Singing for a cure for autism

Freshmen Shane Young, left, and Quintin Pearson sing a Kanye West song at AZD’s Karaoke for the Cure event, which raised money for Autism Speaks. The event took place Feb. 19.

By Valis Vicenty

Not everyone is blessed with a golden voice like Mariah Carey, but many belted it out for a good cause last Friday at the Alpha Xi Delta (AZD) Karaoke for the Cure Pub Night to help raise money for the irnational philanthropy Autism Speaks.

Sophomores Monique Kuhl and Michelle Wall, both co-philanthropy chairs for AZD, came up with the idea by looking at fundraiser suggestion Web sites. They chose a karaoke night at the Pub to spread awareness and obtain donations for the charity.

“We wanted to have a really fun fundraiser to get the charity better known,” said Kuhl.

Autism Speaks is an organization that focuses on raising awareness, funding research for a cure and educating people about autism spectrum disorders and their effects on children.

“Since this was one of the first events on campus that AZD has done for Autism Speaks, our goal was just for a few people to show up,” said Wall.

Attendees received tickets as soon as they walked through the door to participate in raffles that were set up throughout the night. Some attendees could enter by buying Autism Speaks puzzle pieces, all to win gift certificates to local restaurants. Both Kuhl and Wall were surprised at the generosity of the restaurants that donated the certificates.

“All the local restaurants were extremely helpful and very willing to help our event out,” said Kuhl.

Open karaoke lasted for the first hour before the contest began, with a few acts rapping and getting laughs from the audience. With Coordinator of Campus Activities Nick Barbati, AZD’s Chapter Advisor Claudine Caro and Coordinator of Community Service Jackie Wonsey as judges, all of the contestants sang their best, aiming to win, with some acts pleasantly surprising the judges with their talent.

“They were judged on Song Choice, Talent and Audience Interaction,” Barbati said. “I was tougher, more like the Simon Cowell of the group. But there were a lot of talented acts, some that really surprised me with how talented they were.”

Along with applauding to influence the judges’ choices, the audience was able to participate in deciding a winner by placing donations in money cans that members of AZD walked around with throughout the night. Freshman Kristen Farina won as the judge’s choice and senior Ashleigh Graves was the winner with the most money raised from the audience.

Even though she was just out to have some fun, Farina was excited that the judges liked her performance enough to make her their choice for the winner.

“I wanted to be the fun, not-so-serious performance of the night,” said Farina, who sang Taylor Swift’s “Love Story.” “I wanted people to remember me. So, I stepped a little out of my comfort zone and sang my heart out.”

Barbati firmly stood behind the judges’ choice.

“I was really happy with the winner,” said Barbati. “She had such enthusiasm and she really deserved it.”

Wall and Kuhl were thrilled with the donations they received. The event raised $450, and even though there was no specific goal amount set, the night was a fun experience for everyone.

“The best thing about the night was the atmosphere,” Wall said. “Everyone was enjoying themselves and every cent spent went to a great cause.”
For more information about Autism Speaks or to donate, please visit www.autismspeaks.org.

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