STAMFORD, Conn.- Standing up on stage at a packed Palace Theater may intimidate a lot of people, but 8-year-old Nicholas Portanova had no problem telling the audience to befriend people on the autism spectrum Friday night. He was opening the 5th Annual Concert for Autism.
Dont think of them as some other creature or species. They are the same as you, and always will be, he said, I expect you to always make them feel better and never call them rude names.
Nicholas knows a lot about how people on the autism spectrum feel because his older brother Anthony is on the spectrum and before introducing Jerry Pia and SlikStuff, he advised the audience to develop relationships like he has with his brother.
Hopefully, next year you will be the greatest friend to all with Autism like I am to my brother Anthony , the Prince of our Family, he said drawing applause after every statement he made.
This is the third straight year Nicholas has given his appeal to the audience, earning him the nickname The Youngest Autism Ambassador. Each year he creates his own speech and wont even show his mother Robin Portanova , founder of Stamford Education 4 Autism - which the concert benefits, before the show. She admitted that she makes him show someone else just before show time to make sure he does not say anything inappropriate.
The rest of the concert was dedicated to music headlined by Felix Cavalieres Rascals who provided numerous of medleys that combined Rascals music with other hit songs from the 60s and 70s. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer did not disappoint as the audience was singing and clapping along with every song--on the Good Loving closing medley people even started dancing in the aisles and in front of the stage.
Jerry Pia and SlikStuff also pulled on the heart strings when they premiered Just Call My Name which was written especially for the night and is about helping the kids. Also, while they played photos of the children in Stamford Public Schools on the Autism Spectrum flashed behind them.
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