Skip to main content

Boreal Community Media

Boreal North Shore Stories: Kyle Nelson, Living Life to the Fullest Each and Every Day

Feb 09, 2020 09:26PM ● By Editor
A Boreal Community Media Exclusive - February 10, 2020

The Faces of Cook County -  Kyle Nelson, Living Life to the Fullest Each and Every Day

Kyle Nelson was destined to be a superstar even at birth.  Born on January 9, 1998, to Sue and Butch Nelson, Kyle was named Grand Marais New Year’s baby.  He had his photo in the paper and received gifts from businesses in town.  

When he was two years old, Kyle’s daycare provider mentioned to Sue and Butch that Kyle was not progressing at the same rate as the other children his age, so they took him in for testing.  The doctors did an MRI and bloodwork. Kyle was diagnosed with Fragile X. Fragile X syndrome is a genetic condition that causes a range of developmental problems, including learning disabilities and cognitive impairment. It is usually passed on by the mother, the carrier of the X gene.  This is not the case with Kyle.  Kyle's condition is not genetic. Kyle is one of 6 in the world whose body deleted a gene in utereo, leading to this condition.  Because of this condition, Kyle cannot live alone independently. Kyle also suffered from severe eczema when he was little.  At the age of four, he had to spend 12 days at Mayo. His mother said it was heartbreaking to see him suffer like that. 

None of this slowed down Kyle.  Understatement. He started preschool at Cook County Schools.  Kyle’s classmates embraced him, taking him under their wings. The class of 2016 holds a special place in the Nelsons' hearts. Mrs. Melissa Oberg and her crew were (and continue to be) so good to him. He has played the scarecrow an unbelievable amount of time in the Wizard of Oz plays in Mrs. Oberg’s room.  (A huge shout out of gratitude to Melissa Oberg from the Nelson family.) Kyle’s sunny disposition, acceptance of others, and being a rule follower also contributes to his success at school. 


In addition to his studies, Kyle works at the YMCA for an hour every day.  He works at Grand Marais State Bank one day a week, thanks to Marja Erickson's support. At school, his daily routine consists of running errands for the staff, doing attendance, hanging up announcements, and delivering coffee on Friday mornings. Everyone around town seems to know Kyle wherever he goes.

When Kyle gets home from school, he strums the guitar for hours.  He has an entire wall of guitars and has his choice of 100 to pick from! Butch, Kyle’s father, was in a band.  His uncle and grandfather also had musical talents, which could explain where Kyle acquired his musical skills.

Kyle has an incredible love of music and theater.  He was personally invited backstage to meet and have a private concert with the bluegrass recording artists, Flatt Lonesome, in Tennessee. He is an honorary member of the SplinterTones and gets invited to band practices.  Kyle idolizes Max Bichel from that group, who even played for Kyle’s birthday. Liz Sivertson and Leah Thomas also go out of their way to bring joy to and acknowledge their number one fan! Kyle and his family spend their summer traveling to Riders in the Sky concerts.  They have been to over 50 of their concerts throughout the United States.   The two-time grammy award winning artists and 38 year member of the Grand Ole Opry even give a shout out to Kyle during their performances.  It’s like a family reunion every time they see their beloved “Cowboy Kyle”. The love between the band and Kyle is mutual, and they have become good friends over the years, even sending him letters.

A picture perfect road trip for Kyle would consist of attending Riders in the Sky concerts, Wizard of Oz and Sound of Music performances, using his metal detector with his dad, and riding elevators (yes, that’s another passion of Kyle’s)!  

What does the future hold for Kyle?  This is his last year at Cook County Schools.  His mom is looking into grant programs to keep him busy until she retires from teaching.  When that big day comes, the family plans on getting a different RV and “just going”. They will spend their well deserved time away attending concerts and theatrical performances.  

Kyle really loves his life in Grand Marais.  This community has embraced him. This is his home.  Because he will require adult care and supervision, his parents realize that they must have a plan for when the day comes that Kyle will need someone else to watch over him.  When that time comes, they want Kyle to stay here. This is where he belongs. They would love to one day develop a group home facility so Kyle could stay in the community that has surrounded him with love since birth. They are so thankful to our Cook County Community for the understanding, love, and acceptance they show Kyle.

According to Sue, Kyle’s mom, “Kyle is so happy and so unique.  HIs joy is contagious! He sees the good in people and enjoys everything he does.  He acknowledges everybody. He just loves each and every day.”  

We could all learn a few life lessons from our friend, Kyle.  He demonstrates each and every day on how to live life to the fullest.  


Singing with Grand Ole Opry member George Hamilton

Singing with the Splintertones

Max and Kyle Singing "Hey, Good Looking"

Upcoming Events Near You
Boreal Ship Spotter - larger view here