Marco Sturm stopped in to say "Hello" to Doug Flutie and friends. (photo: Babineau)
BOSTON, MA -- When you think “local Boston legend,” the name Doug Flutie might come to mind. But when the former NFL and Boston College quarterback thinks of Boston, he more likely thinks something quite different: home.
“I grew up in this town; I’ve been a part of it for a long, long time so it’s just like, I still feel like a little kid when I watch the games,” Flutie said during the Boston Bruins home win over Tampa Bay Tuesday night.
|Doug Flutie with the Stanley Cup (photo: hhof.com) |
“I love the Red Sox, I love watching the Patriots and I finished up obviously with the [New England] Patriots -- the Celtics, the Bruins,” he said. “BC, BC’s my team. We’ve won some national championships and we’ve done some great things. It’s been a blast following them…It’s in my blood – the local sports scene is just what I’m all about.”
But while Flutie might be a local superhero for improbable Hail Mary touchdown passes or All-American honors, he’s also a superhero in the philanthropic arena –– spreading awareness for childhood Autism and helping those less financially fortunate than himself.
And what better way to spread awareness than in front of a near-sold out Boston Garden crowd?
The Boston Bruins hosted Autism Awareness Night on Tuesday to benefit the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation, which was started by Flutie after his son was diagnosed with a rare form of the disease nearly 11 years ago.
Doug Flutie, Jr. has a rare form of the disease, called Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD). A distinct characteristic of CDD is that children affected by it do not shy away from human contact, as many with autism do.
“Started it back in the Buffalo days when I was playing with the Bills and with the Flutie Flakes and all that it kind of kicked it off and made it more of a national thing,” Flutie, who played for the Buffalo team back in 1997, said. “For us, we’ve raised over 11 million dollars now; we’re primarily focused on services for families – whether it be starting up camps for the kids or in-home-use items like computers.”
The Flutie Foundation, which aids families that cannot financially care for their autistic children, also funds research into the causes of the disease, which is estimated to affect 1 in 150 children in the United States.
The awareness night concluded with a raffle run by the Boston Bruins Foundation that helped raise almost $4000, money that will certainly contribute to the Flutie Foundation’s cause.
“It’s just been much more successful than we ever imagined, we thought we were doing this rinky dink, local thing at first and it kind of exploded.”
Success is something Flutie is no stranger to. And with the help of the Foundation’s 30 sponsors, including Rebok, Fenway Sports Group and Sports Illustrated, it is not hard to believe that this local hero has become the face of a national problem.
But when Flutie, Sr. is not promoting research or helping others or supporting Boston-area hockey games (from the stands), he likes to participate in the one major sport that he never played, and just have fun.
“When I came home [from playing in the Canadian Football League], I started playing goaltender with a bunch of old buddies of mine in a men’s league and having a blast doing that,” he said, adding with a smile, “Occasionally I throw the pads on still and jump in there.” About the Doug Flutie Jr. FoundationThe Foundation's mission is to aid financially disadvantaged families who need assistance in caring for their children with autism; to fund education and research into the causes and consequences of childhood autism; and to serve as a clearinghouse and communications center for new programs and services developed for individuals with autism. Join Dougie’s team here.