BRANFORD -- It wasn't quite the Tribeca Film Festival, Tony Awards or the Oscars, but a group of stars converged quietly at the Owenego Inn recently to receive a lesser-known, but personally important honor: the first Friends and Allies Award from the Friedreich's Ataxia Research Alliance.

The connection that brought acclaimed actress Mary Stuart Masterson, her husband, actor Jeremy Davidson (who appears in the TV series "Army Wives") and screenwriter and actor Jayce Bartok to Branford is two sisters who are Southern Connecticut State University students and have Friedreich's ataxia, a progressive neuromuscular disease.

The sisters, Sam Bode, 22, and Alex Bode, 19, formed a close friendship with the stars after they met with Masterson to tell her what it is like to live with the rare disorder. Masterson wanted the everyday information for what would become the critically acclaimed, award-winning independent film "The Cake Eaters," in which Masterson makes her cinematic directorial debut.

Read More: Stars glow in Branford for Friedreich's event