Benedictine’s “Bourbon Street Masquerade” Gala Held at Easton’s Trident Aircraft Hangar


Funds raised support critical services for those living with intellectual and developmental disabilities and autism

(Ridgely, MD – May 31, 2024) – Guests of Benedictine’s Bourbon Street Masquerade Gala arrived at the Trident Aircraft Hangar to find the evening’s festivities in full swing with the sounds of the Annapolis based Naptown Brass Band. Twelve foot lamp posts reminiscent of a New Orleans street guided guests throughout the hangar. The event was a sellout, and raised close to $200,000 in support of those living with developmental and intellectual disabilities and autism that Benedictine supports.

The event’s co-chairs were Candi Chiaruttini and Paul Milne, active members of the Easton community and founders of the famed restaurant 208 Talbot in St. Michael’s and creators of the Oaks Waterfront Inn. “We were honored to be asked to chair this wonderful event. My dear childhood friend, Greg, is supported by Benedictine and we see how his quality of life is so positively influenced by the services Benedictine provides. We want to support the work that they do for those living with intellectual and developmentally disabilities and bring a broader awareness to the community about their programs and how others can help,” commented Candi Chiaruttini.

The event included the viewing of “Opening a World of Opportunities” video that showed how critical Benedictine’s fleet of vans are in providing transportation for the students and adults they support. The stories included a student who volunteers at a local humane society and a supported adult whose activities include an afternoon of bowling as part of his Meaningful Day program. The vehicles are used for trips to the grocery store and other important tasks, and as one student shared, “if we don’t have a van to get to school, what are we going to do!” 

During the evening the Cornerstone Award, given to an individual that demonstrates steadfast commitment and remarkable generosity to Benedictine, was presented to Thad Fletcher, and his wife Donna Rochelle, who are the parents of one of Benedictine’s supported adults. Thad Fletcher is a partner at Cooke & Bieler, an investment firm, and Donna is a volunteer with the Kennedy Center. They graciously started the Woodmore Charity Golf Tournament in 2017 and each year they bring together friends and businesses for a day of comradery and philanthropy at the Country Club at Woodmore in Prince George’s County. Since its inception, the tournament has raised more than $320,000 and has introduced numerous new people to what Benedictine does. “My wife Donna and I are deeply touched to be presented with the Cornerstone Award. We know the amazing work that takes place every day at Benedictine and we are honored to support them,” commented Thad Fletcher. The award was presented to them by Charley Mills, Board of Trustees President. “It’s was my honor to recognize Thad Fletcher and Donna Rochelle. They truly exemplify Benedictine’s values of dignity, integrity, collaboration and excellence.”

The event’s New Orleans inspired fare was provided by Gourmet by the Bay. Audio and lighting was managed by Mid-South Media, and the evening concluded with guests enjoying dance tunes “spun” by Steve Moody Entertainment.

Sponsors of the event included RBC Wealth Management Easton, Preston Automotive, Momma Maria’s, Coffee Trappe, Old Trappe Tavern, Pep Up, Willow Construction, Mullins Sondberg Wimbish and Stone, Easton Utilities, BUCS Engineering, Benson & Mangold Real Estate, Acrisure, Brett and Molly Sause BMS Family Fund, Whelan Family Holdings and Clayton Farms.

Kelly Simonsen of Easton Utilities commented, “We support Benedictine because of the important work they do in our community and their mission to help those living with developmental disabilities achieve their greatest potential. The best part about attending the event was talking with family members and feeling their gratitude. We sat at a table with guests who came as far as Chicago, so you can imagine their passion for what Benedictine does.”

Auction items were generously donated by Bluepoint Hospitality, TNT Jewelers, Chester River Packet Company, Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, Inn at Perry Cabin, Salisbury Pewter, Wade’s Point Inn On the Bay, Annette Smith Wales, Honeybee Flower Farm, Garden Treasures, Trade Whims, Sandra Lister, Prospect Bay Country Club, Chesapeake Laser and Skin Care, Easton Hardware, The Wildset, Windswept Clothiers, Benedictine Garden Center, and Dragonfly Boutique.


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