Gene Mueller's Higher Life

Gene Mueller's Higher Life: Travis Wick

Gene Mueller's Higher Life: Travis Wick

CREATED Nov 2, 2012

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SHEBOYGAN - Meet Jaden Wick and his dad, Travis.  

Jaden is autistic, and someone stole the iPad he uses as a learning tool from his dad's car. Travis Wick used the theft as a learning occasion...to ask for the iPad back and to teach us all.

“Families children with disabilities have these struggles that a lot of society is unaware of,” says Travis. “And when somebody does something like this, it really impacts the family much more than what people know.”

People--complete strangers--came through.

“The community outpouring was just, I was so overwhelmed. I spent a whole week just, it was an emotional rollercoaster of up and downs and crying, and I was, I couldn’t believe it.”

Some offered to buy a new iPad outright. Others kicked in cash--enough to buy two or three. Cooler still: whoever took the original brought it back and left it in the family's mailbox.

“We got back the iPad that none of the other ones could replace in that it said ‘Love Mom and Dad’ on the back and his name. For us to make those purchases for him to try meeting his needs, that’s what all the other iPads couldn’t replace. What was that commitment to our son to always try meeting his needs and do the best we could. We made a lot of sacrifices in order to get it, and that we had it back, once again, you know crying again, crying tears and calling people and going ‘Oh my gosh!’”

Travis' autism support group is deciding what to do with the money and the iPads.  The Wicks are giving the strangers who helped a little something back.

“When the people donated to us, we gave them a picture and we gave them artwork that Jaden did. And we said, ‘You’re part of our family now. You gave to us and you believed in our child. You gave him something that’s going to make him successful in life. You should share in his gains. You should share in his triumphs and tribulations throughout life.”

What was to be a learning occasion for whoever took Jaden's iPad is now one for the dad as well, a father who found out about the compassion of strangers.

“For a lot of the listeners, it wasn’t even a child in your community. It wasn’t even a child in your district. It was just a story. It was a child with autism. And for somebody to come out and to help like that, you know, there’s a lot of stories out there. But to really get these people coming together, it’s amazing, and I’ll never be able to say thank you enough. I really won’t.”

Travis Wick is working with the Kiwanis Club to help find more iPads for those with disablities.   He says there are any number of web sites you can go to if you want to find out more about autism, including his group, “Au-some” as well as “Autism Speaks”.  And, you can see Travis, Jaden and his cherished iPad on our website where they'll show you some of the programs the boy uses as part of his everyday life.