How Far Would YOU Go to Support Our Programs for Kids with Special Needs?


Would you kiss a pig?

When Dr. Hanna Rue, Executive Director of the National Autism Center, was a high school student in southern Louisiana, she watched her school principal kiss a pig as part of a fundraiser. Little did she know that a few decades later, history would repeat itself.

Dr. Rue and other intrepid staff decided to bring this charming, southern tradition to Massachusetts to promote the annual Rodman Ride for Kids–May Institute’s largest fundraising event. The group was proof that there is no shortage of creativity or lengths to which staff will to go to raise funds to support the agency's many programs and services for kids.

Over the past month, staff purchased “votes” in the hopes of witnessing their favorite executive lock lips with Oliver, the beloved, small house pig of Kelli Leahy, Corporate Office Manager. Top vote-getters included Michael Milczarek (Chief Financial Officer), Jim Millins (Chief of Facilities Management), Lauren Solotar (Chief Executive Officer), and Pamela Raymond (Executive Vice President of Educational Services).

In the end, the final prize went to Dr. Ralph Sperry, Chief Operating Officer and all-around good sport.

Winning the election by over 200 votes and donning Mardi Gras-style, pig-themed necklaces, Dr. Sperry looked on with trepidation as Oliver reluctantly made his way down the red carpet toward him. Appropriately, Oliver’s entrance was accompanied by the theme song from the movie “Star Wars.”

The audience grew hushed as Oliver, in Kelli’s arms, and Dr. Sperry stared across the inches that separated them, each silently hoping for a clean get away. Nose to nose, whisker to whisker, they waited. Cheers went up as Dr. Sperry finally bestowed Oliver with the eagerly anticipated kiss.

With the grace and humor of a true winner, Dr. Sperry said, “I am simply following in the long tradition of people giving a lot for a good cause. In the famous words of Nathan Hale: 'I have but one life to give to my country.' Today, I have but one kiss to give to my company."

Will you join us in supporting our children's programs by donating to the Rodman Ride for Kids? No need to kiss Oliver – just make a gift today!

Many thanks to all staff who participated and donated, with special appreciation extended to Dr. Hanna Rue and Audra Cohen of the National Autism Center, and Dr. Marisa Morelos of the Autism Spectrum Disorders Clinic, for organizing this event.