December 07, 2006

Eagles club continues support of autism center

by K.C. Jaehnig

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Christmas came early for Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders with a $2,500 "no-strings-attached" gift from the local Eagles organization Nov. 18.

"That's the best kind, when they don't ask us to buy anything specific with it," said center Director Anthony Cuvo.

"The money goes into an account that's used for our general support. We can draw on it as we need it."

The gift is the latest in a series the Eagles have made during the last three years.

"We're up over $40,000 now," said Eagles State Area President Emeritus Rory L. Walters, a 1998 SIUC graduate who now works for the University's Student Health Center as a medical lab technician.

"It's a good sum of cash."

The gift giving got its start in 2003 when Walters became the state's "head Eagle," Cuvo said.

"What that meant was that when Eagles clubs throughout the state have their fundraisers, the money goes to the charity of that head's choice, and he picked us," Cuvo said.

At the end of Walters' term, the Eagles presented Cuvo with a check for $36,500. But it didn't stop there.

"Our local Carbondale aerie has a golf scramble every year to fund a project it can get behind," Walters said.

"They thought (giving to the autism center) was such a good cause that they kept it up. Last year they made $2,000, this year they made $2,500, and they said they hope to raise more next year."

In addition to his Eagles pride, Walters has another reason to be happy about the group's generosity.

"My son has a very mild case of autism," he said.

"It's not noticeable, but it's there. So I figured I'd do something to help people who have it a whole lot worse than I do."

Providing medical, dental and social services to at-risk populations through service-learning and outreach activities is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.