FANWOOD, NJ -- The 5th Annual Rockin’ For Autism went on not as planned in La Grande Park, but virtually on Saturday, April 25. Concert organizers, the Banks family, announced the event will be broadcast online because of social distancing requirements in the state of New Jersey.

The event featuring local musicians, such as Eric Harrison, the first performer, Glenn Stuart of B Street Band, Craig Kiell of Unforgettable Fire, took place from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.

This year's fundraiser benefited to organizations: Autism NJ (donate here) and FLAG (Front Line Appreciation Group), which supports local restaurants by purchasing meals and delivering them to healthcare workers and others on the frontline in the battle vs. COVID-19 (donate here). Thus far, Rockin' for Autism has raised $4,200 for Autism NJ and $2,700 for FLAF-SPF.

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The event was the brainchild of Mallory Banks, 18-year-old senior at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School and the top Junior Ambassador for Autism NJ in 2019. She has been fundraising for this cause in support of her brother, Ethan who has autism, and during the past 7 years has raised over $70,000 for Autism NJ.

"Our goal is to try to raise more than $20,000 this year," Mallory Banks said. "The money will be going to Autism NJ so that they can continue to fight the battle on Capital Hill and fund programs and services in our state."

How different was it organizing a virtual show vs. a live show?
 
"It was night and day. It was unchartered territory. We had never done anything like this before. It presented its own challenges," said Jeff Banks. "Will Weisser and I had to take on the bulk of the responsibility because the other sub committees (bake sale, vendor tables, food trucks, merchant raffles, etc.) were not operating. Also, we would never have been able to do this without Ed Cologna of Cologna Productions."
 
"The band members made it very personal. From hearing Eric Harrison on his front porch to Matt Levine on his couch with his Bruce Springsteen poster behind him -- all the band members made this personal and explained why this event was important to them," Jeff added. "Also, it was really fun seeing real time comments on the Facebook feed."
 
"As Jeff said, it was so fun watching the live Facebook comments come pouring in. It was fun to watch together and correspond in real time," Gina Banks said. "We were also able to have friends and family from far away be a part of our Rockin’ for Autism live virtual concert, which was exciting for them and for us."

 
"It was a great performance. I’m glad that I was able to bring some happiness into people’s homes during this time," Mallory said. "I really enjoyed hosting the concert as that was something that I had never had the chance to do."
 
To watch the concert, click here

For more information about Rockin' for Autism, visit www.rockin4autism.org.