Fraser’s Long History Of Helping Children With Special Needs

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — All month long we are sharing stories about the organization that will benefit from your donations to our Pulling Together campaign.

Our giant tug-of-war teams are raising money for Fraser. Fraser gives life long support to children and adults with special needs, and the organization was started thanks to the help of a Minnesota mother.

Long before Fraser became the state’s largest provider of autism services, it started with just one family, and one woman.

“Fraser started with really humble beginnings,” Fraser’s president and CEO Diane Cross said.

A teacher named Louise Fraser lived in Minneapolis. She had a daughter who was diagnosed as severely intellectually disabled.

“She was actually severely hearing impaired, but we didn’t know that because they weren’t able to do differential diagnosis,” Cross said.

This was during the 1930s, when the treatment of children with special needs was much different than today.

“Everyone told her ‘Put your child in an institution,’ and that’s what most families did,” Cross said. “They gave up little babies young children to institutions.”

Louise refused to do that. In 1935, she decided to open a school inside her own home to help children with special needs.

“Think about this — a woman, in the Great Depression,” Cross said. “Everyone was against her because, again, the common practice of the day was to institutionalize these children.”

Louise’s mission of that first school was to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those with special needs. That mission, nearly eight decades later has come true through the Fraser organization that helps thousands of children AND adults across Minnesota.

“Reaching these kids at an early age, giving them the right supports, they can reach their full potential,” Cross said.

Donations raised for Pulling Together, will help continue Louise’s mission.

“It’s really about all coming together for Pulling Together to make this all work for these families and their children,” Cross said.

Louise passed away in 1976 at the age of 81. Today, Fraser has seven locations across the state for education and therapy sessions. Their ultimate goal is to open enough locations so that no family will have to drive further than 35 miles, or 35 minutes, to receive their services.

That’s why we’re Pulling Together next month. Nine teams from St. Paul and Minneapolis will go up against each other in a tug-of-war across the Mississippi.

Each team needs to raise 10-thousand dollars – with 100% of that money going to Fraser. Click here to pick which team you want to support!

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