By Daniel Kleinbard
In honor of Autism Awareness Month, organizations from the College worked together in an effort to spread awareness for autism and raise funds that would aid those with the condition. Alpha Xi Delta (AXiD) sorority and the student organization Best Buddies planned a series of events throughout the month that allowed students to learn more about the developmental disorder and give back to the cause.
AXiD hosted a week of events, starting on Monday, April 4. Each event worked to raise money for the sorority’s philanthropy, Autism Speaks. During the week, the sisters of AXiD could be found around campus selling Autism Speaks bracelets and ribbons, as well as distributing puzzle pieces containing facts about autism. The sorority also held a bake sale in order to raise additional funds for the non-profit organization.
The philanthropic week concluded with a soccer tournament, Kicks For A Cause. The tournament, which was set to generate the most money of all the events, was postponed to Saturday, April 23, due to inclement weather.
In addition to their Autism Awareness Week, the sisters of AXiD co-sponsored several events with Best Buddies throughout the month of April.
“It was a really great experience,” said Johnna Ellis, a junior deaf education and English double major and philanthropy chair for AXiD. “Best Buddies reached out to us, and we were really excited to partner with them to raise awareness and support for the same cause.”
The two groups organized their own events for the month, but co-sponsored and supported one another. One of the more impactful events Best Buddies hosted during the month was a lecture from the award-winning speaker and author, Kerry Magro, in the Library Auditorium on Monday, May 18.
Magro, who was diagnosed with autism at age four, visited the College to speak to students about the struggles of growing up with autism while wanting to find true love. In the lecture, Magro discussed how autism continues to affect children as they mature and become adults, which many people fail to comprehend.
“Children with autism will become adults with autism,” Magro told the packed audience. “You need to be ready for that. It does not stop at age 21.”
Magro also revealed some alarming statistics about the large-scale impact of autism. According to Magro, there are over 70 million people living with autism worldwide, 500,000 of whom will reach adulthood in the next decade.
AXiD has already raised over $4,000 for Autism Speaks in this semester alone, according to Ellis.
“I’m honored to be a part of the cause,” freshman elementary education and iSTEM dual major James Fiocco said after participating in Kicks For A Cause. “Through this event, I was able to play the sport I love and contribute to a cause that means so much.”
Members of Best Buddies and AXiD were happy to see that their events brought the campus community together for a good cause.
“Getting to raise money and support for an organization that does so much is a rewarding experience,” Ellis said. “When we get to see the effects of all our philanthropic efforts, it makes all our hard work worth it.”