ARGYLE, Wis. - Four-year-old Evan Hawkinson can't get enough of his backyard slide.
But in case he tires of it, a tall wooden fence around his yard will keep his legs from wandering even if his mind does.
Just beyond that fence, there's a cornfield that could easily hide Evan if he decided to run.
Evan's mom Wendy Hawkinson said the fence is the only way to keep Evan safe.
"Our house has become more of a fortress now," Hawkinson said.
Evan is autistic, and Wendy said it's been a tough learning experience for her and her family.
"When you live in fear, sometimes you forget to live," Hawkinson said. "And it seems like we're scared, so we shouldn't be scared."20866758
One cold spring day, Evan darted down the driveway and made it almost a mile down the road. He threw one leg over the railing of a bridge before his dad found him.
"If his eye is on the prize he's going to keep going for it," Hawkinson said.
With few other options, Hawkinson picked up the phone and called the Lafayette County Sheriff's Department.
"It's the last defense, you know," Hawkinson said. "It's our last option in keeping him safe."
Sheriff Scott Pedley called on the community for donations Needing $6,000 to start the Caretrak program, neighbors responded with $11,000.
Caretrak works on a system of radio transmissions. People prone to running off wear a bracelet that law enforcement can use to track down kids with autism or elderly patients with Alzheimer's.
Pedley said the device will save both time and money when it comes to missing person searches.
"This is a life safety enhancing piece of equipment that will be available to our citizens, and hopefully, we'll never have to use it," Pedley said.
For Wendy and her family, it's a little peace of mind and a bit of freedom from the fortress her house has become.
"You're going to see more and more children like Evan. You're going to see more and more adults like Evan," Hawkinson said. "And we need to be proactive. We need to help each other here."
Pedley said they will start with six bracelets with plans to get more in the future. The program is already up and running in Green County and Dane County.
Anyone interested in more information should contact the Lafayette County Sheriff's Department.
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