TORRINGTON — The second annual pasta and meatball benefit dinner for FOCUS Center for Autism was an outstanding success, surpassing last year’s fundraiser by thousands of dollars.

Organized by Ric McAllister and the Bearded Villains of New England, the event took place on Sunday, Jan. 28, at Chatterley’s Banquet Facility in Torrington. Last year, the charity dinner raised nearly $7,000, so this year the goal was increased to $10,000. Thanks to the children and adults of all ages who came out to support the nonprofit FOCUS Center for Autism in Canton, that goal was exceeded by raising a grand total of $10,276.

“We’d like to thank Ric McAllister and the Bearded Villains of New England for putting on such a wonderful event again this year,” said Donna Swanson, co-founder of FOCUS Center for Autism, “Their support and generosity means so much to our kids at FOCUS.”

The dinner included 30 door prizes, a 50/50 raffle, a cash bar and food. There was also a premium, custom-made T-shirt featuring an Autism puzzle in the shape of a hand that was designed by the Bearded Villains and sold online and at the event.

Financial support and door prizes were provided by Susie Larson of Turning Point Realty, the McAllister family, Lowe’s, The Gentleman Cigars and Cocktails in Rhode Island, Healing Roots Therapeutic Massage, and many more generous donors.

The Bearded Villains of New England is the New England chapter of the Bearded Villains brotherhood, a community organization whose tenets are charity, family, respect, and loyalty. It was established in 2014 in Los Angeles, Calif., with the purpose of showcasing bearded men with character.

Since 2000, the nonprofit FOCUS Center for Autism in Canton has been dedicated to helping children and young adults with autism spectrum and other related disorders achieve their full potential. For more information, visit or call 860-693-8809.