This past Sunday was the perfect day for live music, dog-walking and doing your part to raise awareness and support a good cause.
HAIL! Fredonia Records, Fredonia’s resident record label, held the Lend a Paw dog walk to raise money for the Institute for Autism Research (IAR) at Canisius College.
According to their website, “The Institute for Autism Research (IAR) is an interdisciplinary collaborative research center dedicated to understanding autism and related developmental disorders and enhancing the lives of those affected and their families,” and the April event was the perfect opportunity to support the institution.
Because April is National Autism Awareness Month, this is the second year in a row that HAIL! has organized to raise money for the center.
Last year, HAIL! raised money for IAR by recording and releasing Cassandra Kubinski’s “Not So Different” with Kubinski, Fredonia alumnus Mary Ramsey of the 10,000 Maniacs and John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls.
On April 23, over 300 people and dozens of dogs met under the clock tower on campus for the mile walk around Ring Road at 1 p.m.
Among those who walked was a group from New Directions in Buffalo.
New Directions Youth and Family is a non-profit agency for children that serves New York and beyond. The agency currently has 23 different programs, including the Randolph Children’s Home, that focus on behavioral, emotional, and educational issues in children.
Alison Stiglmeier, senior social work major, and Emily Morton, junior criminal justice major, work as recreation counselors at the Randolph Children’s Home and were able to work with HAIL! to bring a group from the organization to the dog walk.
“My co-worker Emily Morton … brought the walk to my attention. She had an interest in bringing youth to the walk,” Stiglmeier said.
During her junior year, Stiglmeier interned at New Directions, which lead to a position as a youth counselor at the Randolph Children’s Home. After about a year as youth counselor, Stiglmeier became a recreation counselor in the Adventure Recreation department of the organization.
“The Adventure Recreation department is an important and unique part of the youth’s therapeutic treatment during their stay at the Children’s Home,” Stiglmeier said. “As a recreation team, we interact with the youth through sports, hands on activities, outdoor activities, community involvement, [while] teaching life skills. We provide opportunities for the youth to be able to have unique normative experiences while in placement care.”
One of the opportunities was the Lend a Paw dog walk and seven young ladies from the ages of 15-17 were able to enjoy the day at Fredonia.
“Four of the young ladies volunteer at the SPCA in Olean and were very excited to be able to surround themselves with dogs in a different way,” said Stiglmeier. “New Directions is doing an Autism Awareness Month [this month], which made the walk even more important on our behalf.”
Working with Leah Wacienga, a senior music industry and audio/radio production major and product manager for HAIL!, the group was able to get t-shirts for the event at a reduced cost as well.
“Leah was awesome to work with and was incredibly willing to work with us,” Stiglmeier said. “All of the ladies loved their t-shirts, and [they] are a memorable object for them to hold onto. They all had positive feedback [about] how much fun they had, their favorite dogs and how cool it was to be on a college campus.
“Exposure to the community, having the youth on a college campus, dog therapy and exercise are all positive things,” Stiglmeier added.
Immediately following the walk, guests were invited to a reception at the outdoor amphitheater for food and live music until 5 p.m.
Guests enjoyed performances by Fredonia’s all-male a cappella group, The Guerrillas, Ayden Wickman, Deanna Quinn and Timothy Mitchum.
Generously donated by Walmart, hot dogs and hamburgers were available, and all proceeds from the afternoon, as well as ticket sales, were donated to IAR.
Overall, HAIL! Fredonia Records was able to raise more than $3,000 for IAR.