A star-studded, sold-out crowd was treated to an unforgettable night of music and comedy at LA's famed Kodak Theater on September 24 to benefit Autism Speaks.
“One Night Only. Concert for Autism Speaks,” hosted by Tom Brokaw, featured performances by Jerry Seinfeld and Paul Simon. Among the celebrities on hand to support the cause were Jack Nicholson, Chris Rock, Angie Harmon, Ed Asner, Gary Cole, and Lara Flynn Boyle.
The evening was a huge success, raising $1.95 million for autism awareness and research. Despite its success, Autism Speaks' co-founder Bob Wright called for the audience's continued support, saying, “This is just the beginning. We need to raise hundreds of millions in order to make a difference.”
Autism Speaks will donate a portion of the evening's proceeds to AutismCares, a consortium of several leading autism advocacy groups created to help families affected by autism who are victims of Hurricane Rita and Hurricane Katrina.
“The catastrophic impact of the recent hurricanes on families affected by autism exceeds the need for basic necessities of food, clothing and shelter. With the loss of order and the chaos surrounding this disaster, children and adults affected by autism are experiencing a pain that is nearly indescribable”, said Mark Roithmayr, President of Autism Speaks, which is serving in a leadership role in AutismCares. “And now, with Hurricane Rita bringing another round of hardship, the autism community will rally to take action and to care for one another.”
Autism is one of the fastest-growing, most prevalent childhood disorders in the United States, affecting as many as 1 in every 166 children and 1 in 104 boys. Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that interferes with normal development in language, intuitive thought, social interaction and an ability to connect with a person's surroundings.
Approximately half of all children with autism are unable to communicate their needs using spoken words. Most are unable to accommodate for changes in their daily routines. Associated problems include hyperactivity, self-injurious behavior, and sleeplessness. Order and consistently administered therapeutic interventions are critical to the affected child's and family's well being.