February 06, 2009 // Franchising.com // Wayne, NJ - Toys"R"Us, Inc. and the Toys"R"Us Children's Fund today announced they have increased their support of Autism Speaks, an organization dedicated to funding global biomedical research for autism and raising public awareness about the disorder and its effects on individuals, families and society.
This year, the company's more than 260 Babies"R"Us locations nationwide will join Toys"R"Us stores in a nine-week in-store fundraising campaign to coincide with Autism Awareness Month in April. In 2008, Toys"R"Us stores raised $1.5 million to support crucial autism research and advocacy.
For the third consecutive year, Toys"R"Us, Inc. employees nationwide will participate in the Autism Speaks Walk Now for Autism program, a series of more than 75 fundraising walk events held in communities across the country. To kick off the 2009 partnership, including national sponsorship of the walk program, the Toys"R"Us Children's Fund awarded Autism Speaks a $400,000 grant. Since the partnership began in 2007, the Toys"R"Us Children's Fund, Toys"R"Us, Inc. and customer donations have combined to provide Autism Speaks with more than $3.7 million.
"As a company dedicated to children and families, we are proud to have both our Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us stores support Autism Speaks this year," said Jerry Storch, Chairman and CEO, Toys"R"Us, Inc. "With so many children affected by autism spectrum disorders and still very little known about any causes or cures, we are hopeful our fundraising and awareness campaign can contribute to solving the autism puzzle."
"Our partnership with Toys"R"Us, Inc. continues to help raise both awareness for autism spectrum disorders and money for important research and advocacy, and we are thrilled to have Babies"R"Us stores participating in the campaign this year," said Mark Roithmayr, President of Autism Speaks. "Experts advocate screening for autism twice by the age of two, so we are grateful for the opportunity to reach parents of babies and toddlers and educate them on this new research. Early detection and intervention are key to a better quality of life for children with autism and their families."
Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us employees nationwide will participate in more than 75 fundraising walk events in cities coast-to-coast by forming walk teams in their local communities as part of the 2009 national sponsorship of this program. Beginning this month and continuing through November, this series of signature fundraising and awareness events is expected to attract thousands of participants and provide families, friends and professional caregivers an opportunity to contribute to, and show support for, the fight against autism. Last year, Autism Speaks raised more than $29.3 million through its Walk Now for Autism events. The complete schedule of Autism Speaks Walk Now for Autism events can be found at www.autismspeaks.org.
From Sunday, March 1 through Friday, May 1, to coincide with Autism Awareness Month in April, more than 800 "R"Us stores across the country will collect cash donations in an effort to help solve the autism puzzle. Donations also will be accepted through the company's dedicated Autism Speaks microsite, www.Toysrus.com/AutismSpeaks. The campaign will be supported with an aggressive marketing program, inclusive of in-store signage and advertising, in an effort to raise awareness among customers and employees alike.
All money raised during the campaign will go directly to Autism Speaks to fund important autism research programs and help provide a voice for children affected by the disorder. With 67 children diagnosed with autism each day, the disorder is more common than pediatric cancer, diabetes and AIDS combined. Autism spectrum disorders are characterized by varying degrees of impairment in communication skills and social abilities, and also by repetitive behaviors.
Toys"R"Us, Inc. is the world's leading dedicated toy and baby products retailer. Currently it sells merchandise through more than 1,500 stores, including 847 Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us stores in the U.S., more than 700 international stores in 33 countries, which includes licensed and franchise stores.
Autism Speaks is the world's largest autism advocacy organization, dedicated to increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders, to funding research into the causes, prevention and treatments for autism, and to advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. It 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 served as vice chairman, General Electric, and chief executive officer of NBC and NBC Universal for more than twenty years. Autism Speaks merged with the Autism Coalition for Research and Education (ACRE), the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) and Cure Autism Now (CAN), bringing together the nation's leading autism advocacy organizations.