“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
In August of 1999, I had six years of professional work experience and a law degree but knew very little about autism or how to run a successful non-profit. Doug and Laurie Flutie, however, were willing to take a chance and hired me through the donor advised fund where the Foundation was being managed at the time. When I first met the Fluties, they were at Gillette Stadium filming an MCI commercial with Dougie. I can still picture Dougie and his amazing smile, wearing a bright yellow shirt and being held by his dad since he was small enough to be picked up at that time. With Doug’s return to the NFL and Flutie Flakes a big hit, the awareness of the Foundation and its popularity grew. I quickly realized the Foundation had a lot of potential and an opportunity to help so many more families who were discovering what the challenges of autism were all about. In November of 2000, the Foundation was established as a separate non-profit entity. From there, we built the Foundation up with a board of directors, additional staff over the years and 7 + programs to meet the needs of families, helping them live life to the fullest.
I feel very blessed that I had this opportunity and have so many great memories from 18 years at the Foundation. Like the time our golf tournament was cancelled at the last minute because of a thunderstorm and large hail. Out of 18 tournaments, one cancellation is not bad and since the golfers was already at the course ready to tee off, lunch was served and everyone was entertained with NFL stories by Doug and ESPN’s Chris Berman. Or the time when the Founder of one of our longtime partner organizations, Accessport America, started tossing eggs at the participants of our basketball tournament to demonstrate his point. And of course every time Doug would mention Dougie’s name at our events, Dougie would loudly express his excitement, undoubtedly loving the attention he received.
But then again, the best moments were when I had a chance to visit an organization we funded or met a family that received a grant from us. Seeing the smiles and hearing about the impact the Flutie Foundation made on someone always gave me an overwhelming feeling of joy. We have received hundreds of letters over the years from people with autism and their families who benefitted from a grant or a program we funded. This is the inspiration that keeps us going day after day, year after year. I am so grateful for those people who went out of their way to share their story and express their gratitude to me or a staff member.
Thank you to all of the parents, advocates and families who are so passionate, doing whatever it takes to give their loved ones with autism a happy and fulfilled life. I respect and admire your ongoing courage and tenacity. You made my job easier over the last 18.5 years and left me with a feeling of happiness, that I could be a part of this amazing organization.