I can hardly believe it, but it’s been over a year since I first attended Sparkle Speaks, This also means I have known Jacqueline, Caroline and the Laurita/Manzo families for that long. They are quite a phenomenon in that so much of what they do really is a family affair. This is not a show for the cameras ladies and gents, this is very real and the Sparkle Speaks for Autism events are the proof.
Sparkle Speaks are yearly charity dinners coordinated by the Laurita nieces; Candice Laurita (daughter of Caroline’s brother Anthony Laurita) and Cristina Granelli (daughter in law of Caroline’s sister Cookie Laurita Rooney). The cousins work diligently through their joint event planning company, The Sparkling Event, to fill the tables with guests and drum up prizes for the raffles. This year the prizes included two vacations which a pregnant Candice, who is expecting her second child in December, was very excited about.
There are no Bravo cameras rolling during these events. The focus is strictly on helping Autism Speaks which is the most prevalent organization for funding research and programs for Spectrum Disorders. Michael Ginagregorio, chairman of Long Island’s Autism Speaks chapter, spoke as eloquently as he did last year. His recollection of what he has been through with his son Nicholas as well as how the organization was founded was informative and from the heart. Also speaking from the heart was Jacqueline who could not hold back tears when talking about her own son Nicholas and what her family has been through on this journey. She joked that by now we probably all knew that she was both a crier and a nervous public speaker.
What was different from last year’s event was the venue. Though still overflowing with family effort and presence; (both Cookie and Anthony were helping the girls check in guests, and another uncle crooned Sinatra hits) this year’s dinner was not held at Albert Manzo’s Brownstone. Instead the festivities were held at the Westmount Country Club in Woodland Park, NJ. No worries, there’s been no Caroline falling out. The red headed Manzo matriarch was there with daughter Lauren during the cocktail hour. I had a chance to congratulate her on her pilot to which she modestly responded “Thank you” and “we’ll see” when I stated that I think it will be a switch to the lighthearted fun that reality TV fans are currently craving.
Jacqueline looked a bit different. Aside from her plastic surgery, which we witnessed on season 5 of RHONJ, she is also sporting a shorter hairstyle. Falling just below her shoulders her chestnut locks looked full and shiny. Though she’s still a little unsure of the length I think it looks fabulous on her! Jac was in good spirits as was her husband Chris. Both of them listened intently as other parents shared with them their own stories about raising children with Autism and other Spectrum Disorders. There was very little talk about RHONJ from what I witnessed. This was also a week before the rumored season 6 cast shake up which will supposedly bump Jacqueline to Housewife friend status. I’m sure next time I speak with her I’ll get some answers for all of you regarding that. In the meantime, check out the pictures and tell us what you think of Jac’s new do!
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