6th Annual Toys"R"Us Walk Now for Autism Speaks Canada hits half million mark

7500 participants expected at Nathan Phillips Square on Father's Day.

Announcement of spring Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us puzzle piece campaign expected to take total fund raising to over $1 million.

TORONTO, June 19 /CNW/ - On Sunday, June 20 walkers from the GTA and as far away as Ottawa, North Bay, Peterborough, Niagara Falls, London and even Nova Scotia will be taking part in the largest gathering of autism community in Canada.

The 6th Annual Toys"R"Us Walk Now for Autism Speaks Canada is a family-friendly fundraising and awareness event. Families, friends, autism service providers, educators, and corporate leaders will be walking together to raise money for to support autism research, programs and awareness in Canada.

Activities and entertainment include bounce houses, face painters, magicians. 12-year old Mitchell Daniels, who lives with autism will be performing two inspiring songs along with other local talented musicians.

There is no cost to attend or participate in the walk that offers a festival of fun and activities for all ages including the Toys"R"Us Kids Play Zone and Spin Master Toy Tent, Bruce Power Jays on the Road. Special appearances by Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, and Star Wars Storm Troopers who will bring hugs and high-5's to kids young and old.

Stephen Scherer, Director of the McLaughlin Centre and Toronto Centre for Applied Genomics and Senior Scientist, Hospital for Sick Children sits on Autism Speaks' Scientific Advisory Council and is participating along with his family. "I wouldn't miss this event for the world. It is a wonderful opportunity for autism researchers to say thank you to those who raise money to support our research efforts here in Canada," says Scherer.

Since 1998, over $7 million has been granted to the Canadian autism research community by Autism Speaks.

Suzanne Lanthier, Executive Director of Autism Speaks Canada says "I continue to be inspired by our community. G20, road construction and closures - nothing will keep our families away from the Walk. With 1 out of every 110 children now being diagnosed with autism, now more than ever, we need answers. And remember, children with autism grow up to be adults with autism, we cannot ignore their needs."

This year, over $500,000 is being directed in community grants to organizations across Canada working with individuals living with autism to assist with programs and services.

In 2010, Autism Speaks Canada welcomes Toys"R"Us and Babies"R" as presenting walk sponsors. For nine weeks beginning in March of this year, all stores across Canada sold the organizations' signature puzzle pieces to raise funds. Kevin Macnab, President of Toys"R"Us Canada will announce those results during the opening ceremonies.

"We cannot wait to hear the final results. Knowing the passion of the autism community from coast to coast and the incredible generosity of Canadians who want to make a difference, we expect some record-breaking figures," states Lanthier.

Other event sponsors include KRG Children's Charitable Foundation, Spin Master Ltd., Woodbine Entertainment Group, Toronto Community News, Mr. Case and Minute Maid.

About Autism

Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that typically lasts throughout a person's lifetime. One out of every 110 children is now diagnosed with autism. There is no known definitive cause for autism, no one proven effective treatment and symptoms can range from mild to very severe. Since 1998 over $7 million has been granted to the Canadian autism research community by Autism Speaks. Heightened awareness of autism as well as the accelerated pace of research to finding the causes of autism, more effective treatments for autism and more reliable methods for diagnosing autism can be directly attributed to the efforts of participants in the Walk Now events in Ontario and across North America. Over 70 Walks take place in North America. Other Canadian Walks scheduled for 2010 include Edmonton on September 12 and Vancouver on September 26.

    Event Opens                       8:30 AM
    Opening Ceremonies                9:45 AM
    Walk Start:                       10 AM
    Event Close:                      12 noon
    Performance by Mitchell Daniels:  9:40 and 11:45

    Onsite Media Check-in from 8:30 AM


For further information: For further information: Suzanne Lanthier, Executive Director - Autism Speaks Canada, slanthier@autismspeaks.org, cell: 416-388-3139

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