HOPE Celebrity Ambassadors

They have fame and HOPE. These caring celebrities are bringing attention to the autism epidemic through their unique story. Each ambassador is passionate about raising awareness for autism and treatment options.

Dawn Neufeld 

Dawn Neufeld is a multifaceted woman with a heart for her family and children. A native Californian, Dawn was bitten by the acting bug at a young age, landing roles in several national television shows and plays. During college she developed an interest in media and journalism and earned her B.A. degree in Communication Studies from UCLA. She then went on to earn a law degree from the UC Davis School of Law and is licensed to practice in both California and Texas. Dawn practiced law at the Los Angeles !rm Ivie, McNeill & Wyatt for a year before moving to Buffalo, NY where her husband Ryan played for the NFL’s Buffalo Bills. She recently left the law !rm of Graham, Bright & Smith after four years to pursue solo practice. Dawn now hosts “The Broadcast” – a morning entertainment and talk show airing in over 16 markets in Texas. She also enjoys competing in pageants because it gives her a platform to promote autism awareness. Her son Will was diagnosed with the spectrum disorder when he was three years old. During her spare time, Dawn enjoys participating in her favorite charities and spending time with her husband and two children.


Ryan Neufeld

Ryan Neufeld grew up in Morgan Hill, California and attended Live Oak High School where he excelled in football, track, and basketball. After high school, Ryan went to UCLA on a full athletic scholarship. During his last two seasons the Bruins enjoyed a 20-game winning streak and won back-to-back Pac-10 championships. After graduating from UCLA, Ryan embarked on a ten-year professional football career, signing with the Dallas Cowboys in 1999 and playing one season as a fullback and special teamer before being allocated to play in NFL Europe for the Rhein Fire. Ryan came back from Dusseldorf, Germany with a World Bowl championship. He then went on to play for the Jacksonville Jaguars that year, followed by !ve more seasons with the Buffalo Bills. He !nished his professional football career playing for the Florida Tuskers and Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League. He retired in 2010. Ryan and his wife Dawn live in Frisco, Texas with their two children Will and Bryn. Will was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3. Ryan has made it his mission to use his platform to spread autism awareness and hope for families affected by this disorder. Ryan is also active in Garth Brooks’ foundation Teammates for Kids and is the current director of football operations for the Miracle League of Frisco.


Donnie Wahlberg 

Donnie Wahlberg is a singer, actor, producer, and best known for his incredible talent in New Kids on the Block. He currently is starring in the drama series Blue Bloodson CBS, is an executive producer of Boston's Finest, and is executive producer of A&E's popular show Wahlburgers


Continuing Ambassadors: 

Alexis Wineman

Twenty-year-old Alexis Wineman is gorgeous, poised and has a wonderful sense of humor; but she is not your average girl next door. Not only does Alexis deal with the challenges of autism on a daily basis, she is also an outspoken advocate and was crowned Miss Montana 2012, and ultimately the "America's Choice" contestant in the 2012 Miss America competition. Alexis aspires to share her story with as many people as she can, “I want to be an example that even if you live with a disability, anything is possible.”  She has dedicated her year of service to the State of Montana speaking to others about living with autism through her platform “Normal is Just a Dryer Setting.”  

Throughout Alexis’ childhood she struggled with school assignments and endured those who bullied her for being different.  She felt excluded at an early age and became defensively introverted to evade her speech impediment and the bullying of others.  Despite the struggles she encountered as a young child, Alexis will not let autism place any limitations on her life.  As stated in her platform, Alexis says, “I refuse to let my disorder define me as a person.”  She further states, "I want people to know that differences are not something to hide or be ashamed of, but rather they should be celebrated and embraced."  

Alexis graduated from Cut Bank High School in May 2012 and currently studies at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, AL.

If you would like to book Alexis to speak at your school or engagement, please contact [email protected].


Jenny McCarthy

Jenny McCarthy’s honesty, humility and humor have enabled her to transcend the boundaries of her roles as comedian, actress, host, best-selling author and influential activist in the world of healing and preventing autism.  When she first made her own experience with her son Evan’s diagnosis and subsequent recovery from autism, her unique ability to articulate the unspoken words of thousands of mothers and fathers across the world was recognized immediately. Jenny is  currently the president of Generation Rescue.

A highly-regarded NY Times Best Selling author, McCarthy’s books include the bestsellers Belly Laughs, Baby Laughs, Life Laughs, Louder Than Words: A Mother’s Journey in Healing Autism and Mother Warriors: A Nation of Parents Healing Autism Against All Odds. Healing and Preventing Autism, co-written with Dr. Jerry Kartzinel, and LOVE, LUST, AND FAKING IT: The Naked Truth About Sex, Lies, and True Romance. Her latest title, BAD HABITS: Confessions of a Recovering Catholic, was published in the Fall of 2012.

Playing recurring guest roles on major network television shows, Jenny continues to be a sought-after comedic actress. In 2013, Jenny will bring her over-the-top comedic sensibilities to VH1 with her new talk show, "The Jenny McCarthy Show.”

Jenny McCarthy currently resides in Chicago, IL with her son, Evan.


Jacqueline & Chris Laurita

Jacqueline Laurita, one of the original cast members on The Real Housewives of New Jersey, has been married for more than 11 years to her husband Chris, who is also the brother of another original cast member, Caroline Manzo, As a Mother Warrior and ambassador to the autism nonprofit Generation Rescue, her mission is not only to recover her youngest son, Nicholas but also to help many other families by becoming an active advocate in the autism community. She is a contributing editor for Parenting Magazine and online blogger on their website as well as her own. 


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