(Everest, Kan.) -- A tractor cruise fundraiser for the Angelman Syndrome Foundation will take place in Northeast Kansas this Labor Day Weekend.
Keith Olsen of Everest, Kan., has been coordinating this annual event for nearly two decades; ever since Angelman syndrome affected his family directly.
“I’ve been doing this cruise for about 19 years,” Olsen said. “My youngest daughter, Ingrid, was diagnosed with [Angelman’s] 17 years ago when she was born and we’ve been raising money for the Angelman’s Syndrome Foundation, trying to find a treatment or cure for all the angels out there who have this disability.”
Angelman syndrome is an extremely rare genetic disorder that hinders functions such as speech, balance and intellectual development. It’s found in just 1 in every 15,000 children worldwide and is typically diagnosed at birth.
“[Angelman syndrome] is very rare in the area,” Olsen said. “They’d never heard much of it at Children’s Mercy [Hospital], but they did some research. Over the last 17 years [Ingrid] has made some progress. She cannot speak and she has a communication device if she wants to use it, but she very rarely does, and she has seizures and tremors.”
Olsen’s annual tractor cruise attracts drivers from all neighboring states and collects donations from participants, all of which are given to the Angelman Syndrome Foundation. The cruise is a 40-mile round trip excursion across the Northeast Kansas area and includes a lunch provided by Highland Community College.
“[The cruise] is really fun,” Olsen said. “I would stop doing this if I didn’t enjoy it, but I enjoy meeting all these drivers and a lot of the people have been coming for all 19 years.”
The Northeast Kansas Annual Tractor Cruise to benefit the Angelman Syndrome Foundation will be held September 5 in Everest, Kan.
Hear the full interview with Olsen below.