For those of you who do not know, my younger brother Thomas is autistic. On Christmas Eve, just after Thomas’s 2nd birthday, doctors informed my parents that Thomas may be deaf. After extensive testing Thomas could in fact hear and was diagnosed with autism. As you can imagine, this was an extremely emotional time for my family. Although I was young, I can still remember not quite understanding what was going on.
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When you meet someone for the first time you try and get to know each other while asking questions about their life. One of the first questions people ask is, “Do you have any brothers or sisters?” I always respond with, “Yes, I have a younger brother named Dougie. We are 3 years apart and he has autism.” Normally, people assume it was difficult growing up with a sibling with autism. The fact is I grew up being super close to my brother just like anyone else’s relationship with their siblings. Autism does not define my brother.
Joe Chirichella of Midland Park, NJ joined Dougie’s Team to represent the Flutie Foundation at the 123rd Boston Marathon on April 15, 2019. Joe was selected out of 200 applicants because of his passion for running and fundraising through his vast network of family, friends and co-workers. Joe was inspired by his close friends who are caring for a love one with autism.
Thank you so much for your incredible support of the Flutie Foundation in 2018.
It has been a pleasure working with you in my first year as Executive Director. This great mission that we share belongs to all of us, from the Flutie Family to all our partners, families, grantees, donors, staff and volunteers. I look forward to continuing to work with and learn from you in the new year!
Two themes emerged for me in my first year at Flutie Foundation:
“We are incredibly proud to be part of the Flutie Foundation family! As parents of a child with autism, we felt it was important to give back those families who are also impacted by autism, but may not have the means or access to support their child or young adult on the spectrum. The Flutie Foundation provides assistance in an immediate and impactful way for those families and makes a real, tangible difference to their everyday lives and helps improve the trajectory and future for the kids and young adults with autism.
The "Full Of Life" blog is a place where we celebrate families affected by autism who are living life to the fullest and offer tips and tools for daily living. We often invite guest bloggers to join the conversation. Do you have a story about living life to the fullest? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and your blog submission could be featured!