Four University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown student organizations, Alpha Phi Omega, Business Ethics Club, Accounting and Finance Interest Group, and Circle K, will honor Austin Niall, a local nine-year-old boy, who lost his sight when he was five due to cone-rod dystrophy, at a dinner being held at 6 p.m. Thursday, December 10 in the Pitt-Johnstown Living/Learning Center University Room. The organizations have raised $1,000 in donations for Austin. The groups will also present Austin with autographed gifts from the Pittsburgh Penguins and World Wrestling Entertainment.
Kelly Gregory, a Pitt-Johnstown student from Johnstown, spearheaded the project. The fundraiser started when Jennifer Kist, Pitt-Johnstown director of international services, began collecting money in Blackington Hall from the Pitt-Johnstown staff. Ms. Gregory heard about the collection and took the idea to the Business Ethics Club (BEC) where she is president and the group held a fundraiser for Austin. Ms. Gregory also presented the idea to the other student organizations. In total, the four student organizations raised $1,000 which will be presented to Austin and his family to help with medical expenses.
“It means a lot to help Austin and his family. Suffering from blindness at such a young age is unthinkable but he has remained strong. Austin has managed to play tackle football with the help of his coaches and teammates. Playing such a sport without your eyesight is an obstacle that he has overcome. I am very excited to meet this young boy. I am involved with numerous organizations on campus and having the pleasure of helping out someone in need is very rewarding,” said Ms. Gregory.
Founded in 1927, Pitt-Johnstown is located in the Laurel Highlands of Western Pennsylvania and is the first and largest regional campus of the University of Pittsburgh. The University offers a high-quality educational experience in a supportive living-learning environment designed to prepare students for the real world of the 21st century. Pitt-Johnstown is recognized by U.S.News & World Report as a “Best Baccalaureate College” (2010), by the Princeton Review as a “Best Northeastern College” (2010), and by G.I. Jobs as a “Military Friendly School.”