New York Collaborates for Autism Kicks Off Autism Awareness Month With The #TwizzlerChallenge

Viral Phenomenon Encourages Everyone to Participate, Donate and Share

Apr 01, 2015, 16:49 ET from New York Collaborates for Autism

NEW YORK, April 1, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- New York Collaborates for Autism (NYCA) kicks off Autism Awareness Month in April with the #TwizzlerChallenge, which began by chance a few short weeks ago and is now exploding into a viral phenomenon. The #TwizzlerChallenge was born by accident during Comedy Central's Night of Too Many Stars: America Comes Together for Autism Programs benefit hosted by Jon Stewart on March 8, 2015.  NYCA and Comedy Central have been producing the biennial event together since 2006 and have raised more than $22 million to support schools, programs and services for people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) nationwide. 

The challenge originated during a comedy bit on Night of Too Many Stars, in which Jon Stewart asked viewers to tweet suggestions for phone bank celebrities to celebrate fundraising milestones.  A Twitter user, @FredKatz, nominated Willie Giest (TODAY) & Uzo Aduba (Orange is the New Black) to reenact the spaghetti scene from Lady and the Tramp with a piece of licorice during the live telethon.

Geist, appearing on the Meredith Vieira show a week later, was challenged by Vieira to recreate the event.  At that time, the challenge became known as the "Twizzler Challenge." Vieira also donated $5,000 to NYCA.  The challenge has since grabbed the attention of numerous celebrities, news personalities and the general public. Thousands across the country have since participated in the challenge and shown support by donating to NYCA, helping increase support and awareness for autism.

"We are profoundly grateful for the support that the #TwizzlerChallenge has provided our organization and incredibly excited to see that the challenge is fueling the national conversation about autism," said Ilene Lainer, President of NYCA.  "The donations from the #TwizzlerChallenge will be used to fund quality autism programs, schools and services across the country for people with ASD and will help empower them to live fulfilling and joyful lives."

Even the iconic Twizzlers brand took notice. The brand's management team immediately got involved by taking the challenge, donating to the cause and helping to drive awareness and additional donations to NYCA.

Autism now affects an estimated 1 in 68 American children (1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls).  While many great organizations focus primarily on research, New York Collaborates for Autism and Night of Too Many Stars focuses on raising funds to support autism schools, programs and services. Our focus is to help those living with autism right now.

Join the #TwizzlerChallenge by participating in the challenge, donating to New York Collaborates for Autism and sharing your experience on social media with a nomination of others to join the fun. Someone you know loves someone with autism. Why not dedicate your challenge to them?

Visit to donate and to help support schools, programs and services for people with autism nationwide. 

About NYC4A

New York Collaborates for Autism (NYCA) is a non-profit organization that strategically designs and launches innovative, one-of-a-kind programs to improve the lives of people living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  Using an entrepreneurial approach, NYCA seeks to transform the current landscape of autism services and challenge the status quo by creating programs and opportunities that empower people with ASD to live fulfilling and joyful lives. NYCA collaborates with national thought leaders, partners with leading community-based organizations, provides tactical expertise and critical early-stage management, and raises vital seed money. NYCA sees the possibilities and creates the path. For a full portfolio of programs, visit

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SOURCE New York Collaborates for Autism