November 29, 2006

Cure Autism Now Folded Into Autism Speaks

Autism Speaks is less than two years old, but has alreay swallowed up NAAR and is generating the most press and $$ of any autism group. The Wrights have now brought Cure Autism Now into the fold. CAN speculates that Autism Speaks will be a 100 million dollar per year organization in 5 years.

AS gets CAN's research base, CAN gets AS's money.

The big question remains, will the now uber autism charity Autism Speaks begin paying attention to the DAN! treatments that are actually working and recovering children and improving their lives? Will they put money into research that actually brings results?

They have promised to "listen to parents". I for one plan on being a nagging voice for them to have the chance to listen to.

From Autism Speaks:

NEW YORK, NY – November 29, 2006) – Autism Speaks and Cure Autism Now (CAN) have signed a memorandum of understanding to combine operations, uniting the nation's two leading autism organizations and their cutting-edge programs for research, biomedical treatment and advocacy. The merger was announced today by Mark Roithmayr, president of Autism Speaks, and Peter Bell, president and chief executive officer of CAN. Due diligence and final board approvals are expected to be concluded by February 1, 2007. The consolidated organization will be known as Autism Speaks, Inc.

The consolidation of the two non-profit organizations will provide the scale necessary to respond to the crisis of autism, the nation's fastest-growing developmental disorder. Both groups share a commitment to accelerate and fund biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments and cure for Autism Spectrum Disorders; to increase awareness of the disorder; and to improve the quality of life of affected individuals and their families.

“Autism Speaks and Cure Autism Now believe that a combined organization will attract more resources and facilitate large-scale research, while providing the funding necessary to launch planned clinical and quality-of-life programs. A single entity will foster collaboration among the best scientific minds and most dedicated advocates. This is how we will reach our common mission -- finding a cure for autism,” said Bell and Roithmayr in a joint statement.

“Since their founding, Autism Speaks and CAN have committed more than $80 million to autism research and education, established scientific resources, promoted awareness and led federal advocacy efforts,” said Bob Wright, co-founder and board chairman of Autism Speaks. “During the past year, we have worked closely with CAN on critical issues facing the autism community, and now we will truly be able to combine our efforts and passions toward our common goals.”

“When we started CAN ten years ago, they told us you can't hurry science,” said Jonathan Shestack, co-founder of Cure Autism Now. “But with an extraordinary group of committed families and scientists we created a field from scratch and proved that, indeed, you can hurry science. In this next chapter, with Autism Speaks, we intend to move further and faster.”

Autism Spectrum Disorders are diagnosed in one in 166 children, with four times as many boys than girls affected. Autism has increased tenfold in the last decade. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis.

The combined organization will maintain both Cure Autism Now's and Autism Speaks' national walk programs and professional staffs. The scientific research processes, advisory boards and protocols of each entity will be integrated and flagship CAN programs, including the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange (AGRE), Autism Treatment Network (ATN), Clinical Trials Network (CTN) and Innovative Technology for Autism (ITA), will be expanded.

From CAN:
Dearest Friends:

Though the word friends hardly does justice to how we feel about you. You have been our brothers and sisters, our comrades in battle, our shoulders to cry on, the arms that lift us up. When we look in each otherÂ’s eyes we see the same thing--that crazy mix of determination, sadness, endless love and hope for a better future.

We are writing today to tell you about a big decision that we are making at Cure Autism Now; we pray that it will be the right one and we hope that you will join us.

We have decided that we can best serve the people we love with autism by joining forces with Autism Speaks and becoming one much, much stronger organization. The urgency with which we approach our mission will be the same, the optimism and creativity and compassion will be the same. But we are betting that our ability to get the message out, reach more people and fund more research will be greater. And it needs to be.

Because even though things are better than they were 10 years ago, more people are getting diagnosed than ever before. The numbers are going up not down, there is more sadness not less and there is more that we must get done.

We are bringing our innovative science programs, including AGRE, ATN, Clinical Trials Network and Innovative Technology for Autism. We are creating a new well-funded program that will pursue high risk, high reward research. And we will be adding more money and more reach and the ability to truly spread the message all over the country. We will be joining up with thousands and thousands of other families who are as passionate as we are. And if we were loud before, we will be louder.

We are writing to say that as we join Autism Speaks, we pledge to stay true to everything Cure Autism Now is and to bring that into the new organization. And so we ask you to come with us. We ask you to get more committed, show your passion with even more power and dedication. We will be getting bigger and stronger and tougher and more insistent. As we grow, we will get even faster not slower, our hearts will grow bigger, we will listen to you harder. Whether our kids are 3 or 30, can't say a word or can't stop talking about the baseball schedule, we want better lives for them. And whether we are called Cure Autism Now, Autism Speaks, or that perennial favorite in our house, Autism Sucks, our commitment to a better life for those with autism does not change.

Is there a downside? Well we suppose all those T-shirts and coffee cups become memorabilia, but that is a small price to pay. And at CAN we have always been about building the future, not dwelling on the past. Still now might be a good time to look, for a moment, at what you have done as part of CAN. You have created a field of scientific research where there was nothing. You have written and passed the only important legislation for autism and are about to make history by doing it again with the Combating Autism Act. By creating AGRE, you have changed the way science is done and created the gold standard of collaboration. You have made autism part of the national vocabulary. You have given a voice to people who have no voice. You have insisted that this generation is worth saving.

We are so proud of everything we have accomplished so far and we believe that together, as we become the loudest, largest, most mobilized and powerful force our community has ever seen, we can do twice as much in the future.

Join us. Help us in the next part of the journey. Help us as we help Autism Speaks speak passionately, truthfully and urgently for all of us and our children, now.

Portia Iversen and Jon Shestack
Parents of Dov Shestack, age 14

Dear Friends and Family,

It is with great enthusiasm that I announce that Cure Autism Now and
Autism Speaks have signed a memo of understanding to combine
operations, thereby uniting the nation's two leading autism

After much deliberation and careful consideration, we truly believe
that speaking with one voice can do the greater good for all
individuals living with autism. By giving the relatively new, yet
highly resourceful organization of Autism Speaks the wisdom and
guidance as well as the already established and innovative programs
of CAN (the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange, Autism Treatment
Network, Clinical Trials Network and Innovative Technology for
Autism, etc) we ensure the maintenance and enhancement of these
existing endeavors as well as future research and treatments for
autism with expanded advocacy and improved quality of life goals.

Some of the many points considered that we felt made this decision
optimum are:

· More resources: Autism Speaks will raise $30-35 million
in '06 (CAN will raise $10.5M). AS science budget is at least $20M
while CAN's is currently less than $8M. AS is expected to be a $100M
organization within 5 years.

· National footprint: AS and CAN chapters are complementary;
combining will establish more presence in local communities. AS has a
strong presence in the NE (New England, Metro NY), South Florida
(Miami/Palm Beach), Pittsburgh and St. Louis while CAN's strength is
in the West Coast (LA, SF, OC, Seattle), Mid-Atlantic (DC, Philly)
and Chicago. AS vision includes a chapter in all 50 states.

· One voice: The autism community will benefit from having a
unified and stronger voice to raise awareness and promote funding for
research and treatments.

· Science: CAN science (staff, advisors and programs) is
second to none. Future funding for key programs will be maintained
and enhanced and significant opportunities will exist for even more
funding of much-needed research through AS' demonstrated fundraising

· Awareness: Synergies exist to raise even more awareness for
autism beyond current levels. CAN developed a vocabulary of hope and
urgency; AS has access and resources to distribute messages to a
broader audience.

· Advocacy: CAN and AS have successfully collaborated on the
Combating Autism Act (CAA). Once the CAA passes, the combined entity
will begin to focus on a services bill and possibly state-specific
pieces of legislation due to more resources being available.

· Improved quality of life: Based on increased resources, the
combined organization will be able to concentrate on other programs
that directly benefit those individuals currently affected by autism.
AS currently has a Family Services Committee that we hope to develop
and expand.

All future CAN events such as the Chicago Auto Show, Oscar Night and
WALK NOW will go on as planned. Randy and I will continue to be
involved as these two organizations become one, and we hope we will
be blessed with your continued support.

If you have any questions at all please feel free to contact Randy or
myself at anytime.

Yours truly,

Kim and Randy Wolf

No comments: