By Jeff Kazmierski, Copy Editor
On Saturday, April 7, the women of the Alpha Xi Delta sorority held their annual Easter egg hunt and spaghetti dinner. Hundreds of children and parents turned out for the event, which was so well attended the ladies actually held two hunts: one at 2:45 and another at 3:30. A free-will donation was requested, and dinner was $6 for adults and $4 for children. The hunt and dinner benefited Autism Speaks, the sorority’s chapter philanthropy, and is part of a series of events the sisters have arranged throughout April.
“April is National Autism Awareness Month,” event organizer Kate Bard said. “For world Autism Awareness Day, we all wore blue, and next week we’ll be handing out blue ribbons with yellow puzzle pieces for a campus-wide event.” The event will be held April 11 from 11:30 to 1:00.
Organizers were thrilled with the turnout, which they estimated at 150 children for the first hunt and nearly as many at the second. Children up to age 10 were welcome, especially those with autism or related disorders.
“It’s really exciting when children with autism come,” Bard said.
The sorority will also be participating in and volunteering for the annual Autism Puzzle Walk on Saturday, April 28 at the Chalco Hills Recreation Area.
Autism is a developmental disorder that impairs a person’s ability to communicate and relate to others. It is often identified in early childhood, and though at the moment there is no “cure,” many treatments such as behavioral, speech and occupational therapies can be effective. Autism is a spectrum disorder, which means its symptoms and characteristics can vary from very mild to severe. The sorority sisters hope to raise awareness and support for those children and families affected by autism.
About increased awareness and action at state houses and legislatures, “…we’re getting there,” chapter vice president Megan Jorgensen said. “It’s getting more attention.”
According to recent estimates, as many as 1 in 88 children is affected by autism in some way. Those interested in learning more about autism should contact Autism Speaks at autismspeaks.org or the Nebraska Autism Society at nebraskaautism.org.