First ever Flutie Foundation Rock 'n' Hoops draws supportive crowd

Reminder Publications photo by Courtney Llewellyn
By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

SPRINGFIELD A crowd of more than 300 gathered in the Basketball Hall of Fame Friday night for the first ever Rock 'n' Hoops benefit, a basketball game and concert put on by the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism.

The celebrity basketball game featured Sen. Scott Brown, football legend Doug Flutie, UMass basketball coach Derek Kellogg and more.

"Autism awareness is something I've been working on for ages," Brown said before the game. "I know a lot of kids and a lot of families dealing with autism, so this is a great charity to be involved in."
Members of the Court Jesters, the Springfield-based comedy basketball troupe that took on Flutie's team, advance on Elms College's Juan Maldonado during a "scuffle" mid-game.

The primary goal of the Flutie Foundation is to "promote awareness and support families affected by autism spectrum disorders," according to the organization's Web site. "We are committed to funding organizations that provide direct services, family support grants, education, advocacy and recreational opportunities with the purpose of improving the quality of life for individuals with autism and their families."

"We haven't done any events in Springfield [in the past]," Flutie told Reminder Publications. "It seemed right to do this at the Basketball Hall of Fame. It's a great event because it brings awareness to the people [dealing with autism] and the foundation."

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said the event was a great thing for the city. "It's a good cause because more and more families are dealing with autism but foundation's like Mr. Flutie's help them do it in a more positive fashion," he said. Sarno added that he would love to have the foundation return for another fundraiser next year.

A wide variety of supporters were in the crowd for the game, from parents of children with autism to local politicians to fans of the celebrity players.

Ethan Dallas, 8, from Longmeadow, said he came to the game with his mom because he admired Doug Flutie. He added that he thought the contest between the celebrity team and the comedy basketball troupe, the Court Jesters, was "an awesome game."

Flutie's team lost 89-84, but Sayeed "Rainbow" Abdul-Muntaqim, captain of the Court Jesters, thought the game was good for everyone involved.

"We had a good turnout and we hope to build on it," Abdul-Muntaqim said following the game. "It was good basketball for a good cause."

Please see next week's editions of The Reminder and Herald for photos from the charity basketball game.

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