Autism is the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States, affecting 1 in 88 children. It is more common than juvenile diabetes, childhood cancer and AIDS combined. In Minnesota alone, more than 14,000 children have autism, and the numbers are rising rapidly.
Just as staggering as the statistics is the lack of awareness surrounding them, but thanks to the efforts of local Kathleen Preuss and others autism is getting the attention and support it deserves.
This past Saturday Preuss and her daughter, Michelle, and mother, Barb Anderson, traveled to the Mall of America where they joined with other family members and friends to take part in the Fraser Walk for Autism. There, they comprised a handful of the more than 2,000 people that attended the walk and who managed to raise more than $150,000 for Fraser Autism Services.
Preuss said the disability has struck to the heart of her family as her brother Edward Bentzlin’s son, Stephen, and sister Penny Binnebose’s son, Brady, both have autism. The group’s team name “Brady’s Buddies” pays tribute to a focus of their support.
Preuss said that the team arrived at the Mall of America at 7:00 a.m where they were treated to breakfast and given the opportunity to take part in games and other entertainment. The walk itself started at 8:00 a.m. and included several stations for children, such as service dogs and animal/pet interaction, which help autistic children by reinforcing positive social behaviors.
According to the organization’s website, Fraser is the largest and most experienced autism services provider in Minnesota, offering a range of services for children, adolescents, adults, and families in the Twin Cities.
For her part, Preuss was able to raise over $1,400 from local businesses and organizations to support Fraser’s mission and in the process, her two nephews.
Preuss said the Upper Sioux Community, Granite Falls Bank, Fagen Inc., and Woody's Bar located in Wood Lake, were the group’s top contributors––and that additional donations came from Danielowski's, Economart, Willie’s korner Store, Dallas II, Citizen's Alliance Bank, Carl's Bakery, The Saw Mill, Dairy Queen, Hardees, Granite Floral, and Wood Lake Lumber.
We could not have done that without the support of the area businesses,” she said. “Brady's Buddies are ever so grateful.”