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Autism Speaks Celebrates Autism Awareness Month with a Series of National Awareness and Fundraising Initiatives

For the fifth consecutive year, Autism Speaks and retailer TJ Maxx will partner in April on a fundraising and awareness effort. From April 19 through May 9 at 800 TJ Maxx stores nationwide, customers will be invited to purchase an Autism Speaks puzzle piece at checkout for a donation of $1. No purchase is necessary to make a donation, and all proceeds will benefit Autism Speaks. Last year’s campaign raised $1,032,000. 

Modell’s Sporting Goods stores will launch its fourth annual four-week in-store campaign on March 30 to raise funds and awareness for Autism Speaks. Customers at 144 Modell’s store locations throughout the Northeast will be able to purchase $1 Autism Speaks puzzle pieces at check-out, with all proceeds being directed towards autism research. In 2008, this campaign raised over $105,000. 

Build-A-Bear Workshop™ and Autism Speaks are also teaming up for the fifth straight year. During the month of April, the sale of purple satin hearts ($1) will benefit Autism Speaks and stores will offer customers printed information about autism. Last year’s campaign raised $45,000.

A new national corporate sponsor this year is chocolatier Lindt& Sprüngli . Lindt will donate 10 cents to Autism Speaks for every Lindt Gold Bunny sold from March 12 through April 12, up to a $100,000 donation. To further symbolize and support the partnership, Lindt has designed plush Lindt Gold Bunny Ears. The ears will be provided at select Walk Now for Autism events and can be purchased at Lindt Chocolate Shops and online at 

As part of Autism Speaks’ yearlong partnership with Thomas & FriendsTMLive! On Stage: A Circus Comes to Town , a new musical stage show produced by AEG ThemeSTAR and HIT Entertainment, special discounted performances of Thomas & Friends Live! will be available to children with autism and their families. April events will take place on April 17 in New York and April 25 in St. Louis. Additionally, one dollar from each ticket sold for these special performances will be donated to Autism Speaks. For information, visit or

For the first year, Discovery Health will serve as a media partner for Autism Speaks during Autism Awareness Month. Elements of the partnership with will include on-air mentions of Autism Speaks’ efforts on Discovery Health Channel, as well as Autism Speaks’ Ad Council public service announcements running on-air and online at will provide visitors with an array of information on autism as well as tips, expert advice and access to community boards. Discovery Health will also include information on Autism Awareness Month and Autism Speaks Walk Now For Autism events in the network’s newsletters throughout the month of April. In addition, Discovery Health will premiere a groundbreaking look into the world of autism from a scientific and personal perspective with UNLOCKING AUTISM on Monday, April 6 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. 

On April 7 and 8, the 2009 Kids’ Nights on Broadway performances will once again help shine a spotlight on the growing prevalence of autism and the work of Autism Speaks. The Broadway League will include information about autism and Autism Speaks on Kids’ Night printed materials, on its websites, and at fanfest events at Madame Tussauds. Kids’ Night will also provide an opportunity for more children with autism to attend the theater. For more information, visit

Alpha Xi Delta ,one of the nation’s oldest women’s fraternities, will use its extensive network of colleges and alumnae associations, including its 135,000 members, to raise funds and awareness for Autism Speaks’ Walk Now for Autism program beginning in April.

“We are incredibly grateful to these dedicated corporate partners for the commitment and generosity they have shown to our organization and the cause of autism advocacy,” said Mark Roithmayr, president of Autism Speaks. “Their efforts – including the tremendous efforts of their employees – will ensure that our message of autism awareness will reach millions of Americans.” 

About Autism 
Autism is a complex brain disorder that inhibits a person’s ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by behavioral challenges. Autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed in one in 150 children in the United States, affecting four times as many boys as girls. The prevalence of autism has increased tenfold in the last decade. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis whose cause and cure remain unknown.

About Autism Speaks 
Autism Speaks is the nation’s largest autism science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. Autism Speaks funds more than $30 million each year in new autism research, in addition to supporting the Autism Treatment Network, Autism Genetic Resource Exchange, Autism Clinical Trials Network, Autism Tissue Program and a range of other scientific and medical programs. Notable awareness initiatives include the establishment of the annual United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day on April 2 and an award-winning, multi-year national public service advertising campaign with the Ad Council. Autism Speaks’ family services efforts include the Autism Video Glossary, a 100 Day Kit for newly-diagnosed families, a School Community Tool Kit and the distribution of community grants to local service providers. Its government relations division has played a critical role in securing federal legislation to advance the federal government’s response to autism, and has successfully advocated for insurance reform to require insurers to cover medically-necessary autism therapies. Each year, Autism Speaks Walk Now for Autism fundraising events are held in more than 70 cities across the country, as well as Canada and the United Kingdom.

About the Co-Founders
Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Bob Wright is Senior Advisor at Lee Equity Partners and served as vice chairman, General Electric, and chief executive officer of NBC and NBC Universal for more than twenty years. He also serves on the board of directors of the Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation and RAND Corporation. Suzanne Wright has an extensive history of active involvement in community and philanthropic endeavors, mostly directed toward helping children. She serves on the boards of several non-profit organizations and is also Trustee Emeritus of Sarah Lawrence College, her alma mater. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit