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SMC club sponsors autism awareness event

| Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Saint Mary’s College’s Students Supporting Autism club hosted its fourth-annual Light It Up Blue Walk last Saturday in honor of Autism Awareness Month.

The event raised $2,700 for the Dan Ryan Children’s Fund at the LOGAN Center, a group that assists families with the costs of services for those with autism or other disabilities, Gabrielle Moody, president of Saint Mary’s Students Supporting Autism club, said in an email.

“The walk first started my freshman year and has grown every year,” she said. “The amount we raised has doubled every year and so did participants. It was extremely successful this year and everyone raves about how enjoyable it is for their families.”

Nancy Turner, chair of the education department and the faculty advisor for Students Supporting Autism, said she believes the growth of the walk as well as the club’s presence on campus is helping increase autism awareness at the College and the surrounding community. All those from the community were welcome to attend the event.

“There were people from the community, as well as students,” Turner said. “I would say overall it’s both. Some of the people associated with LOGAN Center came. In addition, the radio station 97.7 Rock was instrumental in promoting the walk, so some people representative of the radio station came as well.”

First year student Alex Guevara Stevens said in an email that the range and number of people who attended the walk was one of her favorite aspects of the event. She also said the walk was special to her because her brothers are both on the autism spectrum.

“I loved seeing my friends, classmates and different people from all over the community come together to support the walk,” she said. “It was a great outcome. It is a cause that is very dear to my heart because in the past my family has been dependent from resources that are similar to those the Logan House provides.”

Guevara Stevens also said she hopes more people take the time to learn about autism and finding happiness in what can be seen as a difficult situation.

“Autism has affected my life because growing up with my brothers has taught me about finding joy in different places, about compassion, but most importantly I have learned that our differences are what make us beautiful,” she said. “Being different is not a bad thing, rather it’s something that makes each and every human being special and unique, and something that we should be proud of.”

Furthermore, Moody said the walk allows her to celebrate the people she has met with autism throughout her life.

“I hope the tradition of the walk continues after I graduate,” Moody said. “My favorite part about it is celebrating all the individuals with autism that have touched my life in some way. Autism has played a huge role in forming me into the woman/teacher/person I am today, and I am extremely thankful to SMC for giving me the opportunity to spread awareness on our campus.”

Turner also hopes that the walk continues to grow and that Students Supporting Autism can continue to bring awareness through the activities they sponsor throughout the year.

“I would just say I hope that the walk continues to occur. It’s only one of many activities that Students Supporting Autism plans over the year,” she said. “I’ve had many wonderful students over these years who have really dedicated so much time to not only the walk, but as I said, many events including working directly with children with autism. That’s one of the things this particular group has done. Raising awareness, as I said, just raising money. I’m confident that as these students graduate, which they are and I’m sad to see them go, but I’m sure that we’ll have other students that will step in and take their place. Hopefully the walk and the group will continue to do good things.”

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About Maria Leontaras

Maria Leontaras is a senior at Saint Mary's pursuing a student-designed major in Interactive Journalism with minors in mathematics and Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. Maria used to serve as the Editor-in-Chief of The Observer when she wasn't busy tweeting about movies and One Direction.

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