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Autism Speaks and its Partners Celebrate Autism Awareness Month with Wide-Reaching National Awareness and Fundraising Initiatives

Toys“R”Us, Inc., T.J. Maxx, Dollar General, Casey’s General Stores, Modell's Sporting Goods, Lindt, Build-A-Bear Workshop and Walgreens are Among Partners in April Activities

NEW YORK, NY (April 2, 2011) – Autism Speaks, the world's leading autism science and advocacy organization, today announced an extensive, expanded program of awareness and fundraising initiatives involving a range of corporate and philanthropic partners that will take place throughout Autism Awareness Month in April. Last year’s April initiatives raised over $7 million to support Autism Speaks’ research and advocacy efforts.

  • The 2012 Toys“R”Us fundraising campaign to benefit Autism Speaks launched on March 1 and continues through April 30 in the United States and Canada. To celebrate the sixth consecutive year it has teamed up with Autism Speaks, the company unveiled a new theme, “Shine a Light for Autism.” Building on the theme, the company's dedicated microsite,, invites visitors to Light It Up Blue by dressing in blue, baking something blue or to “Light It Up Blue on Facebook,” which encourages Facebook members to turn their profile pictures blue by visiting in support of World Autism Awareness Day.


    In addition, Toys“R”Us continues its national sponsorship of Walk Now for Autism Speaks, a year-long series of more than 90 walk events throughout North America. Once again, the company's iconic mascot, Geoffrey the Giraffe, and teams of Toys“R”Us employees will walk alongside individuals with autism, their families and friends to increase awareness. All funds generated through the Walk Now for Autism Speaks events, as well as through in-store and online sales, go directly to support Autism Speaks’ research and advocacy efforts. With the help of customer contributions, Toys“R”Us, Inc. and Toys“R”Us Children’s Fund have been Autism Speaks’ largest corporate partner, raising more than $12 million since the partnership launched in 2007. 


  • For the third consecutive year, the NBA is partnering with Autism Speaks to recognize April as National Autism Awareness Month. The league and its teams will raise fan awareness about autism through a variety of events, including:


    The Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Milwaukee Bucks, Portland Trail Blazers, and Sacramento Kings will host Autism Awareness Nights. The in-arena nights will feature ticket programs and raffles to benefit autism research, player meet-and-greets for children with autism, special broadcast messages to encourage support for the cause, Autism Speaks lapel pins worn by coaching staff, the distribution of educational materials, and more.

    To commemorate World Autism Awareness Day, Madison Square Garden and the NBA TV studio participated in Light It Up Blue.


  • For three weeks, beginning April 15, customers at 1000 T.J. Maxx stores nationwide will be invited to pick up information about autism and purchase an Autism Speaks puzzle piece at checkout for a donation of $1. The goal will be to surpass last year’s successful fundraising efforts that resulted in more than $1 million going to the organization.  



  • Dollar General, the nation's largest discount retailer now with 10,000 locations, will offer customers the opportunity to make donations to Autism Speaks upon check-out. In addition, Dollar General’s NASCAR Nationwide Series No.11 car will sport the Autism Speaks puzzle piece logo, driving awareness for the campaign during the month of April.



  • Through the end of April, The Home Depot is selling blue LED lanterns and blue light bulbs, allowing people across the country to participate in Autism Speaks’ global Light It Up Blue initiative. Specially marked Light It Up Blue products were manufactured and distributed throughout all of its stores in the United States beginning on March 28 and are also available at A portion of each purchase will benefit Autism Speaks.



  • Throughout April and for the rest of the year, 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 store. Zale has donated more than $1 million since the start of this partnership.



  • On April 1, Modell’s launched its seventh annual month long in-store fundraising campaign. Customers at 151 Modell's store locations throughout the Northeast will be able to purchase Autism Speaks puzzle pieces at checkout for a donation of $1.



  • For the fourth year, chocolatier Lindt &Sprüngli is donating 10 cents for every Lindt Gold Bunny sold in grocery stores and its own retail stores in advance of Easter for up to a $100,000 donation to Autism Speaks. As part of this promotion, Lindt auctioned off special celebrity-autographed porcelain bunnies with all proceeds benefiting Autism Speaks.



  • For the third time, Casey’s General Stores will sell puzzle pieces for $1 at over 1600 stores in 11 Midwestern states to benefit Autism Speaks. Specially created blue frosted cookies will be available for purchase throughout April as well.



  • For the eighth consecutive year, Build-A-Bear Workshop stores in the U.S. and Canada will provide in-store and online customers at®, the opportunity to make a donation to Autism Speaks throughout April.  Individuals wishing to give back can also 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 on - the company's virtual world and entertainment destination.



  • For the second year, beginning in August, all White Castle stores will lead in an in-store puzzle piece fundraising and awareness campaign. Last year’s efforts generated over $500,000.



  • In April, more than 35 Panera Bread stores in Memphis, TN, Columbus, OH, Wheeling, WV, and the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia will invite customers to donate to Autism Speaks by purchasing items, such as blueberry bagels, puzzle-piece shaped cookies and blue bracelets.



  • In April, Bachman’s will donate 5% of the net proceeds from sales of its Autism Speaks puzzle piece-shaped pretzel. Specialty displays will be put up in supermarkets and autism facts will be printed on a variety of BACHMAN’S snack products.



  • From March 25 through April 7, 60 Shop Rite supermarkets will run a puzzle-piece ad campaign and highlight blue grocery items throughout the store.



  • Lamar Digital Advertising has donated all available digital billboard space to Autism Speaks for three months to help increase participation in Light It Up Blue and Autism Awareness Month initiatives. Digital billboards supporting these efforts began running nationwide in mid-March and will continue through May 31.



  • Starting March 25, Fashion Bug, part of Charming Shoppes, Inc., is leading a “Register Round Up” campaign. Each of its more than 700 stores will round up customers’ purchases to the next whole dollar amount, and donate the difference to Autism Speaks. In addition, Charming Shoppes’ headquarters in Bensalem, Penn. will turn both corporate buildings blue on April 2.   



  • For five weeks, Queens Flowers and Ahold, Inc. will offer a “Light It Up Blue”-branded floral bouquet collection in over 750 supermarkets in the United States under the banners of Stop and Shop, Giant Food of Maryland and Giant/Martin’s.  From March 25 to April 30, $1 from each LIUB bouquet purchased will benefit Autism Speaks. In addition, Bayview Flowers will donate 50 cents for every special collection of potted plants sold. 



  • In support of Light It Up Blue, Simon & Schuster has been raising awareness on its homepage,, and through its social media outlets. On April 2, Simon & Schuster lit up its red logo blue to show support of World Autism Awareness Day, and is giving away 3 copies each of the new books “Carly’s Voice: Breaking Through Autism” and “The Golden Hat” on its Facebook page.



  • Stella & Dot, the jewelry retailer, created a Shine Bracelet that will be available on its website and presented to its 14,000 stylists in the United States and Canada to sell in local markets. Twenty percent of all proceeds will benefit Autism Speaks.



  • will turn its homepage blue and encourage consumers to donate through Autism Speaks’ website for 10 selected days throughout April.



  • For the first time is directing all open donations for every ticket sold to Autism Speaks from April 2 to April 4.  You can get great seats for MLB baseball, top concert tours, hit Broadway shows and much more—and support Autism Speaks at the same time:

About Autism
Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders – autism spectrum disorders – caused by a combination of genes and environmental influences. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by social and behavioral challenges, as well as repetitive behaviors. An estimated 1 in 88 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum – a 1000 percent increase in the past 40 years that is only partly explained by improved diagnosis.

About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization. It 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. Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Mr. Wright is the former vice chairman of General Electric and chief executive officer of NBC and NBC Universal. Since its inception, Autism Speaks has committed over $173 million to research and developing innovative resources for families. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 95 cities across North America. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit