Massage for a Cause: Autism

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Get a Massage at a Participating Sport & Health Club in October and Help Find a Cure for Autism

Massage Therapy Room, Sport & Health Tenley Town

Massage Therapy Room, Sport & Health Tenley Town

The statistics should shock everyone—1 in 150 children are diagnosed with autism. An often debilitating developmental disorder, autism was virtually unheard of 20 years ago. Today, it’s highly likely that you may know a family member, friend or co-worker who is managing a child on the autism spectrum.

Laura Russell, founder and owner of Washington Wellness, a massage therapy network of 45 therapists and more than a dozen health clubs, hotels and businesses, has learned first hand how challenging it can be to raise an autistic child.  Her 19-year old son Adam attends a post-high school program at Ivymount in Bethesda, Md.

In support of Walk Now for Autism Speaks, a national event being held in Washington, DC, Oct. 31, Russell has turned to her business for a fundraising channel and a means to raise awareness about autism.

“I’ve always walked the Autism Walk, but I wanted to do more,” explains Russell. “You can run, bike or swim for a cause.  But how often can you get a Massage for a Cause?  When I presented to the therapists the idea of donating a portion of the massage fee, they were all very supportive as many know Adam.”

For the month of October, six Sport & Health Clubs in the Washington Metro Area (Tenley Town, Northwest, Bethesda, Rio, Tysons and Regency) are offering member rates for massages to visitors and non-members.  For non-members, this is a savings since the club surcharge will be waived. Massage fees vary by club, but Washington Wellness will donate 10 percent from each massage to Autism Speaks. (Massage can be scheduled by calling Sport & Health directly.)

“I started my massage business at Sport & Health nearly 30 years ago,” explains Russell. “It’s been a positive, synergistic relationship that has allowed me care for my children and give back to others by promoting health through intelligent touch. It’s been a privilege to assist so many people whose lives we have helped improve through the combined benefits of massage and exercise programs.”

Given that a new autism case is diagnosed every 20 minutes, Massage for a Cause is one of many ways the Walk Now for Autism Speaks program helps provide critical funding for research to combat this complex brain disorder. Autism Speaks also provides support to families coping with autism.

“Adam is a success story, an inspiration to families just receiving the diagnosis,” says Russell.  “Adam learned sign language first and eventually began to master verbal language by age 6.  Today, he continues his education and is able to work part-time. Now the challenge has become dealing with an adult child of autism.”

Russell continues, “When we started Adam’s therapy when he was only 18 months old, there was very little knowledge of the disease” – it’s cause, treatment or long-term prognosis. While more is known today about autism, there is still no definitive cause and no cure. “Massage for a Cause is just one way anyone can help support the search for a cure.”

Washington Wellness, LLC is a company that offers body therapies in medical facilities, health clubs, government offices and private corporate organizations throughout DC, Maryland and Virginia. It has been owned and operated since 1980 by a professional massage therapist with a background in chemistry and psychology. Washington Wellness, LLC comprises a team of professional massage therapists dedicated to enhancing the health and wellness of others. For more information, please visit

To learn more about Walk Now for Autism Speaks, visit, call (202) 955-3111 or write

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