Nonprofit Helps Minnesota Man With Rare Disorder Beat The Odds

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minnesota family is on a mission to spread the word about an organization that gave their son a better chance at life.

Andrew Olson was born with a rare disorder called Jaubert syndrome. It affects an area of the brain that controls coordination and balance. But Andrew has defied the odds thanks to the help of a local organization.

Andrew has come a long way. The 18-year-old was diagnosed with Jaubert syndrome as a baby.

“The outlook was scary,” Andrew’s mother Jackie said. “We were told he would never walk, never talk, most likely. We were prepared for a bleak life with this little man.”

That did not turn out to be the case. Shortly after Andrew’s diagnosis, his parents turned to the Pacer Center — an organization that helps find families resources and treatment for children with disabilities.

“At every transition, Pacer has been there to help us,” Jackie said.

Andrew found physical therapy and speech therapy, while his family attended free workshops. Next month, he will graduate from high school, and then will get help from the Pacer Center to try to build career skills.

He says he’s thought about working at a clothing store to make women feel more confident.

“I always tell them how beautiful they look,” he said.

Whatever Andrew decides to do, Jackie says he’ll be successful with the staff friends he’s made through the Pacer Center.

“Every challenge we give him, he seems to rise to, so we know the sky is the limit for him,” Jackie said.

The Pacer Center is hosting their annual benefit on May 13 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. WCCO’s own Frank Vascellaro and Amelia Santaniello will be emceeing the event, along with the evening’s special guest — Jay Leno. Visit the Pacer Center online for more information.

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