Getabout, New Canaan's van service for seniors and those needing special assistance, will celebrate 32 years of service during its Fall Fundraiser on Sunday, Oct. 20, at The Country Club of New Canaan. The annual event is by far the Getabout's single largest fundraising activity, and is responsible for raising about one third of the 501(c) charitable organization's annual budget, according to the organization.

Founded in 1980 by a group of New Canaan volunteers, the Getabout has grown from barely 60 rides in a retrofitted van to some 11,000 rides annually, in a five-vehicle fleet of two customized wheelchair-accessible large vans and three minivans. But according to President Bob Witt, Getabout's central mission remains the same: "To help New Canaan's senior and special-needs residents maintain active, vibrant lives in our community -- no matter what their transportation challenges."

This year's fundraiser is also important, Witt said, because the organization is continuing to expand its no-cost "Medi-Rides," providing non-emergency medical trips both in New Canaan, and out of town to Stamford, Norwalk, Darien and Wilton. The Medi-Rides program, partly funded by Connecticut, has seen this funding decline in the past two years' budget crunch, while still adding to the increase in annual operating costs of the Getabout by thousands of dollars as client demand for these rides escalates.

Event Chairman Betsy Sue Shannon is hoping for record results in both attendance and funds generated. Getabout's fundraiser committee is hosting a cocktail party from 5 to 7:30 p.m., on Sunday, Oct. 20.

"With the outstanding teamwork from our dedicated volunteer committee -- and the need to support our growing Medi-Rides customer base, we again are anticipating a wonderful evening," Shannon said. "We are excited again this year to be pairing our auction with the `Keep our Vans Rolling' giving tree, to help drive the fundraising. This year, the auction will be streamlined and will feature an exciting portfolio of unique gifts and services, generously donated by local merchants and residents. The focus of the evening will be on thanking our donors and continuing support for the `Keep Our Vans Rolling' giving tree."

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Getabout's Fall Fundraiser Committee also includes Robin Busch; Laura Danforth; Joan Hayenga; Rene Kemp; Deb Kuntzman; Elizabeth Mulhern; Rosemary Ogden; Katherine Ong; Margaret Pastel; Rachel Ranieri; Beth Reifers; Margo Sisson; Kathy Auda Skaperdas; Jill Stayman; Cynnie Thunem; Joyce Weisenseel; and Ruth Witt.

Reservations for the evening are still available by calling Betsy Sue Shannon at 203-966-2415 or emailing her at

Although partially funded by the Town of New Canaan and supported by the New Canaan Community Foundation, Getabout relies primarily on private contributions and the Fall Fundraiser to defray the difference between the suggested $3 price per one-way ride and the actual costs of $18 per local ride and up to $65 for Medi-Rides to Stamford or Norwalk. All management costs are borne by volunteers from the Getabout Board of Directors. Getabout trips are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m to 4 p.m. Reservations, on a minimum 24-hour advance basis, are available at 203-972-RIDE (972-7433).