The NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, right after the G-20 summit and the all the love flowing from there; today is National Autism Awareness Day. Brian says the advocacy group Autism Speaks is focusing on raising awareness and funding for autism. A quick Google of Autism Awareness Day shows 100 news stories about it. Does that seem like a lot? I think we can do better than that can’t we?
Anyway, Autism Speaks is a four-year old advocacy group that was formed when Bob and Suzanne Wright learned that one of their grandchildren had diagnosis of autism. Now, as luck would have it; (to paraphrase Time Magazine) their wealth and contacts from Bob's former post as CEO of NBC (hmmm, no wonder Brian featured it huh? Sweet…) allowed them to worry about ALL the families with children who have autism. They decided to devote themselves to raising awareness about autism and greatly expanding the research into its causes and treatment. Autism Speaks quickly became a global crusade against this mysterious and debilitating condition.
They successfully pressed Congress to allocate more research money. It worked; finally. Washington, DC (February 26, 2009) - Today President Barack Obama unveiled a Fiscal Year 2010 budget proposal that includes $211 million for the Combating Autism Act (CAA). This is the first year since the passage of the CAA that direct funding for autism has been included in the President's budget proposal. Passed in 2006, the CAA authorized $920 million in federal funding over five years to fight autism through biomedical and environmental research, surveillance, awareness and early identification. (man...$211 mil a year vs. the $30 mil a year for the Carolyn Price Conquer Childhood Cancer Act!?)
They convened the best experts in the field. In 2007 they raised $60 million dollars! Among many other achievements, Autism Speaks, together with the Kennedy Krieger Institute, launched the Interactive Autism Network (IAN), the first national online autism registry linking families to researchers. (sounds like CureSearch and the 200+ COG hospitals right?) And they successfully lobbied the United Nations to place autism on the global health agenda.
They've been busy! But. To me, the point is they did it. Not that we are looking to become "Childhood Cancer Speaks" (what would we say? "You Suck!") ((although that whole "one voice united against childhood cancer" thing is looking pretty good! Who knew lol!). Hey, old Bob and Suzanne certainly didn't do it alone did they? They recruited. They united. They didn't stop yelling. Hey, oh my god.....we've been here before....remember October? Pink? I get the shakes just thinking about the thoughts we all had a time or two! Jealousy. Anger. Well, I look at today, National Autism Awareness Day, as another step forward. An affirmation of the efforts. The community at PAC2. It really does blow me away at times. The whole thing. From the number of people, to the stories, to the f-bombs I catch in the chat room lol. It's like an inter-active newspaper; you make the news, you write about it, you chat about it. And even with such a crappy topic, there are still stories of good. More good than not, really. Even when it's bad, if that makes sense.
So anyway, I guess more than anything; thanks PAC2. You guys will do it. Hell, its only been 7 months. We got another 41 months to come up with the first $60 mil.......and we will. Thru helping with all the things and organizations that are going on here. By doing something. By fighting.
oh yeah...thanks Autism Speaks too, I needed that.