The U.K.’s National Autistic Society has announced that its partnership with HIT Entertainment’s Thomas & Friends brand has helped raise over a million pounds (approx. 1.65 million USD)’. The collaboration began in 2001 when HIT granted Thomas’ image rights to the NAS, and the two organizations have since orchestrated numerous fundraising initiatives involving the brand. Early this month, NAS launched the first Train Walk’a series of sponsored walks themed on the Thomas & Friends property which took place across the country, attracting over 4,500 supporters, parents and children and raising funds and awareness for the cause.
Thomas the Tank Engine and his trainyard friends seem to have a special appeal to autistic children: A 2007 study conducted by NAS and HIT reveled that 98.8% of parents of these children consider their kids fans of the brand. As Victoria Bushell, brand manager for Thomas at HIT Ent. says, ‘Thomas & Friends holds a very special place in the hearts of young children and their families. We are delighted to be working with the NAS who continue amazing work in reaching out and supporting families of children with autism.’
As for the amazing million-pound mark Thomas has helped achieve, NAS chief executive Mark Lever hopes it’s just the beginning: ‘We are delighted that the support of Thomas & Friends continues to help us make a difference to the over half a million people affected by autism in the U.K. today.’