BURKBURNETT, Tx (RNN Texoma) - Children and seniors often wander away from home, but for those who are unable to verbally communicate and say who they are, getting them back home can be a little difficult.
That's why Hilary Wheeler, a Burkburnett resident is making a change through a nationwide program.
"If she were to wander off and dig in trashcans or find anything that she could eat, even if they were uneatable items, it could potentially kill her, or she would eat to the point where her stomach would burst," Wheeler said. "So time is very important to me."
At birth, her daughter, Zailey who's now 8-years-old was diagnosed with Prader–Willi Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that specialist say affects appetite, growth, metabolism, cognitive function and even behavior.
"One time we were in Walmart and she did go wandering off, and it took us about 15 minutes to find her," Wheeler said.
When any child goes missing every second counts and Wheeler said that's especially the case for kids or individuals with special needs who may not be able to talk, or even tell police who they are during an emergency.
Creating a life-threatening situation that she felt she need to do something about.
So after doing some research, she came across, a nationwide program called "Take Me Home" and brought it to the attention of the Burkburnett Police Department.
"She contacted me and she was basically letting me know about this program and that it was available," Burkburnett Lt. Lahoma Vaughn said.
Take Me Home is used by law enforcement and helps keep people with disabilities like autism or dementia safe, through a database that can be accessed by police. It includes photos and personal information.
"It's about giving us the information that we need so that we can lower the situation and get the family members notified," Lt. Vaughn said.
Wheeler said she is thankful the nationwide program is expanding to Wichita County and isn't done yet with her mission to raise awareness about an issue that often times goes unnoticed.
"You hear everyday something new. Whether somebody is physically or mentally abused. Not necessarily on purpose, but because people don't understand the situation or know how to intervene in these situations," Wheeler said. "I think this would not only bring protection to our families but it would give protection for law enforcement as well."
Wheeler has contacted several law enforcement agencies in Texas and Oklahoma in hopes of seeing them also adopt the Take Me Home program.
In fact, she said the Lawton Police Department reached out to her and wants to meet with her soon to learn more.
To sign up your loved one for the program you're asked to contact the Burkburnett Police Department at (940) 569-2231.