Autism Speaks Co-Founder Suzanne Wright Dies At 69

According to NBC News, Suzanne Wright, the co-founder of the organization Autism Speaks, passed away in her home in Connecticut on Friday. The co-founder of Autism Speaks was 69 years old when she died.

“What Suzanne Wright has done to raise awareness of autism is immeasurable,” Autism Speaks Chairman of the Board of Directors Brian Kelly and President and CEO Angela Geiger said in a statement.

“Suzanne sparked a global conversation with one question: How can we help people with autism live their best possible lives?”

Suzanne Wright died after battling for nine months against pancreatic cancer. Wright was surrounded by all of her friends and family members when she passed away.

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It was back in 2005 that Suzanne founded Autism Speaks with her husband and NBC CEO Bob Wright. The purpose of the organization was to raise funds to be used for researching causes, preventions, treatments, and cures for autism. According to NBC News, Autism Speaks has been able to raise more than $570 million since it was founded in 2005. Suzanne Wright and her husband Bob made the decision to found Autism Speaks after their grandson, Christian, was diagnosed as autistic when he was two and a half years old.

With the help of Wright’s leadership and vision, Autism Speaks was able to become one of the leading autism science and advocacy organizations. According to the Autism Speaks website, Suzanne played an integral role in creating the iconic blue puzzle piece logo that, today, is recognized around the world as a symbol for autism. Through this organization, Suzanne and her husband Bob Wright were able to work with the Ad Council and BBDO Worldwide to create a 10-year public service campaign which has been credited for providing tons of families with education regarding how to spot early signs of autism.

Suzanne Wright is also responsible for being the person who led the signature global awareness initiatives of Autism Speaks. It was the determination and passion of Suzanne Wright which led to the United Nations agreeing to recognize April 2 as World Autism Day. Wright is also responsible for launching the annual World Focus on Autism as well as the international Light It Up Blue campaign. This past year there were homes, buildings, and landmarks in 157 different countries which participated in the Light It Up Blue campaign.

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Those involved in the autism community took to social media with heavy hearts to mourn the loss of the co-founder of Autism Speaks as she played such a crucial role in the awareness of this spectrum disorder:

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Suzanne Wright will be remembered forever by those in the autism community for everything she was able to do for those affected by the spectrum disorder.

It was on December 16, 1946, when Suzanne Wright was born. James Werner, a lieutenant in the New York Police Department and combat veteran of World War II, and Ruth Tobin Werner were the parents of the co-founder of Autism Speaks. She was a high school senior when she first met Bob Wright, the man who would become her husband.

Suzanne and Bob were married in 1967 in between Bob’s second and third year of law school. After getting married, the two moved into married student housing on the campus. Suzanne took a job as the assistant to the manager of the Monticello Hotel in order to help support her husband while he continued to go to law school. Suzanne put all of her ambitions and goals on hold in order to focus on raising her three children while supporting her husband’s business career. Her husband’s business career included:

  • a federal court legal clerkship
  • private legal practice
  • positions of increasing responsibility at General Electric
  • president of Cox Enterprises
  • president and CEO of NBC

Suzanne and her husband Bob Wright moved their entire household 11 different times during the first 15 years they were married in order to support Bob’s career path.

In addition to being remembered as the co-founder of Autism Speaks, Suzanne Wright will be remembered as a supportive wife, a loving mother, and a loving grandmother.

Rest in peace, Suzanne Wright.

[Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images]