Jenny McCarthy Honored For Efforts Towards Autism

Amid all the Super Bowl madness that has taken over the greater Phoenix area this week, some of the stars got together over the weekend to bring attention to a wonderful cause.

Holly Robinson Peete and her husband Rodney Peete hosted the 2008 Gridiron Glamour event – a celebrity fashion show/benefit auction designed to raise money for autism research.

Benefiting the Peete’s HollyRod Foundation, along with the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SAARC), stars including Laila Ali, Gabrielle Union, Nicole Murphy, Gena Lee Nolin and Regina King were all ready to put their best foot forward on the runway to help the cause.

“The only way we’re able to do these things is with the support of our friends. It’s a real blessing for us,” Holly told, explaining how grateful she was of the celebrity support she and Rodney have received in their efforts.

And in turn, their friends are equally happy to lend a hand.

“I couldn’t be happier to give my time,” Gena Lee Nolin said.

Not to be outdone by the ladies, the men were also ready to hit the runway, with Rodney (a former NFL star) calling on several of his athlete counterparts, including pro football stars Kurt Warner, Braylon Edwards and baseball players Brandon Webb and Luis Gonzalez.

In addition to the runway show, the event also honored the achievements of several individuals for their efforts to raise autism awareness, with Jenny McCarthy the recipient of the 2008 Trailblazer Award.

Holly talked about what it meant to recognize her good friend Jenny, who like Holly and Rodney, also has an autistic child.

“Someone called us the ‘Thelma & Louise’ of autism,” Holly joked of her work with Jenny. “From the moment she called me and we talked about her son, we made a game plan and said no one else is talking about this. We know there are celebrities in Hollywood who have autistic children, so we felt it was important to talk about it.”

“We wanted to honor Jenny today because we think she is a pioneer – she’s brought more attention with her book and her candor – she says it like it is and that’s what is so special about her. We are honored to honor her,” Holly added.

When it came to walking the runway, the stars were eager and ready to strut their stuff.

“I don’t know if I’ll be any good at it, but I’ll rock what I’ve got,” NASCAR driver Danica Patrick smiled.

“I’m just hoping not to fall,” Gabrielle Union joked.

And despite the light nature of the event, all the stars were well aware of the serious nature of the cause.

“I love children. I’m a mom and I have friends who have autistic children. I’ve seen just how much research has helped over the years and how a child’s upbringing can be made so much better over the last 20-plus years, so just imagine what more research and more support can do,” Regina King told

For Regina, whose mother has worked with mentally and physically handicapped children for over 15 years, it was a pleasure to help her dear friends.

“Holly and Rodney are so respected. We all want to support them in everything they do. You can see the results, and that’s what’s important. You feel like you’re a part of something and you can see it working,” she concluded.

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