Big Macs Fuel Autism Awareness

Photo of the blog author By Rochelle Burnett,
Toronto Police Service
Published: 3:52 p.m. May 30, 2017
Updated: 8:03 a.m. May 31, 2017

A grassroots partnership raised thousands for autism awareness.

A man in TPS uniform in a drive-thru window
Chief Mark Saunders put in a shift manning the drive-thru window and explaining the importance of the fundraiser
  • A man in TPS uniform in a drive-thru window
  • A man and woman in TPS uniform with a teenage boy
  • A man and a woman in front of a fast food counter
  • A man in a TPS scout car puts money in a cup held by another man in TPS uniform

#BigMacsForAutism raised $7,701 for Autism Speaks Canada through the sale of food at seven locations.

Franchise owner Jon MacDonald said he was approached by one of his regular customers, Margaret Kelly, with the fundraising idea because her grandson Ricai falls on the autism spectrum.


“I just felt there was something we needed to do,” MacDonald said, noting Kelly is a community-minded customer he was happy to have as a partner. They also teamed up with Divisional Policing Support Unit Constable Isabelle Cotton, who has included Ricai’s work on the Toronto Police Caribbean Carnival float in the past.

MacDonald donated $1 from the purchase of every Big Mac, Happy Meal and Hot McCafe beverage to Autism Speaks Canada on May 27.

#BigMacsForAutism Photo Journal

Watch the Video

Police officers helped out the McDonald’s staff raise money and awareness for Autism Speaks Canada. At the Keele and Finch location, Chief Mark Saunders served customers from the drive-thru window and explained to everyone how their purchase was benefiting the organization. 

Chief Saunders, whose son, Graham, has autism, was heartened to see such goodwill from the McDonald’s team, police officers and customers.

“The fact that we have such amazing citizens who are hoping to raise a ton of money for a great cause is great,” Saunders said.

Inside, Ricai Kelly had brought some of his artwork to put on display where a face painter and balloon animal artist were on hand to entertain kids. 

Esther Rhee, the National Program Director for Autism Speaks Canada, said the Service has become a great partner for her organization. 

“The fundraising initiatives by the team last year were amazing, over $40,000, and I know that you guys are on par to actually exceed that for this year which is so great,” Rhee said.

She went on to say the partnership is more than just helping with fundraising. 

“We are also sharing information in terms of training TPS staff and TPS is also training us so that we know what officers go through and we can figure out how to best enhance that training to support the autism community,” Rhee said.

TPS crest watermark