SUMMIT, NJ - "Justify" was the first pony to the finish line, but The Connection’s Scholarship Fund was the big winner on the day at Canoe Brook Country Club -- taking "win, place, and show for a third year in a row" -- as the Hilltop City's landmark community service organization raised more than $100,000 at its annual Kentucky Derby-themed party.

Even committee chair Annel Mitchell and her team of committed and enthusiastic volunteers hosted the event, the proceeds of which will benefit The Connection’s Community Service and Scholarship Fund.

In her remarks, Mitchell passionately spoke about how The Connection is “that place” for so many individuals in the community -- where anyone can go and feel welcomed -- a place that enrolls the three-year-old whose parents cannot otherwise afford preschool, that provides and adapts programs to benefit varying abilities, a place that has programs such as Pathways, which offers services for women with cancer. And, a place whose ESL classes enables the immigrant parent to help her children with homework.

Sign Up for E-News

Mitchell's speech was followed by a video which spurred enthusiastic support from members, staff, and even those who made their contributions from afar. As one parent eloquently stated, “the best communities are the ones that can elevate and empower individuals and families in the most need. And the Derby Party committee, attendees, sponsors, and donors make it possible for The Connection to be that community."

Serving 5,000 individuals each year, The Connection is well known for its aquatics, fitness, child care and recreation programs.  Classes are offered for all ages, and are filled with girls and boys as young as six months to women and men in their nineties.

Programs include English as a Second Language, Pathways, a program for women with cancer, special needs swimming and recreation for adults and children, after school enrichment and therapeutic fitness programs.

For more information and-or to support the organization, visit or contact