Ten-year-old Wyatt Fuss was diagnosed with life-threatening spinal cord tumors when he was very young. While his health issues may not be visible to the average person, they are very real and very urgent to Wyatt and his family.
Spinal cord tumors are life threatening, especially the internal tumors found inside Wyatt which cause severe nerve damage. Wyatt no longer has feeling in his hands and arms. As the tumors grow, paralysis is yet another step in the disease’s progression. According to his mother, Jennifer, he is fortunate to not be totally paralyzed at this time.
“There is no cure at this time and the condition is fatal,” said Jennifer. The benefit foundation, Alex’s Lemonade Stand, is raising funds in hopes of hiring research staff and facilities to pursue a cure for the condition. Life expectancy for spinal cord tumor patients is often less than twenty years.
Wyatt does not let his disability stand in the way of his farming dreams. He helps his grandfather with feeding cattle, and last summer rode along with him and selected the calves they would purchase to raise for beef. Wyatt loves the outdoors and fishing or hunting. He dreams of becoming a Department of Natural Resources officer and owning a small farm as a side business.
Jennifer Fuss works for her father at the Clarksville Feed Store. Between doctor appointments and therapy for Wyatt, working, farming and caring for her family is overwhelming. “It’s hard to keep a job, which is something I want to do,” Jennifer said.
Michigan AgrAbility has assisted the family in developing ways that Wyatt can remain involved and active on the farm while not aggravating his condition, yet working within his physical limitations. “Having AgrAbility here to help is very comforting. It does so much more than just trying to keep us farming,” Jennifer said.
The Fuss family was compelled to help build the fund that will pay for research and hopefully find a cure through the organization, Alex’s Lemonade Stand. “We couldn’t sit here and cry,” said Jennifer.
Thus was born the Pullin’ for Kids event, a day long festival of farm and family fun. The event is dedicated to Wyatt who loves all things about farming and tractors. It is held behind Clarksville Feed Store which is owned by his grandparents.
Games, face painting, food, silent and live auctions, and learning activities will be available all day on July 9, 2016, at 401 S. Main St. in Clarksville.
The highlight of the day is two tractor pulls—-one for local farmers and adults who bring their tractors to compete in a test of strength and horsepower. The second pull is reserved just for kids, where horsepower is replaced with muscle power in a contest of pedal powered children’s toy tractors. Jennifer says the event grows yearly and attendance exceeded 1500 people last year alone, bringing the community together for a day of play in support of one of its own with a critical need.
In 2015, Pullin’ for Kids raised over $25,000 for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. In total, the event has contributed over $100,000 towards the foundation.