TDX looks to raise awareness with Autism Speaks

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Brothers of Theta Delta Chi stand in front of the Nott Memorial, which was lit up blue in honor of Autism Awareness Month. TDX brothers were fundraising for Autism Speaks last week. They worked in collaboration with Puzzles Bakery & Cafe, which is a Schenectady bakery that employs workers who have autism spectrum disorders. (Concordiensis | Caitlin Williams)

The Nott was lit up blue by Union’s Alpha chapter of Theta Delta Chi on Monday, April 20, to raise awareness for autism spectrum disorders.

TDX was fundraising for Autism Speaks for all of last week. TDX Philanthropy Chair Ricardo Fonseca stated, “Autism Speaks is the official philanthropy of Theta Delta Chi throughout the country, and is an organization that our fraternity has worked with for many years. We felt this week was the best week to raise money for the organization because it is Autism Awareness Month.”

Autism Speaks is a non-profit organization that advocates for people with autism in the United States. It sponsors autism research while also promoting awareness and outreach activities aimed towards families, governments and the public. Its goal is to “change the future for all who struggle with an autism spectrum disorder.”

Autism Speaks is dedicated to funding global biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments and possible cure for autism. They strive to raise public awareness about the disorder as well as its personal effects. They aim to bring the autism community together as “one strong voice.”

In addition to lighting the Nott blue, TDX also held a social event with Gamma Phi Beta where everyone wore blue for autism awareness and sold baked goods in Reamer Campus Center from Puzzles Bakery & Café.

Puzzles Bakery & Café is a bakery in Schenectady that employs workers who have autism — about 50 percent of their employees have autism. Their mission statement promises the café’s commitment to “improving the livelihood of individuals, families and communities affected by autism spectrum disorder.”

Within their mission statement, they state that individuals with developmental diseases have the right to work in integrated settings with “non-disabled colleagues, be afforded the same wages and contribute to society in a meaningful way.”

Autism awareness is often symbolized by puzzle pieces, displaying the complexity of the disability — no one knows what causes the disorder and there is currently no cure.

One in 68 people are affected by autism. More people are diagnosed with autism every year than AIDS, diabetes and cancer combined. It is a lifelong disability, becoming especially difficult when individuals transition into adulthood. College is or obtaining a job can be difficult for people with autism.

Fonseca stated that many brothers within Theta Delta Chi know someone or have loved someone who has autism. He explained that autism has affected a large number of people and TDX wanted to contribute to what they feel is “a great cause.”

In September 2014, Theta Delta Chi also participated in a Walk for Autism, which was located in Central Park in Schenectady.

Fonseca stated that Theta Delta Chi wants to “thank everyone who contributed to this amazing cause throughout (last) week.” He stated that Union does a great job of allowing its students to “make a difference in the community, and this time it was no different.” He stated, “Everyone involved helped out tremendously, and all the brothers here at TDX hope that we can raise awareness of a condition that affects such a large amount of people.”

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