Star-Studded Support for Institute for Autism Research at Canisius

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Institute for Autism Research at Canisus College is getting some star-studded support after rave reviews from a music producer about its success.

Armand Petri's son is autistic and had such a great outcome from one of the institute's programs, Petri wanted to help raise awareness. He's worked with various artists through the years, and asked Johnny Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls, Mary Ramsey of 10,000 Maniacs and singer-songwriter Cassandra Kubinski to perform a benefit concert for the institute and they agreed.

The sold-out show is scheduled for April 16, but there are other opportunities to participate. 

Petri is the coordinator of SUNY Fredonia's Music Industry Program, and its student record label is having an autism awareness event in Fredonia on April 10 with guest speakers, live music and more to raise money for the institute. They'll also be raffling off two meet-and-greets for the concert.

The co-director of the institute, Marcus Thomeer, says they're very grateful for all of the support. 

"It will allow us to serve kids at minimal cost if any cost, it will allow us to do research on better treatment, on characteristics and features of autism so we can better serve these kids and their families," said Thomeer.

"It was a positive experience for AJ because he actually learned to look in our eyes and communicate and to listen and to get directions, and we could give boundaries which helps him function within the world.It also helped the parents out because we learned a lot from the program also," said Petri.  

During the concert, Rzeznik, Kubinski and Ramsey will perform their version of the song "Not So Different." There will be a worldwide download of the song the day before the show. The day of, there will be a limited release of 500 CDs, and the artists will sign autographs. All proceeds from the song will benefit the institute.

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