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Autism Speaks Walk Now for Autism Recognized as the Nation's Fastest Growing Fundraising Walk Program

NEW YORK, NY (March 6, 2008) -- Walk Now for Autism, the signature fundraising program for Autism Speaks, has been cited as the fastest growing charity walk program by the Run Walk Ride Fundraising Council. The Walk Now for Autism program – which, this year will feature walks in 73 cities in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. -- expanded 49.2% from 2006 to 2007.

The top five programs by percentage revenue growth were:

49.2% to $27.0 million – Autism Speaks Walk Now for Autism

  • 46.2% to $9.5 million -- National Down Syndrome Society Buddy Walk
  • 34.6% to $35.0 million -- Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Light The Night
  • 34.5% to $10.8 million -- AIDS LifeCycle AIDS LifeCycle
  • 27.1% to $94.5 million -- Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Race for the Cure

We continue to be amazed by the enthusiastic response by communities across the country to our Walk Now for Autism program,” said Glenn R. Tringali, Autism Speaks Executive Vice President of Fundraising and Operations. “Our existing walks are attracting more participants and donors each year, and we continue to expand the program as additional markets express the desire to launch walks in their communities. These walks are key to funding the scientific research we support, and they also provide an opportunity for families to enjoy a wonderful day together.”

In general, dollars raised by people willing to exercise for a good cause grew 12.1% in 2007 and are expected to grow at a similar rate in 2008, according to the Run Walk Ride Fundraising Council, the leading authority on athletic event fundraising.

The top thirty fundraising “thon” programs generated more than $1.64 billion in gross revenue for charity last year, up from $1.46 billion in 2006, the council's second annual “Run Walk Ride Thirty” study reports.

“The executives who manage these events are optimistic that they will raise even more money in 2008 in spite of challenging economic times,” said David Hessekiel, president of the Run Walk Ride Fundraising Council. “There's growth at both ends of the spectrum from well-established megaprograms to up-and-coming new programs,” Hessekiel said.

The Council cited improved online fundraising tools, societal values and the professionalization of athletic event fundraising as key factors fueling the expansion.

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