Archive for the ‘Fundraising’ Category

2011 Chicago Ride for Autism Speaks

September 29, 2011 2 comments

On Sunday, September 18, the 9th annual Chicago Ride for Autism Speaks was held. Despite the rain, more than 300 bikes rode with 550 people participating—together raising $50,000…and counting!

Starting at the Villa Park Harley-Davidson, the morning kicked off with music from our media partner, the Loop 97.9FM and their Loop Rock Girl, Tricia, who has a nephew on the spectrum. The 88-mile ride ended at drink, a Schaumburg nightclub where participants dined on burgers, brats and pizza while listening to live music from the band, Mistaken Identity. More than 100 prizes were offered in this year’s merchandise raffle, featuring expensive motorcycle gear, courtesy of Wild Fire Harley-Davidson and sports memorabilia.  All riders received an entry for the Riders Only raffle to win an Apple iPad, courtesy of sponsor, CDW.

The event is made possible by event sponsors, CDW, Shefsky and Froelich, drink and Ala Carte Entertainment, JA Rentals Corp., United Camera & Binocular, Stratford Dental, The Law Tigers, U.S. Equities Realty, the Loop 97.9FM Chicago’s Classic Rock and Wild Fire Harley-Davidson.  And, once again, the Rescue Riders were on duty to ensure a safe and fun ride.  Very special thanks to the police departments that helped to ensure a smooth and safe route, including: Lombard, Villa Park, DuPage County, West Chicago, Carol Stream, Batavia, Kane County, Maple Park, Pinegree Grove, Elgin, West Dundee, East Dundee, Carpentersville, Barrington Hills, Palatine, Hoffman Estates, Addison, Glendale Heights, Geneva, and the Illinois State Troopers. We proudly recognize their commitment to support our riders along the course.

We’d also like to thank our outstanding committee, chaired by, Diane Gedik and her partner, Leo Tavolacci. Diane founded the Ride in 2003 in honor of her son, Joshua.

2nd Annual Autism Speaks Fall Classic

September 27, 2011 1 comment

On Monday, September 26, 2011, Autism Speaks celebrated its 2nd Annual Autism Speaks Fall Classic at the illustrious Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, NJ.  Joined by Title Sponsor ShopRite and Tournament Sponsor GTS-Welco, we hosted an exciting afternoon golf tournament and evening reception that raised over $268,000 for Autism Speaks’ research and advocacy initiatives! The tournament kicked off with a shotgun start on Baltusrol’s famed lower course and featured several contests, including the US Bancorp Million-Dollar Shootout, prizes distributed for the longest drive and the Bachman Putting Contest where qualifiers could compete to win a $10,000 prize.

The day wrapped up with evening cocktails, and a silent and live auction which offered guests an opportunity to help fund Autism Speaks’ initiatives for adults with autism. Honorary Co-chair and Autism Speaks Co-founder Bob Wright showed a highlight video from the second annual “Light It Up Blue” initiative on World Autism Awareness Day, on April 2.  He also honored longtime Autism Speaks supporter Joe Kernan, host of the CNBC’s popular morning show “Squawk Box.”  Event Co-chair and President of the Bachman Company Scott Carpenter welcomed another honoree, fourth grader Zachary Brooks, a tireless advocate for Autism Speaks whose twin brother, Jack,  is affected by autism.  Carpenter also introduced a special “thank you” video message on behalf of his fellow Co-chairs: his wife Suzie, John and Nico Sumas of ShopRite, Peter and Heather Kapsimalis, and Anne and Dave St. Clair. The video summed up why it’s so important to help raise awareness and funds for Autism Speaks, and expressed gratitude to everyone involved in making the Fall Classic such a special day.


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Twizzles, death spirals, and throw triple-loops – all in the name of autism.

September 26, 2011 Leave a comment

This is a post by Suzanne Lanthier, the Executive Director of Autism Speaks Canada. 

In my role as Executive Director of Autism Speaks Canada, I get to meet a lot of inspiring people. It is the best part of the job.

From the families who walk, cycle and run with us from coast to coast in Canada to help raise funds to support our mission, to the service providers and teachers and aides and support workers who are so dedicated to what they do with our kids. From the rock-star researchers who work so hard to find the missing pieces of the puzzle to the incredible corporate partners who have stepped up big tim –  check that – HUGE TIME for the autism community here in Canada – Toys”R”Us & Babies”R”Us, KRG Children’s Charitable Foundation, Spin Master Ltd., Mega Brands, Home Restaurants, Scotiabank, Tennis Canada, Peoples and Mappins Jewellers – to name just a few.

Let me tell you about two incredible people who have been my inspiration over the past 3 weeks.

Brad May and Anabelle Langlois.

Brad (“Mayday”) May is a Stanley Cup Winning hockey player – a 19-year veteran of the NHL where he was known as an ‘enforcer’ – you know, one of the tough guys who steps in to, well, enforce. Brad was drafted by Buffalo in 1st round, went 14th overall in his draft year and played for a number of teams in the NHL including the Anaheim Ducks and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Anabelle – along with her pairs skating partner – Cody Hay, won Canadian pairs title in 2008 and placed 9th in Vancouver Olympics and over her wonderful competitive career has finished in top 10 at Worlds six times.

Anabelle is petite, tiny – you might say the complete opposite to Brad the tough guy. Well, looks are deceiving. Despite being maybe 4 foot nothing and maybe 70 pounds soaking wet (a bit of editorial license here) Anabelle is as fierce and as tough and as passionate as hulking hockey star. Truth be told, Brad is really a big teddy bear (but you didn’t hear that from me!).

In Canada, it could be said that we are a bit hockey-crazy. So, our version of the popular US-based show “Dancing with the Stars” is “Battle of the Blades,” where a hockey player is teamed with a figure skater to develop and perform routines with lifts, spins, throw and jumps and win money for their charities. (Not to diminish what Emmitt Smith, Jerry Rice and Donny Osmond have accomplished on DWTS but think of their training and then picture them doing the same thing but on skates.)

Not surprisingly, “Battle” draws over 3 million viewers each week from across Canada. Brad and Anabelle have selected Autism Speaks as their charity, guaranteeing us to win at least $25,000 for just stepping on the ice.

But they are not ones to just step on the ice. They are IN IT TO WIN IT. There is a $100,000 at stake for the winning couple.

So.. let’s do the math. $25K guaranteed, $100K possible, 3 million Canadians each week seeing the blue puzzle piece and hearing the word Autism.

To get there, they are working so, so, so hard. I have been lucky enough to see them at practice a few times. Let me tell you, I’m glad it’s them out there and not me.

It is hard. There are falls, bruises, bumps, blood.

But with Brad and Anabelle, there are also lots of laughs and hugs and cheering each other on.

There is a combined twinkle in their eyes that should melt the ice they skate on, and a fierce competitive spirit that will, with the support of the autism community, put them on the winning podium on November 14.

The first skate is this Sunday, September 25 with a 7 hour voting window from 7 PM to 2 AM EST – a Toll-Free phone in vote can be cast as many times as one person can get through by calling 1-877-844-8157. Online, during the 7 hour window, you can also vote by clicking at

every 5 minutes through a special Facebook application.

Voting is restricted to Canadians by phone and on Facebook but we do know that many of our friends in the US and around the world have friends, families, contacts in Canada, so please reach out to them – ask them to vote! More information can be found at

Kansas’s ‘Dust in the Wind’ Anniversary Gift Book Available for Presale

September 15, 2011 8 comments

“As a parent of a child with Autism, I know first hand what an organization like Autism Speaks can mean in finding a cure for this terrible disorder.

Therefore, in planning for the creation of this book, the book publishers, the writer of the song Kerry Livgren, and the guys in the band KANSAS, all felt that Autism Speaks would make perfect sense in receiving a portion of the books sales proceeds.

We are honored that AS joins us in commemorating this very special song, in book form.” – Phil Ehart/KANSAS

One of classic rock’s most instantly recognizable and enduring songs, ‘Dust in the Wind,’ will celebrate its 35th anniversary in 2012.  As part of the celebration for this one-of-a-kind tune (penned by Kerry Livgren and first recorded by the band KANSAS), a 35th anniversary limited edition gift book is being released.

This beautifully designed 6” x 6” hardcover gift book is four-color throughout, 32-pages, and includes song lyrics, personal stories from fans, and a foreword by Kerry Livgren.  Kerry Livgren will sign books ordered by October 20, 2011.  Books cost $20, plus shipping and handling, and are available for purchase exclusively at

A portion of the proceeds from each book will benefit Autism Speaks, the nation’s largest autism science and advocacy organization.  “Autism Speaks is thrilled to have been selected by KANSAS to receive proceeds from this exciting project about this iconic song,” said Autism Speaks President Mark Roithmayr.  “The 35th Anniversary Dust in the Wind book will bring our message of awareness, treatment, and hope to a musical community of KANSAS fans through out the world.”


With their aforementioned self-titled first album released in 1974, KANSAS went on to become one of the decade’s most popular rock acts – issuing classic rock albums such as 1976’s ‘Leftoverture’ and 1977’s ‘Point of Know Return,’ along with the hit singles “Carry on Wayward Son” and “Dust In the Wind,” and “Point of Know Return.”  The band, which is comprised of singer/keyboardist Steve Walsh, guitarist Rich Williams, drummer Phil Ehart, bassist Billy Greer, and violinist David Ragsdale – continues to tour in front of large and enthusiastic audiences and to this day remain a fixture on classic rock radio.


Autism Speaks Title Sponsor at the 2011 Hampton Classic Horse Show

September 6, 2011 2 comments

Autism Speaks was proud to be given this year’s Title Sponsor of the Speed Derby competition at the Hampton Classic Horse Show in Bridgehampton ,N.Y. This is Autism Speaks first year as a title sponsor, thanks to the generosity of The Geier Group, who paid for the sponsorship, many families with autism on Long Island received complimentary tickets to the event.

The Hampton Classic, now celebrating its 36th year, is an internationally renowned tradition featuring world-class hunter, equitation and show-jumping competitions. Throughout the week, Autism Speaks used the event as a platform to call attention to the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders, which are currently estimated to affect one in 110 children in the U.S.As one of the top competitions in the country, the Classic draws professional and amateur riders from across the nation. The Horse Show ran from Sunday, August 28 through Sunday, September 4. The Autism Speaks Speed Derby was held before many spectators on Friday, September 2.

“We are extremely grateful for The Geier Group’s generosity in providing this unique opportunity to raise awareness about autism to a new audience,” said Suzanne and Bob Wright, co-founders of Autism Speaks. “We also wish to express our gratitude to the Hampton Classic organizers for recognizing the need to spread a message of support for the millions families affected by this public health crisis.

To read more about the background of the classic, click here.

* The Geier Group is a consulting/advisory firm that provides services in marketing, communications and venture capital – its chairman, Philip Geier, serves on Autism Speaks board of directors. 

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Nantucket Walk Now for Autism Speaks Raises over $330,000!

August 21, 2011 1 comment

Suzanne and Bob Wright at the Don Allen Ford Event

On Saturday, August 20, 2011 nearly 1000 people turned out at Jetties Beach for the fifth annual Nantucket Walk Now for Autism Speaks. The walkers raised over $330,000 in support of Autism Speaks’ initiatives.

John Shea, creative director of the Theatre Work Shop of Nantucket and Walk day emcee, welcomed walkers to the fifth annual event. The Walk day festivities kicked off with a wonderful musical performance from the Nantucket Dreamland Foundation Campers and Olivia Esposito who sang songs, and remarks were given by Paul Borneman, a parent and first time Walk participant, and Melissa Murphy, Representative of Nantucket School Committee. Massachusetts State Representative Tim Madden (D-Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket District) addressed the crowd and introduced Rep. William Keating (US Rep 10th Congressional District, Mass.). The Theatre Workshop of Nantucket performed one song from The Fantasticks and encouraged the crowd to attend a free performance for those with disabilities on August 24.

Autism Speaks Co-founders Suzanne and Bob Wright took to the stage, where they spoke about the importance of continued awareness and the crucial Combating Autism Reauthorization Act which will sunset on September 30, 2011 without sufficient support. Over the past week leading up to the Walk, the Wrights have spoken to Plum TV and the Nantucket Inquirer and Mirror (Inky) about their organization and their particular role as grandparents of a child with autism. Read the Inky story on grandparents. Read another story on autism research here.

Following the Co-founders’ remarks, Bill Tornovish, NBC’s David Gregory and his wife Beth Wilkinson, along with the Walk Committee joined the Wrights for the Walk ribbon cutting. Other special guests attending included three Autism Speaks board members: Phil Geier, James Broder and Kevin Murray. U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom Louis B. Sussman and Elizabeth Frawley Bagley, former U.S. Ambassador to Portugal.

The Wrights started the Nantucket Walk Now for Autism Speaks back in 2007 to raise awareness in a place they call home for part of the year. Since its inception, the Walk has raised over $1.5 million. This year the whole town stepped up to shine a spotlight on autism when over 80 restaurants and businesses helped Light it Up Blue over the past week. See pictures from the Light It Up Blue Nantucket initiative on Facebook. In addition. Don Allen Ford played host to the Autism Speaks NASCAR car #11 from Joe Gibbs Racing. Bill Tornovish welcomed the hundreds of guests at Friday evening’s fundraiser saying that this was the first annual event in support of Autism Speaks. Guests not only got to see the great puzzle piece covered car, but also checked out nearly 50 antique and amazing cars. Even the Nantucket Choppers showed up! Read a story in the Inky.

The Walk organizers would like to extend heartfelt thanks to the Chairs Suzanne and Bob Wright, and the Co-Chairs: Sydney Fee Barsanti, Stephen and Jill Karp, Maureen Orth and Susan and Bill Vareschi for their dedication to the success of the Nantucket Walk. Special thanks to Diamond Sponsors Suzanne and Bob Wright, The Cranberry Cup Nantucket, Don Allen Auto Service, Inc., Stephen and Jill Karp, Susan and Bill Vareschi and Platinum Sponsors Maureen Orth, Bob and Laura Reynolds, Wendy and Eric Schmidt, Mimi and Barry Sternlicht, and The Inquirer and Mirror.

Fundraising totals are “to-date” – teams are still raising money and the site is still accepting donations at For information, please call (646) 843-6675 or email

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Autism Speaks Canada Hits Grand Slam at the Rogers Cup Tennis Tournament

August 18, 2011 Leave a comment

The Rogers Cup presented by National Bank women’s WTA tennis tournament (a US Open Series Event) is used by many top players as a lead-in to the US Open in early September. Women’s and Men’s draws alter between Montreal and Toronto with 2011 being the first year that both events were held simultaneously during the same week. This year, Toronto played host to the Women’s event and Autism Speaks Canada was selected as the profile charity – only the second, non-tennis related charity to have this opportunity in the history of the event.

The Aces for Autism competition ran all week with $50 being donated to Autism Speaks Canada every time one of the players hit an ace. Stats are still being tallied but we hope to hit our goal of $20,000! Luckily, Serena Williams was on her game and hitting her serves hard all the way through the final!

The fun started on qualifying weekend August 6/7 with the Free Family Weekend sponsored by Spin Master – one of Autism Speaks Canada’s incredible corporate partners.  Spin Master provided tons of free samples and prize packs at various skills competitions. Fans had free entrance to the grounds and were treated to some impressive tennis and a plethora of on-site festivities. Activities on both days included a scavenger hunt, roving entertainment, including jugglers, face painters, unicyclists, air guitar contests – and tennis too – with target practice for all those wanting to pick up a racquet and win great prizes courtesy of Spin Master.

At the Autism Speaks Canada interactive display area on-site all week, BDO-Ad Council eye contact installation was activated, allowing visitors to see how difficult it is to communicate, and make eye contact, with children with autism. Additionally, Autism Speaks hosted a Spin Master Moon Dough play area, and ran a contest to win 1 of 20 autographed pictures of Maria Sharapova. Spin Master provided an incredible basket of toys valued at over $500 that was used to encourage fans to sign up for information on Autism Speaks and the early warning signs of autism.

The highlight of the week was Autism Speaks Canada Awareness Day on Tuesday August 9th. The monsoon-like rain that fell that morning did not dampen the spirits of the over 500 women in attendance at the Ladies Day breakfast where Suzanne Lanthier addressed the crowd about the growing national health crisis of autism.

Throughout the matinee and evening sessions, as visitors entered the grounds, they were greeted by Autism Speaks Super Heroes who handed out Autism Speaks backpacks. Video PSA’s and announcements were made throughout the day. Nina and Larry Andrade along with their 4 year old son, Luke and Grandpa Nino – one of our top walk teams from the Toronto Walk –  participated in the official coin toss before the evening centre court match-up between Serena Williams and Alona Bondarenko match on Centre Court.

“The tennis community is really a fantastic one to spread the word about autism and the issues that families face,” Suzanne Lanthier said. “From grassroots clubs across Canada to the high performing athletes, like Maria Sharapova, who have lent their names to further awareness about autism – we know that step by step, ace by ace, game by game and set by set, we will find the missing pieces of the autism puzzle.”

Sincere gratitude to Tennis Canada and the volunteers at the Rogers Cup, Spin Master and Autism Speaks Canada Board member Anton Rabie, and Maria Sharapova for their support.

More photos can be seen on our Facebook!


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Nantucket Walk is this Saturday!

August 15, 2011 1 comment

Autism Speaks Co-founders Suzanne and Bob Wright were featured in the most recent issue of the Nantucket Inquirer and Mirror, known as the Inky. The story, focusing on grandparents of children with autism, talks to the importance of the involvement of grandparents when a child is diagnosed with autism, or even before. Grandparents are often the first ones to notice signs that a child isn’t meeting their developmental milestones.

Suzanne and Bob started the Nantucket Walk Now for Autism Speaks back in 2007 to raise awareness in a town they call home for part of the year. Since its inception, the Walk has raised over $1.5 million. This year the whole town is showing its support with the declaration of Autism Week and over 80 restaurants turned blue this past Saturday. Thousands are expected to turn out on Saturday at Jetties Beach!

Visit the Nantucket Walk Now for Autism Speaks Facebook Page!

Learn more about the Walk here. Read the full story from the Inky here.  Plus, read an Inky story about Friday’s “Cruise Night” for Autism Speaks at Don Allen Ford, where the Autism Speaks NASCAR race car will be on display, and read an Inky story about progress in autism research here.

Autism Speaks to Young Professionals (AS2YP) Hosts Third Summer Event at New York Stock Exchange

August 5, 2011 2 comments

On August 5th, 2011, the New York City chapter of Autism Speaks to Young Professionals (AS2YP) held its third summer event on the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Over 800 guests gathered at the NYSE to taste a few cocktails from sponsors Barbadillo, Firefly and Perrier, listen to music played by DJs Caleb Loftus and  Nick Russo, and to show their support for Autism Speaks. The floor provided a stunning venue for guests to mingle among screens displaying the Autism Speaks puzzle piece,  factoids about autism and photos of many of the young professionals present at the event with their loved ones on the spectrum. Event Co-Chairs Amanda Niederauer and Danny Ryan, joined by Autism Speaks President Mark Roithmayr, made remarks about their own personal experiences with autism, and thanked the crowd for being there to show their support. Guests were afforded the opportunity to take a photo with friends on the historic NYSE bell podium, and guests vied for a chance to win US Open tickets among other wonderful prizes in the evening’s raffle. To-date the AS2YP event series in New York City has raised over $272,000 for autism research and awareness, with over $66,000 coming in from last night’s event. Check out our event photos here, with more posted online at :

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Why I ride. Where I ride. What I ride.

July 28, 2011 4 comments

This is a blog post by Hamid Parvizian. His cousin Cameron has autism.

And here I am again, at the Houston Intercontinental Airport, waiting to board my plane to DC, where I will embark on my second annual ride in the “Bike to the Beach” Century Rides, benefiting Autism Speaks and autism Awareness. Waiting to board my plane, I reflect on my cousin, Cameron. Cameron fights autism everyday. But this bike ride is not just about Cameron. As I watched hundreds of thousands of people pass the many gates, I remembered that one out of every one-hundred and ten persons passing by the gates is affected with autism or will have a child born with autism. We have to find a cure.  There is no compromising. This is why I’m here, boarding this plane, biking this distance.

And as I heard my flight called to board on the airport speakers, I knew I was on my way to making a difference in Cameron’s life and the lives of all families struggling with autism. My will and drive to push through this 108 mile ride pales in comparison to the millions of families trying to raise a child suffering with autism. And that’s when it hit me. My will to train hard and prepare for this ride all year was born from my inspiration – Cameron and all children with autism have inspired me to push myself to higher limits of physical fitness and accomplishment in my life. As a result of their bravery to fight autism everyday of their lives, I simply have no excuse not to demand the most from myself. I am now participating in Bike-to-the-Beach, scheduled to compete for my first Ironman in Florida in November, and then Ironman Texas in May.

Because of Cameron, I am inspired to reach my goal of not only finishing each race, but also achieving a personal record in time. I’ve been inspired before by Cameron, so inspired in fact that I was able to compete in my first half Ironman only months after starting training. I was also the winner of a Cervelo P3 tri-bike from tri-bike transports. My friend Andrew Torres with Torres Chop Shop spent 2 months and donating his time to designing and painting the bike converting into an ‘Autism Awareness Bike.’ I have been overwhelmed by the number of people who have contacted me after seeing the pictures he was posting of the bike in progress. I am excited to be able ride this bike in my upcoming races and hope that it will help continue to raise awareness for autism.


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