VERMILLION, S.D. -- Twenty members of the University of South Dakota Economics Department are putting their fundraising skills to work by using their feet. Students, faculty and staff from the economics department have been busy raising money for Walk Now for Autism, a signature fundraising and awareness event for Autism Speaks that will take place Oct. 11 in Sioux Falls, S.D. In just two weeks, the group from USD has raised more than $3,600.
"Autism is something we need to raise money and awareness for," noted Mandie Weinandt, an economics and business management major from Dakota Dunes, S.D. "It needs to be researched."
Weinandt has a personal stake in raising money and awareness for autism. Her 10 year-old brother has autism and even though public schools are improving their care and education for students with autism, there’s still a need to provide better resources in the classroom.
"It’s nice to see more awareness in schools and society in general," she added, "but without a strong support system, kids with autism will struggle and I want to make sure my brother gets the help he needs."
David Carr, assistant professor of economics at The U, is also doing what he can to raise money and awareness for autism research. His 5 year-old son, Joe, has autism and Carr, who has personally raised more than $1,200 for Walk Now for Autism, is proud that his students and colleagues have gone above and beyond the call of duty.
"This is something they have all chosen to do, purely out of class and not for credit," said Carr, Ph.D. "The response has been overwhelming, not just from the USD community, but from people in general. They really want to help."
Help wasn't hard to find as Carr and the Department of Economics was looking at reactivating USD's economics honor society, Omicron Delta Epsilon. Raising money for Walk Now for Autism also serves as a valuable teaching tool, Carr explained, as USD students have the opportunity to engage in service learning about how charity is a part of our economy while supporting a great cause at the same time.
"The Web site makes it very easy for people to donate," stated Matt Adamson, an economics major from Sioux Falls. "It’s a matter of taking a few minutes to write an e-mail, provide people with a link and asking if they'd like to help."
The goal for the USD team is to raise $5,000. As of Oct. 1, the group had raised $3,600 placing them third amongst all teams from southeast South Dakota, including the Sioux Falls area. USD Walk Now for Autism team members include Carr and his wife, Carolyn; Mike Allgrunn, assistant professor of economics, and his wife, Sherrie; Tom Davies, associate dean of the Beacom School of Business; Randall Waldron, associate professor of economics; and students Adamson, Halley Backes, Tyler Barondeau, Jesse Becker, Anne Doshier, David Fickbohm, Zach Flood, Courtney Gilchrist, Adam Limmer, Cameron Martin, Alex Morley, Nathan Pease, Alaina Seeley, Sara Vetter, Kaitlin Vik and Weinandt.
Sioux Falls’ Walk Now for Autism home page can be found on the Web by visiting: www.walknowforautism.org/site/c.kwKSJdNWJrF/b.3875847/. For more about Team USD or to donate, go to www.walknowforautism.org/c.kwKSJdNWJrF/b.3875945/siteapps/teampage/ShowPage.aspx?teamid=3182085.