Despite a strong dose of nerves and with his notes nearby, Riley Cludy built up the courage to conduct his very first live auction, realizing a goal he's been thinking about for a year and half.
"He would have never picked up a microphone and talked into it in front of anyone -- anyone at all," said Riley's mom, Mary Lou Fiala. "This is a huge step for him."
Riley is 18 years old, about to graduate high school and has a highly functioning form of autism. He became interested in auctioneering through his other passion: horses.
"I met my first auctioneer at a horse show," Cludy recalled. "He told me about a school in Mankato and gave me his card."
However, Fiala soon found out most auction schools weren't willing to work with autistic people -- but. Continental Auction School in Mankato said yes. Dewey Johnson was one of Cludy's classmates during the grueling, week-long training.
"At first, we all thought, 'What is he doing here?' I mean, you wanted to know," admitted Johnson. "But he became the whole star of the whole class because he improved daily. By the end of it, he got a standing ovation from everybody!"
Riley got the chance to conduct his first live auction at an annual fundraiser for St. Mike's in Stillwater. His family attends the church, so the familiar faces made his first auction a bit easier.
"I am very proud," said Fiala.
Family members believe Cludy is the first registered auctioneer in the state to also have autism. He hopes to make a career out of it and run horse auctions someday.