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Posts Tagged ‘Puzzlebuilder’

More than 100 of the nation’s top chefs serve up an evening to remember for Autism Speaks

October 4, 2011 2 comments

Last night was quite a night for Autism Speaks. More than 100 of the nation’s finest chefs put on a culinary extravaganza at the Autism Speaks to Wall Street: 5th Annual Celebrity Chef Gala at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City and was sponsored by Susan and Steven Wise of KRG Children’s Charitable Foundation, Charmz 4 Charity and Puzzlebuilder among other top sponsors. The annual fundraising event – which can easily be described as a foodie paradise – brought together the biggest names in the restaurant world for an amazing evening that raised $1.6 million for Autism Speaks’ research and advocacy initiatives.

The event was emceed by NBC’s “Minute to Win It” host and Food Network personality Guy Fieri, and co-hosted by CBS “60 Minutes” correspondent Lesley Stahl and Lee Brian Schrager of Southern Wine and Spirits of America. It featured a cocktail reception, auction and the unique experience of four-course tableside cooking by nationally acclaimed chefs such as Bravo’s “Top Chef” lead judge Tom Colicchio (Colicchio & Sons); Franklin Becker (Abe & Arthur’s, Catch and Lexington Brass); Todd English (ÇaVa Brasserie); Masaharu Morimoto (MORIMOTO); Wylie Dufresne (WD-50); Terrance Brennan (Artisanal, Picholine); Food Network’s “Chopped All-Stars” champion Nate Appleman (Chipotle) and “Iron Chef”  winner Katsuya Fukushima (Daikaya Restaurant). Autism Speaks Co-founders Suzanne and Bob Wright served as the evening’s honorary co-chairs and Jennifer and Franklin Becker, Susan and Philip Harris, Alison and Duncan Niederauer, and Suzanne and Shawn Rubin served as the event co-chairs.

Highlights from the event include Guy calling Autism Speaks President Mark Roithmayr and KRG Chairman Steven Wise onstage for a “Minute to Win It” contest of stacking apples. Wise wowed the crowd by balancing five apples in about three seconds for the victory! Guests were also treated to a special performance by Rex Lewis-Clack, a young pianist and vocalist who is faced with the challenges of blindness and autism, and opera singer Sam McElroy, who has been coaching Rex on his singing. Introduced by his friend Lesley Stahl, Rex captivated everyone in attendance and received numerous standing ovations. It was a truly masterful performance that equaled the efforts of the illustrious chefs who graciously donated their time and talents to Autism Speaks on a wonderful evening.

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Autism Speaks, the NHL and the NHLPA Launch Face-off Against Autism

April 19, 2011 2 comments

Autism Speaks, the National Hockey League (NHL), and the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) have launched Face-off Against Autism, a unique digital fundraising initiative that will allow hockey fans to show their support for their favorite team and player throughout the playoffs, while also supporting autism research and awareness efforts.

Face-off Against Autism will highlight a key NHL player from each of the 16 playoff teams, transforming his photo into a digital puzzle. Fans can purchase individual pieces for $10.  Every fan who visits http://www.autismspeaks.org/nhl and buys at least one puzzle piece will receive a 20% discount off their next purchase at the NHL Store powered by Reebok and be automatically entered for a chance to win one of four jerseys autographed by NHL stars Alex Ovechkin, Martin Brodeur, Sidney Crosby or Henrik Lundqvist. Winners will be randomly selected at the end of the campaign.

In Their Own Words – That Day

February 26, 2011 44 comments

This ‘In Their Own Words’ post is by Tracy Miranda.

I will never forget that day – December 7, 2010. After months of speculation, questions and wonder, it was official. My son was being placed on the Autism Spectrum. There were tears of course; immediately. Not that I have ever experienced it myself, but it reminded me of when people talk about a near-death experience. In an instant, my son’s whole life passed through my head and there were so many unanswered questions. Will he be okay? Will he be bullied? Will he get married? Will people think he’s stupid?  I don’t know. I won’t know until he gets there. I allowed myself to cry for a couple of days and that was it. Tears weren’t going to change anything. I wasn’t crying because of the diagnosis. I was crying because as a mother you want to do everything to ensure that life will be great for your child, and I just couldn’t guarantee that. I couldn’t fix it.

My next priority was to learn.  Boy was that a bit overwhelming. Like others, I was “aware” of autism, but didn’t totally understand it. In his evaluation, the psychologist report had mentioned that he had the potential to be extremely smart, but may be socially awkward. We are huge fans of “The Big Bang Theory” and after reading that my first thought was “oh my gosh we’re raising Sheldon!”

It was nice to be able to laugh at the situation, but research was obviously necessary. After doing an internet search for autism, I felt lost. There were so many websites, books, and blogs I didn’t know where to start. Who was I supposed to believe when the websites contradict each other? I remembered that teachers at my son’s school had done the Autism Speaks Walk that we had donated to, so that’s where I started. I came across a blog submission that brought me to tears. It was a letter entitled “Dear Future,” by Stuart Duncan. It was amazing; exactly what I was feeling. I didn’t know what the future would hold, but I wanted to be in it for my son.

I went to his website and immediately emailed him. I had to tell him how much that letter affected me and what I was going through. I needed someone to hear me that could relate to my situation. It was only the first week and I already found a friend. He answered my questions, put my mind at ease and introduced me to the amazing community of autism parents on Twitter. Just like a lot of people, I thought that Twitter was for useless facts about your favorite celebrities. I could not have been more wrong. I found parents just like me who were there to support each other and stick together. When you think that nobody else is going to understand you, someone will. Every time I sent a tweet with a question, I got answers from people who had been there. If I sent an update on something cool that my son did, I received cheers from people who had lived it. They got me. They were me.

My husband and I were taking the news a little different. He kept a lot of his feelings inside to process them while I wanted to share with everyone and start building my support network immediately. Mind you, some of them weren’t sure what to say, but I’m not sure I knew what I needed to hear either.  I did get a lot of people telling me that they knew “so and so” who had a child/grandchild/cousin etc who had autism and they were doing great, so I shouldn’t worry at all. Um, no offense, but that’s just not true. One of the biggest misconceptions about autism is remembering that it is a spectrum and everyone is different. Right now we have no idea what the future will bring.  At that time, I was still trying to process that it was my son; I didn’t care who else was dealing with it. I’m not that insensitive now, mind you, but in the beginning all that mattered was him.

After a couple of weeks when things were starting to get settled it was time for Christmas. I was learning a lot about what to do and what to expect for my son. However, I wanted to know how I could help others. It was shortly after Christmas when I found the answer. My son had received more presents than he actually needed and his birthday was only a few weeks away. Already family and friends were asking “what does he need?” Ummm, nothing. Am I a bad mother for saying that? Am I going to deprive him of presents from loved ones? No, but I wanted to do something better.

We decided to make his birthday have purpose, help others, and allow those that cared about him to do something meaningful. Give a gift that helps lots of kids. Bottom line, my son didn’t need any more “stuff.” I went back to the Autism Speaks website and found the Puzzle Builder fundraiser. I thought it would be perfect! I uploaded pictures of my son and we were ready to go. When I sent out the invitations for his birthday party, I sent a letter to everyone explaining what we were doing and why we were doing it. I got some very positive feedback about our choice. Of course I had to brag about how great our family and friends are and what we did, so I went back to my support system on Twitter.

Imagine my surprise when Autism Speaks answered me back and asked if I wanted to share my story. What??? Me??? Absolutely! So here I am. Our amazing family and friends raised approximately $800 with his puzzles!! That is a LOT of money for my little man’s birthday.  That was far beyond what I would have expected and fills my heart with joy and pride. We made a difference. My son still had a fun party and of course still got some gifts.

I know that the road ahead is still a journey of unanswered questions. However, my son is making great progress. He is very high functioning and doing great in school. I know how lucky I am that he loves affection because many parents of children with autism don’t get to experience that. My heart breaks for them. No matter what lies ahead, my son is the biggest blessing in my life and he makes me laugh everyday.  When people want to feel sorry for me, I remind them how blessed we are. Things could certainly be a lot worse. Autism is what my son has, not who he is.

We will be just fine.

To check out Tracy’s puzzle click here!

For more information about Puzzlebuilder visit here!

“In Their Own Words” is a series within the Autism Speaks blog which shares the voices of people who have autism, as well as their loved ones. If you have a story you wish to share about your personal experience with autism, please send it to editors@autismspeaks.org. Autism Speaks reserves the right to edit contributions for space, style and content. Because of the volume of submissions, not all can be published on the site.

Thanks to our Puzzlebuilder Scientist!

December 17, 2010 1 comment

Autism Speaks would like to express our gratitude to the amazing scientists who have participated in Puzzlebuilder!

A big thank you to:

Francis Collins M.D., Ph.D.

Craig Newshaffer Ph.D.

Ezra Susser M.C., Dr.P.H.

Roberto Tuchman M.D.

Stephen T. Warren Ph.D.

Eric Courchesne Ph.D.

For more information about Puzzlebuilder click here!


In Their Own Words – Puzzlebuilder

December 13, 2010 2 comments

This “In Their Own Words” post is by Dawn Stevens, as she shares her company Default Resource’s connection with Autism Speaks and Puzzlebuilder. They were a creative bunch and we are so impressed!

Getting involved with the Autism Speaks Puzzle Builder fundraiser was an exciting opportunity for our company, Default Resource.  Knowing that this was a new and innovative approach to raising awareness and money for autism, really caught our attention.

In the past two years Edie Calderon, wife of CEO Glen Calderon, has participated in the Bike to the Beach campaign to help raise money for Autism Speaks.  We felt that Puzzle Builder was a great complimentary campaign that could be handled internally and fit for our company culture.  The fact that it only takes $10.00 to get involved, created an affordable option for each of us to participate.

We used two photos of each of our managers to build the puzzle and sent it out to our friends, families, and vendors.  We raised $480.00 dollars in just a few days.  Internally, our CEO donated a Phillips 42” widescreen flat TV with Pixel Plus 3 HD and we held an auction with our staff.  Our Quality Assurance Manager Brian Dawson had the highest bid and the entire amount was donated to the Puzzle Builder fundraising campaign.

This has been a great team effort.  We have now raised $1340.00 towards our $4000.00 goal. As a company, we feel privileged to be a part of the very first Puzzle Builder campaign, alongside an international social networking community.

Check out Default Resource’s Puzzlebuilder Page!

“In Their Own Words” is a series within the Autism Speaks blog which shares the voices of people who have autism, as well as their loved ones. If you have a story you wish to share about your personal experience with autism, please send it to editors@autismspeaks.org. Autism Speaks reserves the right to edit contributions for space, style and content. Because of the volume of submissions, not all can be published on the site.

Tune-In: Mitchel Musso Talks Autism Speaks Puzzlebuilder on Fox & Friends Monday

November 14, 2010 1 comment

Tune in alert! Be sure to tune in to Fox & Friends on Monday, November 15 at  7:45 a.m.  EST to see Mitchel Musso talk about National Philanthropy Day and Autism Speaks Puzzlebuilder!

To watch Mitchel Musso’s interview about raising autism awareness, click here!

Fourth Annual Celebrity Chef Gala Raises over $1.6 Million

October 5, 2010 4 comments

The Autism Speaks to Wall Street: Fourth Annual Celebrity Chef Gala was held on Monday, October 4, 2010 and raised over $1.6 million in support of Autism Speaks. The event was held at New York’s Cipriani Wall Street, in the heart of the city’s Financial District and was sponsored by Susan and Steven Wise of KRG Children’s Charitable Foundation, SeaMiles and Puzzlebuilder. The grand venue served as a fitting backdrop for a spectacular evening that featured over 100 chefs preparing four-course meals and dessert tableside. Over 600 guests were treated to the culinary showcases of some of the of the nation’s most renowned chefs, including Top Chef’s Tom Colicchio (Colicchio & Sons); Franklin Becker (Executive Chef & Event Co-chair); Terrance Brennan (Artisanal & Picholine); Wylie Dufresne (WD-50) and Masaharu Morimoto (MORIMOTO).

The evening was hosted by Charlie Trotter, Executive Chef and Owner of Charlie Trotter’s, and CNBC’s Donny Deutsch. Guests enjoyed the musical talents of singer-songwriter Kyle Cousins, an extraordinary young musical artist who expresses through song what life is like living with autism, along with The Great Chefs Band starring Tom Colicchio, Phil Roy, Marc Vetri and Jonathan Waxman. The event included a silent and live auction featuring one of a kind culinary and vacation packages. Guests were also able to support “Fund a Cure,” a bidding event which raised funds for research dedicated to finding a link to autism through environmental factors. The event was co-chaired by Jennifer & Franklin Becker, Susan & Philip Harris, Susan & Kevin Murray, Alison & Duncan Niederauer and Suzanne & Bob Wright.

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