SOURCE: Autism Speaks Chicagoland Chapter

Autism Speaks Chicagoland Chapter

Autism Speaks Chicagoland Chapter

April 22, 2010 17:28 ET

Chicago Walk Now for Autism Speaks Will Raise Awareness and Funds for Autism Advocacy and Research on May 15 at Soldier Field

CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwire - April 22, 2010) - Autism Speaks, the nation's largest autism science and advocacy organization, will host the 8th annual Chicago Walk Now for Autism Speaks fundraising and awareness event will take place on Saturday, May 15 at Soldier Field. All event proceeds will support Autism Speaks' work to increase awareness about the growing autism epidemic, fund innovative autism research and family services, and advocate for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disorder, with 1% of the population affected.

"We are excited to build on the success of last year's Walk Now for Autism Speaks and expand the ranks of both walkers and donors," said Tricia Brouwers, this year's Walk Co-Chair. "Walk day is a special opportunity for families to get together for a day of fun in support of this important cause while also raising awareness about autism in our community."

"This event is powered by volunteers and families with loved ones on the autism spectrum. Participants and sponsors generate vital funds for autism research, awareness and family services," said Jon Brouwers, this year's Walk Co-Chair.

Last year's Chicago Walk Now for Autism Speaks event attracted 15,000 walkers and raised $1.15 million. For more information about the 2010 Chicago Walk Now for Autism Speaks, visit www.walknowforautismspeaks.org/chicago.

Walk Now for Autism Speaks is a unique fundraising event that offers a safe and fun day for families impacted by autism. The day includes a three-mile walk along the beautiful Chicago Lakefront Path and community Resource Fair with educational sources, therapists, schools, recreational organizations, and creative child-friendly activities -- a true "one-stop-shop" for families affected by autism.

NBC5 morning news Weather Anchor Andy Avalos will once again serve as the Master of Ceremonies. Members of the media are invited to attend the event, interview and photograph participants, volunteers and special guests. Registration begins at 8 a.m., the opening ceremony is at 10:00 a.m. and the walk kicks off at 10:30 a.m. There is no fee to register, but all participants are encouraged to raise $150. Everyone who successfully raises $150 or more will receive a commemorative Walk Now for Autism Speaks T-shirt at the event.

Toys"R"Us, Inc. and the Toys"R"Us Children's Fund proudly serve as national sponsors of the Walk Now for Autism Speaks program. Additional local sponsors include: Allstate Insurance Company, Campbell for Kids, Chicago Blackhawks Charities, E Street Denim, Fifth Third Bank, Bulley & Andrews, CDW, CNA Foundation, Landscape Structures, Lexis Nexis, Navistar and Van Kampen Investments.

Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us have confirmed that Geoffrey the Giraffe will attend the Walk. Participants are invited to stop by their booth to sign their children up for Geoffrey's Birthday Club. They can also pick-up the "Ten Toys That Speak to Autism" handout and see this selection of everyday toys that help build skills of children with autism, created in collaboration with Autism Speaks.

Allstate Insurance Company will have several football-themed activities, including a quarterback pass and field goal kick. Landscape Structures will display its sensory-stimulating Discovery Wall. We will also welcome a special appearance from Rashied Davis of the Chicago Bears. Walkers will return from the course for an After Party, headlined by Justin Roberts & the Not Ready for Naptime Players.

Participants are encouraged to bring picnic blankets to enjoy the concert and to stick around to enjoy the petting zoo, bounce houses, fire truck and fire simulation house, and snacks from Uno Chicago Grill. Concessions will be available as well.

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 the nation's largest autism science and advocacy organization. Since its inception only five short years ago, Autism Speaks has made enormous strides, committing over $131 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 $200 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 www.autismspeaks.org.

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 a Trustee Emeritus of Sarah Lawrence College, her alma mater. 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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