Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Color run brings light to autism awareness

By Emily Gregoire

PLATTSBURGH – Gathered behind SUNY

Plattsburgh’s Memorial Hall a large crowd of

runners prepare to set off along the Saranac

River. Each is dressed in white awaiting their chance to be splattered with color for a good cause.

“If you bring awareness to a cause in another way, it makes it memorable,” said Breanna Syslo,

President of Autism Speaks at SUNY Plattsburgh.

The 2 nd annual Color Run/Walk attracted about twice as many people as it did last year. The local Autism

Speaks group at SUNY Plattsburgh is relatively new, but with a little creativity they have been warmfully

welcomed by the Plattsburgh community.

“We are hoping to spread the word,” said Tania Armellino, head women’s soccer coach at SUNY


SUNY Plattsburgh’s woman’s soccer team has partnered with the Autism Speaks group last year for the

first Color Run/Walk fundraiser.

Autism Speaks allows families who are affected by autism to have the available resources needed for

positive growth.

“Raising awareness as well as raising money for families is what we try to do. Many families are provided

with assistance for the kinds of therapy and behavioral treatments needed for someone with autism,”

said Molly Fryer, a social work student and member of Autism Speaks.

Autism Speaks creates a sense of community within the city of Plattsburgh. Although student clubs and

organizations host the Color Run/Walk, the event is for the community.

“Even teenagers come by, we get to see the families with little children and they are all involved,” said

Elizabeth Paul, member of Autism Speaks.

Along with being a member of Autism Speaks, Paul is a masters’ student in SUNY Plattsburgh’s Special

Education department. Paul has been participating with Autism Speaks since its debut, last year.

Part of Paul’s education requires student teaching. This has allowed Paul to see people affected by

autism in a different light.

“Doing the color run helps to bring awareness on the topic of autism,” said Jillian Conway, member of

Autism Speaks.

Like Paul, Conway is also a masters’ student in the Special Education program.

For the past 3 years Conway has worked at Whiteface Mountain, where she encountered a child on the

autism spectrum whom she admired so much. Having a personal connection with autism only motivates

Paul, Conway and Fryer even more in their professional lives.

“Being a part of Autism Speaks means that we are helping the community and we are raising awareness

and it’s on a major issue that affects many people,” said William Hodge, secretary of SUNY Plattsburgh’s

Autism Speaks.

It has been about a year that Hodge has been involved in the Autism Speaks group. Hodge noted the

turn out this year had nearly doubled from the year before.

Syslo, as president of Autism Speaks, was high energy and had many things going on all at once.

“My favorite part though, is all the fun that comes with it,” Syslo said.

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