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Wantagh’s Rockin’ for Autism hits year 5

One Step Ahead, one of the four local

One Step Ahead, one of the four local bands to perform at the Rockin' for Autism event in Wantagh, played top-40 hits to an enthusiastic audience. (Feb. 19, 2012) Credit: Mary Kate Mahoney

Having raised two children with autism, James and Kelly Ann Cronin of Massapequa Park understand the struggles that families with developmentally disabled children face every day.

Both of the Cronins' children, Sean, 14, and Shelia, 12, received treatment from the Developmental Disabilities Institute (DDI), a private, not-for-profit agency that provides educational, residential and vocational services to children and adults with autism and other disabilities. With nearly 40 locations in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, DDI provides services to more than 5,000 Long Islanders.

In 2008, the economic downturn placed severe pressure on the organization, which receives federal and state funding. This inspired James Cronin to organize the first Rockin’ for Autism fundraiser at Mulcahy’s Pub and Concert Hall in Wantagh.

“DDI does great work for children with autism and other disabilities and their families,” James Cronin said in explaining why he got involved.

The event became an instant success and grew annually. Still held at Mulcahy’s, the fifth annual Rockin’ for Autism concert took place Sunday with performances from four local Long Island bands: Dr. G’s All Star Veteran Band, 1 Step Ahead, Bon Journey and Time Warp.

“With state and federal budget cuts coming down, fundraisers like this make a tremendous difference,” said DDI executive director John Lessard.

Last year’s event raised $32,000 with nearly 700 people in attendance. This year, DDI events coordinator Christine McCauley said the event had a goal of $50,000. The final number is not yet available.

“The bands donate their time and talent,” McCauley said. “They’re wonderful guys, and all the proceeds go directly to benefit DDI.”

This is the second year that Christine McCauley’s son, 16-year-old Luke McCauley, has volunteered with Rockin’ for Autism. His brother Matthew, 25, was helped by DDI.

“It’s very nice to give back to the community and do something good,” McCauley said. “It’s fun to see friends and great bands too.”


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