Senator Rick Santorum to Serve as Honorary Chair of the 7th Annual Pittsburgh Walk for Autism Research on June 3 at Heinz Field

(PITTSBURGH, PA - May 25, 2006) – Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania) will serve as the honorary chair of the seventh annual Pittsburgh Walk for Autism Research on Saturday, June 3, it was announced today by Walk Chair Kelly Diulus. Senator Santorum will cut the ribbon marking the start of the walk and will also address the thousands of walkers present to discuss ongoing efforts to pass the Combating Autism Act, critical legislation he introduced that is currently pending in Congress. His Pittsburgh office staff will also field a walk team to help raise funds for autism research.

"I am very pleased to be a part of this year's Walk for Autism Research, being held in my hometown of Pittsburgh, and I am looking forward to raising money and awareness for this worthy cause," said Senator Santorum. "I am proud to sponsor the Combating Autism Act, a bill that is going to do so much for children with autism and their families. My heart goes out to the parents and families of those struggling with autism. As the father of six, I know that there is nothing more important than the health of our children, and I can only imagine the difficulties and heartache facing these parents. It is past time for the federal government to develop a thoughtful approach that will get these children, and their families, the help they need and deserve."

The Walks for Autism Research - which will be held in 43 locations across the country throughout the year -- are the signature fundraising events of Autism Speaks, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing awareness of autism and raising money to fund autism research.

The Pittsburgh Walk for Autism Research will step off from Heinz Field at 10:00am, bringing together thousands of volunteers, people with autism and their families. Last year's Pittsburgh walk drew more than 8,000 thousand walkers and raised more than $576,000. Pittsburgh's satellite walks in Altoona, PA and Wheeling, WV raised more than $38,000, bringing the Greater Pittsburgh Regional total in 2005 to $614,000. Established by the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) in 2000, Walk for Autism Research events have attracted hundreds of thousands of walkers worldwide who have raised over 30 million dollars for autism research. NAAR and Autism Speaks combined operations in February 2006.

On April 19, 2005, Senator Santorum introduced S. 843, the Combating Autism Act, and continues to lead the fight to enact it into law. Currently pending in Congress, this important legislation calls for federal spending of $176 million dollars annually for the next five years to support autism research, screening, intervention and educational efforts. It would increase resources in every state for the early diagnosis and treatment of children with autism.

“We are honored that Senator Santorum and his staff will be joining us on June 3 to show their support for this important event and to help us shine a spotlight on the need for increased funding for autism research,” said Diulus. “The Walk for Autism Research is a remarkable day that brings together individuals with autism, their families and friends to increase awareness about autism and to express our hope for a future without this devastating disorder.”

For more information about the walk and how to help by contributing or volunteering, please contact Beth Whitehouse at (412) 487-6851 or email bwhitehouse@autismspeaks.org.

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 extreme behavioral challenges. Autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed in one in 166 children, affecting four times as many boys as girls. The diagnosis 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 dedicated to increasing awareness of the growing autism epidemic and to raising money to fund scientists who are searching for a cure. It was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright. Bob Wright is Vice Chairman and Executive Officer, General Electric, and Chairman and CEO, NBC Universal. Autism Speaks and the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) recently combined operations, bringing together two of the leading organizations dedicated to accelerating and funding biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments and cure for autism spectrum disorders; to increasing awareness of autism, the nation's fastest growing developmental disorder; and to advocating for the needs of affected families. To learn more about Autism Speaks, visit www.autismspeaks.org

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