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Touch A Truck event set for Saturday

By Staff | Apr 4, 2019

The EHL Fragile X Foundation will hold its fourth annual Touch A Truck event in Cape Coral this Saturday to bring awareness of the genetic syndrome that can cause developmental issues in children.

The free event will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Lafayette Street between Cape Coral Street and Vincennes Street. There will be a horn free hour from 9 to 10 a.m.

“Those are for the little kiddos, the children who have sensitive ears and can’t take all the loud noises,” said Fran Marsino, who began the EHL Fragile X Foundation with her husband, Steve.

The event will feature more than 60 trucks.

Included will be a Cape Coral Rescue Fire truck, vehicles from Lee County Emergency Medical Services, Cape Coral Police BMW motorcycles, the Florida Forestry Swamp Buggy, the Cape Coral Parks & Rec Fun Mobile, a Book Mobile, vehicles from Lee County Transit, LeeTran, and a Golisano Children’s Hospital ambulance.

“Bring your camera,” she said, adding children will have opportunities to get put into the vehicles.

All participants will receive a truck passport and can visit the designated locations for a chance to win a prize.

“If they go up to that booth and get it stamped, they can spin the big wheel and get a prize,” she said. “It’s all free.”

There will also be close to 30 vendors, as well as a small stage where local children’s dance groups and vocalists will perform throughout the day.

Nathan’s Hot Dogs, Chee-Wopp and Kona Ice will be among some of the food trucks making a stop during the event. The EHL Foundation will have Pepsi products and water for sale for $1 each.

The food and drinks, Marsino said, are for purchase.

She said the foundation is a nonprofit organization that advocates for Fragile X syndrome by providing awareness, education and inclusion in the community to enrich the lives and advocate for the rights of individuals.

The foundation began after her mother passed away with pancreatic cancer. Marsino said she left a small inheritance with the request of doing something for Ethan, her grandson.

“I am a wife, mother and grandmother to Fragile X. In 2015 our grandson (Ethan) was diagnosed with Fragile X Syndrome at age 2,”Marsino explained.

Fragile X Syndrome is a mutation of the x chromosome that primarily affects brain function.

“When we found out about Ethan the first thing you do is panic. You don’t know what it was, what his life is going to be like, or your life is going to be like. After doing a lot of research and going through a period of mourning, and trying to see the light at the end of the tunnel, we decided we didn’t want other people to get through what we went through,” Marsino said. “We wanted to educate Southwest Florida about Fragile X.”

She said they want to try and get Fragile X made part of prenatal testing.

“It can go through generations without anyone knowing it,” Marsino said, adding this is due to such symptoms as the female carrier having a hard time conceiving and early menopause and the male carrier having early symptoms of dementia and Parkinson in their later years.

Ethan, now 7, is doing great, as happy as can be. She said up until Christmas he was nonverbal. Ethan lives in Clearwater and attends a school in Pinellas County where he attends class for children with special needs.

“We heard him say ‘I love you.’ We celebrate the little things. Two weeks ago he started saying his name,” she said.

Another Touch-a-Truck event will be held in Fort Myers at Pediatric Dentistry of Florida, 8016 Summerlin Lakes Drive, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 27.

The free event is being hosted by Dr. Tim Verwest, DMD & Associates.

More than 20 vehicles will be showcased, as well as a trackless train ride, pony rides, face painting and a petting zoo.

Can food donations will be accepted for entry, which will benefit the Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida.