NEW YORK, NY (October 9, 2008) – Autism Speaks, the nation's largest autism advocacy organization, today announced the launch of Autism SpeaksU, an initiative of Autism Speaks focused on engaging the young philanthropists of the world and connecting college students with the autism community. Founded by the members of the Beta Sigma Beta Fraternity and Pi Beta Phi Sorority at Penn State University in 2006, the annual walk/run in State College, Pa. has raised nearly $450,000 for Autism Speaks in the last three years and has successfully engaged college students and families in local and national autism advocacy efforts.
During the 2008-2009 school year Autism Speaks will launch Autism SpeaksU at the University of California-Davis, University of Maryland-College Park and University of Massachusetts-Amherst with the goal of uniting college communities across America into a single, powerful voice for the autism community. Events in these university communities will be organized by local student committees with the support and guidance of Autism SpeaksU and Autism Speaks.
Autism SpeaksU is actively looking to engage corporations and organizations in the initiative as sponsors and supporters. Additionally, Autism SpeaksU is always eager to develop events on other campuses across the country. If you or someone you know may be interested in launching an event on a college campus to benefit Autism Speaks, please visit www.autismspeaks.org/u.
Autism SpeaksU is led by the co-creators of the annual event at Penn State, Adam Dorfman (Penn State '07) and Andrew Moses (Penn State '07). While students at Penn State, Adam and Andrew started the inaugural campus event to benefit Autism Speaks and over the course of three years, raised nearly $450,000 and recruited more than 3,500 participants. As recent college graduates and Autism SpeaksU team leaders, Adam and Andrew will serve as a support network for the local student committees in university communities across the country looking to develop events.
"Autism Speaks is excited to see the expansion of its College Initiative through Autism SpeaksU,” said Sam Levitt, National Director of Community Events for Autism Speaks. “These events are organized by dedicated college students across the country working to support their local autism communities and the national efforts of Autism Speaks. We are honored to partner with them on this program and know it will help make a difference in the lives of all of those affected by 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 world's largest autism advocacy organization, dedicated to increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders, to funding research into the causes, prevention and treatments for autism, and to advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. It 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. Autism Speaks merged with the Autism Coalition for Research and Education (ACRE), the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) and Cure Autism Now (CAN), bringing together the nation's leading autism advocacy organizations. For more information about autism and Autism Speaks, please visit http://www.autismspeaks.org/