Utah, BYU Football To Join Forces Again For Autism Awareness

Jun 4, 2022, 2:06 PM | Updated: Jun 5, 2022, 10:43 am
BYU Utah Rivalry...
BYU kicker Jake Oldroyd (39) makes a field goal during the first half of an NCAA football game at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019. (Colter Peterson, Deseret News)
(Colter Peterson, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY- Once again Utah and BYU players will be joining forces to help Kids on the Move raise autism awareness. There will be a one mile walk/run that fans of both teams can sign up for on June 18th while also meeting some of their favorite local student athletes.

On June 4th’s episode of the Saturday Show, hosts Jake Hatch and Michelle Bodkin invited Kids on the Move COO Ryan Erickson and Utah defensive lineman Devin Kaufusi on air to talk about the event and what it means to give back to the community.

What Is Kids On The Move?

Kids on the Move is a locally based non-profit that specializes in various aspects of child care and development. One of their main purposes is helping children with autism and their families navigate what can be a tricky and often misunderstood learning disability.

“Kids on the Move is a non-profit organization located in Orem and our mission is really simple,” Erickson said. “It is to support healthy development of young children and families. We empower families one child at a time which is pretty important. Our purpose is to lead them to successful lives and help them be less dependent on government assistance. We do this through our five main pillar programs. The autism center is one of them. We also deal with early intervention and early head-start childcare and respite care.”

Erickson encourages anyone who is able and interested to come check out Kids on the Move’s event on June 18th that will not only provide further education on autism and the people it affects, but also a chance to meet with players from both the Utah and BYU football teams.

“This event we have coming up on June 18th is the Kids on the Move Walk for Autism,” Erickson said. “It will feature a one mile course around the Kids on the Move and Intermountain Healthcare Campuses. The finish line activities will include things like bounce houses, food trucks, activities, drawings. They will get a chance to meet and greet with the University of Utah and BYU football players and more. The whole purpose is benefiting the Kids on the Move Autism Center. I hope it will leave everyone who comes to this feeling educated, motivated and inspired about how we can help these kids with autism.”

Deep Roots

Erickson’s son, Hayden, plays tight end for the Utes so it only seemed natural to involve him and some of his teammates both past and present into the mix. Kaufusi happens to be one of those teammates and is very excited to help Kids on the Move in any way he can.

“Being born and raised here in the community- I love it,” Kaufusi said. “That’s what makes it special is the amount of kids here and the friendships you make. The bonds you make with your friends at a young age. When I got in touch with Ryan, just hearing the statistics of autism- especially in Utah and just the high need of Kids on the Move- it was just something I wanted to be a part of and help out with. It seemed like a great opportunity and I know the rest of us on the football team and the guys at BYU are super excited to jump in and help.”

The Ericksons actually started out BYU fans until Hayden opted to suit up for the Utes instead. With many of Hayden’s childhood friends ending up at BYU it was an easy choice to incorporate both schools and have them work together on raising more awareness for autism needs in the state of Utah.

“I have a lot of history with BYU and Utah,” Erickson said. “My son Hayden is on the football team with Devin and I love all of the players involved with this. Puka Nacua is helping us out, Tyler Batty is helping us out, Kade Moore is helping us out on the BYU side. I’ve know Kade and Puka for a long time. They have done a lot of training off-season with Hayden and my younger son, Noah. As we started to reach out to the universities we were impressed with these young men. All of them have some history of helping children with disabilities. They all have a passion for it and have the right mindset for it. As I talked to each on of these individuals- Karene Reid as well from Utah is really helping out- everyone of them has stepped up to the plate.”

How To Sign Up

If you are interested in signing up for the Kids on the Move Walk for Autism on June 18th you can check out their social media feeds on Twitter and Instagram for their QR Code, or you can visit their website for sign-up information.


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Utah, BYU Football To Join Forces Again For Autism Awareness