Shelton residents help organize Kennedy Center awards dinner

John Tartaglio is the recipient of the 2014 Vision Award from the Kennedy Center.
John Tartaglio is the recipient of the 2014 Vision Award from the Kennedy Center.

Shelton residents Cindy Brestovan and Dottie Kellersman have served on the committee organizing the Kennedy Center’s 63rd awards dinner and annual meeting Thursday, April 3 at the Holiday Inn, 1070 Main St., Bridgeport.

The theme of the dinner and awards meeting is “It Takes A Community.” The social hour will begin at 6 p.m., followed at 7 by the dinner and program.

John Tartaglio of Milford, an inspirational speaker and author of the book “From Tragedy to Triumph,” is this year’s keynote speaker and will be honored as the 2014 winner of the Kennedy Center’s Vision Award.

Vision Award honorees are recognized for elevating the human consciousness to believe in the potential of all people. Past award recipients have included Govs. Daniel P. Malloy and M. Jodi Rell of Connecticut.

Also at the dinner, Kennedy Center annual community, consumer and employer awards will be presented.

Promoting empowerment

Martin D. Schwartz, president and CEO of the Trumbull-based Kennedy Center, called Tartaglio an inspiration to others.”

Schwartz said the event also is an opportunity to recognize area employers who have hired Kennedy Center clients, and to celebrate the achievements of clients in the community and workplace.

“Our mission is to promote the empowerment of these individuals to achieve their optimal participation and inclusion in the community with both dignity and confidence,” Schwartz said.

Inspirational story

John Tartaglio’s inspirational story and journey started on Aug. 22, 2004, when he awoke with unbearable pain in his legs. He lost his legs to a bacterial infection at age 17 and contracted a disease so rare it’s only been documented 35 times.

The Milford community rallied around Tartaglio and his family, and set up a 5-kilometer run and walk to help pay medical bills. He made it his goal to walk a lap, which he did. It took him 45 minutes to walk the one lap.

He went on to graduate from Fairfield University with honors and became the first person to run in the New York City Marathon without legs.

‘You can achieve anything you want’

Tartaglio now is an inspirational speaker. “I try and empower people to do what means the most to them,” he said. “I use my life story to tell them you can achieve anything you want. I tell them my goal was to live a normal life.”

He still lives in Milford with his wife and daughter, and has just written a book about his journey, “From Tragedy to Triumph.”

To find out more about John Tartaglio, go to his website at Learn more about the Kennedy Center at