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CEO of NBC Universal speaks on autism

So on May 26, Bob Wright, GE Vice Chairman and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NBC Universal, delivered the commencement address to the graduating class of 2006 at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. Wright is a 1965 graduate of the school. A total of 697 students graduated at this year’s ceremony, the college’s 160th.

It appears he gave a private speech which included:

"And two years ago, our first grandchild was diagnosed with autism, something that has changed my life in dramatic fashion.

As Father McFarland mentioned, my wife Suzanne and I have created a foundation called Autism Speaks, dedicated to raising awareness and research funding for the most prevalent childhood developmental disorder in the nation, affecting 1 in 166 children and 1 in 104 boys.

Autism is a neurological disorder often accompanied by severe medical problems. There are genetic and environmental components. A diagnosis can be made as early as one year old but most children are not properly diagnosed until between 3 and 7, thus missing out on potentially critical early treatment.

Even though autism is the most prevalent serious developmental disorder in the nation, autism research receives only three-tenths of 1 percent of the NIH’
s annual $30 billion budget!

How is this possible in the richest country in the world!?

We had to take on this challenge!

Our foundation Autism Speaks has 65 full-time employees and hundreds of volunteers in 20 states. Last year, we raised $40 million and our goal is to raise $100 million every year! It’s a lofty goal and one that will be very hard to achieve … but that’s what goals are all about.

We are a force in Washington, lobbying Congress and the White House, meeting with the CDC and the FDA. We will call, we will write, we will lobby, we will persuade, and we won’t give up until we fund the necessary research and get the answers we need.

Outside of my day job at NBC Universal, this is my—and my wife’s—crusade.
Why did we do it? Because we asked ourselves: “If not us … then who?”

You will have many, many chances to make contributions of time or money to different worthy causes. In some special cases, you, too, will have to ask the
question: “If not me … then who?”

I hope each of you finds your own cause to crusade for. "

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