Seattle, WA (Aug. 21, 2008) – Autism Speaks, the nation’s largest autism advocacy organization, today announced that Melanie Roach, Olympic weightlifter, mother of a child with autism, owner of Roach Gymnastics and wife of Rep. Dan Roach has been named Honorary Co-Chair for the Seattle Walk Now for Autism on October 4, 2008, at Dempsey Indoor Arena at the University of Washington. Melanie holds the record as the first woman to lift double her weight. At these Olympics she lifted a career best and set a new American Record for weightlifting. However, as Melanie says it takes an even stronger person than a weightlifter to be the parent of a child with autism. To view her interview on The Today Show visit: http://www.autismspeaks.org/inthenews/melanie_roach_today.php
Greg “Mutt” Haugen also named Honorary Co-Chair for the Walk is a three time lightweight world boxing champion and the grandfather of a child with autism. He was recently named to the Boxing Hall of Fame. He began a foundation called The Greg Haugen Foundation which will champion the cause to fight autism. Haugen’s mission is “To work to find the cure and the cause of autism, and provide a safe, healthy environment for all the kids of our community, guided by the greatest champions in the world.” Haugen has also put together his own walk team for the event called, Team Haugen. To learn more about Haugen’s foundation visit: www.greghaugenfoundation.com
“Melanie’s & Greg’s experience working with youth make them the ideal people to lead our fantastic team of dedicated volunteers in Seattle,” said Shawna Horn, Autism Speaks’ Senior Regional Director of Field Operations. “We are excited to build on the success of last year’s Walk Now for Autism event and expand the ranks of both walkers and donors.”
In honor of the occasion, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels issued a proclamation declaring October 4, 2008 to be Autism Awareness Day! Mayor Nickels urges all Seattle citizens to find ways to assist those with autism, including participation in the annual Walk Now for Autism.
Last year’s Seattle’s Walk Now for Autism event attracted over 2,000 walkers and raised more than $300,000 for autism research and services. For more information about the 2008 Seattle Walk Now for Autism, visit www.WalkNowForAutism.org/seattle .