SOURCE: Autism Speaks Chicagoland Chapter

Autism Speaks Chicagoland Chapter

May 17, 2011 12:17 ET

Chicago Walk Now for Autism Speaks Will Raise Awareness and Funds for Autism Advocacy and Research

CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwire - May 17, 2011) - Autism Speaks, North America's largest autism science and advocacy organization, today announced that the 8th annual Chicago Walk Now for Autism Speaks fundraising and awareness event will take place on Saturday, May 21st at Soldier Field. All event proceeds will support Autism Speaks' work, both locally and nationally, to increase awareness about the growing autism health crisis, fund innovative autism research and family services, and advocate for the needs of individuals with autism and their families in Chicago and beyond. Autism spectrum disorder is now diagnosed in 1 in every 110 children, including 1 in 70 boys, making it the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S.

The Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are the signature fundraising events for Autism Speaks, raising nearly $26 million in 2010 alone to support autism research, awareness and advocacy. Last year's Chicago Walk Now for Autism Speaks attracted more than 15,000 walkers, 500 volunteers and raised over $1.45 million.

Funds raised through the Walk allow Autism Speaks to make a significant impact in the Chicagoland area. Autism Speaks science grants have supported research at the University of Chicago, UIC and Northwestern. Local agencies, including two this year: HAVE Dreams and Aspiritech, have received Autism Speaks' community grants to expand their work and build capacity.

In addition, Autism Speaks conducts outreach through the Community Ambassador program, training over 150 volunteers to introduce the Autism Speaks 100 Day Kit for newly diagnosed families to doctors, teachers and other professionals. The chapter has also worked with Chicago Public Schools, introducing and training teachers and school personnel on the use of the Autism Speaks School Community Tool Kit.

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 two to three-mile Walk 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. Our family-friendly event features our sponsor expo and one of a kind after party, complete with music, petting zoo and bounce houses. Special main stage guests include Andrew Salgado and Jim Peterik, from Chicago's own, Ides of March. Both will perform during opening ceremonies.

"Thanks to tremendous community support and the work of our wonderful volunteers, our Walk Now for Autism Speaks event has grown each year, and we expect to expand the ranks of both walkers and donors in 2011," said Tricia Brouwers, Walk Co-Chair. "In addition to raising funds and awareness, the Walk is a chance for families to come together and enjoy a day of laughter, hope and community. Working together, we are making great strides toward improving the lives of people with autism and their families."

For the fifth straight year, Toys"R"Us® and Babies"R"Us® will proudly serve as the North American sponsors of Walk Now for Autism Speaks. Additional sponsors include Lord & Taylor, Chicago Trading Company, Chicago Blackhawks Charities, Campbell for Kids Foundation, CME Group and Fifth Third Bank. Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us will host a tented area at The Walk, serving as home base for the company's mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe. Attendees are welcome to stop by and 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 can help build skills of children with autism, created in collaboration with Autism Speaks.

For more information about the 2011 Chicago Walk Now for Autism Speaks, please visit or contact Dana Morris at 224.567.8573 or

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 in 2005, Autism Speaks has made enormous strides, committing over $142.5 million to research through 2014 and developing innovative new resources for families. 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 has created resources and programs including the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network, Autism Speaks' 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, which Autism Speaks celebrates through its Light it Up Blue initiative. Also, Autism Speaks award-winning "Learn the Signs" campaign with the Ad Council has received over $249 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 and a community grant program. 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 in 23 states thus far, with bills pending in an additional 14 states. 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

Contact Information

    Chicagoland Chapter
    Dana Morris
    Email Contact