Shining the Light on Autism

Join us for our inaugural gala on February 8, 2020

Share your evening with us as we shine the light on autism at the Minnesota Autism Center’s inaugural gala to raise funds to continue our work of providing services to children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder and their families. This event is open to the public.

All proceeds from our gala event will support Minnesota Autism Center’s therapeutic services to children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder.

Keynote speaker: John Randle

Former Minnesota Vikings player and Pro Football Hall of Famer John Randle brings his personal experience with autism to our gala this year. As the parent of a child with autism, John will share his story and insights with gala attendees.

As a Little All-America from Texas A&I, Randle signed a contract as an undrafted free agent with the Minnesota Vikings in 1990. He played in all 16 games as a rookie before he earned a starting role at defensive tackle in his second season.

Randle showed signs of becoming one of the NFL’s most dominant pass rushers during his second NFL season when he recorded 9.5 sacks. The following year he added 11.5 sacks which marked the first of eight straight seasons with double-digit sack totals.

In the 1993 season, Randle registered 12.5 sacks, amassed 59 tackles and forced three fumbles to earn All-Pro honors and a Pro Bowl invitation for the first time. It began a string of six straight All-Pro and Pro Bowl seasons for Randle. He improved his sack total again in 1994 with a NFC-high 13.5 sacks. Randle recorded perhaps his finest season in 1997 when he led the NFL with 15.5 sacks and also had a career-high 71 tackles.

We look forward to sharing the evening with John Randle and appreciate his willingness to share his story of autism with our families and supporters.

Emcee: Esme Murphy

CBS Minnesota | WCCO Television Minneapolis Saint Paul

Our emcee for this inaugural event is Esme Murphy, reporter and Sunday morning anchor for WCCO.

Esme has been a member of the WCCO staff since December 1990. Born and raised in New York City, Esme ventured into reporting after graduating from Harvard University. She started in Chattanooga at a CBS station, then ventured across Tennessee to Memphis to work for the ABC affiliate. She jumped when she got the big call to come to WCCO and has never looked back.

Esme has won numerous awards during her career, including Associated Press First Place Awards for non-spot news reporting, feature reporting and investigative reporting. In 2012, Esme was name ‘Best AM Radio Show Host in the Twin Cities’ by City Pages.

Evening agenda

U.S. Presidential Candidate Senator Amy Klobuchar (D) MN

Welcome reception

Dinner and program with keynote John Randle

Dessert and live auction


Single ticket: $150
Table: $1,500

A portion of your ticket is tax deductible. Space is limited for this event. Tickets are available here or by clicking the red “register now” button above.

Live auction

Join us at the end of the evening for a live auction of great experiences right here in the Twin Cities. Here is just a sampling of some of our live auction items:

  • Minnesota Twins Fan-Four Pack and a trip to the Irish Pub
    • Get in the game! Four supreme Twins baseball seats located in the comfortable Dugout Box section up close, right on first base. You’ll have direct view to see all of the hits coming your way. This section has access to a private food dining area and restroom facilities and TC Bear loves to visit. You’ll be in the action, so bring your glove! And, enjoy a meal either before or after the game with your $100.00 gift card to Kieran’s Irish Pub just down the block.
  • Surly Private Brewery tour and dinner
    • You and up to 20 of your closest friends will embark on a brewery tour experience at Surly. This tour will take about one hour starting with the brewery history, brewing and the brewhouse. You and your guests will be treated to three beer samples and a full pint of Surly to enjoy with your $500 gift card to go towards dinner after the tour. You will receive a Surly SACK which includes one men’s t-shirt, 1 women’s t-shirt, 4-pint glasses, a hat and a gift card for the Surly Beer Hall and/or company store. Surely you won’t be surly after this experience.
  • Dining Experience with Bizarre Foods Chef Andrew Zimmern
    • This is for the “true foodie” in your life or an amazing experience to give that special someone who has everything! A private dinner experience for a party of 12 with Andrew Zimmern in his Studio Kitchen. You and your guests will be a part of the famous chef’s meal preparation for each course from beginning to end – wine pairing is included with each course. There is nothing bizarre about this experience!
  • Minnesota Vikings Turf Suite Experience  
    • You’re so close to the players that you can high-five Stefon Diggs for his amazing catch and be a part of the action off the field when you and a guest are sitting in your turf suite seats. This experience includes complimentary food and beverages, access to the Delta 360 Club and a chance to see Vikings players up close and personal. It will make you want to sing, SKOL!
  • Minnesota Timberwolves Courtside Seats and Team Autographed Basketball
    • You and a guest will sit courtside at the Minnesota Timberwolves versus the Dallas Mavericks game on Sunday, March 1, at 6 p.m. This VIP experience will include one NBA basketball autographed by KAT and the team, some T-wolves swag and opportunities to interact with the players. If you’re a T-wolves fan, this is a dream come true kind of experience! 

Additional information

There will be complimentary valet parking at these event and semi-formal attire is encouraged. Questions? Please contact Lisa Newton at or (952) 767-4200.

Thank you to this year’s gala sponsors