In 2005, we founded Autism Speaks after learning that our grandson Christian had been diagnosed with autism. What was most shocking to us after hearing our grandson's diagnosis was how little we knew about the disorder and how little we had ever heard it mentioned. Therefore, our first order of business for Autism Speaks was to elevate public consciousness surrounding autism.
We worked with the president-CEO of the Ad Council, Peggy Conlon, to create an effective and far-reaching national campaign that depicts the "Odds" of autism. Ad agency BBDO signed on and generously donated all our campaign design elements. We have also received an unprecedented $178 million in donated media -- including TV, radio, print, outdoor, web banners and alternative media.
You may have seen one of our ads on TV or in The New York Times. A recent ad with Toni Braxton depicts the odds of having three multiplatinum albums -- 1 in 1,650,000�juxtaposed with the odds of having a child diagnosed with autism -- 1 in 150. Our "Odds" campaign has been enormously successful, with a 25% increase in autism awareness among the general public. The number of parents who say they are hearing more about autism than they were a year ago is 60%, and the number of parents who have spoken to a doctor about autism has doubled.
This is a huge breakthrough in such a short period of time, and remains the reason why awareness is critical. Without our good friends from the Ad Council and BBDO, the national awareness level of autism would not be where it is today. All this means Autism Speaks is one step closer to a cure. And at the end of the day, that's what matters most.
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Former NBC Universal Chairman-CEO Bob Wright and his wife, Suzanne, are co-founders of Autism Speaks.