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Benefit Concert Success Results in Holliston Residents Establishing Center for Youth with Disabilities in Uganda

by Christa Preston

Benefit Concert Success Results in Holliston Residents Establishing Center for Youth with Disabilities in Uganda

Members of the Holliston Community joined together for an incredible evening of music, laughter, sparkle and impact. Last Thursday, November 30, Tony DeBlois, nicknamed The 8th Wonder of Music performed at the EmbraceKulture Annual Benefit Concert for children with special needs in Uganda Africa. Tony performed a range of songs from The Nutcracker to all time classics to showcase his vast repertoire of over 8,000 memorized songs.

The Concert raised over $24,000 for EmbraceKulture for the establishment of the EmbraceKulture Empowerment Center, the first and only center of its kind in Uganda, that will provide services to youth with cognitive and/or development disabilities. The Center will support children and families with therapy services, education, and independence development.

Walking in to see the sparkling chandeliers of The Crystal Room, lined with unique Africa Crafts and Silent Auction items, the tone was set for a remarkable evening.

“We are proud to provide our audience with the vision of what individuals can achieve with the right supports through our fabulous piano player, Tony DeBlois,” said event chair, Mary Beth Numbers. “As we watch Tony brilliantly entertain us on the piano, it helps to be reminded that Tony had no conversational speech until age 20.  Now, he is gregarious and charming, and his stage presence is polished.  Tony’s success is due to the opportunities he accessed in America.  If Ugandan individuals with similar challenges had those same supports, imagine the richness that could ensue.  Our gracious audience opened their hearts and gave their support to help forward this cause.  We are so lucky to be part of this amazing initiative.”

Edith Lukabwe, the Founder and Director Home of Hope, an EmbraceKulture partner, joined all the from Uganda. Edith gave a moving speech that described life as a mother of a child with disabilities in Uganda. Her words painted the picture of a bleak situation where children with disabilities remain excluded and even hidden away. Her emotional speech concluded with acknowledgement of the significant effort undertaken by the EmbraceKulture Founders, Christa (Numbers) Preston and Kate Condon.

“The EmbraceKulture event was a lot of fun and very informative. Having the opportunity to meet Edith, and to hear her articulate the history and her goals for expanding aid to children with significant special needs was incredibly moving. Then to hear how EmbraceKulture continues to grow by expanding its education and training and receiving more grant money, proved that they are changing the world, and becoming self-sustaining,” said attendee and Holliston resident, Laura Matz.

“We were overwhelmed by the incredible turn out and generosity,” said Christa. “With these funds, we are going to be able accomplish our big dream, to make the EmbraceKulture Empowerment Center a reality.”

The joy was shared throughout the room.

“I had a very nice evening with friends. I enjoyed the venue and the intimacy of the event this year,” said Neela Patel. The silent auction and sale items were amazing.  The event was a success from every aspect- attendance, live music, food equals a great fundraiser!!”

"The EmpowerKulture fundraiser was a demonstration of the talent and gifts of those with disabilities through music and crafts, the passion of the founders of Empower Kulture and their commitment to children, and the commitment of those in our community to supporting those in need worldwide.  It was a fun evening of listening to a savant musician and learning how just a little giving can have an lot of impact – an emotional experience.” - Pat Rourke

EmbraceKulture was founded by Holliston High School alumni Christa (Numbers) Preston and Kate Condon after they traveled to Uganda to volunteer abroad. When they saw the intense discrimination faced by children with special needs and the denial of their basic human rights they had to act. EmbraceKulture was founded in 2015 and has become the fastest growing organization serving children with cognitive and/or developmental disabilities in Uganda. To learn more visit

Be sure to check HCAT for a replay of the performance.