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Amidst Tragedy We Rise-Autism Speaks U BU uses April to Heal

This guest post is written by Nicole Homerin, President of the Autism Speaks U chapter at Boston UniversityAutism Speaks U, an initiative of Autism Speaks is designed to support college students, faculty and staff in their awareness, advocacy and fundraising efforts.

Monday April 15, 2013 is a day we will never forget. From my apartment in Kenmore Square, a mile from the finish line of the Boston Marathon, I was startled by the sounds of screaming people and helicopters. I began to receive texts from friends asking if I was alright. I immediately searched the internet, only to learn that there had been an explosion at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. No details on what happened, just reports of casualties and injuries. I texted the E-Board of our Autism Speaks U chapter, only to find that many of our phones were not in service. For several hours, I Facebook messaged and texted several of our members. By 7pm, I finally learned that they were all safe. But our community at Boston University was not as fortunate: we lost one of our own.

After details were uncovered, we quickly realized that the events of that day would affect the plans we had been working on for months to celebrate Autism Awareness Month. We cancelled a fundraiser that was supposed to be held at the Prudential Center, now a crime scene. In addition, we learned that one of the injured and sister of the deceased Martin Richard, Jane Richard, lost her leg. Jane is a student at the Clifden Academy of Irish Dance. This hit home, as our culminating fundraiser for our organization’s Autism Awareness Week is entitled “BU Dances for Autism” and is scheduled to feature several dance groups from BU, including BU’s Irish Dance group, a group which I also serve as one of the dance captains.

After much discussion with the members of the Autism Speaks U BU community, we decided that in the face of great adversity, we must continue to carry on: for the victims, for the survivors, and for those with autism spectrum disorders struggling to come to terms with the events. But we knew we could not carry on as usual. In the spirit of our school, we drew upon the motto “BUnited.” As a chapter, we have spent the year helping to raise awareness in our community and unite for the cause of autism. So what better way to get our message across of support, awareness, advocacy, and education for autism than to use “BU Dances for Autism” as a way to celebrate our unity as a community? Thus, on April 26, we will be dancing for autism. We will be dancing for the victims of our community, for the heroes, and for our loved ones. We will be dancing to show that with a united community full of love, anything is possible. We will be wearing Autism Speaks pins and blue and yellow ribbons. And we will be dedicating our final performance to the ones we’ve lost.

In the midst of pain, we find courage to soldier on and advocate for acceptance, hope, and love. We are Boston Strong, we are BUnited, we are Autism Speaks U Boston University. And we are celebrating Autism Awareness Month in the best way we know how. 

BU Dances for Autism

Dinner served at 7pm, dance show at 7:30pm. There are some AMAZING raffle items including Red Sox tickets with an inning in the NESN booth, Jewelry, and more!

BU Student Union, 775 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at 100% proceeds benefit Autism Speaks to go towards funding for research and support programs. 


To stay informed about Autism Speaks U Boston University’s meetings, events and chapter news, connect with the group on Facebook & Twitter.

The Autism Speaks blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks' beliefs or point of view.