Today: Jun 25, 2024

Benefit concert raises money for autism awareness

Several of the brothers of Alpha Phi Delta helped set-up and organize the Autism Speaks Benefit Concert. (From Left to Right) Brett O'Connell, Matt Prackup, Joe Gervasio, Jon Rivnyak, Jeremy Koval, Steve Bosies, Will Peter and Brian Pedalino.


Last Wednesday, the brothers of Alpha Phi Delta (APD) brought six local bands to Southern in order to raise money for Autism Speaks, a non-profit organization committed to advocacy and research for individuals diagnosed with any of the five autism spectrum disorders.

Jeremy Koval, a senior marketing major, and Jon Rivnyak were the main coordinators of the event.

The best part of the planning experience, Koval said, was picking the bands.

“We literally just sat down and listened to music,” he explained.

The six bands volunteered their time to help support the cause.

“Some of them have managers and publicists and stuff,” Koval said. “Sometimes issues come up, but we work through it.”

Rivnyak found many of the bands through personal connections.

“All the bands I know on some level – they’re friends. I look for Connecticut and upstart bands that have some sort of following in the area,” Rivnyak said.

In his opinion, the hardest part of the process was acquiring and coordinating the sound system and food for the band members. But the night of the event itself was pretty challenging too.

“I’m on my feet constantly,” Rivnyak said. “This is the first time I’ve sat down.

Koval and Rivnyak both worked to organize the first annual Autism Speaks Benefit Concert, but this year was a bit more difficult for Koval, who is graduating this May.

“For me it was more stressful because I’m graduating and have a lot more stuff to deal with.”

Minor challenges and complications aside, however, the event was really enjoyable for all of the brothers of APD – and the attendees.

“The bands are a lot of fun to work with – they’re really cool people,” Koval said. “We’re glad to have them here and they’re glad to be here.”

Rivnyak concurred. His main role during the event was making sure that the bands are attended to and have everything they need.

“They’re great,” he said. “So far the biggest thing they needed was for me to turn the lights off.”

Kim O’Connor, one of the students in the audience, explained why she decided to attend.

Aside from the great cause, O’Connor said, “I saw it [Voted Most Random] on a poster today.” O’Connor was introduced to Voted Most Random, a pop-punk band from Hamden, CT, by some friends from Quinnipiac University. “I’ve never been to [their local shows] but my friend introduced me. They play around New Haven.”

O’Connor enjoyed the five other bands that performed Wednesday night as well.

“They’re good – they’re very similar to the main act,” he said.

Brian Pedalino, a brother of APD who was not directly involved in the planning of the Benefit Concert, was nevertheless pleased with the result.

“I’ve been having a blast,” Pedalino said. “It’s so nice to see so much support for Autism Speaks in general.”

The president of Alpha Phi Delta, Will Peter, helped to load in the bands before the concert and clean up afterwards.

“I had a great time and met a bunch of great guys,” Peter said.

During the load in, Peter was able to have conversations with several of the performers.

“I asked them, ‘What’s their inspiration?’ Sometimes it’s one of their family members or one of their favorite bands or a song that struck them,” he said.

Peter and several of the other brothers of APD – Matt Prackup, Brett O’Connell, and Rivnyak in particular – set up all of the other tables for the door prizes and the baked goods that were sold during the night. And every dollar made through these fundraisers was donated to Autism Speaks.

The only slight disappointment in Rivnyak’s mind was that he wanted this year’s Autism Speaks Benefit Concert to be even bigger than last year’s.

“I wanted it to be a big outdoor event,” Rivnyak said.

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