Malvern teen visits 71 police departments to raise autism awareness

PROSPECT PARK, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Alex Mann, 19, has put 4,500 miles on his car in the past two years visiting police stations within driving distance of his home in Malvern, Pennsylvania. He says he wants police to know he supports them.

"I've been everywhere from Pottstown to Radnor, to Lower Pottsgrove," Mann said, for a total of 71 police departments.

The 71st visit was Thursday to Prospect Park Police Department in Delaware County. Chief Dave Madonna said while his department may be small, he likes to go big for people.

"I guarantee you I'll have more fun than Alex today," he said.

Chief Madonna arranged for Mann and his family to have a police escort into town. When the Mann's arrived at the station, officers representing half a dozen other police and fire stations greeted him outside. Inside, the chief threw a birthday party for the 19-year-old, who's turning 20 next month.

"It just makes my heart full because they're willing to embrace him for who he is," said Linda Mann, Alex's mom.

Mann is hoping officers are getting something out of all of his visits too. He has autism and wants police to understand what it's like to interact with someone with a disability.

"They should be aware of that in case they come across a person with a disability that they may see as non-compliant or resisting," said Mann.

"There's also the story of a boy, too, who has a lot of difficulties building social relationships with kids his own age," said his mother.

"I may be making a lot of friends in the process, well, I hope I am," said Mann.

Chief Madonna says he hopes that his grand gestures during Mann's visit shows his department thinks of the young man as a friend too.
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