NEW YORK, NY (March 31, 2011) – Autism Speaks, the world's largest autism science and advocacy organization, today announced a series of awareness and fundraising initiatives involving a range of corporate and philanthropic partners that will take place throughout Autism Awareness Month in April.
The 2011 Toys“R”Us fundraising campaign to benefit Autism Speaks launched on February 22 and continues through April 30. To celebrate the fifth consecutive year it has teamed up with Autism Speaks, the company unveiled a new theme, “Be A Hero For Autism,” which highlights the everyday heroism of children affected by the disorder, as well as their caregivers, and those who are helping to find the cause and cure of autism by donating time and money. Building on the “Be A Hero For Autism” theme, the company's dedicated microsite, Toysrus.com/AutismSpeaks, introduces visitors to several heroes through a “scrapbook” featuring children on the spectrum and showcasing their daily achievements. Toys“R”Us also partnered with Autism Speaks to create “Light It Up Blue on Facebook,” which encourages Facebook members turn their profile pictures blue by visiting Toysr.us/LightitupBlue to support World Autism Awareness Day on April 2.
In addition to Be A Hero For Autism, Toys“R”Us continued its national sponsorship of Walk Now for Autism Speaks, a year-long series of more than 80 walk events taking place throughout North America. Regional teams of Toys“R”Us employees walk alongside the company's iconic mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe and individuals with autism, their families, and friends to raise money and awareness. All funds raised in Toys“R”Us and Babies“R”Us stores, online, and through the Walk Now for Autism Speaks events will go directly to Autism Speaks to support research and advocacy efforts. Since the partnership launched in 2007, Toys“R”Us, Inc., the Toys“R”Us Children's Fund and customer contributions have combined to provide Autism Speaks with more than $8.4 million, making Toys“R”Us the organization's largest corporate partner.
Autism Speaks and retailer T.J.Maxx will once again partner in April on a fundraising and awareness effort. For three weeks, beginning April 3rd at 900 T.J.Maxx stores nationwide, customers will be invited to purchase an Autism Speaks puzzle piece at checkout for a donation of $1. All proceeds will benefit Autism Speaks and customers will be able to pick up information about autism. Last year, their efforts raised over $1 million.
Zale Corporation will donate $5 for every piece of jewelry sold from its exclusive Shared Heart®collection at Zales Jewelers, Zales Outlet and Gordon's Jewelers stores throughout April and the rest of the year. This collection features different designs evoking the special love shared by two hearts beating as one. Zale has committed to a minimum donation of $200,000 as a part of the second year of this partnership.
Dollar General, the nation's largest discount retailer with 9,200 stores, is joining forces with Autism Speaks for the second time in 2011 to increase awareness of autism and raise funds for autism research and advocacy in April. Dollar General will offer customers the opportunity to make donations to Autism Speaks during check-out. In addition, the Autism Speaks puzzle piece logo will appear on Dollar General's NASCAR No. 32 car for the month of April to drive awareness for the campaign.
Autism Speaks and The Home Depot have partnered to shine a light on autism during Autism Awareness Month in April and World Autism Awareness Day on April 2. Through the end of April, The Home Depot is selling blue LED lanterns and blue light bulbs, offering people across the country the opportunity to raise autism awareness through Autism Speaks' Light It Up Blue initiative. A portion of each sale will go to Autism Speaks.
The light bulbs retail for $1.65, and $1 from each one purchased, up to $80,000, will benefit Autism Speaks. The LED lanterns retail at $19.88 and $2 from each, up to $160,000, will go to Autism Speaks. The lantern alternates from white to blue when illuminated. The Home Depot arranged for the specially marked Light It Up Blue Coleman products to be manufactured and distributed throughout all of its stores in the United States.
Modell's Sporting Goods stores will launch its sixth annual four-week in-store campaign in April to raise funds and awareness for Autism Speaks. Customers at 147 Modell's store locations throughout the Northeast will be able to purchase $1 Autism Speaks puzzle pieces at checkout, with all proceeds being directed towards autism research.
For the third year, chocolatier Lindt & Sprüngli is donating 10 cents for every Lindt Gold Bunny sold in leading grocery stores and its own retail stores in advance of Easter for up to a $100,000 donation. As part of this promotion, Lindt is auctioning off special celebrity-autographed porcelain bunnies with all proceeds benefiting Autism Speaks. Additionally, the company is participating in Autism Speaks' Light It Up Blue campaign at many of its retail outlets, and held its third annual Unsung Heroes of Autism Awards on March 30 at the New York Palace hotel.
Mattress Warehouse has launched a new in-store campaign for Autism Speaks, which will receive $100 for every specially marked mattress sold in the retailer's 150 stores through December 31, 2011.
Casey's General Stores, for the second time, will sell puzzle pieces for $1 at over 1,600 stores in nine mid-western states to benefit Autism Speaks. They will also sell specially created blue frosted cookies throughout April.
NEST Home Fragrances will again sell its Autism Speaks-branded Blue Garden candle in celebration of Autism Awareness Month. Sold through Neiman Marcus, Neiman Marcus.com, Bergdorf Goodman and many small boutiques across the country, this scented candle will also be used by retailers to participate in the Light It Up Blue campaign for World Autism Awareness Day and Autism Awareness Month. All net proceeds from sales of the candle will benefit Autism Speaks.
For the second year, all White Castle stores will participate in an in-store puzzle piece fundraising and awareness campaign. The campaign will roll out region-by-region beginning in July. Their past efforts on this campaign have generated over $500,000.
etnies and Autism Speaks have teamed up and created co-branded kids RVM and Fader shoes. Five percent of the proceeds of the etnies x Autism Speaks Fader and RVM kids shoes sold, with a minimum of $10,000 per year, will be donated to Autism Speaks. The etnies and Autism Speaks co-branded kids RVM shoes are $54.99, while the etnies/Autism Speaks co-branded kids Fader shoes are $49.99.
On April 7, 2011, Pump It Up, the nation's largest franchise of indoor inflatable playgrounds, will open its doors to the general public at more than 150 locations for the 3rd Annual Great Open Jump, a new nationwide fundraiser to benefit Autism Speaks. Pump It Up will also debut Sensory Jump Time, a sensory entertainment program designed exclusively for children with autism.
In April, over 75 Panera Bread stores in Memphis, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Wheeling, the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and several other locations will give customers the opportunity to donate to Autism Speaks through the purchase of special items such as puzzle-piece shaped cookies. Special blue bracelets will also be available for $1 in some locations. The participating stores have teamed up with local groups to support their fundraising efforts throughout March and April.
Build-A-Bear Workshop and Autism Speaks are also teaming up for the seventh consecutive year. During the month of April, customers at its stores in the U.S. and Canada will have the opportunity to make a donation to Autism Speaks at checkout at all Build-A-Bear Workshop retail locations in the United States, at buildabear.com®, or by purchasing purple satin hearts in Canada throughout the month of April. Individuals can also give back at Bearville.com™ - the company's virtual world. From April 1 through June 30, they can choose to donate a portion of the proceeds from the purchase of Bearville Outfitters® Virtual Stuff Game Cards to Autism Speaks when they activate their cards.
Scentsy, a rapidly-growing party plan company offering a variety of home fragrance products, designed the “Piece by Piece” Charitable Cause Warmer to benefit Autism Speaks. The “Piece by Piece” Charitable Cause Warmer is available until August 31, 2011, and is $35. One hundred percent of the net proceeds from each sale will go to Autism Speaks.
Lord & Taylor has designated April Autism Speaks month, a multifaceted effort of support including: customer marketing to generate donations through email, social media, and the company's website. On April 1 and 2 all store associates will wear blue and the Autism Speaks puzzle piece lapel pin. In addition, the renowned retailer will sell a puzzle piece string bracelet in select stores and online at lordandtaylor.com/autismspeaks (a special microsite created for the program) with 100% of proceeds benefitting Autism Speaks. Additionally, eleven stores will feature special Light It Up Blue window displays on April 1 and 2. Learn more at www.lordandtaylor.com/autismspeaks.
Lamar Digital Advertising has donated all available digital billboard space to Autism Speaks for three months, including April, to help increase participation in Light It Up Blue and Autism Awareness Month initiatives of the charity. Digital billboards supporting Autism Speaks initiatives began running nationwide in mid-March and will continue through May 31, 2011.
All 57 Dave & Buster's restaurant and arcade locations will give customers an opportunity to donate to Autism Speaks when they pay their bills throughout the month of April. Customers will receive a coupon in return for use at a later date.
The Bachman Company will be donating 5% of the net proceeds from a special Autism Speaks puzzle-piece shaped pretzel. They will also feature autism facts on a variety of their snack products including new gluten-free versions.
Autism is a complex neurobiological 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 110 children in the United States, affecting four times as many boys as girls. The prevalence of autism increased 57 percent from 2002 to 2006. 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 North America's largest autism science and advocacy organization. Since its inception in 2005, Autism Speaks has made enormous strides, committing over $160 million to research and developing innovative new resources for families. The organization is 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. In addition to funding research, Autism Speaks has created resources and programs including the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network, Autism Speaks' Autism Genetic Resource Exchange and several other scientific and clinical programs. Notable awareness initiatives include the establishment of the annual United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day on April 2, which Autism Speaks celebrates through its Light it Up Blue initiative. Also, Autism Speaks award-winning “Learn the Signs” campaign with the Ad Council has received over $258 million in donated media. Autism Speaks' family resources include the Autism Video Glossary, a 100 Day Kit for newly-diagnosed families, a School Community Tool Kit and a community grant program. Autism Speaks has played a critical role in securing federal legislation to advance the government's response to autism, and has successfully advocated for insurance reform to cover behavioral treatments in 24 states thus far, with bills pending in an additional 12 states. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 80 cities across North America. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit www.autismspeaks.org.
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 Chairman and CEO of the Palm Beach Civic Association. He served as Vice Chairman of General Electric; and as the Chief Executive Officer of NBC and NBC Universal for more than twenty years. He also serves on the boards of the Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation, Mission Product, LLC and the New York Presbyterian Hospital. Suzanne Wright is a Trustee Emeritus of Sarah Lawrence College, her alma mater. Suzanne has received numerous awards, the Women of Distinction Award from Palm Beach Atlantic University, the CHILD Magazine Children's Champions Award, Luella Bennack Volunteer Award, Spirit of Achievement award by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine's National Women's Division and The Women of Vision Award from the Weizmann Institute of Science. In 2008, the Wrights were named to the Time 100 Heroes and Pioneers category, a list of the most influential people in the world, for their commitment to global autism advocacy. They have also received numerous awards such as the first ever Double Helix Award for Corporate Leadership, NYU Child Advocacy Award, Castle Connolly National Health Leadership Award and The American Ireland Fund Humanitarian Award. In May of 2010 they received Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degrees from St. John's University in Queens and delivered the commencement address as the first married couple to be bestowed such an honor.