By Michelle Colesanti

Marcia Minutello’s daughter, Laura-Lee, was Miss Wheelchair Florida 2012, and both mom and daughter are no strangers to helping others with special needs.

Minutello is organizing a special “Homecoming” dance aptly called “A Night of a Thousand Stars” for those with special needs (over 16 years old) and their families and caregivers. This dance will be free for both the participant and those attending with them.

Organizers are in the planning stages of creating this special evening for those participating. The dance will be held on Friday, November 1 from 7-10:30 p.m. at the Brandon Christ Community Church, which is located at 1310 John Moore Rd., in Brandon.

In order to make this dance a reality, the Minutello’s and other organizers are looking for sponsors to help supply food, decorations and other supplies as needed. Changing Times Photography, a lead sponsor, will assist with the photos and organization for the evening.

Volunteers will be needed to help with the planning, and on the day of the dance, about 75 volunteers will be needed to assist in many areas such as serving food, registration, hosting and other duties as necessary.  High school students are invited, and will receive service hours for their efforts.

Minutello and her daughter Laura-Lee will both be involved in planning this event. Minutello said, “As a photographer, I have assisted with a similar dance in Bradenton for the past three years,” explaining that the reason for creating such an event is that most of these people have never known a night like this.

Noise Box, a group of young individuals who became established this year and use Christ Community Church as their home base, and are dedicated to making a difference in the local community through music, charity, diversity, equality and leadership, will also help promote this event and offer some local bands to perform.

Registration will open on Thursday, August 1. Please register early as space is limited to 300 attendees.

For more information on becoming a volunteer, to register for the dance or to make a donation, please contact Marcia Minutello at 662-7555 or


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Michelle has been with the Osprey Observer for almost nine years, and her current position is Assignment Editor. She resides in Bloomingdale with her husband Phil, two sons, Philip and Matthew, and Tigger the cat.