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Hanks, Ferrell, & More to Lend Voices for SOUND OFF FOR AUTISM SPEAKS Fundraising Effort

Related: SOUND OFF FOR AUTISM SPEAKS, Tom Hanks, Will Ferrell, Betty White, William Shatner

Autism Speaks, the world's leading autism science and advocacy organization, announced today the launch of "Sound Off For Autism Speaks". This exciting fundraising effort will give fans the opportunity to order a limited number of custom-recorded messages from Ed Asner, Will Ferrell, Morgan Freeman, Carrie Fisher, Tom Hanks, Derek Jeter, Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner, Patrick Stewart and Betty White in return for a $299 donation. All proceeds will support autism research and advocacy efforts.

Celebrity messages will be available for purchase one week only, December 3 - 9, 2012. Fans can register online at SoundOffForAutismSpeaks.com to receive a reminder just prior to the December 3 campaign. A limited number of messages will be available from each celebrity on a first come, first served basis. Fans will have the unique opportunity to specify what they want their chosen celebrity to say in the message. Autism Speaks will send fans a digital file of their message within a few weeks of their order, once it has been recorded by their celebrity.

"I got together with my son Matt (Autism Speaks' Executive Director for Southern California) and we talked about what my friends and I could do to support the important work of Autism Speaks," said Ed Asner, who is currently starring on Broadway in "Grace." "We decided that bringing together a group of celebrities with great voices and doing a kind of 'voiceathon' would be a really fun idea that could help individuals with autism and their families."

Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders – autism spectrum disorders – caused by a combination of genes and environmental influences. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by communication difficulties, social and behavioral challenges, as well as repetitive behaviors. An estimated 1 in 88 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum – a 78 percent increase in six years that is only partly explained by improved diagnosis.

Autism Speaks is the world's leading autism science and advocacy organization. It 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. Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Mr. Wright is the former vice chairman of General Electric and chief executive officer of NBC and NBC Universal. Since its inception, Autism Speaks has committed over $180 million to research and developing innovative resources for families. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 95 cities across North America. On the global front, Autism Speaks has established partnerships and related activities in over 40 countries on 5 continents to foster international research, services and awareness. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit AutismSpeaks.org.

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