Family Raises Money for GPS Trackers in Honor of their Autistic Son

30 Apr 2018

April is Autism Awareness Month, so we thought we’d end this month by passing along thi story.

Sammy Rowold and his family captured the attention and hearts of Americans when they first heard his story. Rowold was a thirteen-year-old boy who suffered from autism. His condition made him nonverbal and low-functioning. On February 23rd, Rowold wandered away from his home. Sadly, hundreds of autistic children wander away from their caregivers every year.

The Hardin County Sheriff’s Department conducted a search for the Sammy for over four hours. Officers, EMS crews, firefighters, medical helicopters, family members and community members all joined in the search. Tragically, Sammy’s body was found in a pond. Authorities later confirmed the cause of death was drowning.

Michele Giddens, a stepsister to the victim’s mother, decided to set up a GoFundMe for little Sammy’s funeral expenses. Donations quickly poured in from all over the country. Other parents of autistic children shared their stories about their children wandering away from caregivers, and several parents chose to attend the funeral as a sign of solidarity between autistic parents.

Donations to the GoFundMe account far exceeded the amount of money the family needed for Sammy’s funeral, so the family has promised to utilize any extra donations towards purchasing GPS tracking devices for other children that have autism.

Giddens discovered that a GPS tracking device for autistic children can be purchased. This newly discovered information could save other autistic children’s lives. The additional money from the GoFundMe account is enough to provide GPS devices for seven families in the area.

The Hardin County Board of Developmental Disabilities is working with Sammy’s family to identify which families would benefit most from GPS trackers. In honor of little Sammy, the agency is attempting to find a GPS tracking device that would work while underwater.

Sammy’s family was sadly unaware of this life-saving technology, but they have since dedicated themselves to spreading awareness about the devices. These trackers can help reassure family members of autistic children, maintain a greater level of safety for kids and will immediately help in a situation where the child wanders away from care providers. Some trackers partner with smartphone apps to allow a parent to set and enforce boundaries for kids who are prone to wandering off.

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