Sorority to lay quarter-mile of quarters for autism awareness

The Indiana University of Pennsylvania chapter of Alpha Xi Delta will hold its annual Quarter Mile, a fundraising tradition to benefit autism awareness, Wednesday, during National Autism Awareness Month.

Alpha Xi Delta will collect donations and then turn those donations into quarters, which they will line up back-to-back on the curb of Philadelphia Street in downtown Indiana from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday.

The curb will be chalked blue, the color chosen to symbolize autism awareness by Autism Speaks.

“The goal is to reach a quarter mile in quarters, which adds up to just shy of $4,000,” Alpha Xi Delta Vice President Taralyn Federoff (senior, political science) said. “If we reach this goal, along with our other fundraising events that we have held this year, we will be able to far surpass donations in all of our previous years.”

Sorority members will take donations of spare change from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday in the Oak Grove where they will spread the word about autism.

“We will be in the Oak Grove selling autism bracelets, blue light bulbs and baked goods,” said Alpha Xi Delta President Lauren Marasti (junior, early childhood/special education).

The idea of the Quarter Mile came from the sorority’s national organization, Marasti said.

“This is really an event for the whole community,” Federoff said. “IUP and Indiana can come together and just work towards the same goal.”

All of the money raised – which so far has ranged from five cents to cash and checks, according to Federoff – will be donated to the sorority’s philanthropy Autism Speaks, an autism advocacy organization that sponsors autism research.

“Autism affects most of us in one way or another,” said Alpha Xi Delta public relations Vice President Amber McClure (biology, junior). “Autism prevalence in the United States is one in 68 and has steadily increased in the past decades.”

Another autism-awareness event supported by Alpha Xi Delta is Lighting Up IUP Blue, which places blue spotlights around the IUP Performing Arts Center and Sutton Hall.

This event comes from the national “Light It Up Blue” initiative that includes the use of blue lights during April.