WAYNE, NJ (February 26, 2009) – This weekend, Toys“R”Us and Babies“R”Us stores nationwide will kick off a nine-week in-store fundraising campaign to benefit Autism Speaks, the nation's leading organization dedicated to increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; funding research into the causes, prevention and treatments for autism; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. For the first time in the three-year partnership with Autism Speaks, the company's more than 260 Babies“R”Us stores also will participate in the program. From Sunday, March 1 through Friday, May 1, donations will be collected in more than 800 “R”Us stores across the country and online at www.Toysrus.com/AutismSpeaks to coincide with Autism Awareness Month in April.
“With so many children affected by autism, our partnership with Autism Speaks is especially meaningful for many of our customers, as well as our employees,” said Jerry Storch, Chairman and CEO, Toys“R”Us, Inc. “We love kids, and we're proud to raise money and awareness in our stores to help Autism Speaks provide a voice for those children and families impacted by the disorder.”
To increase public awareness about the disorder, Toys“R”Us, Inc. has partnered once again with the National Lekotek Center, an independent organization dedicated to children with disabilities, and Autism Speaks, to develop a special edition of the Toys“R”Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids that identifies “Ten Toys That Speak To Autism.” These items promote the development of language, creativity and social skills, and are toys that children with autism spectrum disorders can play with alongside their siblings and friends. Information about the toys is available in all stores nationwide.
In conjunction with the in-store fundraising campaign, the company has developed a dedicated microsite, www.Toysrus.com/AutismSpeaks, where visitors will find information about the “Ten Toys That Speak To Autism,” how to donate to the cause, history of the partnership and other information. New this year, the site will feature a portrait gallery of children with autism taken by photographer Thomas Balsamo, an artist with extensive experience working with special needs children. Mr. Balsamo also photographed all of the children featured in the company's in-store signage for the campaign.
“Toys“R”Us and Babies“R”Us are in a unique position to reach thousands of parents and caregivers each day to provide them with valuable information about autism screening and early warning signs,” said Mark Roithmayr, President of Autism Speaks. “We are thrilled to have them support our research and advocacy efforts as we continue to work toward solving the autism puzzle.”
Since the partnership began in 2007, the Toys“R”Us Children's Fund, Toys“R”Us, Inc. and customer donations have combined to provide Autism Speaks with more than $3.7 million. Last year, the Toys“R”Us in-store fundraising campaign raised more than $1.5 million to support Autism Speaks. Now, Babies“R”Us stores have joined in the effort, providing Autism Speaks with a greater opportunity to educate the families of babies and toddlers about new research regarding screening for autism.
Toys“R”Us, Inc. and the Toys“R”Us Children's Fund also proudly serve as the national sponsor of the Autism Speaks Walk Now for Autism program, a series of more than 75 walk events in cities coast-to-coast. Toys“R”Us, Inc. employees nationwide are again joining in the effort by forming regional walk teams in their local communities. The complete schedule of Autism Speaks Walk Now for Autism events can be found at www.WalkNowforAutism.org.
All money raised in “R”Us stores, online through www.Toysrus.com/AutismSpeaks and through the Walk Now for Autism program will go directly to Autism Speaks to fund research and advocacy efforts. Earlier this month, the Toys“R”Us Children's Fund launched the partnership by providing a $400,000 grant to Autism Speaks.
About Toys“R”Us, Inc.
Toys“R”Us, Inc. is the world's leading dedicated toy and baby products retailer. Currently it sells merchandise through more than 1,550 stores, including 846 Toys“R”Us and Babies“R”Us stores in the U.S., more than 700 international stores in 33 countries, which includes licensed and franchise stores, and through its Internet sites, Toysrus.com, Babiesrus.com, eToys.com and babyuniverse.com. The company also operates the parenting resource website, ePregnancy.com.
About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is the world's largest autism advocacy organization, 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 Senior Advisor at Lee Equity Partners and served as vice chairman, General Electric, and chief executive officer of NBC and NBC Universal for more than twenty years. Autism Speaks merged with the Autism Coalition for Research and Education (ACRE), the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) and Cure Autism Now (CAN), bringing together the nation's leading autism advocacy organizations. For more information about autism and Autism Speaks, please visit www.autismspeaks.org.