What would be a better way for celebrities to use their star power than to support the leading childhood epidemic in the world?
On October 21, 2010, Comedy Central used star power to bring awareness and raise funding for autism through “Night of Too Many Stars: An Overbooked Concert for Autism Education”.
A little background on autism: According to the Autism Society of America, one percent of children aged 3 to 17 have an autism spectrum disorder. The current rate is 1 out of every 110 children born (1 in 70 boys), and the rate of autism cases rises 10 to 17 percent every year. There is no cure for autism, there is no known cause. In fact, very little is known about this increasingly common childhood disorder. Besides research money, schools and government agencies are underfunded and unprepared to deal with the increased demand for services that the growing cases are causing.
Comedy Central explains, “”Night of Too Many Stars” will benefit a variety of autism education and family service programs across the country, in support of the overabundance of autistic individuals that so desperately need quality services. One exciting new initiative is The Institute for Brain Development – an all-inclusive diagnosis and treatment center positioned to undertake groundbreaking collaborative research into the causes and treatment of autism spectrum disorders. The Institute is the product of New York Center for Autism’s partnership with New York-Presbyterian and its affiliated medical school of Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons and Weill Cornell Medical College.”
According to the Comedy Central: Night of Too Many Stars page, “Performers raising money to help ease the severe shortage of effective schools and education programs for autistic children and adults include Lewis Black, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey, Ricky Gervais, Joel McHale, John Oliver, Chris Rock, Sarah Silverman, Triumph The Insult Comic Dog and many more to be announced.”
And all their hard work on the show paid off: the show has raised over 7 million dollars for autism since 2005. Parents, educators and advocates everywhere can celebrate that.
Besides the show, Comedy Central also promoted three causes that won Pepsi Refresh Projects funding related to autism:
The CommunityWorks® program in Arizona mentors autistic teens ages 13-18, helping them with social skills and to graduate from high school, volunteer in their communities and go to college and get competitive, tax-paying employment.
The Autism Program of Illinois’ TAP is the largest statewide network of services in the nation for autistic individuals and their families. TAP’s training improves the prognosis for children in classrooms across Illinois; TAP has trained more than 300 educators in the Chicago public school system alone.
The New England Center for Children (NECC) has been a leader in the field of autistic education for 30 years. The Autism Curriculum Encyclopedia® (ACE) is a comprehensive computer program containing academic instruction such as lesson plans, assessments and data analysis tools.
Comedy Central: “Night of Too Many Stars”
Autism Society of America: What is Autism