Families Affected by Autism Gather in Edina for Fundraiser, Resources

March 04, 2018 06:38 PM

Hundreds of families gathered at Edina's Southdale Center Sunday for Steps of Hope for Autism in Minnesota.

The Autism Society of Minnesota expected about 1,000 people to attend the fundraiser, which also serves as a resource fair. All of the money raised stays local so families can be connected with services.


Kendall, a 19-year-old, explored both floors of booths in the mall with her family.

RELATED: St. Paul Police, Autism Minnesota Launch App

"I think this event is really good for people of all ages, whether or not they have disabilities," Kendall said. "People with disabilities need special support."

At least 60 vendors, such as Vitals Aware Services, were set up to highlight the help they offer, some of which includes new, real-time technology meant to help people with invisible disabilities.

The service allows families to set up a profile for their loved one. It features a photo, behavior triggers, contact information and what type of disability they have. First responders at participating departments are then pinged with those details when the person is within 80 feet.

Janee Harteau, the service's chief public safety strategist, said St. Paul and Roseville's police departments are already on board, along with every department in Dakota County.

"When families find out, they're ecstatic," Harteau said. "They are so excited to know that this type of technology exists for somebody that they care about and to know that law enforcement will be able to have this information."

Vitals Aware Services offered a free 1-year subscription to families at the event Sunday.


Tyler Berg

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