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'AmaXing' turnout for autism philanthropy

By Dylan Sirdofsky
On October 22, 2013

M-Section Park was filled with members of fraternities and sororities, as well as clubs and sports teams on Saturday in participation of the second annual AmaXing Challenge, presented by Alpha Xi Delta. The event helped raise money for their national philanthropy, Autism Speaks, according to Alpha Xi Delta's Public Relations Vice President Julie Aldag.

Autism Speaks is an autism advocacy organization in the United States that sponsors autism research and conducts awareness as well as outreach activities aimed at families, governments and the public. Alpha Xi Delta paired with Autism Speaks in 2009, and since then has contributed over $1 million towards the charity.

"It's such a rewarding philanthropy to be a part of because we are raising money for an organization that is near and dear to many of our sisters' hearts," said Aldag.

While this competition has been held previous years in the fall semester, it's only the second time the AmaXing Challenge has taken place. The event was formerly called Xi Man, which involved only fraternities of Sonoma State University.

It was changed to the AmaXing Challenge to not only include sororities, but also clubs, sports teams and other organizations on campus.

There were three contests that took place throughout the week before the main event, which included Penny Wars, Catch a Xi and Facebook Fame. Each of these was chosen based off what Alpha Xi Delta felt would get the most participation, and to help contestants get involved in the competition.

"It's crazy how competitive people can get," said Aldag.

Penny Wars included each team receiving a jar with their organization written on the outside, and a table set up a week before the main event where people could stop by and put their spare change into a certain jar. 

Many organizations brought bags of change and every night they were emptied and counted.

For Catch a Xi, all the sisters of Alpha Xi Delta wore plain white shirts with their letters on them. The goal was to get the most signatures; other organizations had to find a member of Alpha Xi Delta, "catch" them and write the signer's name and the name and organization of a competitor to receive points.

Aldag was in charge of putting together Facebook Fame, where they had each contestant send Alpha Delta Xi a photo of themselves and then created an album to post the pictures. At the end of the week, the pictures with the most Facebook "likes" won, and the guy and girl with the highest likes collected the most points towards their final score.

At the main event each contestant had a schedule and would have to complete all of the challenges set up around the park with a delegate keeping track of their scores. The outcome of their scores would then determine who would be this year's Xi Man and Xi Woman.

There were seven challenges in total; the first being Nervous Nelly, where participants attached pedometers to their body to see how many "steps" they could acquire. The second one was called Cookie Toss, where contestants threw cookies to their partner, trying to catch as many as they could in their mouth and vice versa.

Find the Missing Piece, a blindfolded puzzle finding challenge was the fourth. A trivia game called Knowledge Bowl, and Doughnut on a String, where participants must attempt to eat a doughnut tied to a string without using their hands, were the fifth and sixth.

The last two were Dance Competition, where each organization performed a routine, and Obstacle Course, which took place on a giant inflatable structure.

Once all of the scores were tallied up, the winners were crowned. This year's Xi Man and Xi Woman were Brad Mulvihill from Tau Kappa Epsilon and Grace Martinez from Phi Sigma Sigma, both in their junior year at Sonoma State University.

"We were up till four last night, I don't know about you guys," said Martinez. "We had to look up all the answers for the questions. We pulled our dance from that movie 'Something Borrowed.' It was sentimental. We opened it with that, the 'Push It' song, and then we went into our mix of choreography."

"The obstacle course; actually dancing, dancing was way better," said Mulvihill, debating over his favorite event. "For the dance we were [preparing] in my garage for like four hours."

Both winners agreed that the event was a success and that they had a blast being involved in it. Aldag, who also created the scoreboard and kept Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages updated with pictures and information, was ecstatic about the opportunity to get everyone excited about the event and raise money for Autism Speaks.

"We are constantly doing volunteer events and walks that support and involve children with autism," said Aldag. "It's truly rewarding to be able to host these events to raise money for such a wonderful cause."


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