Local Spotlight: Operation Save the Lost
By Katie Goergens, Operation Save the Lost Founder
My husband, Nick, and I reside in Delphos. We have four little girls, Madelynn, Lillian, Hazel, and Aubreigh, and a dog named Letti.
Recently, in our surrounding communities, we have been involved in search efforts for two children who wandered off and were missing – both of whom had autism. This really hit home for us, as we have a daughter who doesn’t speak and has autism; she does not understand the dangers of wandering off. These tragedies have opened our eyes to how fast things can happen. We started questioning whether we are doing everything in our power to prevent this from happening to not only our family, but other families that have loved ones with autism.
We started our journey with autism in October 2019 with our daughter Aubreigh. In the beginning, I think we struggled, as any parent does, to accept that our little girl was behind and that there could be something “wrong.” It was heartbreaking to see her sisters try to interact with her and receive no acknowledgment. She struggles with normal day-to-day activity and communicating. We were informed early on that Aubreigh showed all the indicators for autism spectrum disorder. Because of that, Nick and I dived into research. We wanted to learn all we could and educate our girls on this. In June 2020, Aubreigh was officially diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, global developmental delay, and mixed receptive expressive language disorder by the Developmental Clinic at Dayton Children’s Hospital. Since then, she has made huge strides and our Early Intervention team has been phenomenal! They have made such a difference in our lives. We want Aubreigh to grow up and be proud of who she is and all the progress she has made. She has had such an impact on all of us, including her sisters. They ask so many questions and are so eager to help when she has a bad day. They join us in praise when she does something new, and in conversation when talking about autism with someone who doesn’t quite understand. Aubreigh and autism have made all of us better human beings.
She is the reason we started Operation Save the Lost, which provides Jiobit tracking devices to children with autism spectrum disorders. (We use this device for Aubreigh.) Our goal is to locate a child before they wander into danger. No parent should have to experience the pain of losing a child. Right now, we are trying to get our information out into the community, because we know people might not be aware of the options – like a Jiobit – or may not be able to afford the device and monthly subscription. Our operation makes it possible for families to have that extra safety measure, regardless of financial situations. Safety is our number one priority and no family should have to struggle to provide that for their child.
Our initial goal was to give 10 Jiobits to families in the community, but after an overwhelming response, we’ve bumped that up to 20. We are partnering with Autism Life Center to make this happen, and we are accepting donations to purchase the Jiobits. The first round of Jiobits will be first come, first serve – but we hope to eventually get a Jiobit to every family that needs one. We also owe our thanks to Josh Warnecke, Ft. Jennings Fire Chief, for his input as a first responder.
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit www.autismlc.com or call them at 567-825-8921.
For those interested, here are some benefits of the Jiobit:
• Smallest, most lightweight monitor
• Battery life of 7-30 days
• Real-time location tracking using cellular data, GPS, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi
• Unlimited range
• Care Team with first responders
• Audible alerts
• Secure lock
And here’s how donations help:
• $100 can provide an Autism Safety Kit: window and door alarms, car decal, “I have autism” seatbelt cover, shoestrings, and “I have autism” communication cards
• $165 provides one Jiobit for one family
• $325 provides one Jiobit with two-year subscription for one family
• $1500 provides a Jiobit with two-year subscription and an Autism Safety Kit to four families
Every donation help us save lives, so thank you.