NEW YORK, N.Y. — Beginning the evening of April 2, World Autism Awareness Day, thousands of iconic landmarks, religious institutions, businesses, and communities in more than 130 countries on all seven continents will join Autism Speaks by shining blue lights as part of the sixth annual Light It Up Blue campaign to raise global awareness of autism. Autism currently affects 1 in 68 children in the United States and millions more worldwide.
Autism Speaks is the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization.Its Light It Up Blue campaign takes place each year on the United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day and marks the official start of Autism Awareness Month in April. This year, more than 13,000 buildings have already joined the campaign in an effort to shine a light on autism for the 70 million people around the world who are affected by the disorder.
Participating landmarks include the Empire State Building, One World Trade Center and Rockefeller Center in New York City; Niagara Falls in Canada, the Christ the Redeemer Statue in Brazil, the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, Taipei 101 in Taiwan, the Tokyo Tower in Japan, Trafalgar Square in London, and even the British Antarctic Survey’s Halley VI Station on Antarctica.
In addition to landmarks, religious institutions, businesses and communities around the world have joined the campaign in support of the global autism community. Africa’s largest mosque, the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca will light up blue, as well as the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, and Templo Libertad synagogue and Metropolitan Cathedral in Buenos Aires. In New York City, the Department of Sanitation will display Light It Up Blue posters on 2,600 of its trucks and brooms, while the small town of Westport, CT, will feature more than 100 stores, restaurants and businesses going blue. Light It Up Blue activities will also take place in 50 Chinese cities and at 100 locations throughout Poland, and autism awareness marches will take place in communities throughout Tanzania.
“The world is coming together with one strong voice through Light It Up Blue,” said Suzanne and Bob Wright, co-founders of Autism Speaks. “Together, we must spread a message of compassion, understanding and hope for the global autism community by supporting comprehensive strategies that address their needs throughout a lifetime. Only through collaboration can we make significant progress for our families, friends and neighbors who are affected by the disorder, not just in the United States, but around the world.”
In New York City, Autism Speaks’ will signal the start of Light It Up Blue during a ceremony at the Empire State Building, where Brooklyn Nets star and autism advocate Deron Williams will join the Wrights to “flip the switch” and light the building blue. Later that day, Autism Speaks will ring the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange. Other world autism organizations will ring either the opening or closing bell at NYSE Euronext markets in Amsterdam, Brussels, Lisbon and Paris. Dignitaries from around the world will also mark the occasion by gathering at the United Nations in New York City for an international panel discussion on autism hosted by Autism Speaks, the State of Qatar and People’s Republic of Bangladesh.
For ways to get involved in Light It Up Blue visit www.autismspeaks.org/liub. The website provides a number of creative ideas, including hosting blue-themed gatherings, wearing the Autism Speaks puzzle piece pin, purchasing blue Philips light bulbs sold exclusively at The Home Depot, and turning whole neighborhoods blue. The site also accepts donations to fund Autism Speaks’ awareness and research efforts.
A list of Light It Up Blue participants is available on the Light It Up Blue website.
Philanthropic Partners Offer Support
Throughout Autism Awareness Month in April, Autism Speaks’ sponsors will offer essential awareness and fundraising support. Partners include:
• Major League Baseball: All 30 MLB Clubs will raise awareness for the disorder during one home game in April, or on another date during the regular season.
• NBA: For the sixth consecutive year, the league and its teams will raise autism awareness through a variety of activities at arenas and games. In addition, the NBA partnered with Autism Speaks to host a gala in New York City honoring the Milwaukee Bucks ownership group and Brooklyn Nets star Deron Williams for their efforts to raise autism awareness.
• AMC Networks: Secured 42 networks to air a special Light It Up Blue PSA, including the five national AMC Networks channels, its IFC Films distribution label and the IFC Center theater. In addition, most channels will turn their on-air logo bugs blue for the day, host Light It Up Blue banners and a digital version of the PSA on their websites, and promote World Autism Awareness Day on their social media properties. Networks include: AMC, American Heroes Channel, Animal Planet, BBC AMERICA, BIO, Bravo, CI, Comedy Central, Cooking Channel, Destination America, Discovery, Discovery En Espanol, Discovery Family, Discovery Familia, Discovery Life, E!, Esquire, Food Network, FX, FXX, FX Movie Channel, FYI, H2, IFC, Investigation Discovery, Lifetime Movie Network, Lifetime Real Women, Military History, MSG, MSG+, OWN, Oxygen, Palladia, Science Channel, Spike, SundanceTV, TLC, TV Land, Velocity, VH1, VH1 Classic and WE tv.
• National Geographic Channel: Autism Speaks is featured in Nat Geo’s “Killing With Kindness” online campaign that spotlights organizations helping to spread kindness in the world.
• Alpha Xi Delta: Partnering with Autism Speaks’ college program, Autism Speaks U, the sorority secured more than 2,088 buildings and events for Light It Up Blue.
• TJ Maxx: All TJ Maxx stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico will support autism research and awareness by asking for at-register donations between April 12 and May 2, benefiting Autism Speaks.
• Dollar General: Dollar General stores will run an in-store donation campaign throughout April as well as employee contests for the best store results.
• Joe’s Crab Shack: During April, guests who donate $1, $5 or $10 will receive discounts off their next visit. Plus, 10 percent of proceeds from the signature tie-dye ‘Claws for the Cause’ T-shirt will go to Autism Speaks.
•White Castle: All White Castles will run an in-store $1, $3, and $5 donation campaign March 29 -May 2, along with $3 donated to Autism Speaks for each Crave Case purchased online.
• The Home Depot: $1 per blue Philips light bulbs sold between March 1 and April 30 will benefit Autism Speaks.
• Lindt Chocolates: One hundred percent of proceeds from the celebrity-signed Lindt GOLD BUNNY figures benefited Autism Speaks from March 10 to 20. In addition, 10 cents of every Lindt GOLD BUNNY purchased in the U.S. between February 15 and April 12 will be donated to Autism Speaks.
• NEST Fragrances: One hundred percent of proceeds from purchases of NEST’s Blue Garden Candle will be donated to Autism Speaks during April.
• Village Super Markets, Inc. and ShopRite Supermarkets, Inc.: Select ShopRites throughout New York and New Jersey will ask customers to support Autism Speaks in-store with special discounts on blue-themed products and at-register donations between March 29 and April 18.
• Coinstar: Autism Speaks will be featured on all kiosks throughout April.
• Modell’s Sporting Goods: Modell’s stores will run an in-store dollar donation campaign benefiting Autism Speaks throughout April. The chain will also engage local sports teams in support of Autism Speaks and Autism Awareness Month.
• Sprouts Markets: All Sprouts markets will run an in store $1, $5, or $10 campaign April 22 – April 29.
• Zales: Eight Autism Speaks beads will be sold including three new beads introduced on April 1. $10 of every sale will be donated to Autism Speaks.
•Learning Express Toys: All stores will run a point of sale puzzle piece campaign throughout April.
• Blue Man Group: New York, Boston and Chicago venues will conduct autism awareness shows on April 2 and fundraise throughout the remainder of the month.
• Winston Flowers: Autism Speaks is its featured “Charity in Bloom” partner for the month of April. Twenty percent of each custom Autism Speaks arrangement purchased in the U.S. will be donated to Autism Speaks.
• Gyft cards: One hundred percent of the profits from Gyft cards sold on April 2 will be donated to Autism Speaks.
• Trident Case: Ten percent discount on Autism Speaks-branded iPad cases throughout April. Twenty percent of proceeds from all Autism Speaks-branded cases sold in April will be donated to Autism Speaks.
• Bob’s Discount Furniture: One hundred percent of proceeds from in-store “Café Collections” between April and June will be donated to Autism Speaks.
• HHM: More than 100 hotel properties under the HHM management across the U.S. will be lighting up blue throughout April. Additionally, HHM will be running a donation fundraiser in its hotels allowing guests to donate at the check-in desk throughout their stay.
• TCP: In partnership with Walmart, TCP has created an Autism Speaks themed blue light bulb to be sold in more than 3,000 Walmart stores across the United States.
• French’s Mustard: Limited edition blue bottles of the iconic yellow mustard will be placed in thousands of restaurants across the United States. Bottles will be visible in restaurants from March to May.
Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders – autism spectrum disorders – caused by a combination of genes and environmental influences. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by communication difficulties, social and behavioral challenges, and repetitive behaviors. An estimated 1 in 68 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum.
World Autism Awareness Day
World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD), celebrated on April 2 annually, was adopted by the United Nations in 2007 to shine a bright light on autism as a growing global health crisis. WAAD activities increase and develop world knowledge of the autism crisis and impart information regarding the importance of early diagnosis and early intervention. Additionally, WAAD celebrates the unique talents and skills of persons with autism and is a day when individuals with autism are warmly welcomed and embraced in community events around the globe.
About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization. It 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. Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Mr. Wright is the former vice chairman of General Electric and chief executive officer of NBC and NBC Universal. Since its inception, Autism Speaks has committed more than $525 million to its mission, the majority in science and medical research. Each year, Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 100 cities across North America. On the global front, Autism Speaks has established partnerships in more than 60 countries on five continents to foster international research, services and awareness. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit AutismSpeaks.org.