Friends, family raise funds for little boy with big heart condition
The words of Jamie and Gene (Geno) Linse were almost the same.
"I have no words for it; it's just awesome how people come together for the little guy,” remarked Gene.
"I don't know what to say; it's great," countered his wife Jamie.
Jamie and Gene are the parents of 20-month-old Hudson Linse, who was born with congenital heart defects in which he only had one ventricle. Hudson has already undergone four open-heart surgeries. He is currently recovering at St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester from his most recent open-heart surgery, the most serious to date.
Hudson's parents and his older brother Henry represented him at a Winter Festival Fundraiser at the Witt Farms, located about seven miles south of Blooming Prairie on Highway 218 in Mower County.
The boy's parents were overcome with emotion after seeing more than 200 people come to show their willingness to help the family in some way.
Jamie has been staying 24-7 at St. Mary's Hospital but managed to get away to make an appearance at the fundraiser. "We had to get our hugs in," she said in appreciation.
Six teams of horses and a team of mules were on the property of Jeff and Diane Witt, giving rides to the young and older. "Hudson loves horses," remarked Gene.
The special fundraiser was organized by Jamie's sister, Traci Pittman, Erin Pittman and Emma Basness. The sleigh rides featured Percheron, Clydesdale and Belgian horses.
When visitors entered the Witt property, they were immediately drawn to a fire pit that enticed them to wait for a horse wagon to return after making a trip around the Witt property. Cookies and other refreshments were available inside the Witt manufacturing building.
Lots of gifts were also made part of a continuing raffle.
Gene, who is also a part-time, special Steele County deputy sheriff, said he travels with the Pittmans (Roger, Erin, Traci and Mark) to competition in the summer at county fairs and at the Minnesota State Fair. "Hudson and Henry are also part of the barn crew," Gene says. Gene is also a truck driver with Waterford Oil Co. of Northfield.
The horse community is a close-knit family, Gene added.
Roger, Erin, Mark and Traci had two teams of horses, Percherons, running rides at the fundraiser.
Other horses were owned by Josh and Dough Grunzke (Belgians) of Wells, Janet Hedberg (Clydesdale) of Owatonna; Lynn and Lisa Apenhorst (Belgians) of Spring Valley; Gene Wangen (Belgians) of Albert Lea and Harlan and Gini Gekler (Belgians) of Waseca.
Dwight and Vicki Smith of Blooming Prairie gave rides on their rig drawn by two mules.
Little Hudson was at the fundraiser in spirit as his parents conveyed his love of horses and pointed to a photo display of Hudson, many of the photos showing him with horses.
The Linses said they have no idea when Hudson will be returning home. He is currently living with a breathing tube and lies in bed or sits in a little chair most of the time. Hudson is heavily sedated and "is not too aware of anything," his mother Jamie says.
Hudson was born with a double outlet right ventricle, Wolf White Syndrome and Hypo Plastic left heart. He underwent his first heart surgery when he was only 3 days old.
Monies earned from the special fundraiser will be used to pay medical expenses, the Linses said.
When not in the hopsital, Hudson receives special help from Owatonna Schools with the Grow with Me program. A school worker comes to the Linse home to work with Hudson on fine motor skills and social skills, including speech. He walks with the aid of a walker.