By Amy Hadachek
Nearly four dozen antique tractors caravanned across northeast Kansas in a Labor Day fundraiser. The line-up at the 7th Annual Tractor Cruise, included tractors by John Deere, Farmall, Ford, Case, Oliver and Massey-Ferguson, and started at Everest Middle School; Everest, and traveled through Brown County's scenic farm country.
Participants included local farmers and some from as far away as across the Missouri River in Platte City, Mo. One city councilman from Belleville was also in the group.
The $25 entry fee, translated into $1,400 raised for Angelman Syndrome Foundation, which goes toward research and a hopeful cure. Angelman's is a neuro-genetic disorder. Symptoms include lack of speech, seizures, and balance disorders in people who typically require life-long care.
It's a cause close to the heart and family of Kansas farmer Keith Olsen, Horton.
"There's a sea of red out here today," joked Olsen, Event Organizer and father of Ingrid Olsen, a little blond haired, blue-eyed Brown County 2nd-grader, who was born with Angelman's Syndrome. "I'm thankful folks shut down the combine to come out for a good cause. We're driving 45-miles today, and please put it on your calendar for next year," Olsen asked the crowd.
"Angelman's has some promising studies now including an antibiotic, and another study using chemotherapy on mice, to reverse it," said Denise Olsen, Ingrid's mother.
"It's a good cause and I enjoy driving the countryside," farmer David Lowe, Horton said. Lowe encouraged his brother-in-law David Forbes, a hobby farmer who raises chickens to join in.
"This is my first year, it's something different and a good cause," said Forbes.
Joe Kamphefner, who farms 300 acres across the Missouri River in Platte City, MO., drove a tractor that he bought in high school.
"This is fun and you meet a lot of people," said Kamphefner, proudly driving his Farmall 1954 MTA.
Don Danielson, a City Councilman from Belleville, drove two hours with his buddy Ed Ball, who has a farm in Republic County.
"Ingrid is improving," said Denise. "They still feed her at school, but she's doing better."
At Angelman Syndrome Foundation headquarters in Aurora, Ill., Executive Director Eileen Braun said the Olsens do much to raise awareness and funds for the organization.
"We could not be more proud to work with the Olsens. They also produce football and basketball camps in June, as an outreach to any child," said Braun.
Ingrid's big sister Grete enjoyed hugging Ingrid and holding her little hands. In three years, Grete, a 5th grader, will be old enough to drive farm equipment. Her mom said Grete can't wait to drive a tractor, to help her sister's cause.