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Taylor Hicks
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American Idol winner, other celebs turn out for autism benefit

Lower Hudson Journal news - West Harrison, NY, USA - On a day when Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate battled for the U.S. Open title in California, singer Taylor Hicks was one of dozens of celebrities at Winged Foot Golf Club yesterday to raise an estimated $1 million for the Autism Speaks charity.

Hicks, who won the fifth season of "American Idol" and is guest-starring in "Grease" on Broadway, said the cause is important to him.

"One of my dad's best friend's sons has autism," he said, moments before practicing his swing at the driving range. "When I heard about this particular event, I wanted to make sure I got out and tried to get involved with it and bring some attention to the disease."

Autism spectrum disorders are developmental disabilities that impair social interaction and communication, and cause unusual behavior, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Former NBC Chairman Bob Wright and wife Suzanne co-founded Autism Speaks in 2005 after doctors diagnosed one of their grandchildren with autism. The charity's mission is to facilitate "global research into the causes, treatments and an eventual cure," according to its Web site.

Rye resident Kevin Murray founded the New York Celebrity Golf Challenge, which had its 10th anniversary this year. An Autism Speaks executive board member, Murray has a 15-year-old son, Owen, living with the disorder.

"Because of this event, we were able to provide a platform so that we could connect the autism community, giving it a greater voice," he said, "not just with researchers but on the ground in Washington and with the general public.

Returning to the New York Celebrity Golf Challenge for a fourth year, former New York Giants cornerback Jeremy Lincoln said he has two friends in Ohio who live with autism.

"It's something that hits close to home, and I really love being a part of it," said Lincoln, who said he picks up golf tips from former Giants teammate Phillippi Sparks and financial ones from Murray.

Trey Wingo, host of ESPN's "SportsCenter," made his first appearance at the golf benefit yesterday. He said that in addition to being friends with families affected by autism, he and his wife were concerned for a time that their daughter had the disorder.
Source : Originally Published Lower Hudson Journal news - West Harrison, NY, USA, Jun 17, 2008
Celebrities : Taylor Hicks
Categories : Musician News, American Idol, Celebrity Causes, Celebrity News
Posted 6/17/2008 12:06:57 AM | Permalink
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