With the recent Centers for Disease Control report showing that one in 49 children in New Jersey are identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the public relations students in Montclair State University’s Communication Studies Department decided to do something to help. With Autism Awareness month nearing its close, the university’s Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), with help from the Fairleigh Dickinson University PRSSA, held a benefit night of comedy on Wednesday, April 25, raising more than $2,000 for Autism New Jersey.
The event, called “Universities United Against Autism” featured comedians Nancy Redman and Sunda Croonquist, and mentalist Manlow. Croonquist, who hosts All Star Comedy Night at The Laugh Factory in Los Angeles and was named New Jersey’s “Funniest Female Comic,” flew in from California to headline the event. Redman, a two-time winner of ABC television’s “America’s Funniest People,” opened the show, and mentalist Manlow, who has appeared on “That’s Impossible” also entertained. Montclair State University student Emily Golloub and Kelsey Kistle, a Fairleigh Dickinson University junior, served as cohosts.
The Autism New Jersey fund-raiser was the latest example of the Department of Communication Studies’ mission of offering its students real world projects to provide them with a fuller educational experience.
“There is more on the line when you’re creating a successful event, dealing with a real client like Autism New Jersey. It also gives us a chance to help make a difference,” said Amanda Stampone, one of the Communication Studies students helping with on the fundraiser.
Having the comedy event took a serious topic and allowed the autism community and students to come out and have an evening of fun. Autism New Jersey Communication Coordinator Jessica Barkowsky, who attended the event, declared the evening a “resounding success,” while the PRSSA students are hoping to double donations next year.
Established in 1965, Autism New Jersey is a nonprofit agency that provides information, support and advocacy for families and professionals. With nearly five decades of experience, Autism New Jersey is dedicated to enhancing the overall awareness of ASDs and ensuring that all people with autism receive appropriate, effective services to maximize their potential.
The Montclair State University Public Relations Student Society of America, Redhawk Communication, was granted the state’s fifth PRSSA chapter in 2008. Students in the Montclair State University Communication Studies Department won the 2006 United States Postal Service Executive Public Relations Challenge competition, performed public relations for 2006 and 2007 Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year, Lorena Ochoa, Hackensack University Medical Center’s Maureen Fund, the 2009 Andy Kaufman Award, and the Curtain Call Award, an operatic competition for high school singers sponsored its first two years by the Metropolitan Opera Guild and this year by Opera New Jersey.