April 04, 2014 // Franchising.com // WAYNE, NJ – Toys"R"Us®today announced that, as part of its ongoing support of the special needs community and to commemorate Autism Awareness Month, the Toys"R"Us Children's Fund has provided a $600,000 grant to Autism Speaks, the world's leading autism science and advocacy organization. The grant will support the charity's research and advocacy efforts in the United States as it strives to provide resources for families affected by autism spectrum disorders. Toys"R"Us will serve as the national sponsor of the organization's Walk Now for Autism Speaks program, a year-long series of more than 100 walk events taking place in communities across North America that allows supporters to personally fundraise for Autism Speaks.
“The growing prevalence of autism spectrum disorders has deeply impacted the lives of Toys"R"Us customers, employees and the communities we serve,” said Kathleen Waugh, Chairman of the Toys"R"Us Children's Fund. “Through the 2014 Walk Now for Autism Speaks events nationwide, we hope to raise further awareness for the disorder and ultimately help find the missing pieces of the autism puzzle.”
As part of the company's national sponsorship of Walk Now for Autism Speaks, Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us® employees will walk alongside individuals with autism, their families and friends to generate donations and bring attention to the cause. The complete schedule of Walk Now for Autism Speaks events can be found at WalkNowforAutismSpeaks.org.
In addition, Toys"R"Us and the Toys"R"Us Children's Fund have collaborated with Autism Speaks and the National Lekotek Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making play accessible for children with disabilities, to identify toys that can help kids with autism develop language, creativity and social skills, while playing alongside siblings and friends. The list of “Ten Toys That Speak To Autism” is a special subset of the company's annually published, complimentary resource called the Toys"R"Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids, which can be found in stores nationwide and online at Toysrus.com/DifferentlyAbled.
Since 2007, Toys"R"Us, Inc., the Toys"R"Us Children's Fund and customer contributions together have provided Autism Speaks with nearly $19 million.
Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders – autism spectrum disorders – caused by a combination of genes and environmental influences. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by communication difficulties, social and behavioral challenges, as well as repetitive behaviors. An estimated one in 88 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum – a 78 percent increase in six years that is only partly explained by improved diagnosis.
The philanthropic mission of Toys"R"Us, Inc. and the Toys"R"Us Children's Fund is to keep children safe and help them in times of need. The Toys"R"Us Children's Fund contributes millions of dollars annually to various children's organizations, including those providing disaster relief to victims of large-scale crises, as well as those supporting America's military families. The Fund also provides grants to leading special needs organizations and has donated $1 million as the first Founding Partner of the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games. In addition to financial and product donations, Toys"R"Us, Inc. hosts in-store and online fundraising campaigns annually that raise millions of dollars for the company's signature philanthropic partners.
Autism Speaks is the world's leading autism science and advocacy organization. It 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. Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Mr. Wright is the former vice chairman of General Electric and chief executive officer of NBC and NBC Universal. Since its inception, Autism Speaks has committed more than $195 million to research and developing innovative resources for families. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 100 cities across North America. On the global front, Autism Speaks has established partnerships and related activities in more than 40 countries on five continents to foster international research, services and awareness. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit AutismSpeaks.org.