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Lindt & Sprungli and Autism Speaks Celebrate Partnership to Kick-Off Autism Awareness Month

Celebration Honors Two 'Lindt Unsung Heroes of Autism' Alongside Larger-Than-Life Lindt Gold Bunny Statue at the New York Palace Hotel

Stratham, N.H., April 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Lindt & Sprungli, the world's leading producer of premium chocolate, and Autism Speaks, the nation's largest autism research and advocacy organization, today celebrated their partnership and kicked off Autism Awareness Month with an event at the New York Palace Hotel. The event included an unveiling of a 12-foot Lindt Gold Bunny statue and was focused around honoring and recognizing two "Lindt Unsung Heroes of Autism."

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"It has been an honor to work with Autism Speaks to help raise awareness and funding for autism this spring," said Thomas Linemayr, chief executive officer and president of Lindt & Sprungli USA. "We were thrilled to come together with our partner today to kick off Autism Awareness Month and celebrate and recognize 'Lindt's Unsung Heroes of Autism'."

In February, Lindt announced a partnership with Autism Speaks to support the non-profit through a donation for each Lindt Gold Bunny purchased, and through participation at select Autism Speaks' Walk Now for Autism events. In addition, Lindt launched a recognition program to honor two "Lindt Unsung Heroes of Autism" -- ordinary individuals who are extraordinary champions for the cause in their family, home or community. Today, the winning "Lindt Unsung Heroes of Autism" were announced and recognized for their unwavering commitment to the cause and dedicated contributions to those impacted by autism:

  • Rebecca Morrison of Westerville, Ohio started the state's only full inclusion school for children with autism spectrum disorders and their typically developing peers, age 2 to 12th grade. Oakstone Academy opened its doors in 1999 to 30 students and today serves over 400. Dr. Morrison made significant personal sacrifice to open the doors of the school, and has worked tirelessly over the last 10 years not only to provide an exceptional education to students with autism, but also to further research and quality educational programs across the United States. Oakstone Academy has been recognized nationally as a model program, and Dr. Morrison has traveled across the United States to show other teachers and professionals how to successfully implement her model for working with students with autism. Dr. Morrison donates time and does countless hours of pro-bono work with families of children with autism.

  • Charles Allen from Round Hill, Virginia is the proud father of a child with autism. In 2003, Charles, along with three other parents, co-founded the Aurora School to address the needs of students with autism that could not be met within the local school system or in a traditional classroom setting. Today, the Aurora School serves students with autism, developmental delay and other health impairments. Charles has also worked tirelessly to champion the cause within Government, having worked closely with his local representative which ultimately led to significant funding for the Aurora School. Charles is an active member of the community, including the Autism Society, Unlocking Autism and the Special Olympics. He is also an active member of his church, where he helped to organize the first special needs CCD class which has now grown to support several other churches in the community. Most recently, Charles was instrumental in achieving an impressive next step for the Aurora School, having secured a lease for the new Paxton Learning Center which is set to open in 2009.

At today's event, each Hero was awarded $5,000 toward their efforts in support of the cause. They will also be featured in the June issue of Cookie with a personal highlight on their story.

Additionally, Lindt unveiled a grand-scale, 12-foot Lindt Gold Bunny statue at the event. The statue, designed by Richard Cassidy, a graduate of Manhattan's College of Engineering, with the help of Mario DePalma, Dan Hochstein and his father Jim Cassidy, is made using an intricate silhouette filled with nearly 1,000 premium chocolate Lindt Gold Bunnies. During the event, "Lindt's Unsung Heroes of Autism," joined by representatives from Lindt and Autism Speaks, ceremoniously completed the statue by placing the last Lindt Gold Bunny pieces on the structure. The statue is located in the Grand Courtyard of the New York Palace Hotel and will be on display through Easter Sunday, April 12.

For more information on the New York Palace Hotel, please visit For more information on "Lindt's Unsung Heroes of Autism" program or Autism Speaks and Autism Awareness Month, please visit or

About Lindt

Founded in 1845, Lindt & Sprungli is a global leader in the premium chocolate category, offering high-quality products in more than 80 countries. Lindt & Sprungli operates eight production facilities in Europe and the United States and employs 6,300 worldwide. Lindt USA operates more than 80 retail stores throughout the country and maintains wide distribution through extensive retail and wholesale channels. For more information on Lindt, visit

About Autism Speaks

Autism Speaks is the nation's largest autism science and advocacy organization, 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. Autism Speaks funds more than $30 million each year in new autism research, in addition to supporting the Autism Treatment Network, Autism Genetic Resource Exchange, Autism Clinical Trials Network, Autism Tissue Program and a range of other scientific and medical programs. Notable awareness initiatives include the establishment of the annual United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day on April 2 and an award-winning, multi-year national public service advertising campaign with the Ad Council. Autism Speaks' family services efforts include the Autism Video Glossary, a 100 Day Kit for newly-diagnosed families, a School Community Tool Kit and the distribution of community grants to local service providers. Its government relations department, through its Autism Votes initiative, has played a critical role in securing federal legislation to advance the federal government's response to autism, and has successfully advocated for insurance reform to require insurers to cover medically-necessary autism therapies. Each year, Autism Speaks Walk Now for Autism fundraising events are held in more than 70 cities across the country, as well as Canada and the United Kingdom.

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 board of directors of the Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation and RAND Corporation. 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. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit

About The New York Palace Hotel

The very finest in old-world elegance and new-world opulence can be found just beyond the courtyard gates of The New York Palace Hotel on the corner of 50th & Madison. With 805 rooms and 88 suites, The Palace is known for unparalleled splendor, spectacular views, and exquisite service. The Hotel's world-renowned courtyard incorporates motifs from several 15th-century Italian cathedrals and has served as the entranceway to the historic Villard Mansion since 1882. Today, The New York Palace Hotel gracefully blends the landmark Villard Mansion with a contemporary 55-story tower for the guestrooms that was completed in 1980. December of 2005, The Palace welcomed the critically acclaimed GILT Restaurant to the south wing of The Villard Mansion.

SOURCE Lindt & Sprungli
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