Cary Mom Asks Facebook Users to 'Chase the Hope' for $1,000,000 in Autism Funding

Chase Community Giving provides opportunity for expanded programs benefitting families affected by autism

Jan 20, 2010, 07:00 ET from National Autism Association

CARY, N.C., Jan. 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Cary mom and National Autism Association (NAA) co-founder Lori McIlwain joins parents, grandparents, and caregivers around the country in asking Facebook users to vote for the National Autism Association in the Chase Community Giving challenge. NAA, the only organization in the challenge that is strictly devoted to autism, is in the running for $1 million dollars to be awarded to the top vote-getter in the program which ends January 22.

(Logo: )

"NAA provides real hope and real help to families. With just one click of a button, people can make a difference for the one in 110 children now diagnosed with autism," said Ms. McIlwain, mother to a 9-year-old son with the disorder.  "Although autism affects more children than any other medical condition, it receives the least amount of funding.  Families are struggling to survive the financial and emotional trials that autism presents, with even the most basic treatments and services often out of reach. One million dollars would make a tremendous difference for the programs NAA already has in place to help these families."

The $1 million award would allow NAA to significantly broaden its existing assistance programs, which address the most critical needs among families impacted by autism.  These programs include Helping Hand, which assists families in funding desperately needed treatments and therapies for their children, and FOUND, which McIlwain helped establish in 2008 to combat the rise in wandering-related deaths in the autism community. McIlwain's own son went missing from a Bright Horizons day camp near Davis Drive in late 2007. He was found nearly an hour later on a side street by a passerby.

Through NAA, FOUND provided $7000.00 in funds to the Orange County's Sheriff's Office in Chapel Hill to adopt the Project Lifesaver Program, which helps track missing persons with autism and other disabilities. It's just one of the many counties NAA has funded and hopes to fund.

In addition to its family care programs, NAA advocates for the most relevant scientific research, legislation for access to medical care, coverage for medical and safety devices, services and support over the life span and protection from abuse towards individuals with autism.  The award money would allow for enhanced legislative and educational efforts for these crucial issues facing thousands of families nationwide.

"Autism is a national emergency that has gone neglected for far too long," according to Ms. McIlwain. "This is an easy way for those who care about these kids and their families to help them get the assistance they desperately need."

To vote for NAA in Chase Community Giving on Facebook, go to

To share "Chase the Hope" messages on Facebook, visit


Rita Shreffler (Nixa, MO) 401-632-6452

Wendy Fournier (Portsmouth, RI) 401-835-5828

SOURCE National Autism Association