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'Light It Up Blue'

Barry McNamara
03/30/2011
From their new home on East Broadway, the women of Alpha Xi Delta will have a great vantage point for viewing an unusual sight that they helped create on the Monmouth College campus.

On the evening of April 1, thanks to their efforts, MC’s Wallace Hall will take on a new appearance as part of “Light It Up Blue,” an international initiative to shine a light on autism as a growing public health crisis. Both the familiar cupola and the front of the building will be flooded in blue light for one night only.

More than 450 iconic landmarks – including the Empire State Building – and venues such as bridges, sports arenas, museums and restaurants in more than 120 U.S. cities and 30 countries will also Light It Up Blue this weekend to raise awareness for autism and to commemorate World Autism Awareness Day.

The Alpha Xi Delta national fraternity entered into a partnership with Autism Speaks in 2009. As the largest autism advocacy and research organization in the world, Autism Speaks is dedicated to funding research into the causes and prevention of autism; finding treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. Bob Wright, vice chairman of General Electric, founded the organization in 2005 along with his wife, Suzanne. The Wrights are the grandparents of a child with autism.

A complex brain disorder that inhibits a person’s ability to communicate and develop social relationships, autism is often accompanied by extreme behavioral challenges. Autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed in one in 150 children in the United States, affecting four times as many boys as girls. The prevalence of autism has increased tenfold in the last decade. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis whose cause and cure remain unknown.