Autism Speaks U holds musical fundraiser at Weasler

photo via

photo via

Autism Speaks U, the university branch of the Autism Speaks organization, hosted its “Listen up!” concert Thursday, April 9 in the Weasler Auditorium. April is autism awareness month and the concert strove to bring attention to the disorder.

Marie Cristoforo is a field development intern at Autism Speaks and was the MC for the event. Cristoforo started off expressing how the cause helps those struggling with autism. She has a personal connection with the condition because her brother was diagnosed with autism. The night proceeded with a video expressing the goals that the members of Autism Speaks hope to accomplish, including funding research for their cause, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism, increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families.

The Meladies, Marquette’s all- female acapella group also took the stage. The women wore blue and played their pitch pipe to begin the performance. Their renditions of “Sweet Disposition,” “She Will Be Loved” and “Halo” filled the room.

Next on the program was a Ted Talk, a series of recorded conferences showing individuals with an idea to share. The video shown to the crowd dealt with the curiosity the speaker had with those who had autism. Faith Jegede, the speaker, expressed the love and fascination she had for her two brothers with autism. The two brothers have a unique way of processing and retaining information, she said. Jegede added they aren’t diseased, simply different.

Then, hold onto your hula skirts, making their debut performance was the Ukulele Club. These talented string performers put the audience in a tropical mood with a Disney medley, the famous ukulele version of “Over the Rainbow” and “You and I.”

“I’m very excited about our debut concert,” Julie Medenwald, president of the Ukulele Club, said. “It’s a great way to start out and support a good cause.”

To keep the audience moving, Marquette’s Dance Inc. took the stage. Three groups of ladies performed different routines. These included a throwback to the 1920s with a tap dance routine to songs from the hit musical “Chicago.” The second was an elegant and fluid ballet to “Beautiful Day” and lastly a hip hop routine to “Rumor Has It.”

Another video clip was played geared toward the future of adults with autism. The clip focused on a car wash run by a man whose son was diagnosed with autism. Instead of “creating a fund or loading up on life insurance” he started a car wash where 80 percent of its employees have the condition. This helps the employees feel good about themselves by making money and building a work ethic. Hopefully this model will encourage other businesses to employ those diagnosed with autism.

To close the show, Gold ‘n Blues, Marquette’s co-ed acapella group, performed. Their mix of high- and- deep- pitched voices helped to create their own versions of popular songs. On the set list for Gold ‘n Blues were songs that could slowly bring the event to a close, including “If I Go,” a slow blues and doo-wop version of “I Want You Back,” “Patience Gets Us Nowhere Fast” and lastly “Rivers and Roads.”

“I came to support my friend in Dance Inc., but there were so many good performers. It’s upsetting that more people didn’t come,” said Victoria Patete, a sophomore in the College of Bussiness Administration audience member.

Though no more than 20 people attended the event, the performers gave it their all. Their energy and sound reached every corner of the auditorium. Though the show did not reach its donation goal, Autism Speaks U will be having a cookie bake sale at the end of April to make up for it.