Magazine Feature / People

Alumnus raises autism awareness with cast of NBC’s ‘Heroes’

Though DU alumnus Greg Cohen (BA art history ’93) works on the set of a television show, he is anything but a couch potato.

Cohen recently founded and produced the benefit “Heroes for Autism,” fusing Autism Speaks and the NBC show ‘Heroes,’ to increase awareness and help raise funds for autism research.

Cohen established the benefit after getting married in October 2008 and feeling empowered by the election of President Barack Obama. He chose to support autism because one of his best friends has two sons with autism.

“It was because of him and his kids that I started noticing autism everywhere I looked,” says Cohen. “The spectrum of autism is enormous. It ranges from Aspergers [Syndrome] to severe cases where people can’t speak and function at all on their own.”

Through an art auction, Cohen raised more than $75,000 for Autism Speaks, a nonprofit devoted to helping with autism research and awareness. Artists from the cast and crew of “Heroes” and artists with autism participated.

“Lots of people came together, which is the beauty of this whole thing,” he says. “It was so impressive because all these people were doing this thing for free. They believed in it.”

The benefit took place in Los Angeles and was hosted by Rainn Wilson of “The Office.” Along with the entire cast of “Heroes,” stars such as Jamie Denton, Bob Guiney, Amy Brenneman and Jeff Beck attended the event.

Cohen spent nearly six months preparing the fundraiser. One of the biggest obstacles was funding the event.

“We basically did this thing for no money,” he says. “Almost every single person did this voluntarily.”

NBC’s “Heroes” and Autism Speaks are on board to make this an annual event. Besides organizing philanthropic events, Cohen works in the camera department for “Heroes” and is a professional photographer.

Visit Cohen’s Web site,, to see more of his work. To read more about the benefit, go to

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