NEW YORK, N.Y. (March 17, 2010) – Autism Speaks, the world's largest autism science and advocacy organization, today announced the launch of its inaugural Light It Up Blue campaign – a unique global initiative to help raise awareness and shine a bright light on autism as a growing public health crisis in support of World Autism Awareness Day on April 2 and Autism Awareness Month. Iconic landmarks around the globe – including the Empire State Building in New York City and Willis Tower in Chicago along with the CN Tower in Toronto and Kingdom Tower in Saudi Arabia – as well as airports, bridges, museums, concert halls, restaurants, and retail stores, are among more than 100 structures in over 16 U.S. cities and nine countries around the world that will light up in bright blue on the evening of April 1 – the first night of Autism Awareness Month and the eve of World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD).
As part of its ongoing, award-winning public service ad campaign and to promote awareness of, and participation in the Light It Up Blue initiative, Autism Speaks and the Ad Council have produced web banners that will be distributed to hundreds of web sites. In addition, Autism Speaks has launched a special web site, www.lightitupblue.org, to highlight the campaign. The Light It Up Blue website provides unique and fun ideas about how people can get involved in their local community, from hosting autism-themed gatherings to viewings of autism-themed films and TV programs. The site also accepts donations to fund autism awareness and research efforts.
“We are excited that these landmark buildings will be illuminated in blue to show support for World Autism Awareness Day and Autism Awareness Month,” says Suzanne Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks. “We are also incredibly grateful to these dedicated corporate, retail and media partners for the commitment and generosity they have shown to this cause. Together, we will light the skies like a beacon of hope and ensure that our message of autism awareness will reach millions around the globe.”
To commemorate World Autism Awareness Day and the Light It Up Blue campaign the following Autism Speaks corporate sponsors, retail, and media partners will participate:
- The Toys“R”Us Times Square GeoffreyTron screen overlooking Broadway will light up blue and feature Autism Speaks messaging as part of the company's annual fundraising campaign to benefit Autism Speaks. Throughout the campaign, monetary donations will be collected at all Toys“R”Us and Babies“R”Us stores and online at Toysrus.com/AutismSpeaks.
- Nest Fragrances , created the “Blue Garden Autism Candle,” specifically for Autism Speaks, which can be purchased at www.neimanmarcus.com. Nest Fragrances, owned by Autism Speaks Board Member Laura Slatkin, is donating a portion of proceeds to benefit Autism Speaks.
- Saks Fifth Avenue NYC headquarters has donated one of its signature windows to Autism Speaks and will light up blue.
- The Tommy Hilfiger store on Fifth Avenue in NYC will illuminate its store staircase and Stone Wall blue and have its sales associates wear the puzzle piece pins.
- The NBA Store and NBC Experience Store in NYC will turn its lights blue and feature a special message in the store windows.
- Lord & Taylor 47 stores around the country will participate with employees wearing blue and the Autism Speaks pin. In addition, the NYC headquarters will devote one of their windows to autism.
- ASK.com will turn its home page blue and provide “skins” with information about Autism Speaks available for download.
- Scholastic.com will turn its family page wallpaper blue:
Participating Buildings include:
- Nevada State Capitol, Carson City, NV
- Governor's Mansion, Carson City, NV
- Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL
- Willis Tower, Chicago, IL
- One South Dearborn, Chicago, IL
- Wrigley Building, Chicago, IL
- Fountain Square, Cincinnati, OH
- Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland, OH
- Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
- Denver City & County Building, Denver, CO
- Pennsylvania Capitol Building, Harrisburg, PA
- Montana Capitol Building, Helena, MT
- JP Morgan Chase Tower, Houston, TX
- Kansas City Downtown Marriott Hotel, Kansas City, MO
- Los Angeles Airport (LAX) Pylons, Los Angeles, CA
- L'Etoile Restaurant, Madison, WI
- Miami Tower, Miami, FL
- Empire State Building, New York, NY
- Madison Square Garden Marquee, New York, NY
- New York Stock Exchange, New York, NY
- Radio City Music Hall Outdoor Façade, New York, NY
- FUSE Networks, New York, NY
- John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport Air Traffic Control Tower, New York, NY
- Brooklyn Borough Hall, New York, NY
- Barclays Capital, New York, NY
- The Oak Room at the Plaza Hotel, New York, NY
- Boqueria Restaurant, New York, NY
- Corton Restaurant, New York, NY
- Mas(farmhouse) Restaurant, New York, NY
- Abe & Arthur's Restaurant, New York, NY
- Copeland Restaurant, Morristown, NJ
- UpRoot Restaurant, Warren, NJ
- Benjamin Franklin Bridge, Philadelphia, PA
- Secretary of State Howlett Building, Springfield, IL
- Soldiers' Memorial Military Museum, St. Louis, MO
- The Civil Courts Building, St. Louis, MO
- College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA
- Clematis Street Fountain, West Palm Beach, FL
- The Bell Tower, Perth, Australia
- Bangabandhu Medical University, Dhaka, Bangladesh
- CN Tower, Toronto, Canada
- Nicosia Town Hall, Nicosia, Cyprus
- Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington, New Zealand
- Kingdom Tower Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
- The Galle Face Hotel, Colombo, Sri Lanka
- Bermuda's City Hall, Hamilton, Bermuda
- Shaheed Hussain Adam Building, Maldives
About World Autism Awareness Day
On December 18, 2007, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 62/139, tabled by the State of Qatar, declaring April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day in perpetuity. This UN resolution established WAAD as one of only three official disease-specific United Nations Days, with the goal of bringing the world's attention to autism, a pervasive disorder that affects tens of millions.
World Autism Awareness Day shines a bright light on autism as a growing global health concern. WAAD activities help to increase and develop world knowledge of the autism crisis and impart information regarding the importance of early diagnosis and early intervention. Additionally, WAAD celebrates the unique talents and skills of people with autism, and features community events around the world where individuals with autism and their families are warmly welcomed and embraced.
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 only five short years ago, Autism Speaks has made enormous strides, committing over $142.5 million to research and developing innovative new resources for families through 2014. 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 also supports the Autism Treatment Network, 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 and an award-winning “Learn the Signs” campaign with the Ad Council which has received over $210 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, a community grant program and much more. 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. 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 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 boards of the Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation, RAND Corporation and the New York Presbyterian Hospital. 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. Suzanne has received numerous awards such as 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 Weizmann Institute of Science. In 2008, the Wrights were named to the Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world for their commitment to global autism advocacy.