A Foo Fighter For Autism Awareness And Research

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October 21, 2013

Rock music icon Dave Grohl (front man of Foo Fightersand former Nirvana drummer) will headline the third annual Autism Speaks Blue Jean Ball this Thursday, October 24, 2013. The event will be held at Boulevard 3 in Hollywood, and is hosted by television personality Maria Menounos and actor Michael Chiklis.

Also performing will be Pop Rock artist Rick Springfield, who won a Grammy Award for his No. 1 hit “Jessie’s Girl” in 1981. Singer-songwriter Ryan Bingham and The White Bufflao are slated to perform. Also taking the stage will be season 10 American Idol finalist James Durbin, for whom the Autism Speaks cause is near and dear to his heart—as he has openly shared his challenges of living with Asperger’s and Tourette’s.

The Autism Speaks Blue Jean Ball is dedicated to raising awareness and funds for innovative autism research and resources for individuals and families affected by the disorder. Tickets, sponsorship opportunities and additional information are available at

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. Since its inception, Autism Speaks has committed nearly $200 million to research and developing innovative resources for families. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit


Kickstarter: Taking Autism To The Sky

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Kids with autism get a new perspective of the world-from the air-by building/flying a hexarotor and producing a video of their journey.

Like Icarus who longed to take flight and see the world from above, we want to give a small group of kids on the autism spectrum a chance to fly and experience their world in a new way and then to pass that experience on to the world through a short film.

People with autism struggle with perspective taking, empathy and change. They often see the world as black & white, desiring predictability and struggle with understanding other people’s point of view. The also experience the world in very concrete terms.  We want to convey this issue of perspective taking in a pragmatic, physical manner that makes sense to them.  We want them to see their world from the air. We want to take autism to the sky.

Different perpsectives!
Different perpsectives!

Epiphanies come from looking at a situation in a new way, taking a new perspective or finding a new insight.  The pursuit of creative activities often leads to epiphanies.  Sometimes, it feeds them. This project is a search for a fresh perspective through the act of flight.  We want to give these kids (and all who see the film) a new insight into the human condition through a creative and technical endeavor – creating a short film comprised of footage of this group of kids building, practicing, planning and flying a hexarotor helicopter (6 props) as well as the footage they capture from the air.

The team will be comprised of a small group of kids on the autism spectrum – likely 3-4, myself and possibly another adult or two.  With adult guidance, the group of kids will build a hexarotor helicopter from a kit that includes GPS, high definition video, and flight planning software. After building the hexarotor helicopter and learning to fly it, they will plan a mission, fly it, and then produce a video both of their time building the helicopter and learning to fly as well as the flight itself. The video will be provided to their school district to put on their web site demonstrating the team’s skills.

Flying With Adult Help!
Flying With Adult Help!

How will the money be used?

We will use the money to purchase the following things:

  • Hexarotor helicopter kit
  • GPS
  • Camera and mount
  • 2 transmitters (radios) – adult and child to fly together
  • On screen display (to see as if you’re in the cock pit)
  • Flight planning software
  • Flight simulator
  • Batteries
  • Battery charger
  • Spare parts
  • A few snacks along the way to feed the flight team

We have thought through our budget quite a bit and have kept it as lean and mean as we can. We know times are tough and want potential backers to know that that this is a do-it-yourself kind of project with a frugal approach.  That being said, we have big ideas of where this could go.  Just picture this type of club existing nationwide for kids with autism!

We believe there will be ancillary benefits to the project as well.  One major benefit is that this project will showcase a positive, peaceful, enlightening application of “drone” technology that is often viewed in a negative light given the military’s use of it.  The term drone conjures up negative images of surveillance, bombing and description.  This project, however, looks to humanize and personalize the technology.  To shed light on and feed the human condition.

In addition, this project will provide these kids much needed opportunities to work with others in a small team as well as exposure to geography and electronics.  The project will also afford these kids an opportunity to be seen by their peers as ‘the experts’ and afford them an opportunity be the cool kids.  Something that is rarely the case.  Finally, the project will provide exposure to a technology that offers much needed employment opportunities down the road.

In the end, this project will culminate in several key things:

  • A short film of the experiences of these kids that will be shared with others
  • New insights for these kids of the world in which they live
  • Occasions to work together, share tasks and practice social skills
  • Development of basic electronic skills like soldering and wiring components
  • Chances to learn about the mechanics of flight, mission planning and the need for safety
  • Video production skills

Join us.  You just might get a new perspective as well.

Example Hexarotor Similar to What We'll Build (Image courtesy of 3D Robotics)
Example Hexarotor Similar to What We’ll Build (Image courtesy of 3D Robotics)
Radio Control Transmitter (image courtesy of Futaba)
Radio Control Transmitter (image courtesy of Futaba)

RISKS AND CHALLENGESLearn about accountability on Kickstarter

1. Autism. Autism throws you curveballs on a regular basis. Sounds are too loud. Attention spans are short. There’s little to no desire for social interaction. Complexity frustrates. Over focus on details. To accommodate these, we need to be patient, scrap plans and come back another day if necessary.

2. Technical hurdles. We know building and flying a quadrotor is not a ‘plug n play’ operation. However, interest level is high and there is a great community of enthusiasts out there to tap into for help and guidance. Compared to the challenges that autism puts in our path, we can overcome the technical too; with patience and perseverance.

Today’s Autism Hero: The Children’s Miracle Network’s “Give Miracles” Campaign

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The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s (CHOP) Center for Autism Research is among The Children’s Miracle Network’s (CMN) “Ultimate Gift” beneficiaries for its social media-based holiday fundraising program, Give Miracles. In addition to its social media presence, ads announcing the campaign for CHOP will run in the Wall Street Journal on November 10th and 24th, and on December 1st and 15th.

With 1 in 88 American children affected, autism is one of the most common childhood disorders, yet it remains a mystery in many ways, leaving millions of families desperate for answers about what causes autism; what are the best treatments; and when there will be a cure. Donors who support autism programs at CHOP through the Give Miracles campaign will help unlock the mysteries of this perplexing and complicated disorder and fuel some of the most needed medical breakthroughs of our generation.

Autism research at CHOP

Research at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is revolutionizing the understanding of autism. CHOP’s multidisciplinary teams in psychology, neurosciences and genetics are spearheading the largest and most innovative autism studies ever conceived. CHOP’s autism experts are applying state-of-the-art research and clinical tools to discover autism’s causes and find new treatments, while providing comprehensive, coordinated, family-centered care and support to meet each child’s specific developmental and educational needs.

Donors to Center for Autism Research can follow gift from donation through final use

Give Miracles provides donors with tangible evidence of their gift, from the initial donation to its final use. It is the first Impact GivingTM program of its kind, as it enables donors to choose the hospital they want to support; the amount and type of gift; and those who donate will remain engaged with ongoing email updates on the gift’s impact for children with autism who are seen at CHOP and far beyond its walls.

“When people donate their hard-earned money, they want to know how it is used,” John Lauck, CEO of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, said. “The Give Miracles program lets donors be involved in the philanthropic process. They can have a direct connection to the impact their dollars are making at the local hospitals and on the kids they are supporting.” features a social fundraising platform powered by technology powerhouse (, allowing a donor to create a customized fundraising page that calls on their Facebook and Twitter networks for donations. This crowdfunding feature allows multiple contributions—especially helpful for addressing large fundraising goals like CHOP’s Autism Center. These miracle-making gifts could also be purchased by single benefactors—such as corporations and foundations.

More information

Learn more about supporting autism programs at CHOP

About Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals

Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals® raises funds for 170 nonprofit children’s hospitals across North America, which, in turn, use the money where it’s needed the most. When a donation is given it stays in the community, helping local kids. Since 1983, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals has raised more than $4 billion, most of it $1 at a time. These donations support research and training, purchase equipment and pay for uncompensated care, all in support of our mission to save and improve the lives of as many children as possible. Learn more at the CMN website

A Preview Of “Night Of Too Many Stars”

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autism benefit stewart o'reilly king matthews

NEW YORK — A week after their “rumble” in Washington, Jon Stewart invited Bill O’Reilly back on stage in New York, this time to debate MSNBC‘s liberal host Chris Matthews — while both inhaled helium from red and blue balloons.

“Sounds like me,” quipped a squeaky-voiced Matthews to CNN’s John King, the brief debate’s moderator, who instructed O’Reilly, “You inhale, they decide.”

This time, the cause was Stewart’s fourth Night of Too Many Stars benefitsupporting autistic children and teens with education and training programs. The event, taped Saturday night at the Beacon Theater, will air Oct. 21 on Comedy Central, with celebrities manning phone banks for call-in donations live at The Daily Show studio. Three previous efforts (the last in 2010) have raised $14 million.

Like O’Reilly and Matthews’ appearance, celebrity participants were loosely organized around unlikely pairings of “rivals” or opposites you’d never expect to share the spotlight, “who will appear together on this stage for this cause,” said Stewart, the evening’s omnipresent emcee.

Alongside event supporter Tommy Hilfiger, Ben Stiller showed up as Derek Zoolander — the preening, clueless model from his 2001 film — to hawk a phony benefit item, the 2013 “End of Syphilisation” calendar. (“It’s the last year of the Maya Rudolph calendar; the acropolis is coming,” he warned.)

Others included Stephen Colbert and a costumed “liberal” bear; Carly Rae Jepsen and actor Harvey Keitel, who alternated on her hit Call Me Maybe (she sang her verses, while he offered hilariously spoken verses); and a stick of butter (later revealed as Kevin Bacon) vying for the affection of Paula Deen with a stalk of broccoli (Liev Schreiber). “I saw her deep-fry a Sara Lee cheesecake while it was still in the box,” Bacon said.

An emotional highlight was a duet of Firework performed by Katy Perry and Jodi DiPiazza, a pre-teen autistic girl from Rochelle Park, N.J. (who also played piano), which left Stewart and audience members choked up.

And among, um, unique experiences auctioned off to the Beacon audience were Al Pacino, for an appearance in a family’s holiday-card photo; Seth Rogen, to pee alongside in the Beacon restroom as a camera crew followed (“we can share a urinal if you bid high”); and Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, to be best friends with the winning bidders for the evening. (“Remember, this is a night that’s going to last an hour!” exulted Stewart.)

Comedians Louis CK, JB Smoove and Hannibal Buress were among other participants, and Fred Armisen, Jimmy Kimmel, Julianne Moore, Jerry Seinfeld and Matthew Broderick are scheduled to man the phones for live TV wrap-arounds next weekend.

But not before O’Reillly and Matthews got off some scripted zingers: “You, Bill, give everyone’s crazy uncle something to say on Thanksgiving,” Matthews said. O’Reilly, who called Matthews the product “if Dennis the Menace and Alex Skarsgard had a child,” said, “You constantly sound like a man falling down the stairs,” and “someone who takes the pressure off his guests, by doing all the talking.”

ACT Today! To Honor Joe Mantegna and Steve Maudlin at Autism Fundraiser

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ACT Today! (Autism Care and Treatment Today!) announces actor Joe Mantegna (“Criminal Minds“) and TV executive Steve Mauldin will receive the 2012 ACTivist awards at the 7th Annual Denim & Diamonds for Autism fundraiser on November 3, 2012 at Calamigos Ranch in Malibu, California.

Malibu, CA (PRWEB) July 08, 2012

ACT Today! (Autism Care and Treatment Today!), a national non-profit organization whose mission is to provide access to care and treatment to children with autism, announces it will honor “Criminal Minds” star Joe Mantegna and KCBS 2 and KCAL 9’s President and General Manager Steve Mauldin at its 7th Annual Denim & Diamonds for Autism fundraiser on Saturday, November 3, 2012 at the Calamigos Ranch in Malibu, California. Over 500 guests are expected to attend the red carpet fundraiser, including corporate leaders, celebrities, dignitaries and other autism supporters.

“Honoring Joe Mantegna was an easy decision. He hosted our ACT Today! for Military Families public service announcement and has hosted ACT Today!’s charity golf tournament for the last three years,” says ACT Today!’s Executive Director Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson. “He and his wife Arlene have two daughters. The elder, Mia is 18 and had autism.”

“I’m a firm believer you play the cards you’re dealt in life,” says Joe, during a recent interview. “I wish she didn’t have to deal with it, but she’s a happy girl. She knows she’s autistic but it doesn’t seem to impact her in a negative way as much as it does the support group around her. We try to keep her as involved in the world as possible, and it’s okay. People are kind and understanding if you meet them half-way and her sister (Gina) is a remarkable human being.”

Alspaugh-Jackson says ACT Today! is honoring Steve Mauldin because to families dealing with a child with autism, Mauldin is known as a tireless champion and fundraiser. His daughter Stephanie, one of his four children, has autism. Mauldin started the autism community resource fair called Stephanie’s Day in her honor.

“What Stephanie’s Day provides for families is invaluable,” says Alspaugh-Jackson. “As a mother of a child with autism, I know firsthand how important credible resources are and the difference they can make in the lives of families struggling to stay afloat and get answers to their questions.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in every 88 children in America is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), making ASD more prevalent than juvenile diabetes, childhood cancer and pediatric AIDS combined.

Proceeds from the 7th Annual Denim & Diamonds for Autism fundraiser will make it possible for ACT Today! to continuing providing families access to therapy, medical care, assistance dogs, social skills programs, assistive technology, and even safety equipment like helmets for the self-injurious children, as well as fencing for those who wander.

To date the event sponsors, include: Vin Di Bona Productions, Reaction Audio Visual, TWIW Insurance Services, LLC., Natrol, Sandy and David Stone, Universal City Nissan, Wells Fargo, CodeMetro, City National Bank, Burbank Printing, Charity Lives, Linda Bertch, Isabella Emporium, and The Resort at Pelican Hill.

For more information about the 7th Annual Denim & Diamonds for Autism, visit