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Autism Speaks Marks Autism Awareness Month with a Variety of National Awareness and Fundraising Initiatives

Toys“R”Us, Chevrolet, TJ Maxx, Modell's Sporting Goods, Barnes & Noble, The Bachman Company and Build-a-Bear Workshop are Partners in April Activities

NEW YORK (March 27, 2008) - Autism Speaks, the nation's largest autism advocacy organization, today announced a series of initiatives involving a range of corporate partners that will help increase awareness about autism and greatly enhance the organization's fundraising efforts during Autism Awareness Month in April.

Toys“R”Us, in conjunction with the Toys“R”Us Children's Fund, launched its second annual fundraising campaign to benefit Autism Speaks on March 2. Toys“R”Us will collect cash donations in all 585 Toys“R”Us stores across the country and online at through May 2. In addition to collecting monetary donations, Toys“R”Us is committed to helping Autism Speaks increase public awareness about the disorder. Toys”R”Us has again identified “Ten Toys That Speak To Autism.” These items were selected to promote development of language, creativity and social skills. The “Ten Toys That Speak To Autism” and other information about the disorder are available in all Toys“R”Us stores and online at

Autism Speaks and Chevrolet have partnered for a month-long promotion to help generate up to $1 million for the non-profit organization and create greater awareness of autism. During April, people who visit can click on the “Help Chevy Help Autism” icon and take a free virtual test drive of the 2008 North American Car of the Year – the all-new Chevy Malibu. Chevrolet has committed to a minimum contribution of $500,000, but every virtual test drive taken gets Chevrolet closer to its goal of donating up to $1 million to Autism Speaks to support its mission of increasing awareness of autism and raising money to fund autism research. Those who participate in the virtual test drive will be offered a free 30-day online trial of XM Satellite Radio.

Building on two previous successful campaigns, Autism Speaks and retailer TJ Maxx will partner once again in April on a month-long fundraising and awareness program. From April 6 through April 26 at 800 TJ Maxx stores nationwide, customers will be invited to purchase an Autism Speaks puzzle piece at checkout for a donation of $1. No purchase is necessary to make a donation, and all proceeds will benefit Autism Speaks.

Modell's Sporting Goods stores will launch a four-week "Dollar Donation Days" promotion on March 30th. Through April 26th, customers at all 135 Modell's store locations throughout the Northeast will be able to purchase $1 Autism Speaks puzzle pieces at check-out, with all proceeds being directed towards autism research. This is the fourth "Dollar Donation Days" campaign to benefit autism research.

Five hundred Barnes & Noble stores across the country will partner with Autism Speaks to host special Storytimes in April as part of Autism Awareness Month. Barnes & Noble's national program, in partnership with Autism Speaks, is designed to raise awareness about autism and foster understanding of the disorder through in-store readings, activities and discussions. To find a date and location near you, visit Barnes & Noble's store locater site at

The Bachman Company recently launched its "edible awareness" campaign with delicious, new puzzle piece-shaped pretzels. The Puzzle Pretzel is now available in grocery stores in the Northeast and online at Bachman will donate five percent of the proceeds from the sale of the Puzzle Pretzels to Autism Speaks.

Build-a-Bear Workshop and Autism Speaks are teaming up for the fourth year in a row to raise funds for autism research and awareness. During the month of April, the sale of purple satin hearts ($1) will benefit Autism Speaks. Stores will also offer customers printed information about autism

“The growing prevalence of autism, the tireless advocacy work done by families across the country and a wave of media coverage have combined to make autism part of the national vocabulary,” said Bob Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks. “Autism Speaks is working to translate this new level of awareness into results, from laboratories to statehouses nationwide. We are very fortunate to have outstanding corporate partners whose commitment and contribution to this process are invaluable.”

“Working together, the autism community is making tremendous strides as we seek to engage the public and our political leaders in the effort to find the answers about autism,” added Suzanne Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks. “This month is a special time, but we mustn't forget that, for millions of families, the significant challenges posed by autism are ongoing.”

“Autism Awareness Month is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the contributions individuals with autism make to our society, and the many ways in which they enrich all of our lives,” said Mark Roithmayr, president of Autism Speaks. “It's also a chance to acknowledge the tremendous dedication of their families, and the sacrifices they make each and every day.”

To kick off Autism Awareness Month, Autism Speaks will take part in a number of events to mark the inaugural World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD)on April 2. Bob and Suzanne Wright will join other families affected by autism when they ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange. Other events will include an autism policy panel at the United Nations and a special night for families at the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus performance in New York City. Activities are also planned for the United Kingdom, Canada and the State of Qatar, which sponsored the United Nations resolution officially designating World Autism Awareness Day. People around the world can also help to raise money and awareness by participating in Autism Speaks' Virtual Walk,

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 150 children in the United States, 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.

Autism Speaks is dedicated to increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders, to funding research into the causes, prevention and treatments for autism, and to advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. It was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Bob Wright is Vice Chairman, General Electric, and served as chief executive officer of NBC for more than twenty years. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit