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Autism Speaks Selected to be H.O.S.A Service Project for the Next Two Years

National Student Organization's Chapters Will Raise Funds and Awareness Across the Country

(NEW YORK, NY – November 3, 2006) – The Voting Delegates of the national student organization Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) have chosen Autism Speaks to be their service project for the next two years. Each year, individual HOSA chapters across the country participate in a series of competitive events that conclude with a recognition event. During 2007 and 2008, chapters will receive points toward winning the national HOSA award by conducting fundraising and awareness projects for Autism Speaks. HOSA expects to raise approximately half-a-million dollars for Autism Speaks. Autism Speaks will be provide local support to individual HOSA chapters in the form of marketing materials, as well as visits to chapter events and presentations at local conferences by staff and volunteers.

A primary way that HOSA chapters will be involved is by participating in Autism Speaks' Walk for Autism Research fundraising events throughout the country. HOSA teams recently raised more than $23,000 at the Charlotte, NC, Walk for Autism Research.

“In choosing to support the work of Autism Speaks, our students have selected a worthy and important cause,” said Dr. Jim Koeninger, HOSA Executive Director. “The scope of the autism health crisis in this country requires action on all fronts, and that includes the involvement of concerned, motivated student leaders.”

“Autism Speaks is grateful to the students of HOSA for focusing their attention and energies on autism for the next two years,” said Suzanne Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks. “Their efforts will be critically important in helping to increase awareness of autism and its impact on hundreds of thousands of American families.”

HOSA (HOSA) is a national student organization endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education and the Health Science Technology Education Division of ACTE. HOSA's two-fold mission is to promote career opportunities in the health care industry and to enhance the delivery of quality health care to all people. HOSA's goal is to encourage all health occupations instructors and students to join and be actively involved in the HSTE-HOSA Partnership.

HOSA provides a unique program of leadership development, motivation, and recognition exclusively for secondary, postsecondary, adult, and collegiate students enrolled in HSTE programs. Since its inception in 1976, HOSA has grown steadily reaching 80,622 students through forty-four affiliated state associations with involvement in two unaffiliated states and 2,489 chapters in the 2005-06 membership year.

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 166 children, 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 the growing autism epidemic and to raising money to fund scientists who are searching for a cure. It was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright. Bob Wright is Vice Chairman and Executive Officer, General Electric, and Chairman and CEO, NBC Universal. Autism Speaks and the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) recently combined operations, bringing together two of the leading organizations dedicated to accelerating and funding biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments and cure for autism spectrum disorders; to increasing awareness of the nation's fastest growing developmental disorder; and to advocating for the needs of affected families. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit