In 2005, Bob and Suzanne Wright teamed up with longtime friend Bernie Marcus to spotlight autism and jumpstart the research necessary to understand it. They founded Autism Speaks in the wake of the birth of their autistic grandchild and the organization has gone on to become the leading voice in autism awareness, advocacy and support.
An estimated one in 88 children is on the autism spectrum. The spectrum spans a host of social and behavioral challenges, the effects of complex brain disorders. Given autism’s broad reach, the organization has deemed it a global health crisis and is leading the march towards causes, prevention and ultimately, a cure. Autism Speaks has teamed up with Google to conduct genetic research relating to the disorder.
Kelley Fitzsimonds, beverage manager at Bull & Crown Publick House and Taberna del Caballo in Florida knows about autism firsthand. His son has autism and he is keen on making sure others know about the disorder. “People often look at my son like it is a discipline issue or that he is just being ‘bad’ when it’s something he can’t help,” he says. “I think the more people are educated on autism, the less judgmental people will be on us when we’re in public.”
Restaurant co-owner Ann Salazar of Salazar’s in Cincinnati has a nephew with autism. “We know how it affects families in so many ways and makes you feel helpless,” she says. “We hope as more awareness and research becomes available, autistic children and their families will have more resources as well as treatments.”
During Negroni Week, both restaurants are donating a portion of Negroni sales to Autism Speaks, and a number of other venues across the country have also chosen the organization.