CAF Minnesota Wing Hosts Autistic Group Visit

Tour guide Ricky (left) with guests on tour at CAF Minnesota Wing (Image Credit: Erik's Ranch)
Tour guide Ricky (left) with guests on tour at CAF Minnesota Wing (Image Credit: Erik's Ranch)
Tour guide Ricky (left) with guests on tour at CAF Minnesota Wing
(Image Credit: Erik’s Ranch)

The Commemorative Air Force’s Minnesota Wing recently hosted a group of guests from Erik’s Ranch & Retreats, a premier residence and workplace for adults with autism, giving one of the group’s members, Ricky, who has an encyclopedic knowledge of World War II, a chance to demonstrate his prodigious talent.

Erik’s Ranch has recently launched its My Genuine Genius program, calling for parents of children or young adults with autism to submit videos of their child displaying their unique “Genuine Genius.” THe videos will be posted to the My Genuine Genius website as part of a project aimed at expanding the view on what is “normal.” While autism has been in the news frequently in the past months surrounding legislation on insurance coverage, this project will focus on the gifts and talents of young people living with autism. Many young people with autism have found a passion and a gift for art, history, math, athletics or any number of activities. My Genuine Genius will showcase the vast variety of talents this population collectively possesses.

Guest poses for a picture in Miss Mitchell's cockpit. (Image Credit: Erik's Ranch)
Guest poses for a picture in Miss Mitchell’s cockpit.
(Image Credit: Erik’s Ranch)

The nonprofit also offers Erik’s Minnesota Adventures, a program that allows young adults with autism to work as tour guides leading volunteer guests on exciting and unique adventures throughout the Twin Cities. The tours range from horseback trail rides to the Irish culture of St. Paul, which features Celtic dancing lessons, whiskey tastings and a historical tour of St. Paul. Residential programs are also in development in Edina, Minnesota and near Bozeman, Montana, where a tour program will also be launched.

Ricky, aged 25 took volunteer guests on a tour of the CAF Minnesota Wing’s museum facility located in a WWII-era hangar at Fleming Field in South St Paul, Minnesota, providing him the opportunity to put his talent on display, teaching those on the tour about warbirds and the Second World War.

Ricky, 25 – Minnesota from Erik’s Ranch on Vimeo.

2 Comments

  1. Thank you so much to whomever it was who wrote this piece and posted it! My name is Bethany and I am the assistant tour guide on Ricky’s WWII Fighter Pilot tour at the MN Wings Division of the Commemorative Air Museum. Ricky really is very enthusiastic about his job and is continually thinking of new ways to improve the tour. Amy, the president of the museum association has taken us under her wing, so to speak, and has been there for us during these amazing tours. She goes above and beyond, as do all of the other phenomenal volunteers there.

    The article was very thorough conveyed exactly the “right stuff!” Well done! We would like to thank you personally whoever you are!

    Thanks!

  2. Thanks for the kind words, Bethany. As a warbird enthusiast who has a (6 year old) autistic child in my life who I love dearly, the story of Ricky and the Genuine Genius program, as well as the other groundbreaking programs of Erik’s Ranch & Retreats was a great inspiration to me and gives me hope for a future when our autistic brothers and sisters are more fully integrated in our society.

    Roger

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