"Lean On Me" Cover performed by "Spectrum of Sound" Virtual Choir of Autism Self-Advocates

 

Doug Flutie and 9 Autism Self-Advocates Perform "We Are the World" Cover

Meet the Cast
(shown in alphabetical order by last name)

Rachel Barcellona

A graduate of Dunedin High School who successfully completed her junior year at University of South Florida, double majoring in English and communications. Rachel is an advocate for those with disabilities and has created her non profit, The Ability Beyond Disabilities to inspire and help those that have challenges to strive for their dreams as well as to educate those who might not understand the challenges faced.

As an individual with Autism and epilepsy, she often felt like she could not do many things People with disabilities or anyone who is different are often targets for bullies as she was, but because of her life and social experience, she has overcome many challenges. Today Rachel is a spokesperson for the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at the University of South Florida (CARD-USF) and also on their board. She also holds board positions at Unicorn Children's Foundation, The Els Center for Excellence as well as the Dyspraxia Foundation USA, all of which provide services to individuals with disabilities including occupational, physical along with music and art therapy. As people with autism are reaching ages of employment her focus is now also to bring awareness to individuals and companies to provide an opportunity for employment.

Rachel has won many state and national pageant titles and has performed the National Anthem at major sports events and at Madison Square Gardens. She also spoke at the United Nations  on World Autism  Day and recently filmed a short documentary for Sephora. Currently she works at a radio station  in New York and has her own segment. She is an avid writer and is working on a series of fantasy novels. Click here to visit her Facebook, Instagram and website. 

 

Hana Coppenrath

Hana Coppenrath, 14, attends Fontbonne as a freshman. Her interest include: Anteaters, reading, animal crossing, otters, singing, acting, and talking with her friends. Hana has both Autism and ADHD. 

 

Helen Coppenrath

Helen Coppenrath, 16, Quincy, Ma, attends Lindamood Bell Academy. Enjoys playing her saxophone, bird watching, Angry Birds, game shows, swimming and basketball. Aspires to travel to Paris, Japan & Texas.

 

Lavender Darcangelo 

Lavender Darcangelo, 24, is a Flutie Fellow for the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism. The Flutie Fellow program supports young adults with autism in pursuit of career and life goals, who act as ambassadors for the Flutie Foundation and promote inclusion and respect within their networks. Lavender is from Fitchburg, Massachusetts where she began singing at the age of three, before she could even speak. In 2010 she joined a new mentorship program founded by Wil Darcangelo who, with his husband Jamie, would become her adoptive fathers in 2017. In July of 2019, a video of Lavender singing “Part of Your World” from the Disney film The Little Mermaid went viral, spurring media articles about Lavender and her new family throughout the world. She is currently working on her debut solo album called Mosaic, which, through its wide variety of songs and musical styles, will honor and raise awareness of the diversity within the autism community. Lavender has already designated the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism to receive a portion of the proceeds from the sales of Mosaic.

 

Jodi DiPiazza

Currently an 18 year old student at the Mannes College of Music Preparatory Division and the Newmark High School. She studies Composition, Piano, Voice, and Music Theory. She was accepted into the Mannes composition honors at age 10.  She also studies Jazz piano, guitar and songwriting.

In 2010 at the age of 9, she wrote and performed a song “Heroes of Autism” for Toys R Us to be used in conjunction with a fundraiser for Autism Speaks. This campaign raised over $3,000,000.

October 2012, Jodi performed a duet with Katy Perry on “The Night of Too Many Stars” at NYC’s Beacon Theatre. Televised on Comedy Central, more than $4,000,000 was raised for autism education. An internet sensation, this performance received so much media and attention that Jodi has been featured in newspapers, magazines, on the radio, and television all over the world. Most importantly to Jodi, she appeared in both Bop and Pop Star magazine.  She has received thousands of emails, letters and cards, speaking of the hope and inspiration this performance has given to parents of children with autism, and since last October she has appeared at over 100 charitable events for The Arc, Autism NJ, Louis Armstrong Foundation, Children's aid and Family services, the Alpine Learning group, Autism speaks and many others.

Multiple finalist in the ASCAP Young Composers Awards 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016 . Winner of the Young Composer National Composition Competition 2019.

Winner of the NYC NATS Classical Singer High School Girl 2019

In February 2015 she returned to the Night of too Many stars and performaed a duet with “Weird Al” Yankovic of his song “Yoda”, this performance also went viral. Most recently was asked back again this performance was aired on HBO in November of 2017 where she performed Rise up with Cynthia Erivo backed by Questlove and the Roots.

Jodi is an 11th grade student. In her spare time Jodi enjoys advocating for autism, writing stories, drawing, and playing in the school band and chorus.

Jodi was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2.

 

Cooper Hyde

Cooper Hyde is a guitarist, composer, and music producer from New Providence, New Jersey. He is a recent graduate of the Berklee College of Music with a degree in Contemporary Writing and Production. Cooper is a featured recording artist and has released music independently and with multiple bands he has been a part of. He also enjoys scoring to picture, and has been composer for short films and commercials. Cooper's musical dream job is to one day write music for Disney. He loves all kinds of music and works every day to be a proficient writer and performer in a wide range of styles. To visit his website and music portfolio, click here

 

Tom Ladka III

My name is Tom Ladka III and I am a 22-year-old who enjoys video games, art, animation, movies, dancing, and theater among other things. I am also an aspiring actor who loves to be in front of a crowd or a camera. I try my best to put myself out there and I live for people telling me they like what I do. It’s worth noting I am also a talented writer who is currently trying to get a following on YouTube writing video game reviews. Additionally, I am currently working at Regal Cinemas in Kingston, MA, and thoroughly enjoy my job. As someone who aspires to tell stories, I felt working on this project for the Flutie Foundation was a great start and I worked very hard trying to get the video just right!

 

Patrick Linehan

 

Patrick is a 25 year old young man diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) who enjoys creating colorful and cheerful artwork that reflects his innocent and wonderful outlook on life.  Besides art, his other passions include music, computers, bowling, basketball and visiting his grandparents in Maine.  In 2016, he graduated from Berkshire Hills Music Academy in South Hadley, Mass.  Patrick has received support and services from the Arc of South Norfolk since the age of two.  He participates in the Life Enhancement Program at Lifeworks in Norwood, MA.  He also enjoys doing outdoor water activities with Access Sports sponsored by the Flutie Foundation.

 

Stefano Micali

Stefano Micali is a student at Bunker Hill Community College, pursuing an Associates Degree in Music.  He sings and plays both the piano and guitar.  Stefano is a Brookline native who loves to explore.  Some people refer to him as a "human G.P.S." because he has memorized all the streets in Brookline.  He enjoys cooking and wants to show the world how to eat healthier with healthy alternatives.  

 

Jamie Piro

"I am the best teacher at the Jordan Jackson Elementary School in Mansfield".  I am 23 years old and from Mansfield, MA. I attend HMEA in Plainville, a program giving adults with autism the opportunity to explore career choices in their communities.  Through them I have found jobs I love at the Children's Museum in Easton, Willow Crossing in Mansfield and Dean College in Franklin.  I want to spend every day being the best me I can be.

 

Cierra Reynolds

 

Cierra Reynolds is a 19 year old vocalist born and raised in Largo, Florida. She was diagnosed with high functioning autism when she was 5 years old and spent much of her youth at speech, occupational, and social skills therapy. Cierra could sing before she could speak and has been singing ever since. Cierra has been fearlessly performing in talent shows, karaoke contests, and competitive vocal competitions since she was 6. One of the benefits of her autism is that she never gets nervous when performing and she’s an auditory learner, making it very easy for her to memorize sound and lyrics. Cierra recently graduated from a performing arts high school in St. Petersburg, Florida where she was a voice major. Cierra sang the national anthem for the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2019 season. The buzz around her performance earned her a spot as a feature story in the Tampa bay times and also landed her a live spot, singing the national anthem on Great Day Live Tampa Bay. Cierra is currently attending St. Petersburg College where she is a vocal major and she is the lead singer in a band. She is currently working on writing original music and hopes to be a successful performing artist. She wants her music to inspire people with autism, to believe that autism doesn’t limit your success and should never be ashamed to be autistic. Autism can be awesome-tism if you believe it.

 

Connor S. Thompson

Connor Thompson is a young adult on the autism spectrum exploring the world of music and photography. He grew up in Framingham, MA and currently makes his home in the Pioneer Valley, where he has lived for over five years.

Connor attends an arts-focused day program in South Hadley where he studies music, photography, vocational skills and independent living skills. Connor sings in a band that performs weekly in area nursing homes and in the community. He also plays keyboards and ukulele. He participates in a local theater class and with Friendship Band, and has performed on stage at Smith College. He loves books, movies, music, fitness, travel and writes a blog where he shares his spectrum inspired thoughts and experiences with you!

Connor is supported by many social service agencies in the Pioneer Valley, including Berkshire Hills Music Academy, Whole Children/Milestones, and Nonotuck Resource Associates. These agencies help him maintain an active and independent lifestyle, while supporting his performing and visual arts education.

He was recently named a Flutie Fellow by the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism. His dreams for the future include advancing his photography skills professionally and selling his work, while also continuing to augment his musical and performing arts chops.

About his work, Connor states, “I enjoy taking abstract photos using close-up angles. Taking photos makes me feel relaxed and entertained. It is exciting when the photo you’re taking comes out perfectly.”

To see more of his work, please visit his website and follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Wordpress.