Originally posted on Bonfire Impact  |  Last updated 4/19/13
Autism is blinded by color, gender, and even celebrity standing.  Many celebrities have joined organizations in supporting the research and advocacy for autism.  But others have been touched by it in a more personal way—their children.   TONI BRAXTON, AUTISM SPEAKS Six-time award winning singer and songwriter, Toni Braxton has a son, Diesel, who was diagnosed with autism at three years old. In 2011, she told OK! Magazine how she blamed herself for his condition.  She thought perhaps it was the medication she was on before she became pregnant or because she hadn’t taken her prenatal vitamins every day. However, six years later her son’s condition has improved tremendously (he’s even acted alongside his mother in Lifetime movie Twist of Fate) and Braxton credits early diagnosis. Braxton’s personal connection to autism and advocacy efforts has matured her to be named Global Autism Ambassador of Autism Speaks.  She first started out as the organization’s spokesperson in 2007.  Autism Speaks is the world’s leading autism organization toward awareness, advocacy, and research for causes, preventions, and a cure.     DAN MARINO, THE DAN MARINO FOUNDATION Dan Marino is not only one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, he is also one of the greatest game changers in the autism community. When he first found out about his son Michael having autism he wasn’t really sure about its severity until it was explained to him. Instead of looking at the negative aspects of the situation, Marino and his wife Claire started a foundation to help their son and thousands of others. 1992 was the beginning of the Dan Marino Foundation, and today it still creates awareness and opportunities for the autistic community through comprehensive treatment programs, outreach services, independence-building programs, transitional day-to-day living programs, employment opportunities, and of course, advancing scientific research. The organization has been blessed in raising over $37 million toward funding state-of-the-art research and building the Children’s Hospital Dan Marino Center in Miami and the Marino Campus. “More than 25,000 children are seen at the Center each year equating to approximately 60,000 patient visits annually,” says their website—and it doesn’t look like they’ll be slowing down any time soon. Marino told Katie Couric on The Today Show, “Doctors will tell you not to say it, but for me, he’s cured. There’s not a problem and he won’t have a problem the rest of his life.”   JENNY MCCARTHY, GENERATION RESCUE Since her son Evan was diagnosed with autism at two years old, Jenny McCarthy has been a very active advocate for autism awareness.  She had thought vaccines were responsible for her son’s condition, even though research had concluded differently. She started Jenny McCarthy’s Autism Organization, was a spokesperson for Talk About Curing Autism,  and later became the President of Generation Rescue, “a national non-profit organization providing immediate treatment assistant, information, and hope to families affected by autism spectrum disorders” as stated from their website. She has written several books on the relationship between autism and parenting: Louder Than Words: A Mother’s Journey in Healing Autism, Mother Warriors: A Nation of Parents Healing Autism Against All Odds, and Healing and Preventing Autism. McCarthy told CNN, “I will work my [butt] off raising awareness for autism and banging down doors to get answers,” and it doesn’t seem likely for her to stop.   For more story coverage, clink on the links below: Autism Speaks Names Toni Braxton Global Autism Ambassador Marino Family Fights Against Autism Jenny McCarthy on Autism and Vaccines   Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
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