WAYNE, N.J. // PRNewswire // -- Today, Toys"R"Us, Inc. and the Toys"R"Us Children's Fund announced they have expanded their support of Autism Speaks to include a fundraising campaign in all of the company's stores in North America. This is the fourth consecutive year the company has partnered with 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, Toys"R"Us, Canada will join the partnership, increasing the company's ongoing support for Autism Speaks. This campaign marks the first time in the company's extensive philanthropic history that its store networks across North America have joined forces to support a unified philanthropic endeavor.
"Expanding this campaign across all our locations in the U.S. and Canada provides us the opportunity to raise awareness for this disorder among even more of the thousands of parents and caregivers who visit our stores daily," said Jerry Storch, Chairman and CEO, Toys"R"Us, Inc. "Through our ongoing partnership, the "R"Us family remains committed to helping Autism Speaks solve the autism puzzle."
This year's fundraising campaign to benefit Autism Speaks begins in late February and continues through Autism Awareness Month in April. Monetary donations will be collected at approximately 850 Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us stores in the United States, nearly 70 Toys"R"Us stores across Canada and on the company's websites, Toysrus.com and Toysrus.ca, during this time.
In addition to the upcoming in-store fundraising campaign, Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us employees will participate in the Walk Now for Autism Speaks program, a series of more than 80 fundraising walk events held in communities across North America. Toys"R"Us, Inc. has been the national sponsor of this program since 2007 and is expanding its sponsorship to include all Walk Now for Autism Speaks events in Canada. 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 $24.5 million through its Walk Now for Autism Speaks events in North America. The complete schedule of Autism Speaks Walk Now for Autism Speaks events can be found at http://www.walknowforautismspeaks.org/.
To kick off the 2010 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 together raised more than $5.5 million for Autism Speaks.
"We are thrilled to add the support of Toys"R"Us, Canada to our already outstanding partnership with Toys"R"Us, Inc.," said Mark Roithmayr, President of Autism Speaks. "This relationship, now in its fourth year, has been extremely significant in helping to raise both awareness for autism spectrum disorders and much needed funds for important research and advocacy."
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.
Toys"R"Us, Inc. is the world's leading dedicated toy and baby products retailer, offering a differentiated shopping experience through its family of brands. It currently sells merchandise in more than 1,550 stores, including 849 Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us stores in the United States, and more than 700 international stores in 33 countries, consisting of both licensed and franchised stores. In addition, it owns and operates the legendary FAO Schwarz brand and sells extraordinary toys in the brand's flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York City. With its strong portfolio of e-commerce sites including Toysrus.com, Babiesrus.com, eToys.com, FAO.com and babyuniverse.com, it provides shoppers with an unparalleled online selection of distinctive toy and baby products. In addition, the company operates ePregnancy.com, an online resource for parents. Headquartered in Wayne, NJ, Toys"R"Us, Inc. employs approximately 70,000 associates worldwide. The company is committed to serving its communities as a caring and reputable neighbor through programs dedicated to keeping kids safe and helping them in times of need.
Autism Speaks is the nation's largest autism science and advocacy organization. Since its inception only five short years ago, Autism Speaks has made enormous strides, committing over $131 million to research and developing innovative new resources for families through 2014. 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 also supports the Autism Treatment Network, 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 and an award-winning "Learn the Signs" campaign with the Ad Council which has received over $200 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, a community grant program and much more. 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. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 80 cities across North America.
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 served as vice chairman, General Electric, and 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, RAND Corporation and the New York Presbyterian Hospital. Suzanne Wright has an extensive history of active involvement in community and philanthropic endeavors, mostly directed toward helping children. She serves on the boards of several non-profit organizations and is a Trustee Emeritus of Sarah Lawrence College, her alma mater. In 2008, the Wrights were named to the Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world for their commitment to global autism advocacy.
SOURCE Toys"R"Us, Inc.