19th Annual Flutie Golf Classic Recap

Below is my video recap of the 19th Annual Flutie Golf Classic as well as the script.  I was there for my Flutie Fellowship, and I had a blast.

The 19th Annual Flutie Golf Classic took place at the Brae Burn Country Club this past Monday, September 17.  The turnout was great and the foundation raised lots of money.  Golfers arrived ready for a fun day of golfing, a buffet-style dinner, silent auctions, and more.  Golfers checked-in outside the clubhouse, then they got into their golf carts and they were off.

Tyler Lagasse, Special Olympics golf silver medalist who was sponsored by the foundation, stayed at Hole 1.  This was a team tournament, so the place where longest drive of the four team members landed is where everyone took their second shot.  Tyler would drive a ball for each group. That way, if a team didn’t like their drives, they could use Tyler’s.

This year, Doug Flutie insisted on golfing the entire course rather than staying at one hole, so he joined a team with his family members to compete.

There were many other people out golfing, including Steve Burton of WBZ, Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston, Charles Hirsch of Special Olympics, Jayme Parker, formerly of NESN, Sean MacLaughlin of APEX, David Morris of TripAdvisor, Dan Alperin and Bob Socci of 98.5, Alexa Flutie’s husband Ian Sumner, other family of Doug including Billy Flutie, Danny Fortier, Jeff Fortier, Joe Fortier, and Ryan Fortier, former Flutie dad of the year and Doug Flutie’s long-time friend Alan Seymour.

On the 15th hole, Nationwide Hole in One provided golfers with their “Golf Ball Cannon”.  They charged $20 per shot, but if all four golfers in a group made the green with the cannon, it was an automatic eagle, and the closest golfer to the pin would win a  ticket package, where they could buy 2 tickets to any sporting event, play, or concert of their choice!

We did not capture the winning shot on camera, but we know that the winner had shot the ball within 59 inches of the pin!

After the tournament, everyone returned to the clubhouse to chat, enjoy appetizers and bid in the silent auctions.  At around 6PM, they served dinner, and Nick Savarese of the Flutie Foundation as well as Doug Flutie himself gave us an update on the foundation and how Dougie is doing.  After that, Tyler Lagasse went up as a guest speaker with an inspiring speech about autism.  Tyler and I helped the foundation’s Nicole Guglielmucci hand out the awards, and we said our goodbyes.

I had a blast at the event, and I’m also looking forward to the 19th annual Flutie 5K in just two weeks!  Time has really flown by.  It feels like I just emceed the 18th annual a couple months ago, and I was invited back to emcee again this year.  Feel free to stop by and say hello at the 5K.

 

Silver Medal APEX Celebration with the Lagasse Family

On Monday, I met up with Tyler Lagasse and his mom, Deb at APEX Entertainment Center to celebrate his Special Olympics USA Games silver medal win in Seattle.

We met at the sports simulators and I introduced Tyler and his mom to my mom and my brother, Ryan, who could not make it for the Seattle trip.  After that, APEX set us up for a round of golf, and we went live on Facebook.  The video includes Tyler’s first swing at the APEX golf simulator.  Here’s a sneak peek:

Click here for the full video.

We had the entire evening planned out as seen below:

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Since it was my first time playing any kind of golf (besides mini-golf), it took at least five swings for me to get the hang of it.  But with the help of Tyler, I caught on fairly quickly.  Since he is a lefty, he was especially helpful because watching him was like looking in the mirror.  By my 10th swing, I was driving the ball almost 100 yards in the simulator.  We only had time for a couple of holes, and Tyler dominated, but I still really enjoyed it.  I’m definitely eager to give the golf simulator another try, and you never know, golf could be a sport I could try to play.   Of course my broadcasting career will still come first.

Here are some highlights of Tyler and I at the golf simulator:

After finishing at the golf simulator, we had a few minutes to spare before our reserved private go-kart race.  We decided to take each other on in a Boston Celtics basketball arcade game.  I beat Tyler in this one, totaling over 60 points in two rounds.  After our basketball competition, it was time to race.

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Tyler, Ryan, my dad, and I were all in the race.  We walked back to the go-kart track and put our head socks on.  We watched a video on safety rules before putting our helmets on and getting settled in our go-karts.  They started the race very soon after.  After passing Tyler and my dad early, I knew I was doing well.

I beat Tyler by 0.119 seconds with a fastest lap of 38.015, but came in 2nd to my dad, who’s best time was 36.339.  Tyler’s fastest time was 38.134, putting him in 3rd place.  He was a few seconds ahead of Ryan, who had a best time of 41.441.

Here are the results, taken directly from an email I received from APEX after the race:

Thank you for your visit.

Here you can find your results.

Results for Session 30 at 5:18 PM

   Heat overview Best time
1. killerken (my dad) 36.339
2. AndrewrBSM (me) 38.015
3. tyler (Tyler) 38.134
4. Ryguy335YT (my brother) 41.441

Unlike last time, APEX gave us a sheet with more detailed results:

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Here are some highlights from the race:

After that, we headed upstairs to the classic arcade section.  We started by facing off in a few rounds of Olympic bubble hockey.

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In the first game, there were no goals for a long while, but Tyler beat me 1-0 after I accidentally shot it into my own goal.  However, I won the second game, and we both wanted a rubber match.  In the rubber match, it was a close one, as Tyler led 2-1 with seconds to go (It requires a goal to end the game).  If I scored, it went to overtime.  But after a lot of good defense, Tyler scored the game-winning goal to make it 3-1.

Tyler wanted to play Aerosmith pinball after that, one of my favorites.  It wasn’t my best day in pinball, but even if it was a good day for me, I wouldn’t have beat Tyler.  He had never played pinball before but he was a quick study, scoring over 30000 points, earning the multiball, and a winning a free game.  Here are some highlights from the arcade:

Tyler played out his free game, but after that, it was time to bowl.  Tayla Normandie, who was assisting Sean MacLaughlin in hosting us for the day, booked us for candlepin in Lane 1.  It turned out that Tyler’s mom had Tayla as a cosmetology student at Greater Lowell Tech, where she teaches.  She recognized Tayla at that point and caught up with her.  After that, Tayla gave us our bowling shoes, and Tyler, Tyler’s mom, my dad, and I began bowling.

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We were given full Pit Stop Tavern service from the lanes, and I ordered a delicious chicken tender and french fry meal with BBQ sauce on the side and a Sprite to drink.  Tyler ordered buffalo chicken tenders, one of his favorites.  I topped Tyler in our first round of bowling.  I had my best round in a while, including a strike on Frame 2.  But my dad had his best round in a long time with a strike of his own and a grand total of 93.  Between all of our competitions, Tyler and I were tied 4-4.  So we decided to play one more game of candlepin bowling, just the two of us.  I was off to a strong start, but Tyler just got better as he played, and he came back to beat me in a close one.  Check out some of the highlights from the bowling alley:

Below are all our competition results from throughout the day.  It is almost like we played each other in a mini Olympics.

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It turned out that there was a podium at the APEX, so before we said our goodbyes, Tyler and I took a picture on the podium based on our results from throughout the day.

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I’d like to thank Marcus Kemblowski, Sean MacLaughlin, Tayla Normandie, Tyler Lagasse, Nick Savarese, and Deb Lagasse for making this experience possible.  Stay tuned for more experience posts soon, including coverage of the Special Olympics Massachusetts golf championship.

This post is also available on the Flutie Foundation blog.

 

Day 2 in Seattle: Opening Ceremonies and Exploring the City

I truly enjoyed my first full day here in Seattle.  After a nice complementary breakfast from our hotel, we left for Opening Ceremonies.  We stopped by the IMA building to grab our press passes and video bib, and my dad and I met some of the other press members at the Special Olympics.  After we had our passes, we found a place to park our car, and we arrived at Husky Stadium just in time for the Parade of State Delegations.

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Me posing with the husky in front of Husky Stadium at University of Washington.

I watched with excitement and pride as all the athletes marched into the stadium with their home state teams.  I was even able to spot Tyler Lagasse in the group of Massachusetts Olympians.  Tyler was also able to take a picture with Scott Rohrer, who despite being Tyler’s biggest rival, is also a good friend of Tyler’s.

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Elite Level V golfers Scott Rohrer (left) and Tyler Lagasse (right) take an Opening Ceremony selfie together

After the ceremonies were over, I met briefly with with Tyler and his coach George and confirmed the three-some including Tyler, Scott, and Travis Curtis of Maine will all tee off on Hole 1 at Eagle’s Talon at 8:30 as part of a shotgun start for Level V golfers.

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After the parade, we decided to go inside for food and shade, as it was getting warmer as the sun had come out.  We couldn’t find food right away, and we wanted to find some USA Games merchandise, so we stepped outside the stadium for a minute.  We filmed the 1st part of our Facebook Live video.  If we had left even a few minutes later, we wouldn’t have been seen by the local CBS station, KIRO-TV (Channel 7 on most Seattle TVs).  After seeing us film our live video, they decided to interview us about my coverage of the games and my Flutie Fellowship.  They wanted to know my story and decided broadcast part of our interview with the news station and it aired on both the 5PM and 11PM news on July 1st.  I was very excited to learn that they found my story interesting enough even with so many talented athletes to cover.  We watched the report from our hotel room at 11:15 (see below) and we were told that the news story will also be posted on the station’s website

Just when we were about to leave to go find food in the city, we saw a room full of people who had pizza!  It was perfect timing as we had searched at least half the stadium looking for pizza stands that were open.  Although the pizza was technically for volunteers only, they let me have two free slices, and I gave out my business cards to all of them.  They even let us stay to film the 2nd part of our live video.

After that, we headed back to the IMA to stop by the media room one more time.

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We decided to stick around, as George, Tyler’s coach, wanted us to meet Tyler and Scott.  George said they could meet at the media room after Opening Ceremonies ended.  Scott had other plans he could not change, but we met with George and Tyler to discuss what kind of coverage we were going to do during the tournament.  We wanted to make sure that our plans would not have a negative impact on Tyler or any of the other golfers.

After Opening Ceremonies, we went into the city to explore.  We started our journey in Seattle at the iconic Space Needle, which was open despite construction that had the restaurant closed and parts of the observation deck blocked off.

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We still got an amazing view and some nice pictures at the top of the needle.

After seeing the Space Needle, we were still hungry.  We decided to get pizza again but this from Mod Pizza at Seattle Center, an indoor food court/plaza that also included a monorail station.  They made our pizzas very quickly, and they came out great.  I really enjoyed my time in the city.  But now, it’s all about the athletes.  We will be live from Redmond at Willows Run tomorrow.  We can now officially say, “Let the games begin!”

This article is also available on the Flutie Foundation Blog.

 

 

Special Olympics 2018 USA Games Golf Preview: Lagasse, Rohrer Battle For Gold Once Again

Special Olympics USA Games

Starting with the Opening Ceremony this Sunday, July 1st, I will be in Seattle to cover the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games on behalf of the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism.  As a member of the press, I will follow golfers Tyler Lagasse of Massachusetts and Scott Rohrer of South Carolina.  Both golfers are sponsored by the Flutie Foundation this year and as a member of the autism community, I am honored to report on these two amazing golfers and inspiring individuals.

Tyler and Scott have finished 1st and 2nd in each of the last two Special Olympics USA Summer Games (New Jersey 2014 and Nebraska 2010).  Look for daily updates on Boston Sports Mania and on Flutie Foundation social media including their blog.

Read below to learn more about Special Olympians Tyler Lagasse and Scott Rohrer.

A Brief Golf History: Tyler Lagasse

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Tyler is a 31-year old autistic adult from Tyngsborough, Massachusetts.  He began golfing in 2003 and has traveled to Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, Nebraska, and several other places for Special Olympics tournaments.  He is a member of the Special Olympics hall of fame, won an honorary ESPY in 2017, and was even featured on a Golf Channel program in 2010.  He co-authored a book about autism with his mom, published in 2015 called What Do You Say?: Autism with Character.  Several times including 2014, along with a few other Special Olympics golfers, Tyler has been invited to the Pro-Am, a PGA event.

Tyler has never competed before on the 2018 Special Olympics course, Willows Run, but he has plenty of experience on 18-hole courses.  At the 2017 Pro-Am tournament, he played a round with a personal best score of 70, par for the 18 hole course.  He won silver at the 2008 Special Olympics National Golf Invitational in Florida as well as each of the last two USA Summer Games.  While Tyler has never won gold on the national stage, he is hungry for his first gold medal.  This past week, Tyler noted, “I want that gold medal so badly, I want to do whatever it takes to get it, because I may never have this opportunity again. To me as well as many others coming to Seattle, this is MY Olympics”.  Tyler is clear very competitive but in the book he co-authored with his mother Deborah Lagasse, golf is also therapeutic for Tyler.

“Golf sometimes makes me come face to face with my demons inside. I consider golf a tool for dealing with adversity because I have faced endless adversity all my life; most of us do sometimes. Golf also helps me feel good about myself, tests my resilience and mental toughness. I learned so much about myself through golf and it’s given me an identity, something that fits my personality and golf has allowed me to put my personality on display” (Tyler Lagasse).  Tyler also writes about every golf tournament in great detail so he was even able to provide me with some of his previous USA Games and Pro-Am stats.  He is proud to be sponsored by the Flutie Foundation.  “They’ve come out of their way in helping me surpass my fundraising goal for this year’s USA Games. I thank them for their support because they see me as a talented individual rather than one living with autism. And they see the gift that autism has, and that gift is hope” (Tyler Lagasse).

Tyler will be competing starting Monday July 2nd in the Level V Golf Tournament and his biggest competitor in this tournament will likely be Scott Rohrer, who is also being sponsored by the Flutie Foundation.

A Brief Golf History: Scott Rohrer

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Scott Rohrer is an autistic adult from York, South Carolina.  He has golfed for 20 years and he was 7 when he started.  Scott had a personal and Special Olympics best of 71 (-1) in the opening round of the 2010 USA Games.  He topped that score at the 2015 Los Angeles World Games.  When another golfer beat that record, he only did better the next day.  He scored a 60 on a par-66 course to break the Special Olympics World Record.  He finished the tournament at a Special Olympics best -12.  He has won 7 gold medals on the national stage, including a gold medal in each of the last two USA Games tournaments.  Tyler Lagasse earned the silver medal in both of those tournaments.  Scott has won medals at other tournaments as well including a bronze medal at the 2014 World Golf Cup.

Scott works on a tree farm with his dad, Jeff in York from Monday to Thursday each week but spends the weekend on the golf course.  His golf games against his dad are pretty close but he usually out-drives his dad.  His mom Elizabeth is his caddy.  Scott can be very streaky.  He came back from a triple bogey and bogey to start the day to score a second straight 75 on Day 3 of the 2010 USA Games.  Golf brings Scott out of his shell, and people who play with him see him as a competitive golfer not as someone with autism who plays golf.

The big stage as Willows Run is set and now the question is will Scott Rohrer win another gold medal or will Tyler’s hunger and competitive spirit help lead him to victory and his first gold?

Previous Competitions Between Tyler and Scott

2010 USA Games

Scott won gold in this tournament, shooting 71-75-75, while Tyler won silver, shooting 79-78-75.

2012 Pro-Am (Stats courtesy of Tyler Lagasse)

Tyler came in 3rd overall playing with Gary Woodland, shooting a 58 (-13).  Scott shot a 64 (-7) playing with Brendan Steele.

2014 USA Games

Scott won gold for the 2nd consecutive USA Games tournament, shooting 76-78-78.  Tyler won silver again, shooting 84-81-88.

2014 Pro-Am (Stats courtesy of Tyler Lagasse)

Tyler came in 4th overall playing with Tommy Gainey, shooting a 55 (-16).  Scott was not far behind, shooting a 59 (-12) with I.K. Kim.

2016 Pro-Am (Stats courtesy of Tyler Lagasse)

Tyler (with Rod Pampling) and Scott (with Scott Langley) tied for 4th with a 52 (-19).

The Tournament Venue: Willows Run Golf Complex

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Willows Run is located in Redmond, Washington, about 20 minutes from downtown Seattle.  It includes two 18-hole courses, Eagles Talon and Coyote Creek, both of which are par-72 courses, just like the course that the 2010 USA Games golf tournament was held on.  Special Olympics Level V golfers will be competing on Eagles Talon from 8:30 AM-3:30 PM every day from July 2-July 4.  The course is over 6,800 yards in total and has a lot of long and narrow tree lined holes so hooking or slicing off the tee could definitely be dangerous.  The greens are playing fast, even though it’s been wet the last few days.

For more information on Willows Run, see my article from the day I arrived when I toured the course. (video below)

Other Level V Golfers To Watch For

There are 12 golfers participating in the high performance stroke play Level V competition, including Tyler and Scott.  I have provided a little information on the other golfers in their competition below.

There are two divisions within the Level V high performance competition.  Both divisions compete in the same pool, but Division 2 golfers are ranked separately for medals.  Tyler and Scott are Division 1, while some of these other golfers are Division 2.  Also, the expectation is the each day will  begin with a shotgun start so that more golf is ongoing at once, starting at 8:30 AM.

Garrett Stortz, Alaska

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Stortz joined Special Olympics in 2007, participating in field hockey.  He eventually switched to his favorite sport, golf.  He is a member of Division 2 in the high performance stroke play competition.  He is eager to represent Alaska in the USA Games.  Special Olympics has changed his life as he has met many new people who share his passion for golf.  Stortz also participated in Level V Golf at the 2015 World Games in LA and the 2014 USA Games.  He won the Division 2 gold in 2014 and Division 2 bronze in 2015.

Joel Murray, Louisiana

Murray is a longtime Special Olympics golfer who will be part of Division 2 in the Level V high performance competition.  He has been invited to the Pro-Am before and was not far behind Tyler Lagasse and Scott Rohrer the last time he competed in a Special Olympics national tournament (Nebraska 2010). He had a personal best 18-hole score of 73 in Nebraska and won gold in a lower division. He will also be competing in the Level V tourney in Seattle.  Murray is a longtime Special Olympics golfer.  Murray won the 2009 National Golf Invitational Level V Play and had the lowest score in Pro-Am history in 2013.

Travis Curtis, Maine

Curtis joined Special Olympics Maine in 2007.  He will be participating in Division 1 of the Level V High Performance competition, but he has also played Unified golf in the past.  He came close to a medal at each of the last two USA Games and is hopeful that he can bring a medal home from Seattle.  He has won gold in the state competition each year since he started in 2007.

Thomas Cleek, Missouri

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Cleek has been a multi-sport Special Olympian for over 10 years.  He won gold in a lower division in the 2014 USA Games, where he last played on the national stage, but this year Cleek will be part of Division 1, where he will have tougher medal competition like golfers Tyler Lagasse and Scott Rohrer.  Can he take home a medal as he moves up into the highest division?

Chris Lussier, Rhode Island

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Nicknamed the Mayor, Lussier has been competing in many sports for team Rhode Island over the last 10 years.  He has also competed in unified competitions with his dad as his partner.  They have developed a closer bond by competing together.  Chris also met his girlfriend, Amy, and many other friends from Special Olympics.  He won gold in the Level III Unified golf competition back in 2014.  He also won a medal in golf at the 2010 USA Games, and he even won gold in the unified golf competition at the 2011 World Summer Games.  This year, he will compete in the 2nd division of the Level V high performance individual stroke play competition.

Miles Stroud, Texas

Stroud has participated in multiple sports at Special Olympics for ten years.  He says his favorite sport is definitely golf though.  Miles has a handicap of 9.2 as he enters the 2nd division of the Level V high performance individual stroke play competition.  He is a huge fan of all Texas A&M sports, and he cheers for the Aggies in his down time.  He won gold as a part of Division 4 of the Level V competition at the 2012 Special Olympics National Golf Invitational with a 72-hole score of 301.  Will Stroud take home a medal in Seattle as part of Division 2?

Brock Aoki, Utah

Aoki has been golfing since age 6 or 7, and will compete in Division 1 of the Level V High Performance competition.  He plays golf in nearly all his free time, though he has just started a full time job as a chef.  He may be dedicated to golf, but can he keep up with the scratch golfers in his division such as Tyler Lagasse and Scott Rohrer?

Tony Marino, Utah

Marino started competing in Special Olympics at age 13.  He will compete in Division 2 of the Level V High Performance competition.  Marino has played as far away as China in Special Olympics golf.  Marino was paired up with Tyler Lagasse in the Opening Round of the 2008 National Golf Invitational, and they got along well.  Tony has also been a coach for Special Olympics.  Marino is happy to travel around the world and participate in multiple sports thanks to Special Olympics.

Grace Anne Braxton, Virginia

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Braxton is a long time Special Olympics golfer and swimmer.  She has participated since 1981, and that was before Tyler Lagasse or Scott Rohrer was born.  She was ranked #1 among female Special Olympic golfers in the world in both 2007 and 2011.  She won the Division 2 gold at the 2010 USA Games and has participated in the World Games in 1991, 2007, and 2011, and won gold in both 2007 and 2011 when she was ranked #1 among females.  She also participated in golf at the 2014 USA Games.  Braxton will participate in the Division 2 High Performance Individual Stroke Tournament again this year in Seattle.  Will she take home another medal?

Peter Condon, Washington

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Condon has been playing golf since 2006.  He will be part of Division 1, Tyler Lagasse and Scott Rohrer’s division, in the Level V High Performance Individual Stroke Tournament.  Condon has loved golf ever since he started and is eager to participate in his home state in this year’s USA Games.  The question is, has he played on Willows Run before, and will home state advantage help him win a medal in a division that includes some of the country’s best?

Stay tuned for updates live from Seattle as the story unfolds.

My Night to Shine

I am honored to be a recipient of the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation Shining Star Award which I received at the 2018 Night to Shine gala on Saturday, May 5th.

 

I was selected after emceeing the Flutie 5K in 2017.  For the last five years, The Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism has awarded a select group of people and companies who have truly made a difference in the autism community.

My family and I arrived at the TripAdvisor headquarters right when Doug Flutie and his wife Laurie did.  Doug was carrying a huge cymbal but he and Laurie stopped to say hello and congratulations.  This was a great start to the night that would only get better.  We checked in at the desk in the lobby and I was handed a special honoree magnetic name tag to wear.

We headed down the hall and saw Milo, a robot boy built to help learners with autism learn social and behavioral skills (https://robots4autism.com/milo/).

 

We spent the first hour networking, catching up with people I knew, and meeting new people.  We talked to Nicole Gugleimucci from the Foundation who had helped me prepare for the Flutie 5K event last October and notified me about this exciting honor.  We also met the new Executive Director of the Foundation, Nick Savarese.

After meeting several more people, we looked at the many awesome sports-related silent auction items to bid on.  At our table, we met Paul Alexander, the Chief Marketing and Communications Officer for Eastern Bank.  Shortly after, we decided to wait on bidding and get seats near the stage.

We sat in stadium-style seats in a 4-story atrium area at the center of the TripAdvisor Headquarters, which had an amazing view of all the floors.  I also noticed walls made out of live plants which looked really cool.  The ceiling had a sky with clouds which made it feel like the outside was inside.  They had a huge movie-sized video screen counting down the time to start the ceremony.

Susan Wornick, a longtime reporter and former anchor from WCVB-TV in Boston was the emcee for the event.  After Wornick introduced herself and Doug and Laurie, she passed the stage and microphone over to MUSE.

MUSE stands for Music, Unity, and Social Expansion.  They are a school that teaches independence and more skills to people with autism through music (http://www.muse-foundation.org/).  A MUSE band got on stage to play two songs and they were very impressive.  Everyone clapped to the beat for their second song as the crowd got really into the music.

After a standing ovation, Wornick returned to the stage to thank the sponsors and invite Nick Savarese to talk about his first year with the organization.  Nick asked me and a few other guests to stand up and everyone cheered which was pretty cool and I really appreciated.

Lisa Borges was called to the stage.  Lisa had worked in Nick’s position nearly as along as the Flutie Foundation had been around.  They handed her a large flower arrangement and thanked her for all she had done.  Laurie and Doug came up to the stage and thanked her as well.

A video was shown about the history of the foundation, which dates back 20 years.  The video gave an update on Doug Flutie’s son Doug Jr. and showed how the Flutie Foundation started Autism Awareness and wants to continue to build on that.  They have helped so many with autism, including me.  Thanks to the Foundation, I learned to ski with my brother in one weekend and now skiing is one of my favorite activities.  This year I was able to join my school’s ski club which has been a great social opportunity for me.

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After the video, Nick talked about how the organization has evolved and will continue to do so.  I was happy to learn that they will also add focus on the many children with autism that will be entering adulthood soon, like me, or already are adults like Doug Jr.

Wornick returned to the stage to begin announcing the Shining Stars.  I was ecstatic when my name was announced and rushed to the stage as she read my bio discussing some of my achievements including my sports blog that I started when I was 10 (https://andrewr1008.wordpress.com/).  She handed me the award, a glass star-shaped trophy with my name on it.  They took photos of me with Doug Flutie, Nick, and Susan as people continued to applaud.

Get Air Sports (a trampoline park that supports the foundation http://getairsports.com/ ), Luca and Danni jewelry (https://lucadanni.com/), John Breen, Alan Seymour (Doug Flutie’s good friend from Junior High School), Wegmans (https://www.wegmans.com/), NCGIT (https://ncgit.com/), and Amy Weinstock (http://autismhighereducationfoundation.org/amy-weinstock/) were the other Shining Stars and Get Air gave the foundation a big life-sized check for over $200,000 on the stage.

Susan then began a live auction for four very significant donated prizes.  The bidding for some of the items went over $10,000 and it was really exciting to see some of the bidders go back and forth trying to win with the final bid amount.

After the auction was over, many of the hundreds of guests came up to me to congratulate me and we exchanged contact info.  I said hello to Lisa Borges and I told her I would be back for the 2018 Flutie 5K and hoped to see her too.  I met Tyler Lagasse who Nick had asked to stand up with me.  He has autism too and plays golf competitively and wrote a book with his mom (https://www.amazon.com/What-Do-You-Say-Character/dp/1503556840).  We even caught up with Susan Wornick who wants to put me in touch with legendary sportscaster Bob Lobel to see a Red Sox game!

I did not end up winning any silent auction prizes but Jayme Parker, a longtime NESN reporter, took a picture with me and said she would keep in touch with me.  The experience of meeting her was like an auction prize that I had bid on and I went home with just as much excitement as I had at the start of the night.  The event was so much more than I could have ever imagined and I am so grateful for the experience!

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I would like to thank the Flutie Foundation for sharing this post on their own blog: http://www.flutiefoundation.org/blog/my-night-shine.

I would also like to give photo credit to Jenny Nourse Photography and thank them for the amazing pictures.