Puzzlethon for Autism, an event held to raise money and increase awareness and acceptance of autism among the student body took place on Friday in J. Lee’s just in time for Autism Awareness Month. Attendees participated in a variety of puzzles and games to help become more educated on the disease.
The puzzle piece has widely come to symbolize autism support and awareness.
“The puzzle piece is the most widely recognized symbol for autism,” said senior Rachel Brant, one of the event’s organizers. “We also have autism awareness puzzle shirts to sell and give out as prizes.”
The event was organized and hosted by Brant and fellow seniors Stephanie Cerpico and Maureen Ingraham as part of their senior project for the global communications and media major. The entrance fee was $2 for those who responded on Facebook and $3 at the door. All proceeds went to Autism New Jersey.
“Our ultimate goal is to spread awareness of autism and to be able to donate whatever money we get to the New Jersey organization to benefit autism research,” Ingraham explained.
Brant, Cerpico and Ingraham chose to donate their proceeds to Autism New Jersey in order to keep their support more local.
“We decided to donate to an organization based in New Jersey, as opposed to like Autism Speaks, because we wanted to raise money and awareness in the local community,” said Cerpico.
The cause was very important to the student organizers, and they spent months organizing the event.
“I have cousins with autism, and Maureen also has members in her family with it,” said Cerpico. “I have been working on the event since September in my proposal class, and Rachel and Maureen joined me this semester.”
The students teamed up in order to spread awareness about the event.
“We all have our own connections, so we could all bring more people working together,” said Brant.
Students who participated enjoyed Sudoku puzzles, crosswords, word searches and jigsaw puzzles.
“We are having events where the first person to finish a puzzle gets a prize,” said Brant. “There is also free food and pizza for those who attend.”
Many of the students in attendance were affected personally by autism and therefore could appreciate the opportunity to participate in the Puzzlethon and learn more about the disorder.
“I guess it’s a little more personal for me because my girlfriend’s cousin has autism,” said Kevin Distelhurst, a Drexel graduate who attended the event with friends.
“I am a really big supporter of this cause,” said Erin Mulligan, a junior. “I am coming here with residents as a community support event in Laurel, and actually had my own autism awareness event yesterday.”
“It’s just a really good cause,” added Steven Tinghitella, a senior.
Others came to hear and learn more about the cause and to enjoy the activities being offered.
“I wanted to learn more about autism,” said Amelia Gance, a senior. “And I happen to like puzzles.”