In Marblehead, Cecropia Strong gala & auctions to benefit people with physical disabilities

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Cecropia Strong will host its Second Annual Gala & Auctions on Sunday, Oct. 16, with proceeds funding the organization’s mission to help and provide hope for those who are physically disabled.

The event will take place at The Masons’ Philanthropic Lodge, 62 Pleasant St., in Marblehead, and will be catered by Louise Moore and Every Little Breeze.

Cecropia Strong was founded by Julie Hahnke (Marblehead bagpiper, author, and management consultant) after surviving a stroke, discovering what it meant to be seriously disabled, and then fighting back towards recovery. 

“When I was hospitalized following my stroke, I was in a brain fog. I was akin to the cecropia moth emerging from its cocoon—I didn’t know which end was up. But those around me shared their hope until I could find it for myself,” Hahnke said. “The proceeds from this gala will help Cecropia Strong provide that same essential hope and help to others.” 

Through her experience and her compassion for those in similar circumstances, Hahnke’s organization, funds four programs to date: 

• Amy’s Gifts of Hope bring gifts of caring and hope (including “Trouble the Dog,” stuffed animals, hospital gripper socks, and boxes of chocolate) to the newly disabled at Spaulding Rehab Hospital in Boston;

• Intercollegiate Assistive Technology Hackathons that sponsor assistive technology events at colleges and universities. These aid people with disabilities to do something they otherwise can’t do on their own (for example, as in Julie’s case, modifying a bagpipe so it can be played with one hand); 

• Driver Rehabilitation Grants that help pay for stroke survivors to regain their driver’s licenses. This can be a very expensive obstacle because no insurance covers this. These grants aid in adaptive equipment training and driver rehabilitation (made in association with Central Mass Safety Council);

• The Phillips Family Comprehensive Aphasia Program Grants provide funding for an intensive five-week program run by Spaulding Rehab Hospital and MGH’s Institute of Health Professions to help restore speech and language capabilities damaged by a stroke.

“Cecropia Strong is always moving forward, looking for additional opportunities and programs we can support,” Hahnke said.

Tickets to the Cecropia Strong Gala & Auctions are $100 each and can be purchased on the website at or checks can be sent to Cecropia Strong, 141 Elm Street, Apt. 2, Marblehead, MA 01945. Donations in any amount are also welcome.

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