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Autism Speaks to Celebrate Third Annual World Autism Awareness Day with Partners Around the World

Light It Up Blue Campaign and New York Stock Exchange Bell-Ringing Highlight Awareness Activities

New York, NY (PRWEB) March 25, 2010 -- On April 2, Autism Speaks, the world’s largest autism science and advocacy organization, will mark the third annual celebration of World Autism Awareness Day – a global effort to heighten awareness about a disorder affecting millions of individuals and families around the world – with a series of high profile awareness events and initiatives. World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) was established by a resolution passed unanimously by the United Nations General Assembly in 2007, making autism one of only three health issues to be recognized by the UN with its own “day.”

On the evening of March 31, Autism Speaks will hold a reception to celebrate World Autism Awareness Day and honor world renowned artist Yoko Ono Lennon as Autism Speaks’ first Global Autism Ambassador in recognition of her work in making autism part of global consciousness. Last year on WAAD, Yoko Ono Lennon unveiled an original piece of artwork that she created for the day and auctioned it off as a fundraiser. In addition, Autism Speaks will screen a public service announcement call to action from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on WAAD. In addition, Autism Speaks will reiterate its international challenge to make 2010-2020 the Decade for Autism. The Decade challenges countries around the world to fund a total of $100 million in autism research and services in their regions.

Autism Speaks Co-founders Bob and Suzanne Wright will join other families affected by autism on April 1 – a day prior to WAAD – at the New York Stock Exchange, where they will ring the opening bell for the third consecutive year. Later in the day, Lindt will host an event at the Palace Hotel in NYC to honor this year’s Lindt Unsung Heroes of Autism. In addition, they will launch an online auction of celebrity-signed Lindt Gold Bunny porcelain figures at with 100 percent of the proceeds benefiting Autism Speaks.

On the eve of World Autism Awareness Day, notable buildings and landmarks across the U.S. and around the world will be lit blue as part of Autism Speaks’ first Light It Up Blue campaign. Participating buildings include: the Empire State Building, the New York Stock Exchange and Radio City Music Hall in New York; the new Meadowlands football stadium in New Jersey; Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) in Chicago; the Benjamin Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia; Toronto’s iconic CN tower; Kingdom Tower in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; and the Bell Tower in Perth, Australia. National retailers, including Toys“R”Us Times Square GeoffreyTron screen that overlooks Broadway, Lord & Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue, the NBA Store and Tommy Hilfiger will light up blue and offer autism information in some or all of their stores. In addition, a variety of major websites, from to and, as well as Bloomberg LLC’s Bloomberg terminals, will feature either blue color schemes or the Light It Up Blue logo for the day.

“Thanks to a large and growing group of wonderful partners, we will elevate awareness of autism to new levels around the globe on April 2,” said Suzanne Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks. “World Autism Awareness Day shines a light on the many ways people with autism enrich all of our lives. It is also a time to reaffirm a global commitment to collaborative autism research, advocacy and improved access to clinical care for people with autism around the world.”

To raise awareness about autism in various nations, Autism Speaks has asked several first spouses and dignitaries to record WAAD public service announcements. This year, new PSAs have been recorded by the First Lady of the Dominican Republic, Dr. Margarita Cedeño de Fernandez, as well as Mrs. Geertrui Windels, the spouse of the former Prime Minister of Belgium, Mr. Herman von Rompuy, who is the President of the European Council.

The WAAD web site, features links to autism organizations, autism information that can be printed in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Korean, Russian and Spanish, and a list of worldwide WAAD events. To date, there are events planned around the world, from Australia to Saudi Arabia. Bermuda to Brunei.

On Saturday, April 3, autism advocates Holly Robinson Peete (Autism Speaks board member) and Rodney Peete will sign their new books at Toys“R”Us Times Square in Manhattan. The Peetes both wrote separate books from their different perspectives about their son who has autism.

On December 18, 2007, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 62/139 declaring April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day in perpetuity. This UN resolution established WAAD as one of only three official disease-specific United Nations Days, with the goal of bringing the world's attention to autism, a pervasive disorder that affects tens of millions.

World Autism Awareness Day shines a bright light on autism as a growing global health crisis. WAAD activities help to increase and develop world knowledge of the autism epidemic and impart information regarding the importance of early diagnosis and early intervention. Additionally, WAAD celebrates the unique talents and skills of people with autism, and features community events around the world where individuals with autism are warmly welcomed and embraced.

About Autism
Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that inhibits a person's ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by behavioral challenges. Autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed in one in 110 children in the United States, affecting four times as many boys as girls. The prevalence of autism increased 57 percent from 2002 to 2006. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis whose cause and cure remain unknown.

About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is North America’s largest autism science and advocacy organization. Since its inception only five short years ago, Autism Speaks has made enormous strides, committing over $142.5 million to research and developing innovative new resources for families through 2014. The organization is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. In addition to funding research, Autism Speaks also supports the Autism Treatment Network, Autism Genetic Resource Exchange and several other scientific and clinical programs. Notable awareness initiatives include the establishment of the annual United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day on April 2 and an award-winning “Learn the Signs” campaign with the Ad Council which has received over $210 million in donated media. Autism Speaks’ family resources include the Autism Video Glossary, a 100 Day Kit for newly-diagnosed families, a School Community Tool Kit, a community grant program and much more. Autism Speaks has played a critical role in securing federal legislation to advance the government’s response to autism, and has successfully advocated for insurance reform to cover behavioral treatments. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 80 cities across North America. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit

About the Co-Founders
Autism Speaks 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. He also serves on the boards of the Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation, RAND Corporation and the New York Presbyterian Hospital. Suzanne Wright has an extensive history of active involvement in community and philanthropic endeavors, mostly directed toward helping children. She serves on the boards of several non-profit organizations and is also Trustee Emeritus of Sarah Lawrence College, her alma mater. Suzanne has received numerous awards such as the CHILD Magazine Children’s Champions Award, Luella Bennack Volunteer Award, Spirit of Achievement award by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine's National Women’s Division and the Weizmann Institute of Science. In 2008, the Wrights were named to the Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world for their commitment to global autism advocacy.


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