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Benefit concert aims to raise autism awareness

Photo Courtesy Brian Pedalino
A group of brothers from Alpha Phi Delta at last year’s Autism Speaks Benefit Concert.


From 6:30 to 11:00 p.m. this Wednesday, April 25, the brothers of Alpha Phi Delta (APD) will be hosting their second annual Autism Speaks Benefit Concert in the Adanti Student Center ballroom.

Autism Speaks is an organization dedicated to improving the lives of all those who struggle with autism spectrum disorders.

According to their website, Autism Speaks is “the largest autism science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism.”

They also work to increase awareness about this disorder–which is exactly one of the goals of Southern’s chapter of Alpha Phi Delta.

The autism spectrum includes five disorders–classic autistic disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, Rett’s Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder and Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS). Currently, the Center for Disease Control reports that about one in 88 children is identified one of these disorders.

Alpha Phi Delta was recently reintroduced to Southern’s community. In 2010, founding brothers, Joe Gervasio, Brian Pedalino, Marcus D’Iorio, Jeremy Koval, John Eno and Jon Rivnyak, worked to reestablish the Gamma XI chapter of APD. And last year in the spring of 2011, the brothers hosted the first annual Autism Speaks Benefit Concert.

Natalie Sabino, an active member of the Southern community, attended last year’s concert.

“I went for a little while. I heard a difference genre of music, [and] they had good messages,” Sabino said. “I plan on stopping by and showing my support again.”

Jon Rivnyak and Jeremy Koval, two members of APD, were instrumental in organizing last year’s event and took on the responsibility again this semester.

Koval said planning the concert poses some challenges – dealing with bands who cancel and getting donations in particular – but the brothers appreciate the opportunity to help Autism Speaks.

“First, we pick bands. We go local; we like to support local bands,” Koval said of the process. “Forget Paris is our main band [this year].”

John Eno, another brother of APD, enjoyed seeing the different bands last year. “They’re local bands,” Eno explained, “and we’re helping to get their names out there.”

The president of Alpha Phi Delta, Will Peter, said his role is mainly spreading the word and encouraging people to come out and lend their support.

In terms of admission, Southern students are simply asked to make a donation if they can, while attendees from outside of the Southern community pay $10 for the night.

“I want people to come because Autism Speaks is a good philanthropy,” Peter said.

Even a small donation makes a difference too.

Everyone who attends the concert will be entered for a chance to win a door prize.

“You get one ticket for entrance,” Koval said.

Students may also purchase additional tickets if they want to increase their chances of winning. Prizes include gift certificates to a sushi restaurant, a nail salon and more.

This cause is near and dear to the Alpha Phi Delta brothers’ hearts. Brian Pedalino, treasurer of APD, explained one of the reasons this organization is such an important philanthropy for their chapter.

“My favorite part [of the event] is that we are able to raise money for Autism Speaks…One of the alumni of our chapter–his son has autism,” he said.

If a student cannot attend the concert, the brothers of Alpha Phi Delta will be hosting a dodgeball tournament on Tuesday, May 1 called Dodging Stress for Autism.

The tournament will cost $5 per person or $25 per team. Contact for more information or to sign up.

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