by ADN

March 30, 2015

The Twizzler Challenge got started on "Night of Too Many Stars" fundraiser when “Today” show’s Willie Geist and Uzo Aduba of “Orange Is the New Black” were challenged to share a Twizzler ala “Lady and the Tramp” style. (Screengrab/YouTube)
The Twizzler Challenge got started on “Night of Too Many Stars” fundraiser when “Today” show’s Willie Geist and Uzo Aduba of “Orange Is the New Black” were challenged to share a Twizzler ala “Lady and the Tramp” style. (Screengrab/YouTube)

What did you think when Meredith Vieira started the Challenge?

 New York Collaborates for Autism (NYCA), is proud to be the organization supported by the #TwizzlerChallenge, which began by chance during Comedy Central’s “Night of Too Many Stars: American Comes Together for Autism Programs” benefit hosted by Jon Stewart on March 8th.

The #TwizzlerChallenge was started by Meredith Vieira after seeing a comedy bit on Night of Too Many Stars in which Jon Stewart asked viewers to tweet suggestions for phone bank celebrities to celebrate fundraising milestones.  A Twitter user, @FredKatz nominated, Willie Giest (TODAY) & Uzo Aduba (Orange is the New Black), to reenact the spaghetti scene from Lady and the Tramp with a piece of licorice during the live telethon.  Viera then invited Geist on her own show to do the scene again, branded it “The Twizzler Challenge” and donated $5,000 to NYCA.  The challenge has grabbed the  attention of numerous celebrities, news personalities and the general public. Thousands across the country have since participated in the challenge and showed support by donating to NYCA.

The donations from the #TwizzlerChallenge will be used to fund quality schools and family service programs across the country for people with ASD and will help empower them to live fulfilling and joyful lives. Donations can be made at:

image taken from the New York Collaborates for Autism Facebook page

What, if anything, are you doing to promote the Challenge? And how long do you expect it to last? 

Until now NYCA has not been promoting the #TwizzlerChallenge through any planned strategies.  We have been enthusiastically watching the organic coverage from the sidelines.  Our hope now is to utilize this platform to create a positive dialogue about autism and to raise not only awareness but much needed funding for important services for individuals with autism and their families across the country.

We are working to launch a new microsite that will include more background about the Twizzler Challenge, easy-to-access links to donate and select stories that showcase how the services and resources provided by NYCA help empower people with autism to live fulfilling and joyful lives.

Can you tell me a little about how much was raised so far from “Night of Too Many Stars” and how the money will be dispersed? 

Night of Too Many Stars benefits a variety of autism programs across the country, in support of the overabundance of individuals with autism that so desperately need quality services.  While many great organizations focus primarily on research, Night of Too Many Stars and New York Collaborates for Autism raise funds to support autism schools, programs and services. Our focus is to help those living with autism right now.

Since 2006, Night of Too Many Stars has raised over $22 million, giving children and adults with autism the chance they deserve to learn, to contribute and to live the fullest lives possible.  In 2012, Night of Too Many Stars and NYCA gave almost $4 million to help support 52 programs in 20 states reaching hundreds of individuals, families and communities living with autism. You can see a full list of our grantees from the 2012 benefit here, applications for grants from the funds raised at 2015 event have not yet been reviewed by the grants committee.

SONY DSCWhat can individuals do to contribute and share?

We encourage everyone to Participate, Donate and Share:

  • Participate in the #TwizzlerChallenge by filming yourself and another participant taking the challenge.
  • Donate at to help fund programs and services that help those living with autism now.
  • Share your participation in the #TwizzlerChallenge on social media and nominate others to join the fun.

Gillian ends by saying:

Someone you know loves someone with autism, dedicate the challenge in their honor and encourage others to donate as well.

We would like to thank Gillian for clarifying the Twizzler Challenge for us.

The New York Collaborates for Autism website van be found here

NY Collaborates


About the author 


  • At the end of that Twizzler what more could they tell about autism that they did not know before?

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