Advocates shine a blue light on autism in Utah

Published: Tuesday, April 2 2013 3:20 p.m. MDT

His desire to advocate for autism was the impetus to annual events that have grown popular across Westminster's campus and within the community. In its second year, the school joined with several other iconic buildings throughout communities across the globe, illuminating its Converse Hall with blue lights.

Organized by international advocacy group Autism Speaks, "Light It Up Blue" is a global campaign designed to increase autism awareness around the world. Approximately 7,000 buildings in more than 750 U.S. cities and 90 countries are planning to participate in the April 2 campaign, to shine a light on autism as a growing public health crisis, according to the organization.

Last year, Utah's governor's mansion was part of the cause.

Dorothann Dinas, who is also a student at Westminster, has enjoyed the camaraderie found in the Westminster Exceptional Griffins student organization. She also has Asperger's and said other Donaldson has taught her that "it's cool to be different. People are starting to be more accepting of that."

"People need to know we are still normal," she said. "You just have to help us out sometimes."

Dinas, 23, said things take a little more explanation for her sometimes. She graduates this year and wants to continue pursuing her fitness goals and a career in advertising.

Donaldson is also graduating from Westminster this year, but isn't leaving behind advocacy work for autism. He's joining efforts with the Utah Autism Coalition to help even more people understand him and his autistic peers.

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The public is welcome at Westminster College's Light It Up Blue event tonight, April 2, 7:30 p.m., at Richer Commons. There will be food, prizes and other activities.

E-mail: wleonard@deseretnews.com

Twitter: wendyleonards

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