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Jay Leno to Headline Special Benefit Concert for Autism Speaks

Tom Brokaw Will Serve as Master of Ceremonies for October 20 Concert at Mandalay Bay Theatre in Las Vegas

(NEW YORK, NY - July 31, 2006) - “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno will headline a special night of comedy on Friday, October 20 to benefit Autism Speaks, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing awareness of autism and raising money to fund autism research . The concert will take place at the Mandalay Bay Theatre at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. NBC News' Tom Brokaw will serve as the evening's master of ceremonies.
“We are incredibly grateful to Jay for approaching us about performing a benefit concert for Autism Speaks,” said Autism Speaks Co-Founder Suzanne Wright. “This promises to be a fantastic evening that will help us raise critical funding for autism awareness and research.”

“It has been eye-opening to learn about the devastating impact of autism and the growing number of families being affected by this disorder,” said Leno. “It's hard to fathom that one in every 166 children is now being diagnosed with autism. I'm happy to support the important work that Autism Speaks is doing to make more people aware of autism and to fund the scientific research that will hopefully yield the answers so many families are searching for.”

Billi and Bernie Marcus are the event honorary chairs. Beverly and Jim Rogers, Meredith and Ralph Toddre, and Suzanne and Bob Wright are the event co-chairs.

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