Iconic Buildings and Landmarks in Over 180 U.S. Cities and 30 Countries Around the World will Shine a Bright Blue Light on Autism
NEW YORK, N.Y. (April,1 2011) – Tonight, Autism Speaks, North America’s largest autism science and advocacy organization, will kick-off its 2nd annual Light It Up Blue (LIUB) campaign – a unique global initiative to celebrate World Autism Awareness Day and help raise funds and awareness of autism as a growing public health crisis.
More than 1000 structures in over 180 U.S. cities and 30 countries will join Autism Speaks to shine a bright light on autism. Iconic landmarks around the world – including the Empire State Building and the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City, the Willis Tower in Chicago, Universal Studios in Hollywood and Orlando, STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, along with the Niagara Falls and CN Tower in Canada, Gano Bhabon, the Official Residence of the Prime Minister and hundreds of other buildings in Bangladesh, Christ the Redeemer Statue in Brazil and the Sydney Opera House in Australia – as well as airports, bridges, museums, concert halls, schools/universities, restaurants, and retail stores, will light up in bright blue this evening to help kick off Autism Awareness Month and celebrate World Autism Awareness Day on April 2.
The public can actively participate in LIUB by supporting the campaign virtually with the launch of a free Light It Up Blue iPhone App and new Build a Blue Website. The LIUB app is available at the iTunes Store and allows users to become part of this global initiative by turning their own pictures blue with a choice of five different style frames. Users are encouraged to upload the photos to the live stream on LightItUpBlue.org. In an effort to help raise much needed funds for research, participants can also Build a Blue Website and ask friends and family to support Autism Speaks by making a donation to their personal page.
To coincide with the campaign, Autism Speaks launched a new 30 second PSA starring 5th graders from Pelham, N.Y., singing an original song composed by one of their classmates for LIUB. The PSA debuted the week of March 21 on broadcast and cable television and SiriusXM satellite radio and is live on AutismSpeaks.org. As part of its ongoing, award-winning public service ad campaign, to promote autism awareness and encourage participation in the LIUB initiative, Autism Speaks has once again produced web banners that can be downloaded for free.
Individuals interested in finding fun and creative ways to participate in LIUB should visit LightItUpBlue.org. The website provides a number of ideas from hosting autism-themed gatherings to viewings of autism-themed films and TV programs to wearing the Autism Speaks puzzle piece pin or by purchasing specially marked blue light bulbs and LED lanterns sold exclusively at Home Depot to light the exterior of your house. The site also accepts donations to fund autism awareness and research efforts.
“We are very grateful to these landmark buildings, and dedicated corporate, retail and media partners for illuminating blue tonight to support World Autism Awareness Day and Autism Awareness Month,” says Suzanne Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks. “Tonight, our message of autism awareness will certainly reach millions of people around the world as we light the skies like a beacon of hope for all those affected by this public health crisis.”
The following Autism Speaks corporate and retail partners will Light It Up Blue by raising autism awareness in stores starting on April 1 and 2:
FelCor Lodging Trust
LAMAR Digital Media
The Home Depot
Lord & Taylor
The NBC Experience Store
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 $160 million to research 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 $258 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 24 states thus far, with bills pending in an additional 12 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 http://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 Chairman and CEO of the Palm Beach Civic Association. He served as Vice Chairman of General Electric; and as the 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, Mission Product, LLC and the New York Presbyterian Hospital. Suzanne Wright is a Trustee Emeritus of Sarah Lawrence College, her alma mater. Suzanne has received numerous awards, the Women of Distinction Award from Palm Beach Atlantic University, 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 Women of Vision Award from the Weizmann Institute of Science. In 2008, the Wrights were named to the Time 100 Heroes and Pioneers category, a list of the most influential people in the world, for their commitment to global autism advocacy. They have also received numerous awards such as the first ever Double Helix Award for Corporate Leadership, NYU Child Advocacy Award, Castle Connolly National Health Leadership Award and The American Ireland Fund Humanitarian Award. In May of 2010 they received Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degrees from St. John’s University in Queens and delivered the commencement address as the first married couple to be bestowed such an honor.
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