Below is a press release from Madonna University, whom Corner Pieces will be forever grateful to in their role in the launch and follow through of the “Light It Blue Michigan” project.
You can read the original here in the Detroit Free Press.
In April, the Mackinac Bridge will be lit with blue lights at night as part of the autism awareness campaign, Light It Blue Michigan. It’s the first time the Mackinac Bridge has ever taken up a cause.
Bridge participation in the campaign is the result of efforts by Madonna University graduate students and Corner Pieces, a non-profit in the Upper Peninsula.
Working in groups, members of the marketing class identified and worked with four unique non-profit organizations to create marketing plans. The Madonna students then voted and awarded a monetary gift to each non-profit based on the strength of their plan.
“I got a phone call, out of the blue, from a student at Madonna. They said they needed to work with a non-profit on a project, and since we had just started our organization the previous May, we were excited about the help,” said Ben Duff, founder of Corner Pieces, a Sault Ste. Marie-based non-profit dedicated to helping children and families living with Autism spectrum disorder.
The students who selected Corner Pieces quickly decided to help Duff with a project he had hoped to undertake, but didn’t have the time or resources – to get Michigan landmarks to participate in the national Light it Up Blue campaign led by Autism Speaks, www.lightitupblue.org.
“Michigan had the lowest participation in this national campaign,” Duff said. “And we wanted to really make a statement by going after the one thing that everyone in Michigan knows by sight, the Mackinac Bridge.”
The marketing plan the group drafted helped raise $7,500, which was needed to pay for the cost of changing the light bulbs on the iconic five-mile long bridge, currently the third longest suspension bridge in the world.
Working with Duff’s organization, the group also secured participation in the Light It Blue Michigan campaign by the GM Renaissance Center, Motor City Casino, the DTE Energy Building and Madonna University.
“Without the students’ involvement, this would never have happened,” Duff said.
There will be a lighting ceremony at the bridge on Monday with Michigan’s Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley, who has a 4-year-old autistic daughter, and has been an outspoken advocate of expanding Michigan’s health care coverage for children affected by the disability.
“This project was a wonderful opportunity for me and my classmates to go beyond the classroom, develop a relationship with a real business, and hopefully have a positive impact,” said Scott Draper of Canton, a graduate student in the class.
The class, led by professor Betty Jean Hebel, voted to award Corner Pieces $500.
When the Mackinac Bridge and Madonna University turn blue, they will be joining a long list of historic buildings and structures that have participated in the 3-year-old national campaign, such as the Empire State Building in New York, Christ The Redeemer in Brazil, and Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada.
Through the establishment of Corner Pieces www.cornerpieces.org, Ben and Tiffany Duff, whose son is autistic, have made it their mission to provide iPods and iPads to autistic children who struggle with communication. They also seek to educate and inform the general public and affected families about the causes, signs, and treatment of autism, which effects one out of 110 children in the United States. [/message]