Patrick Dempsey races for Autism Awareness

GREY'S ANATOMY STAR PATRICK DEMPSEY TAKES 11TH PLACE FOR AUTISM AWARENESS IN TROIS RIVIERES Dempsey competed in Mazda MX-5 Cup championship event driving the Autism Speaks ...


Dempsey competed in Mazda MX-5 Cup championship event driving the Autism Speaks #29 during the Grand Prix de Trois Rivieres

(TROIS RIVIERES, QC -- August 22, 2007) Patrick Dempsey got behind the wheel of the Autism Speaks #29 Mazda MX-5 racecar at this weekend's Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières and drove his way to 11th place out of 29-cars. This was his first appearance in the Mazda MX-5 Cup championship series this year and he was proud to represent autism awareness. The star of ABC's hit show, Grey's Anatomy, recognizes the important role Autism Speaks plays in the lives of families affected by autism spectrum disorder.

"We're seeing more cases of Autism being diagnosed and we don't know where it's coming from or why it's happening, mostly in boys," Dempsey said. "I have two young sons and it's certainly a concern of mine. I think for anyone who's a parent and anyone who has to go through this, it's a difficult thing, but there's a lot of help out there. The big thing is to be aware and watch if you have a newborn. Talk to your doctor to educate yourself about it. That's why it's great to be a part of Autism Speaks."

Dempsey, an avid racing fan and driver, has been busy working on a new movie and could not compete in the series until this past weekend. He qualified the Autism Speaks Mazda MX-5 in the 16th position and worked his way up to 11th by the end of the race.

The owner of the car, professional race driver and driver coach, Marc Miller, and his family have been personally touched by Autism. His son, Evan, was recently diagnosed with the disorder. The Holland, MI native approached Autism Speaks prior to the first race of the season to offer up whatever support he could and the "puzzle piece" logo has been prominently displayed in each race since.

"Before Evan was diagnosed, I had very little clue as to what autism was," said Miller. "I wanted an outlet so that my family could share with others what we have learned over the past couple of years. I am very thankful to for working with me to help spread awareness of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It has been a very meaningful project for my entire family. I hope to continue to be an advocate throughout my racing career."

Dempsey will be back behind the wheel for the final round of the Mazda MX-5 Cup championship on September 14-15 at Miller Motorsports Park in Salt Lake City, UT.

"Patrick has been incredibly supportive and very gracious in lending his support to Autism awareness," continued Miller. "He is also quite a good race driver with a lot of passion and focus. I am looking forward to working with him again at the next race and hopefully have an even stronger finish for the Autism Speaks MX-5."

Autism is a complex brain disorder that inhibits a person's ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by extreme behavioral challenges. Autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed in one in 150 children, affecting four times as many boys as girls. The diagnosis of autism has increased tenfold in the last decade. There is no known cause or cure for autism. In Canada, supports and services for those on the autism spectrum vary both between and within provinces.

Autism Speaks is dedicated to increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders, to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and cure for autism, and to advocating for the needs of affected families. It was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Bob Wright is Vice Chairman, General Electric, and served as chief executive officer of NBC for more than twenty years. Autism Speaks has merged with both the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) and Cure Autism Now (CAN), bringing together the three leading autism advocacy organization in the United States. Autism Speaks Canada was established in 2004 and shares the same mission as it U.S. partner. To-date over $1 million has been raised through three grassroots Walks for Autism in Ontario. Since 1998, over $5 million has been granted to the Canadian Autism Research Community by Autism Speaks (and formerly NAAR and CAN). Plans to expand the Walks across Canada are underway along with other events and initiatives to increase supports and services to families, raise awareness among all Canadians and attract more funding for research into the causes, prevention, treatments and cure for autism.

To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit or

Marc lives in Holland, MI with his wife, Jackie, and two sons, Evan and Seth. Early in 2007, Evan was diagnosed with autism and the family has worked very hard to cope with the disorder. To date, The Miller family has seen great success and hope, in large part from early intervention programs and research that organizations such as have helped create.

Marc is a professional driver and driver coach for Team MER, the leading Mazda team in MX-5 Cup. He has been a champion and race winner in stock cars, karting, formula 1200, formula ford and SRF over the years. In Marc's four seasons of running a limited schedule in CASCAR, he had amasses five "top-rookie qualifying" awards and was "top rookie" twice in 2004. In 2005, Miller had a pair of 7th place finishes at the Toronto Molson Indy and the 300-lap event at Race City in Calgary. Marc routinely ran in the top-6 in all three of his events in 2006. Marc currently owns a successful Marketing and Graphic Design Firm, MMP Design, while also acting as a professional driving instructor. He pursued a degree in Marketing and Communications from Western Michigan University to help him be better suited as a professional race driver. Learn more about Marc at

-credit: mms

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Series Charity , SCCA
Drivers Patrick Dempsey