F.E.A. fundraising for autism research

A group of University of Miami students is raising money as participants in the 11th annual Miami-Dade Walk Now For Autism Speaks, which takes place on Sunday at JC Bermudez Park in Doral. Miami-Dade Walk Now For Autism Speaks is a fundraiser for Autism Speaks, which provides funding for research in autism, raises awareness about the disease and helps affected families.

The UM team, headed by the Future Educators Association (F.E.A.) honor society, has raised $319, which is higher than the $100 goal they originally set.

“This is all about joining together for a common goal,” said Anita Meinbach, a professor in the School of Education who is also the faculty advisor for F.E.A. “Wouldn’t it be great if more people got involved?”

Anyone interested in the cause can walk and a donation is not required.

“Students can get involved in donating by going to the School of Education office and give any donations to Marilyn De Narvaez in the front desk,” F.E.A. President Laura Valdez said. “The organization of Autism Speaks has provided me with puzzle pieces to be sold to help fundraising. The puzzle pieces symbolize the ‘missing pieces’ that are needed for extended research.”

This is the first year that the F.E.A. is involved in the autism walk.

“Hopefully our fundraising effort not only raises awareness about the increasing occurrence of autism, but creates funds for research to combat this disorder,” Valdez said.
This year’s Miami-Dade walk has already raised more than $250,000 and last year’s event brought in more than $570,000.

“Sophisticated, well-designed research studies are quite expensive,” said Michael Alessandri, a psychology professor who has been involved with autism research in recent years. “There is still too little money devoted to autism research.”

Autism is a neurological disorder that affects nearly all aspects of functioning, including social  and behavior skills.

“No known cure exists, but important and sometimes effective treatments do help many children become more functional,” Alessandri said. “The beauty of Autism Speaks is that it has dedicated itself to funding important research and has shined a light on autism research like no other organization.”

Cristian Benavides may be contacted a cbenavides@themiamihurricane.com.

may be contacted at kspillane@themiamihurricane.com.