-- Actress Nikki Reed has a new role: spokeswoman for the Lindt Gold Bunny Celebrity Auction, benefiting Autism Speaks.
The "Twilight" alum took on the role because of her personal connection to autism: She has a brother who was diagnosed with autism at age 2.
She told People that he "is so high functioning that in many cases, it's not even detectable. He's one of the most loving, honest, sensitive and transparent kids I've ever known. And he's insanely smart. With a really remarkable memory."
Her brother has also found his passion.
"He has discovered running and is running about 12 miles a day," Reed told People. "My little brother is outrunning all of us, which is the coolest thing ever. We're super proud of him for figuring out what he loves. I'm so excited he's got something that makes him feel strong and confident. It's really cool to watch."
Added Reed, 26, "He wants people to understand he's his own person. He doesn't want a label. And one way of avoiding a label is to spread awareness."
That's exactly what Reed is doing for Lindt.
The renowned chocolatier has created porcelain versions of their world-famous gold chocolate bunnies signed by such stars as Harrison Ford, Blake Lively, Owen Wilson and Blake Shelton. The bunnies will be auctioned off online, today through March 20.
As spokeswoman for the celebrity auction, Reed hopes to break down some stereotypes about autism.
"What is important is to treat everyone like an individual and learning not to generalize autism," she told People. "With autism, people make assumptions but it's very broad and everyone's so different. You have to treat each person as an individual."
Reed recently got engaged to "Vampire Diaries" star Ian Somerhalder after a six-month whirlwind romance.