler, was introduced by her proud mother Kara to sing the Leonard Cohen hit "Hallelujah."  The crowd responded with a standing ovation.  Both Michaela and Katerina presented vivid examples of the tremendous success Summit Speech School students can achieve in spite of their hearing loss.

The featured speaker, Kara Ross, presented some personal insight into her emergence as one of the top designers of jewelry and handbags, with a long list of celebrity admirers including First Lady Michelle Obama.  Then she and her colleague, stylist Derek Warburton, worked with a group of volunteer models to give a how-to demonstration on adding flash and elegance for day or evening occasions with the right combination of accessories.

The festivities also included our fabulous silent and ticket auctions and our first-ever "Wine Pull" which generated such enthusiasm it is sure to become a recurring attraction.

The event raised more than $235,000 to support our programs. Thanks to our Chairs, our wonderful Benefit Committee, our sponsors, advertisers, and contributors, and everyone who attended for making our 23rd Annual Spring Benefit a terrific event!  You are the heart and soul of Summit Speech School!


Save the Date for the
24th Annual Spring Benefit–
Tuesday, April 1, 2014.









































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