April is National Autism Awareness Month, and today is World Autism Awareness Day! World Autism Awareness Day was started by Autism Speaks six years ago to raise funds and awareness for people and families affected by autism. Autism affects 1 in 88 children in the U.S., and costs families $66,000 a year on average! The following celebs champion autism research, treatment, and education.
+ Andrew Jenks
In a recent episode of "World of Jenks," Andrew Jenks coached Chad -- a 20-year-old with autism -- through his first kiss ever! Chad was a fan favorite on the first season of the show and Jenks is following him again on the second season. Chad has many touching milestones on air -- from attending prom, getting his first GF and graduating high school -- all while shedding a much-needed light on the lives of young people living with autism.
+ Kate Winslet
Kate Winslet's Golden Hat Foundation spreads awareness of the intellectual capabilities of people with autism. To raise money, Kate passed her fave hat and an old camera to 100 of her celeb friends (including Justin Timberlake and Zac Efron), then compiled the self-portraits in a book entitled "The Golden Hat: Talking Back to Autism." "It makes me incredibly proud to work on this effort to bring awareness to the plight of people with autism. I believe that all people with autism should be given the opportunity to learn to communicate, receive a suitable academic education and experience social relationships," says Kate.
+ Toni Braxton
Grammy Award-winning singer Toni Braxton's son Diesel was diagnosed with autism as a toddler. "They haven't figured out what triggers [Autism], but whatever it is, I don't care," she told OK!. "Find a cure. Help my kid; help all the other kids." Donate to Autism Speaks to give children like Diesel a voice and bring them closer to a cure.
+ Katherine Heigl
+ Jenny McCarthy
When Jenny McCarthy's son Evan was diagnosed with autism, she found similar stories and helpful resources on Generation Rescue's website. Now the President of GR, Jenny explains how the site first helped her: "I read every single testimonial Generation Rescue posted. I tried every single option, followed every single piece of advice. I did this very methodically, and very privately -- just me, a mother trying everything to recover my son.
+ Katy Perry
Katy Perry performed at last year's "Night of Too Many Stars" -- a Comedy Central event to raise funds and awareness for various autism programs. After a moving "Firework" duet with autistic tween Jodi DiPiazza, Katy Tweeted, "I will never forget last night. It was the most important moment thus far of what I do."
+ Carly Rae Jepsen
Carly Rae Jepsen and Harvey Keitel also performed a hilarious version of her hit song "Call Me Maybe" at "Night of Too Many Stars." Call Autism Speaks' Autism Response Team at (888) 288-4762 for help and resources.
+ Will Ferrell
Last year, Autism Speaks sold a limited number of custom-recorded voice messages from celebs like Will Ferrell, Morgan Freeman, and Betty White. 100% of the proceeds went to Autism Speaks and their efforts to help people and families affected by Autism.
Follow the action widgets below to learn of the many ways you can join Autism Speaks in raising funds and spreading awareness today and every day.