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Autism Speaks U Fordham University Lights Up Eddie’s

The Ram

Photo by Michael Rezin/The Ram - Fordham’s chapter of Autism Speaks U adorned Eddie’s with blue glow sticks as part of the Light It Up Blue movement.

Music, free pizza, smiles and fun all worked to the advantage ofAustism Speaks U Fordham University earlier this month as the club worked to spread campus-wide awareness of autism in honor of the national Light It Up Blue movement.

Monday, April 2, Fordham University joined the movement by placing 60 blue glow sticks on Eddie’s in the shape of a large puzzle piece and by handing out glow sticks to students to crack together at dusk. Some other notable participants in the movement were the Empire State Building and Fenway Park in Boston. Fordham’s branch of Autism Speaks U initially had ambitions of lighting Keating blue; however, they were financially restricted. The puzzle piece was a clever compromise.

“It was a lot of work, but in the end it all came out well,” Adrian Whiting, FCRH ’14 and co-president of the chapter, said.

Blue puzzle pieces are to autism as pink ribbons are to breast cancer: They are the cause’s internationally-recognized symbol. According to the Autism Speaks U website, the puzzle piece represents the missing piece the group aims to find in forming a strong community of advocates for autism.

This event was the club’s first major event of the semester. Autism Speaks U requires its branches to hold at least one major event per semester to keep the clubs active and spread awareness.

“This is our first big event so we are using it to plan our future events,” Mike Chernichaw, FCRH ’14, said. “We’ll take our good things from this event and the bad things from the event to improve.”

Prior to lighting Eddie’s, members of Fordham’s Autism Speaks U branch tabled on the McGinley Center lawn from 5 p.m. until sunset. From the table, speakers blasted and club members’ voices echoed through a megaphone, attracting the crowds if the free pizza had not already done the job.

“It was a come-and-go type of event. We did have a lot of people at the table at once and we were always manning the table and that was good. We made a good showing out for it,” Chernichaw said.

In particular, Michael Hoblin, FCRH ’15, in particular was moved enough to join and be a part of the event.

“I kind of just showed up and said ‘Hey, can I help out?’” Hoblin said. “I’d like to start attending events more often and commit myself more to the group.”

At the table, the club held a raffle for various prizes, such as Yankee game tickets and iTunes gift cards; the money jar was filled to the brim with donations. Further fundraising continued at Puglesy’s pizza after the lighting, where a club-sponsored eat-up was held.

“Sal was really enthusiastic about helping us,” Camille Ralmondi, FCRH ’14, said. “They gave 50 cents of every order, to us.”

The event raised $325 in total. While this was an accomplishment, the awareness spread about autism was more valuable to the club than the money made.

“We really got the word out about autism,” Whiting said. “Now no one has an excuse for not knowing about our chapter.”

While the club is still applying to become an official campus club, its members have many more events planned. They recently visited the New York Center for Autism Charter School to help volunteer and educate themselves about the cause.

“This is our first real interaction with autistic children so that is going to be a real plus,” Chernichaw said.

In the distant future, they hope to host a walk or run around campus and through the Botanical Gardens, or even Central Park, as a way to involve the Fordham community and beyond.

“We’re really looking forward to the future,” Whiting said.

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Date: 4/11/2012