In honor of National Autism Awareness month in April, Office Depot, Inc., is teaming up with the National Alliance for Autism Research for a second year to launch an awareness campaign in Office Depot's 900 retail stores across North America.
Office Depot's awareness program educates customers with informational brochures and posters in the stores about autism and the need for increased research. The program runs through the month of April.
"Despite the strikingly high prevalence and significant national interest in autism, research remains considerably under funded," said Bruce Nelson, Chairman and CEO of Office Depot. "We are pleased to lend our support to NAAR as they seek to find a cure for autism and improve the quality of life for those struggling with it."
In 2003, thanks to the support of Office Depot, other corporate sponsors and many dedicated volunteers, NAAR committed a record $4.9 million to fund 50 pilot studies and fellowships focused on autism research – the largest single-year autism research commitment ever made by a nongovernmental organization.
NAAR's partnership with Office Depot is the result of the work of Dianne Orr and Tim Paull, both Office Depot employees, parents of children with autism and NAAR supporters. Dianne served as co-chair of the 2003 Palm Beach/Broward Walk F.A.R. for NAAR and is serving as co-chair of the 2004 event. Last year, Dianne and Tim worked with their colleagues at Office Depot and NAAR staff to bring the organizations together. The 2003 promotion marked NAAR's first national retail partnership.
As part of last year's campaign, Office Depot produced a video hosted by Mr. Nelson that features employees of the company who are parents of children with autism. The segment was used as an educational tool for store employees and customers.
In addition, Office Depot hosted the 2003 Palm Beach/Broward Walk F.A.R. for NAAR at the company's corporate headquarters in Delray Beach, FL and Mr. Nelson served as honorary chair of the event. At the Walk, Mr. Nelson presented NAAR with a $50,000 check.
Office Depot is a major sponsor of the Palm Beach/Broward Walk and will host the 2004 event at their corporate headquarters for a second consecutive year. In addition, Mr. Nelson has agreed to serve as Honorary Chair for the event in 2004.
"We are excited to be partnering with Office Depot again in 2004 with this important initiative that educates the general public about autism spectrum disorders," said Prisca Chen Marvin, Esq., chair of the NAAR Board of Trustees. "We are grateful for the outstanding support Office Depot has given to NAAR as we continue to search for answers to this devastating disorder."
Mary Wong, Office Depot's Director of Community Relations, said the company feels strongly about supporting research and providing hope to the many families facing autism who are looking for answers to a baffling disorder.
"For parents of children with autism, it can seem like everyday living is a puzzle. Fortunately, NAAR is helping to find the cause and a cure for autism – and once again this year, Office Depot is pleased to partner with this extremely worthwhile organization," she said. "We believe strongly in the importance of our partnership with NAAR and are pleased to know that we are helping in the effort to find a cure for autism."
For more information on Office Depot, or to find a store in your community, please visit www.officedepot.com.
Established in 1994, the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) is the first non-profit organization in the country dedicated to funding and accelerating biomedical research for autism spectrum disorders. The organization was established by parents of children with autism concerned about the limited amount of funding for autism research. To date, NAAR has committed nearly $30 million in grants for biomedical research projects worldwide that seek to find the causes, prevention, effective treatments and, ultimately, cure for autism spectrum disorders. Walk for Autism Research is the organization's signature fundraising and autism awareness event, which is held annually in numerous communities across the United States. Additionally, NAAR was instrumental in establishing the Autism Tissue Program, a parent-led brain tissue donation program for autism research.