Aurora Illinois Toyota Dealer Makes Fighting Autism a Priority

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A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control has found that autism now affects one out of every 110 children in America. According to the organization Autism Speaks, "these new findings reinforce that autism is an urgent and growing public health crisis that affects individuals across their lifespan and demands a commensurate level of action from both the public and private sectors."

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these new findings reinforce that autism is an urgent and growing public health crisis that affects individuals across their lifespan and demands a commensurate level of action from both the public and private sectors.

A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control has found that autism now affects one out of every 110 children in America. According to the organization Autism Speaks, "these new findings reinforce that autism is an urgent and growing public health crisis that affects individuals across their lifespan and demands a commensurate level of action from both the public and private sectors."

One Chicago-area business that is taking action against autism is Toyota of Naperville. A decade ago Toyota of Naperville co-owner Randy Wolf and his wife Kim learned that their son, who is now 12, had been diagnosed with autism. That startling finding galvanized them into action, and they committed their Toyota dealership and their other dealership franchises to donate $50 for every vehicle sold during Autism Awareness Month each April. So far, they've been able to raise as much as $50,000 — money that has gone to support the organizations Cure Autism Now and Autism speaks.

Dan Wolf, who shares co-owner responsibilities in Toyota of Naperville with his brother Randy, says finding an effective way to help was important to him. "We could have just written a check," he told the publication Toyota Today in an interview. "But we thought it would be better to make a couple of hundred people aware of autism at the same time we made a donation. That was our goal."

Each donation is given in the name of the customer who made the qualifying car purchase. "We give our customers a certificate that tells them we are making a donation in their name," said Dan. "It lists key facts and directs them to Web sites for more information."

After ten years, the Wolf family's effort to help children with autism continues to grow and evolve. Finding that their community needed an educational institution designed around the needs of autistic children, they created the Turning Pointe Autism Foundation in Naperville. Donations from the Toyota of Naperville dealership now help support the new Foundation, which aims to open a new school. It is a tremendous undertaking, but one that is sorely needed both for autistic children in Naperville and as an example for others to follow.

"We're still involved with Autism Speaks, which is a great organization," Randy Wolf told Toyota Today. "But one in 150 kids will be diagnosed with autism. That's a staggering number  and there's no real plan to handle it. We're not trying to franchise the school. We're not trying to cure the world. But perhaps we can inspire others to organize their community to do something similar."

Their efforts have proven popular with Toyota of Naperville's customers. "I can't tell you how many people who, after becoming more aware, just pull out their checkbooks and make a donation on the spot," says Dan.

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Gregg Elmore
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