Walk Now for Autism Speaks: Florida State University

On October 15, the Autism Speaks U chapter here at Florida State University will host a walk to raise money and awareness for anyone who struggles with an autism spectrum disorder. The walk will be open to the entire community and all of the proceeds will go directly to fund global biomedical research in causes, prevention, treatments and a possible cure for autism.

The chapter founded by Kristina Urdaneta and Taylor Smith last spring is relatively new to Florida State’s campus. Urdaneta’s passion stems from her mother’s battle with blood cancer. After the diagnosis, she joined Light the Night and realized that large-scale philanthropy events truly spoke to her interest. Smith is currently working at the FSU Autism Institute. As a psychology and biology major, her goal is to eventually work with kids who have autism. With a major in finance and economics, Urdaneta runs the business side of the chapter while Smith makes sure people are educated on the disorder.

Courtesy: Kristina Urdaneta

After a void on FSU’s campus for an organization that promoted advocacy and awareness of mental disabilities on a grand scale, the chapter was immediately recognized by both the national organization and Florida State University. Last semester, Autism Speaks U was able to raise $1,500 from fundraising. However, this year the goal is to raise $15,000 and further grow the chapter through community service events and working with special needs schools and local therapies.

This organization serves as a learning experience and provides an outlet to promote advocacy, awareness and acceptance of such a prominent disorder that affects every 1 in 68 children. People will come to realize that just because those with autism function differently than us, it doesn’t make them less of a person in any way. Many with this developmental brain disorder tend to excel in visual skills, music, math and art.

“A lot of people believe that those on the autism spectrum are inept. However, they are extremely intelligent in their own way and have their own exciting and fun personalities that we could get to know and care about,” says Urdaneta.

Current Autism Speaks U member Kenzie Hendrix joined the chapter in order to give back to a disorder that has deeply impacted her and her family’s life. Both her best friend and younger brother have non-verbal autism, which effects one-third of children and adults. Through Autism Speaks U, Hendrix is able to raise funds and further investigate and explore options for others who have this condition. “Being an active member of this organization has enabled me to experience a unique learning venture further teaching me love, patience and compassion,” says Hendrix.

The carnival-themed event will take place at 6:30 p.m. on October 15 at Langford Green. The walk will begin at 7:15 p.m. Come early to take advantage of the food, live entertainment, a bounce house, face painting and other exciting activities raising money for this amazing cause. As an added incentive, any individual that raises over $100 will get a free T-shirt. Also, the FSU organization that raises the most money will get a $100 bar tab at The Strip and the non-FSU organization that raises the most money will get a $10 Madison Social gift cards per team member. You don't want to miss it!

Visit their website to register and learn more about the event.