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Empire State Building Among Global Landmarks Going Blue For Autism Awareness

Empire State Building participates in Light it up Blue campaign for Autism Speaks (file/credit: lightitupblue.org

Empire State Building participates in Light it up Blue campaign for Autism Speaks (file/credit: lightitupblue.org

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – In honor of World Autism Awareness Day, thousands of famous sites around the world are going blue.

Yoko Ono flipped the switch that symbolically lit the Empire State Building in blue on Tuesday afternoon. The iconic skyscraper will be illuminated in all blue Tuesday evening.

As WCBS 880’s John Metaxas reported, about 7,000 monuments worldwide planned to participate in the Autism SpeaksLight it up Blue” campaign, including the Sydney Opera House, the George Washington Bridge, the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and the Great Pyramids in Egypt.

“Because it’s mainly boys. And the color of the sky and the sea, and it’s four-to-one boys to girls,” Autism Speaks founder Suzanne Wright told Metaxas.

Suzanne and former NBC chief Bob Wright founded the organization when their grandson was diagnosed with autism.

“People have to be aware and that’s our biggest single issue,” Bob Wright told Metaxas.

Parents Diane and Scott Marshall of Montclair, New Jersey were also on hand for the Empire State Building lighting on Tuesday to call for a national policy to deal with what they called the epidemic of autism.

“Our son is 16 and it might seem far away to other people, but soon he’s going to be 21 and our system isn’t ready for these kids to age out,” Diane Marshall told Metaxas.

“What we need is a national mandate to find appropriate places for these children and opportunities for these children,” Scott Marshall added.

The organization has raised hundreds of millions of dollars but researchers are still looking for a cure.

In recognition of Autism Awareness Month, Major League Baseball announced that all 30 teams will support the initiative during a home game this season.

“Autism affects many of our fans and members of the baseball family,” said Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig. “Many Clubs are longstanding supporters of the autism community. As an extension of those efforts, Major League Baseball is very proud to educate our fans through the MLB Autism Awareness initiative.”

On Monday, Connecticut lawmakers joined in as the Town of Simsbury participated in the “Light it up Blue” campaign.

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Etsy and State Rep. John Hampton, all Democrats, and members of the town council joined families affected by autism at the recognition event Monday.

They gathered at Eno Memorial Hall, a local landmark that will be lit with blue light during the month of April.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates one in 88 people are affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

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