Bâton Rouge dinner event raises $132,000 for Giant Steps Autism Centre

‘We really believe in this cause,’ says restaurant co-owner Dimitrios Sotiropoulos

A fundraising dinner for the Giant Steps School held at the Décarie Bâton Rouge Grillhouse & Bar in Montreal on April 29 raised $132,000 for the Giant Steps Autism Centre.

The event was hosted by Senator Leo Housakos. The five-course meal was donated by Décarie Bâton Rouge Grillhouse & Bar partners Dimitra Frintzilas and Dimitrios Sotiropoulos, who noted that staff serving the meal also donated their time.

Senator Leo Housakos (centre), Giant Steps School staff and board members, and Bâton Rouge Décarie partners Dimitra Frintzilas and Dimitrios Sotiropoulos (third and second from right) are seen here with an enlarged cheque representing the $132,000 raised during the benefit dinner held for the autism treatment centre on April 29. (Photo: Martin C. Barry, Newsfirst Multimedia)

A successful fundraiser

Décarie Bâton Rouge Grillhouse & Bar partners Dimitra Frintzilas and Dimitrios Sotiropoulos donated the five-course meal, while staff also pitched in by donating their time and efforts. (Photo: Martin C. Barry, Newsfirst Multimedia)

“We owe Senator Housakos a huge debt of gratitude,” said Nick Katalifos, vice-president of the Giant Steps School board of directors, adding that Senator Housakos managed to organize the evening in around a month-and-a-half.

At the same time, he expressed huge thanks to Décarie Bâton Rouge Grillhouse & Bar partners Dimitra Frintzilas and Dimitrios Sotiropoulos for their generosity. “That means that all the funds collected tonight are going directly to the Giant Steps Autism Centre,” said Katalifos.

‘Wonderful cause,’ says senator

“This is an amazing cause,” Senator Housakos said in an interview with Newsfirst Multimedia. “Neurodiverse people deserve to be fully part of our society. They have things to contribute.

Giant Steps School vice-president Nick Katalifos (right) said Senator Leo Housakos succeeded in organizing the successful fundraiser in around a month-and-a-half. (Photo: Martin C. Barry, Newsfirst Multimedia)

“Many years ago when I first discovered what autism was all about – and particularly the amazing work that the Giant Steps Centre does in Montreal for people with autism – I decided to support the organization,” he continued.

“I’ve taken part in many Giant Steps events and it’s always wonderful to see how the community rallies around such a wonderful cause as they are doing again tonight.”

Bâton Rouge a big supporter

Although it was not the first fundraiser for Giant Steps held at a Bâton Rouge restaurant, it was the first at the Décarie Bâton Rouge, according to Dimitrios Sotiropoulos who operates two of the restaurants.

Décarie Bâton Rouge Grillhouse & Bar co-owner Dimitrios Sotiropoulos spoke during the Giant Steps School fundraising event on April 29. (Photo: Martin C. Barry, Newsfirst Multimedia)

“We have donated over $1.5 million,” he said, noting that previous fundraisers for Giant Steps they took part in were also very successful. “We really believe in this cause. It’s a good cause. We believe that Bâton Rouge should be giving something back. And what we are doing is giving back to the community.”

Among the guests were elected municipal officials from Laval, Montreal and Beaconsfield. They included Chomedey city councillor Aglaia Revelakis, Souvenir-Labelle councillor Sandra El-Helou, L’Abord-à-Plouffe councillor Vasilios Karidogiannis, Saint-Bruno councillor David De Cotis, and Montreal city councillor for Parc Extension Mary Deros.

Support from elected reps

“Any way we can show support, we’re more than happy to,” said Karidogiannis. “Nick and Leo are great guys who work hard for this cause. We’re all more than willing to help them out to reach their goal.”

Giant Steps is “a very valuable resource, not only for the people of Laval, but also all over greater Montreal,” said Revelakis, pointing out that a growing problem encountered by many families with neurodiverse children is being unable to plan for their children’s future after they reach adulthood.

“Giant Steps is providing an alternative,” she said. “Young people who have autism will be provided with an incentive to be able to contribute to society. This is also a great initiative that Senator Housakos took in organizing this event tonight for a cause that is very worthy.”