NEW YORK, N.Y. (April 23, 2009) – Autism Speaks, the nation's largest autism science and advocacy organization, will once again hit the racetrack when two trucks participating in Saturday's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race will feature a special Autism Speaks paint scheme. The trucks are owned by HT Motorsports, whose owner, Jim Harris, has a grandchild on the autism spectrum. Terry Cook, one of the two HT Motorsports drivers, has a son with autism.
The O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 will take place at the Kansas Speedway at 6:00pm ET and be broadcast on SPEED. David Starr will be the driver of the other Autism Speaks-branded HT Motorsports truck.
“During Autism Awareness Month, I encourage everyone who has a child or knows someone with a child to take a few minutes to learn more about autism,” said Cook. “This is something that hit close to home with Amy and me when our son, Cody, was diagnosed at 18 months of age. We learned that 1 out of 150 kids is now diagnosed with autism, and that early intervention is the key to helping a child meet his potential.”
For the past two years, Autism Speaks has been the title charity of the NASCAR race at Delaware's Dover International Speedway, providing the organization with a unique awareness platform and also a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales.
“We are enormously appreciative of the ongoing support we have received from NASCAR and the motorsports world,” said Mark Roithmayr, president of Autism Speaks. “This is another wonderful opportunity to reach the millions of fans of NASCAR Nation with our message of autism awareness and the need for early diagnosis and intervention.”
For more information about the “red flags” for autism, visit http://www.autismspeaks.org/whatisit/learnsigns.php
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 department, through its Autism Votes initiative, 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 www.autismspeaks.org.