With holiday lights display, family hopes to raise money for veterans with PTSD

After Ed Abrahamson's holiday lights display raised $6,500 in donations last year, he has big hopes this season.

“If we could meet or beat last year, great,” said Abrahamson. “We'll take whatever we get and it's a blessing.”

Abrahamson creates all of this as a way of collecting donations to help veterans and members of law enforcement suffering from post-traumatic stress.  Abrahamson retired last year after 15 years in law enforcement and military service during the first Gulf War. He suffers with chronic pain, fibromyalgia, post-traumatic stress, and at times has been suicidal.

“A lot of families suffer – law enforcement, first responders, military,” said Ed’s wife, Dana Abrahamson. “There are a lot of walks of life who have PTSD through their family us being one of them.”

Recently, things at the Abrahamson household have been better. Last May, a national nonprofit heard what Ed was going through, and presented him with a specially trained service dog. Rex has been helping improve Ed’s life ever since.

“The other day I was feeling pretty blue,” said Abrahamson. “The dog can tell what your mood is good bad or otherwise.”

Knowing there are countless veterans and members of law enforcement also suffering from PTSD, the Abrahamson's have started their own local nonprofit called Soldier 6. With assistance from Santa, they hope donations collected under the glow of lights in his front yard will raise the $6,000 to $10,000 needed to train another service dog for a recently retired officer in St. Cloud, who is suffering in similar ways as Ed.

“It's absolutely wonderful,” said Santa. ”They've taken on a big challenge they've asked me to be a part of it and I am absolutely thrilled and honored to be out here.”

Abrahamson is first to admit having a service dog is not a cure all for the struggles that come with PTSD, but focusing on ways to help others helps each day seem little brighter.    

“It helps people regain their life. So many of us, for whatever reason, it's very debiltating and you kind of become a prisoner,” said Abrahamson. “It's a tough place to be, so this is a good thing.

Donations will be collected when Santa is present in the front yard of the Abrahamson home located at 8238 Copeland Way East in Inver Grove Heights.

Santa’s appearance schedule:

Friday, Dec. 9, 6-8:30 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 10, 6-8:30 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 11, 6-8:30 p.m.
Thursday, Dec 15, 6-8:30 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 16, 6-8:30 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 17, 6-8:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Dec. 21, 6-8:30 p.m.
Thursday, Dec. 22, 6-8:30 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 23, 6-8:30 p.m.