Chili's announced Sunday that it was canceling its fundraiser event for the National Autism Association
A spokesman offered this statement in an email to The Huffington Post
While we remain committed to supporting the children and families
affected by autism, we are canceling Monday's Give Back Event based on
the feedback we heard from our guests. We believe autism
awareness continues to be an important cause to our guests and team
members, and we will find another way to support this worthy effort in
the future with again our sole intention being to help families affected
On its face, there doesn’t seem to be anything controversial about Chili’s hosting a fundraiser for the National Autism Association on Monday, April 7. More than 1,200 of the chain’s restaurants will donate 10 percent of customer checks to the organization.
Take a look at the association’s website
, however, and it becomes clear why some people view the fundraiser as a big problem. Among the causes of autism listed on the site are vaccinations. The full statement is: “Vaccinations can trigger or exacerbate autism in some, if not many, children, especially those who are genetically predisposed to immune, autoimmune or inflammatory conditions.”
That’s a highly contentious stand, and quite a few members of the medical community have gone to great lengths to disprove it. The CDC has concluded
that there’s no link between vaccinations and autism, and recent measles outbreaks
have led to harsh criticism of the anti-vaccination movement.
The National Autism Association cites the National Vaccine Information Center
as its key source for vaccine information. The center’s website includes a long list of TV reports and books
anecdotally linking vaccines and autism.
The Chili’s Facebook page
was full of comments Friday morning from people on both sides of the debate.
“Disappointed to see you supporting an organization which promotes a highly negative view of autism and encourages parents not to vaccinate,” wrote commenter Lizzy Soraya. “There are numerous autism charities you could support which do not disseminate lies and hatred. Please reconsider your decision.”
Commenter Sheila Carney responded with, “Why are YOU disseminating lies and hatred, Lizzy?”
Quite a few other commenters openly thanked Chili’s for supporting the organization. Many of those comments ignited arguments, too.
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Chili’s has yet to respond to any of those comments and its parent company, Brinker International, didn’t reply to a request for comment from Business Insider
A Chili's representative emailed PR Daily
with this statement:
At Chili’s Grill & Bar, we’re about making every guest feel special and pride ourselves in giving back to our communities. When choosing a charitable partner for our Give Back Events, both locally and nationally, we are committed to supporting organizations dedicated to helping children and their families. The intent of this fundraiser was not to express a view on this matter, but rather to support the families affected by autism. Our choice to partner with the National Autism Association was based on the percentage of donations that would go directly to providing financial assistance to families and supporting programs that aid the development and safety of children with autism.