Connections Education Center To Hold Gala Feb. 11 At National Croquet Center

Honoree Debra Johnson

The Connections Education Center of the Palm Beaches will hold its seventh annual Hearts & Hands Gala on Saturday, Feb. 11, to raise funds for specialized education and therapies for local students with autism and related disorders. The event will be held at the National Croquet Center in West Palm Beach.

The event will feature a cocktail reception, live music, dancing, dinner, a silent auction and a celebration of the progress students are making while attending Connections.

WPTV anchor Michael Williams will serve as master of ceremonies. Special honorees will be recognized for their significant contribution to the school’s mission, including Debra Johnson of Wellington, Florentino Ortiz of Royal Palm Beach and the Rooney’s Golf Foundation.

“The work that Connections does changes lives — for the students, their families and their community,” honorary co-chair Carol Kauffman said. “The gala gives us an opportunity to show supporters and autism advocates how much of an impact we’re making together. It’s an incredibly moving event.”

Laura Pope, also an honorary co-chair, agreed. “Many people don’t realize that public funding only covers 70 percent of the cost to serve these students,” she said. “The gala is the school’s most important fundraiser and is essential to ensuring they can continue meeting the needs of these precious students and young adults.”

To learn more, reserve tickets or see sponsorship opportunities, visit

The Connections Education Center of the Palm Beaches is a nonprofit educational center that delivers high-quality, specialized instruction to students with autism in Palm Beach County. The school serves students ages 3 to 22 years and offers an innovative program for young adults with autism. Learn more at