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Autism Speaks U to Hold A Cappella Show to Raise Awareness

The Daily Northwestern
Sammy Caiola

Autism Speaks U will host "A Cappella for Autism,"which according to the group's president, is the biggest event of the group's history.

The show will be Thursday and feature the X-Factors, Extreme Measures, Purple Haze, Phi Mu Alpha barbershop quartet, Treblemakers, Significant Others, Brown Sugar and Catatonics.

It will be emceed by a member of Comedy Forum, a comedic student group, Autism Speaks President Jonathan Slack said. Groups will perform at 9 p.m. in the Great Room in Jones Residential College.

In between performances, Slack said he will speak about his sister who has severe autism, while his co-president will speak about her experience working with autistic children in summer camp.

"Almost everybody I've talked to at least indirectly knows someone with autism, but they don't necessarily know what it entails," Slack said. "They don't know the daily struggles that kids with autism and their families go through. I think the goal should be to get as many people at our events as possible."

Admission for the event is $5. The first 100 people to arrive will get a coupon for free Andy's Frozen Custard, Slack said.

All of the money raised at the event will benefit Autism Speaks, the national autism research organization of which Autism Speaks NU is a college chapter.

Treasurer and Weinberg sophomore Kerry Kinney said the event has been in the planning since winter of this year. Kinney, who has a cousin with autism, said a cappella would allow the group to educate many people at once about the disease.

"A cappella is a very big thing on our campus," Kinney said. "It's always a very popular event, and we had connections with the a cappella groups."

Autism Speaks NU was founded by a few students in fall 2010, Slack said. Earlier in the year, the group screened "Autism the Musical," a film Slack said showed the full view of the many degrees of functionality among autism victims.

Bienen sophomore and X-Factors member Alex Novello said he has experience teaching music to autistic children, and he is thrilled to be performing in the show.

"Autism Speaks is a great organization," Novello said. "The X-Factors are so excited to be singing for this cause. We're always looking for philanthropy events."

Kinney said autism awareness is an issue among NU students. Earlier in the year, Autism Speaks U went around campus with a camera to ask students how much they knew about autism. Kinney said few were knowledgeable about the subject.

Weinberg freshman Megan Joyce said she used to play soccer with special-needs children and is aware of the widespread nature of autism. She said an a cappella event is a good way to raise awareness.

"A cappella concerts always draw good crowds of people, and since there's such a variety, it will attract not only people interested in autism speaks but also their friends," Joyce said.

samanthacaiola2014@u.northwestern.edu

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Date: 3/4/2011