Flutie Foundation 5K raises autism awareness on campus

Pi Kappa Phi hosts 5K to raise awareness for autism. Kassidy Tsikitas | Photographer

By Sarah Gallaher | Staff Writer

“Run, walk or roll for autism” — the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism held its first 5K charity fundraiser Saturday outside of Moody Memorial Library, encouraging people of all abilities to support the cause.

Pi Kappa Phi fraternity worked alongside the Flutie Foundation to host the event. According to Ridgefield, Conn., senior and head philanthropy chair Tom Kisciras, the fraternity’s philanthropy revolves around supporting people with disabilities.

“Our main philanthropy is called The Ability Experience, in which we donate to people with disabilities,” Kisciras said. “And various events like this, we hold these on campus so that people know what our mission is.”

Members of Pi Kappa Phi volunteered at the event, passing out water to runners and participating in the 5K themselves. Kisciras said a variety of other people showed up to support the cause, including students, families and alumni.

“I thought it was a good cause to raise money for,” Carrollton junior Jessie Thompson said. “And I do enjoy running, so this is just a fun thing for me.”

Representatives of the Flutie Foundation thanked the Baylor community for showing up in support of those with autism. The foundation, which was founded in 1998, hosts similar 5Ks on college campuses across the U.S., raising a total of $166,000 for autism charities since 2020.

“Whether you are a runner, walker, charity partner or donor, joining the Flutie 5K means supporting a movement that is helping people affected by autism live life to the fullest — no matter where or how you take part,” the Flutie Foundation website reads.

The Flutie Foundation partners with 37 autism charities, helping campus organizations raise funds for local charities that benefit people with autism. Kisciras said Pi Kappa Phi’s partnership with The Ability Experience makes the fraternity dedicated to helping people with autism.

“I think it’s good to give back to them, to help them out, to make sure that they get the care they need to work in any sort of stable environment,” Kisciras said.

Other organizations participated in the 5K along with Pi Kappa Phi, including members of the Bears Autism Spectrum Society. Austin sophomore Camila Ceron and Laredo sophomore Maddison Niles both serve as chairs for the club. Although it was not in partnership with the event, the organization promoted the 5K across social media platforms in an effort to get members to attend.

“We kind of just saw the signs around campus, and we’re actually a part of BASS, which is the Bears Autism Spectrum Society, and when we saw it was a fundraiser for autism, we decided it would be a good idea to advertise the event for BASS as well,” Ceron said.

According to Ceron, the Bears Autism Spectrum Society aims to bring awareness to autism and the issues the community faces on a daily basis. Niles said participating in events like this helps fight misconceptions about autism.

“We just really want to place an emphasis on fighting the stigma against common stereotypes of neurodivergent individuals, especially college students,” Niles said.

Similarly, the Flutie Foundation places an emphasis on sharing the stories of all people in the autism community, empowering participants to make an impact by raising awareness through events like the 5K.