From Learning To Bake Cupcakes to Writing A Name, New Campaign Focuses on Victories– Big and Small – Made By Children With Autism
WAYNE, NJ (February 22, 2011) – Toys“R”Us, Inc. today announced the launch of its nine-week in-store fundraising campaign to benefit Autism Speaks, North America’s largest autism science and advocacy organization. Now through April 30, monetary donations will be collected at all Toys“R”Us® and Babies“R”Us® stores and online at Toysrus.com/AutismSpeaks. To celebrate the fifth consecutive year it has teamed up with Autism Speaks, the company unveiled a new theme, “Be A Hero For Autism,” which highlights the everyday heroism of children affected by the disorder, as well as their caregivers, and those who are helping to find the cause and cure of autism through donating time and money. Building on the “Be A Hero For Autism” theme, the company’s dedicated microsite, Toysrus.com/AutismSpeaks, will introduce visitors to several heroes through a “scrapbook” featuring children with the disorder and showcasing their daily achievements.
“With millions of families in the U.S. impacted by this disorder, we wanted to shine a spotlight on the everyday heroes of autism, including children who learn to overcome obstacles and reach new milestones, to those who know a child with the disorder and are committed to helping solve the autism puzzle,” said Jerry Storch, Chairman and CEO, Toys“R”Us, Inc. “At Toys“R”Us, we love kids, and we are proud to have partnered with Autism Speaks for five consecutive years in their mission to fund global biomedical research on autism and advocate for the needs of individuals with this disorder and their families.”
Consumers Can “Be A Hero For Autism” In-store
During the nine-week campaign, customers can donate cash at all Toys“R”Us and Babies“R”Us locations and online at Toysrus.com/AutismSpeaks. Inspiring in-store signage displayed in Toys“R”Us and Babies“R”Us stores across the country will highlight children with autism as super-heroes and appeal to consumers to donate by looking to the hero within.
Additionally, customers who donate $10 or more to Autism Speaks at any Toys“R”Us or Babies“R”Us store will receive a reusable, giraffe-themed shopping bag designed by James Hogarth, a talented artist with autism, while supplies last.
“Over the past five years, the “R”Us family and its customers have truly embraced the autism community through their generous support of Autism Speaks, and Toys“R”Us has quickly become our organization’s largest corporate partner,” said Mark Roithmayr, President of Autism Speaks. “Children with autism are heroes to us all, and the heroic efforts of Toys“R”Us and its customers have helped get us many steps closer to solving the autism puzzle.”
Toysrus.com Unmasks Heroic Makeover
In conjunction with the in-store fundraising campaign, the company has also redesigned its dedicated microsite, Toysrus.com/AutismSpeaks, to feature images of children dressed as super-heroes. Throughout the site, customers will be introduced to even more heroes in a special “scrapbook.” This digital album of children with autism highlights their heroic efforts – everyday tasks they have mastered, which are made difficult by the disorder. Featured children include: Hunter, age 9, who learned how to complete a jigsaw puzzle in order to join his family’s favorite pastime; Justin, age 10, who practices his culinary skills as he bakes muffins; Madison, age 6, who learned to write her name, among others.
The site also features a video of Jodi, age 9, a young girl on the autism spectrum, performing a song she wrote about those she considers everyday heroes. Jodi dedicated the song to those who help children like her to learn, such as teachers and siblings. Other children diagnosed with autism are featured in the video performing tasks they’ve mastered, including baking, riding a bicycle, reading, writing, playing basketball and more.
Toysrus.com/AutismSpeaks serves as a year-round resource to parents, caregivers, families and friends of children with autism. Visitors can find a list of “Ten Toys That Speak To Autism,” which provides toy suggestions to help guide anyone purchasing toys for a child with autism, as well as Safe Play Tips designed to help ensure the well-being of children on the spectrum, while encouraging the benefits of play.
Walking To Benefit Autism Speaks
Toys“R”Us is also kicking off its national sponsorship of Walk Now for Autism Speaks, a year-long series of more than 80 walk events taking place throughout North America. Regional teams of Toys“R”Us employees will walk alongside the company’s iconic mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe and individuals with autism, their families and friends to raise money and awareness. All funds raised in Toys“R”Us and Babies“R”Us stores, online and through theWalk Now for Autism Speaks events will go directly to Autism Speaks to support research and advocacy efforts.
Since the partnership began in 2007, Toys“R”Us, Inc., the Toys“R”Us Children’s Fund and customer contributions have combined to provide Autism Speaks with more than $8.4 million. Last year’s in-store and online fundraising campaign raised nearly $1.8 million for Autism Speaks in the U.S. Additionally, Toys“R”Us, Canada will once again lend its support to the cause by collecting donations in its nearly 70 stores and online at Toysrus.ca. Last year, Toys“R”Us Canada raised an additional $600,000 to support Autism Speaks.
The Toys“R”Us Children’s Fund also supports Autism Speaks and provided a $400,000 grant to kick off the organization’s 2011 campaign.
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.
About Toys“R”Us, Inc.
Toys“R”Us, Inc. is the world’s leading dedicated toy and juvenile products retailer, offering a differentiated shopping experience through its family of brands. It currently sells merchandise in more than 1,570 stores, including 858 Toys“R”Us and Babies“R”Us stores in the United States, and more than 510 international stores and 200 licensed stores in 33 countries and jurisdictions. In addition, it exclusively 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 a broad online selection of distinctive toy and baby products. 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.
About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is North America’s largest autism science and advocacy organization. Since its inception in 2005, Autism Speaks has made enormous strides, committing over $160 million to research through 2014 and developing innovative new resources for families. 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 has created resources and programs including the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network, Autism Speaks’ 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, which Autism Speaks celebrates through its Light it Up Blue initiative. Also, Autism Speaks award-winning “Learn the Signs” campaign with the Ad Council has received over $258 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 and a community grant program. 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 in 23 states thus far, with bills pending in an additional 14 states. Each year Walk Now forAutism Speaks events are held in more than 80 cities across North America. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit www.autismspeaks.org.
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