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Greek houses team up for autism awareness

By Hallie Robbins

Alpha Tau Omega philanthropy chairman and junior Matt Meredith’s involvement with Autism Speaks is a personal one. 

Two years ago, his nephew was diagnosed with the disease. 

Saturday, ATO and sorority Alpha Xi Delta will co-sponser a walk to benefit Autism Speaks, Alpha Xi’s national philanthropy. The organization sponsors walks called “Walk Now for Autism Speaks” in cities throughout the country. ATO and Alpha Xi said they hope their version of this walk will become an annual event.

“There’s no framework for us. What works? What didn’t?” said sophomore Meredith Stasa, Alpha Xi External Philanthropy Chair. “The hardest part has been trying to decide how to tackle this event.” 

The walk will begin at 1 p.m. at Alpha Xi on the North Jordan Avenue extension and conclude at the ATO house on East Third Street. Registration is $7 for a wristband, $10 for a T-shirt or $15 for both. 

“There are a lot of similar walks across the country, and they’ve all raised a lot of awareness and thousands of dollars,” Meredith said. “We just figured this would be the best way to raise the most amount of money.”

Members of the organizations will hand out information about autism throughout the route.

“We’ve selected this cause and this event because it hits really close to home,” said Annie Hallsten, Alpha Xi philanthropy and community outreach manager. “Autism affects one in 110 children. This is something that affects everybody.”

April is Autism Awareness Month, but both greek organizations waited to sponsor the walk until May because they said there were fewer conflicting events and schedules. They said they have been excited by the support.

“We’re ambitious but realistic, and we know this will be a year to grow from,” Stasa said. “But I’m excited to see the turnout. I’m excited that others are excited. I think this will be really rewarding.”

Meredith’s family — including his nephew — will be there Saturday to walk with him.  
“To have the support of the IU and Bloomington communities is really neat,” Meredith said. “I’m really looking forward to walking with my nephew. That’s what this is all about for me.”

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