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Calls to Action

Bob Wright on 8 years of Raising Awareness at the Nantucket Kickoff

She’s such a hard act to follow! If passion could move mountains- Suzanne would have changed the landscape already…. Thank you all for coming out this evening. In all of my 44-years in law and business, I’ve realized this is what it’s about. Look around the room. Smart, caring people getting together to get it done. For the right reasons. For the right population. Hhhm. I guess I have the “Wright” name. (pause) It comes down to Integrity- doing the right thing – always. We can never lose sight of this mini-population as one of our staffers calls it. Maybe we could even call it a sub-population. Either way, we are talking about millions of people and hundreds of millions-- if you include their loved ones. Make no mistake about it. Many wouldn’t be here tonight because they couldn’t be here tonight since they are stretched in every way possible. Financially. Physically. Emotionally. It’s a 24-hour a day job. Even finding a babysitter can often be impossible. And so-our business is to Advocate. Educate. In state halls and on the Hill in DC. In farming communities, cities, suburbs, and inner city neighborhoods. Our job is to push science to new heights—and make sure what we see in the lab translates to real change in the homes of these autism families. Our job is also to Inspire. Sure we advocate and educate at our events – like our favorite walk here next month, but we also Inspire. People come to our walks, see these beautiful faces and can’t help but be motivated to do more… It’s good will that feeds on good will and intentions. Integrity - all over again. As Suzanne showed you, the world was aglow in Blue light on April 2nd. In the past few months, we also helped cut the ribbon on the new Center for Autism and the Developing Brain at New York-Presbyterian Hospital – where people with autism will be taken care of from birth to their older years. We launched a new Legal Resources Center to help families get the services they need. Just this month we made a HUGE step toward speeding up the diagnosis and treatment of autism when the first phase of our 10K Autism Genome Project was published in the American Journal of Human Genetics. Scientists studied 32-families affected by autism and identified the entire DNA sequence—and then-- linked genetic changes to autistic symptoms in some people. Pretty profound – and a dream just a few years ago when we began this journey. This year- we also decided to really narrow the focus of part of our awareness campaign. In our eight years, awareness of autism has increased across the board 43-percent, but our minority and lower income communities in America lag behind. These children are not getting diagnosed as young as others. That means they are not getting services – medical, speech, OT, PT, special ed – right away. And there’s one thing we know about autism—and that is -- early intervention is critical. So, we worked hard with our good friends at the advertising agency—BBDO, and the Ad Council to create new public service announcements. We call it the “Maybe” campaign. Let’s take a look:Powerful messages. Our thanks to BBDO and the Ad Council, as well as our President, Liz Feld. She has about eighteen months under her belt now at Autism Speaks. Her ability to communicate is second to none. And really—that’s our job as Suzanne said before… We are the voice. Let’s give a warm welcome to Liz who has already spear-headed so many positive things in these short eighteen months.