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Student to hold walk for autism

Alicia Smith | Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Autism Speaks U Saint Mary’s chapter held its kick-off event Monday.

At the event, senior Katrina Mesina spoke to students about the club and what she hopes to achieve in its future.

Autism Speaks is a national organization dedicated to raising funds for and educating people about autism.

“Autism Speaks really exists to raise funds and awareness for autism,” Mesina said.

She hopes to do just that by having the Saint Mary’s chapter’s first walk for autism on April 17.

All students, faculty and staff of Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame and Holy Cross as well as members of the community are invited to attend the event, Mesina said.

At the kick-off event, Mesina explained why autism was an important cause.

“One in every 110 children and one in every 70 boys in the United States will be diagnosed with autism this year,” she said. “One shocking fact that I always like to tell people is that that’s more than AIDS, diabetes and cancer combined. Not to say that it’s more important, but that’s how prevalent this is.”

According to Mesina, the cause of the disease is still unknown, and therefore no cure has been found.

Mesina became involved with Autism Speaks in high school when she participated in her first walk.

“I went with a group with, I want to say, like 30 kids in my class and we had a blast,” she said. “So every year we went back, and for me it kind of developed into something more.”

Mesina has been a team leader for walks in the past, and is excited to lead the Saint Mary’s chapter’s team in April.

Mesina said she and her family have participated in the walks for her cousin, and many other members of the club have personal ties to autism as well.

“I’ve been walking for her and a lot of the other girls in Autism Speaks have personal connections, too,” she said. “It’s really cool that we can bring it on to campus.”

According to Mesina, the club has a goal of raising $10,000 with the 2011 walk. Prior to the actual event, the club will host different fundraising events including selling lip-gloss and sunglasses.

On the day of the walk, Mesina hopes to have a variety of different events for children with autism to participate in. The festivities begin at 10:30 a.m., where Sodexo will provide breakfast. The walk itself will begin at noon. Lunch will be served from 1 to 2 p.m.

Mesina encouraged everyone to participate in the walk, adding that all of the proceeds will go directly to Autism Speaks.

The cost for participating in the walk is $10.