Patrick and Katrina O'Connor, of Darien, were honored by STAR Inc., Lighting the Way at the 61st annual meeting Oct. 29.

The O'Connors were awarded the Anne O'Callaghan Parents of the Year Award for their contributions to the STAR community, as well as their efforts on behalf of parents with special-needs children. Darien residents Catherine and Edward Piorkowski Jr. presented the award.

Ed Piorkoski, the president of the STAR board of directors, said the O'Connors have been committed to the STAR family, serving on the executive board, development and personnel committees and planning groups for the annual fundraising Gala and Walk, Roll & Stroll events.

Catherine Piorkoski expressed how the two women became friends, and then explained that in March, Katrina O'Connor was one of 25 parents to file a complaint with the state Department of Education claiming that the Darien Public Schools had violated the rights of children with special needs.

The family now serves on the Special Education Parent Advisory Committee, and is busily working with the Board of Education and school administrators to repair the situation.

Additional awards were presented to Brian Hollstein, of New Canaan, who received the Humanitarian of the Year Award; George Kerr, of Wusthof-Trident of America Inc. in Norwalk, who received the Employer of the Year Award; Abbey Fernandez, of Westport, who received the Youth Volunteer of the Year Award; David DesRoches, of Darien Times, who received the Media Award; Brian Noccioli, vice president and business market manager of People's United Bank and Ewa Dedios, vice president, financial services manager, People's United Bank, who received the Corporate Volunteers of the Year Award; and the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society of Norwalk Community College which received a special Volunteer Award.

In addition, Talisha Maxwell, a Norwalk resident, was recognized for her volunteer work and service to STAR on behalf of the Self Advocacy Group for clients with developmental disabilities; and Frank D'Acunto, of Norwalk, received the Jeanette Shivers Award for his service at Deloitte Services LLP. In addition, STAR employees Guy Francois, Myriam Galarza, Bill Saguta, Mary Lou Janulis, Lorraine Santo, Lois Marasco and Tony Bernardelli received STAR Heroes Awards for their service and dedication to STAR.

STAR was established in 1952 and currently serves more than 600 people annually throughout Westport, Weston, Wilton, Norwalk, Darien and New Canaan.

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