Today: Jun 18, 2024

Rocking out for autism awareness

Dylan Pesino sings with his band, About Falling, during the benefit concert.

Stephanie Paulino, Managing Editor:
Rock music filled the Student Center ballroom last Monday, as concertgoers helped raise money for Autism Speaks, an organization that funds “research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increases awareness of autism spectrum disorders, and advocates for the needs of individuals and their families,” according to its website.
Jon Rivnyak, one of the concert’s main organizers and member of Alpha Phi Delta, said he and his fraternity brothers picked Autism Speaks as their philanthropy in support of two alumni members whose children have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders.
After years of helping other organizations with their events, Rivnyak, fundraising chair, said he wanted to “do something different.”
“I’ve always wanted to do a spring concert, so we decided, let’s do that,” said Rivnyak. “To finally be able to do an event for somebody feels great.”
The brothers of Alpha Delta Phi, which is currently made up of seven members, got help from five rock bands, which all performed for free.
The lineup included three local groups: About Falling, of Bristol; Cinema 24, of Seymour; and Scott Westenberger, a Southern student.
Westenberger, a sophomore secondary education and English major, said his mother teaches students with autism spectrum disorders.
“It’s a topic that hits close to home,” said Westenberger.
Westenberger, who described his music as “acoustic, alternative and folk” said he’s played many benefit shows.
“It’s nice to be able to do something for a cause rather than just for enjoyment or like self-promotion, to get your name out there,” said Westenberger.
Two more bands, The Down and Outs and Patent Pending, traveled from Rhode Island and Long Island, respectively. Nick Eno, a Meriden high school senior, said he enjoyed the concert, which was his first.
“Music brings people together; it’s a common interest,” said Eno, whose older brother is a member of Alpha Phi Delta.
The concert, which was free to Southern students, raised $560 for the fraternities’ philanthropy.
“The show was a huge success and we will be doing one every year in the spring from now on,” said Rivnyak. “We had nearly 70 people at any given time during the night.”
Dylan Pesino, lead singer of About Falling, said he enjoys playing benefit concerts: “Any show is a good show, but if it’s for a good cause it’s an even better show.”

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