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Burns and Wright to be honored at Palm Beach Atlantic University’s ‘Women of Distinction Luncheon’

February 2, 2011 2 comments

The Palm Beach Sun Sentinel featured an article on Autism Speaks Co-founder, Suzanne Wright, and New York native Eileen Burns. Both ladies will be honored with the Palm Beach Atlantic University’s Women of Distinction Award on February 23. Click here to read the full article.

Bob Wright Honored by American Jewish Committee

January 18, 2011 Leave a comment

On Sunday, January 16th, Bob Wright was honored with the National Human Relations Award by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) in Palm Beach.  The AJC is a wonderful organization whose goal is to seek a secure future in a more just world. “Autism Speaks salutes and congratulates Bob in his ongoing human relations work,” said Mark Roithmayr, President.

Autism Speaks Co-founder Suzanne Wright to be Honored with the Women of Distinction Award

December 1, 2010 Leave a comment

On Wednesday, February 23, 2011 Autism Speaks Co-founder, Suzanne Wright, along with longtime Palm Beach resident and activist Eileen Burns, will be honored with the Women of Distinction Award from Palm Beach Atlantic University in Florida.  The ceremony takes place just days before the 2011 Palm Beach Walk Now for Autism Speaks on Sunday, March 6, where the Founders are expected to speak.  Please click here for the full article from the Palm Beach Daily News.

NBC Icon Bob Wright in a candid discussion on autism and how the advertising & media business has helped make Autism Speaks a household name

October 1, 2010 9 comments

On Friday, October 1 Autism Speaks was featured during Advertising Week, New York City’s preeminent media conference for advertisers.  Bob Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks and former Chairman and CEO of NBC Universal and Vice Chair of GE participated in a discussion about autism and advertising. Bob had one of the longest and most successful tenures of any media company chief executive with more than two decades at the helm of one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies leading from 1986 to 2007. He was joined by Andrew Robertson, CEO of BBDO Worldwide and a member of Autism Speaks’ Board of Directors, who moderated the discussion.

In the one hour seminar Bob discussed how he has applied his knowledge from the corporate world to the non-profit sector, and how Autism Speaks has succeeded in making autism a household word. Both he and Andrew shared the story of how they started Autism Speaks award-winning Ad Council public service announcement campaign thanks to the support of BBDO, an elite world renowned advertising agency, and the Ad Council. Since its inception, it’s garnered over $249 million dollars in donated media resulting in much needed awareness for families and has ultimately led to fundraising dollars for the needed research into the cause and treatments for autism.

Over the last five years, under Bob and Suzanne’s leadership, and with the help of hundreds of volunteers, Autism Speaks has emerged as the largest autism science and advocacy organization in the world. And autism has moved to the fore of the public’s consciousness – nationally and globally — in large part due to Autism Speaks’ innovative and highly effective awareness initiatives.

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Third Annual World Focus on Autism

September 22, 2010 5 comments

Tommy Hilfiger, Mrs. Ban Soon-taek, Wife of the U.N. Secretary-General, Suzanne Wright, Dee Hilfiger, and Bob Wright

For the third year in a row at the start of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, first spouses and dignitaries from around the globe assembled today for the Third Annual World Focus on Autism, hosted by Autism Speaks, the world’s largest autism research and advocacy organization. Mrs. Ban Soon-taek, wife of the U.N. Secretary-General and Hosts Suzanne and Bob Wright of Autism Speaks, were joined by Co-hosts Dee and Tommy Hilfiger and more than 10 first spouses to discuss solutions to combat the global crisis of autism.

The international coalition in attendance represented a wide array of countries. The participation of the first spouses demonstrated a striking endorsement of global efforts to raise autism awareness. The group joined together for a Q & A session with world-class experts from the scientific community and discussed international solutions to raise global awareness and promote research into this non-discriminative disorder.

Fashion magnate, Tommy Hilfiger, expressed support for Autism Speaks by saying, “My wife Dee and I are delighted to be participating and lending our support to this cause. Autism prevalence is rising here and around the globe at an alarming rate. We will do whatever we can to help with this fight.”

In her opening remarks, Mrs. Ban Soon-taek welcomed the international group on behalf of her husband U.N. Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon stating, “Autism is so personal but also so global. The United Nations is proud to be part of the international response… Last April, we marked World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD). I was privileged to take part in this massive social movement for solidarity.”

In the wake of Autism Speaks’ wildly successful autism awareness effort in celebration of WAAD, “Light It Up Blue,” in which more than 200 iconic landmarks, airports, bridges, sports arenas, museums around the world were illuminated in blue lights on the evenings of April 1 and 2, 2010, Suzanne Wright, Autism Speaks Co-founder, said “the world can expect to be bathed in blue” in 2011 as all of the attending first spouses agreed to participate and expand the program in their countries.

Other speakers at the World Focus on Autism included Geri Dawson, Ph.D., Autism Speaks’ Chief Science Officer, Andy Shih, Ph.D., Autism Speaks’ Vice President of Scientific Affairs, Dr. Liri Berisha, President of the Albanian Children’s Foundation and wife of the Albanian Prime Minister. Other prominent attendees included Mrs. Chantal Biya, First Lady of Cameroon; Mrs. Elsie Christofias, First Lady of Cyprus; Mrs. Rosa Elena de Lobo, First Lady of Honduras; Mrs. Eloise Gonsalves, Spouse of the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and Grenadines; Mrs. Maja Ivanova, First Lady of the Republic of Macedonia; Mrs. Mathato Mosisili, First Lady of Lesotho; Mrs. Rosella Nestor King, First Lady of St. Lucia; Mrs. Valeria Toribiong, First Lady of Palau; and Mrs. Lilita Zatlere, First Lady of Latvia.

Attendees of the Third Annual World Focus on Autism

A Day in the Life: Volunteering at Autism Speaks’ Celebrity Golf Challenge

June 29, 2010 2 comments

This guest post is by Autism Speaks staffer Kerry Magro.  Kerry, an adult who has autism, is a rising senior at Seton Hall University, majoring in Sports Management.

One may ask what someone does after volunteering from about six in the morning to 10 at night. Does one take a shower, go to sleep, get some food, OR in some rare cases, write a blog about the day’s events? If you chose the latter, you were correct and win the glorious prize of knowing there are completely loopy people like me in this world. (Don’t believe me; I just used the word loopy in a sentence.)

On Monday, June 28, Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York hosted the 12th Annual Autism Speaks Celebrity Golf Challenge. I had the opportunity to volunteer to help run the event with Autism Speaks, and as a true golf enthusiast, I felt very privileged and excited, to say the least!

The day’s events were simply astonishing, whether it was the swarms of celebrities (some with inflated handicaps and some without) or the continuing use of huge advancements in the world of technology, such as Bid Pal (a device similar to an iPhone that helps auctioneers place bids on numbered items during auctions) and eGolfScore devices (handheld wireless scoring devices updating golf scores up to the second for standings and updates). All celebrities in attendance were teamed up with groups of golfers to play in the events. The event also featured a live and silent auction in the evening with quite a few great items up for grabs.

The golf events from the day were joyous for the most part; however, an interesting sight to see was in the late afternoon when it started raining and several golf groups kept playing. Whether it was based on the fact that it was Autism Speaks’ event or not didn’t matter; people were enjoying their day and it was great to see.

The most heartfelt event of the day for me occurred during the evening dinner program where Kevin J. Murray, The event and committee co-chair spoke about autism and how it had impacted not only his son, but his family’s lives around him. This was during a very funny transitional period where Autism Speaks and Winged Foot debuted a video that was shot throughout the golf events of the day. The video included a spoof of the movie “Caddyshack” (I chuckled more than once and am laughing while typing this out as well in memory). Kevin probably said it best when he said, “This video we are about to see truly captures the feeling of today” and it did:  fun, eventful and timeless.

Suzanne and Bob Wright, The honorary co-chairs who were also in attendance, spoke during the evening dinner program and showed once again how effective and powerful they are when it comes to public speaking. Suzanne Wright, who quoted Michelangelo, said, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” This was symbolic to Autism Speaks’ dedication to help with autism put together the puzzle, piece-by-piece.

Special thanks go out to all the celebrities who attended, the golfers who played and made donations to Autism Speaks, and also the to the staff members and volunteers whose fabulous work made the day run smoothly for everyone.

Read more about the event and view photos here.

12th Annual New York Celebrity Golf Challenge Raises $886,000

June 29, 2010 5 comments

Event Co-Chairs Kevin and Susan Murray thank the many supporters in attendance.

Autism Speaks’ New York Celebrity Golf Challenge celebrated its 12th anniversary with an exciting day of golf at the esteemed Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y. on Monday, June 28, 2010. The event raised over $886,000 for Autism Speaks with celebrities from the worlds of sports, entertainment and media participating. The day included an afternoon shotgun start at Winged Foot’s challenging East and West courses.

This year’s celebrity players and attendees included former quarterback and current studio analyst for CBS’s “The NFL Today” Boomer Esiason, NFL Hall of Famer Lynn Swann, “Gossip Girl” star Matthew Settle, New York Giants’ Michael Boley , “Rescue Me” star James McCaffrey, and “Late Show with David Letterman” announcer Alan Kalter.  Also on hand were actors Gregg Bello and Chris Jackson, former NFL players Howard Cross, Phillippi Sparks, Jeremy Lincoln, Corey Louchiey and William Ard, former New York Islander Pat Flatley and comedian Gary Cannon. The tournament included several course contests, as well as a celebrity putting contest with football great Boomer Esiason and “Rescue Me” star James McCaffrey, and a million dollar shootout.

The evening dinner reception included a silent and a live auction that offered opportunity to help fund autism research and family services initiatives.  Honorary Co-chairs and Autism Speaks Co-founders Suzanne and Bob Wright rolled highlights from the first annual and highly successful “Light It Up Blue” initiative on World Autism Awareness Day.  Autism Speaks Board Member Kevin Murray shared a personal video about why he and his wife Susan have co-chaired this event every year since 1999.  The Murrays have helped raise nearly $10 million since 1999.

Read a blog post by Autism Speaks’ staffer Kerry Magro, who participated in the day’s events.

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