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Police Officer Donates iPads to Kids with Autism

Law Enforcement, Education and Autism coming together for a terrific and worthy cause…  

Lisa Thomas-Laury of WPVI in Philadelphia reports:

By Lisa Thomas-Laury

Thursday, February 19, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — A Philadelphia police officer went above and beyond the call of duty by raising nearly $8,000 to purchase specially-equipped iPads for dozens of children with autism.

Officer Sammy Sanchez got emotional as he watched the children play at his brother’s martial arts studio on Oxford Avenue.

“Just seeing the kids having a good time and running around and jumping – I mean this is why I do it,” said Sanchez.

What Officer Sanchez and his wife Gloria have done is raise nearly $8,000 to purchase iPads and special software for 36 children with autism in the Philadelphia School District.

Their son Sammy Jr. has autism and they saw his personal growth soar after buying him an iPad.

“Sammy was non-verbal, I’d say for a few years,” said Gloria Sanchez.

“He still can’t have a conversation with me but he’s now able to tell me he hurts, he’s hungry, has to use the restroom,” said Officer Sanchez.

He’s made progress and we just wanted to do it for other kids,” said Gloria.

Children like 16-year-old Jose Serrano and four others from Olney Charter High School, who received iPads on Thursday.

“We have a lot of students who have communication needs, which is gonna be really, really helpful for them,” said Jodie McAllister, life skills support teacher.

The iPads are installed with Protoquo 2Go software, which is specially-designed for children with autism.

“It actually allows the kids to use it as a speech device so they can ask a question. This actually has voice audio so it’ll repeat it,” said Gloria.

Officer Sanchez held bowling fundraisers to come up with some of the iPad money.

He also got a lot of support in the community and from colleagues:

“For him to put together something like this, I couldn’t help but be a part of it,” said Officer Roslyn Talley, Philadelphia Police.

Children from five Philadelphia schools received iPads on Thursday.

Officer Sanchez says he hopes to increase that number in the near future.

To donate visit: http://www.gofundme.com/mowfic