Video made by Kirby Schultz.
A family in Sioux Falls is hoping to create awareness and raise money for others in need of addiction support.
Kaitlin Olson (age 22), Lauren Olson (age 19) and Harrison Olson (age 15) are passionate about nonjudgmental help for anyone impacted by addiction, including loved ones. Their father, Tim Olson, passed away unexpectedly in 2019. He struggled with alcohol addiction for several years.
Their mother, Heather Olson, attended SMART Family & Friends meetings and received coaching from Face It TOGETHER in 2017.
“They kind of saved me at the time,” she said.
The family’s monthlong fundraiser starts June 21, on Father’s Day. They hope to raise $5,000 to help individuals gain access to peer support across South Dakota.
We sat down with Kaitlin, Lauren and Harrison to learn more about their story and why they decided to pursue this ambitious goal.
What hobbies or school subjects are you interested in? What activities do you like to do as a family?
Lauren: I go to Colorado State University and am a clinical counseling psychology major. I love spending time with family and friends, discovering new music, painting, talking sports and watching horror films.
Kaitlin: I graduated from St. Olaf College last spring and am currently going to the University of Colorado Anschutz to get my MS in biostatistics. I also work at the biostatistics consulting group on campus as a research assistant. I spend most of my free time with family and friends, going to concerts, watching movies and exploring both the city of Denver and the surrounding hiking spots! As a family, we love watching the Pittsburgh Steelers and have always been big Disney fans.
Harrison: I do debate, I like basketball, I like working on cars and playing video games. As a family we watch scary movies together.
Are there any memories of your dad you’d like to share? What do you want people to know about him?
Lauren: My dad was just everyone’s friend. He made everyone he came close to feel loved and valued in multiple ways, and always made you feel big.
Kaitlin: My dad was someone who always put others first, really the most selfless person I have ever met. He was an incredible father, one of my best friends and biggest supporters. He taught me to give everything to the people and things I am passionate about and was someone that made you feel heard when you wanted to gush about said things. He genuinely cared, was incredibly generous and wanted the best for the people he knew.
Harrison: I want people to know that just because my dad was an alcoholic, that doesn’t mean he was a bad dad. He was a great dad and he loved us all very much.
What’s your advice for a loved one who may be struggling?
Lauren: For anyone who may be struggling themselves, just know that there are people who want to see you healthy. And you can achieve that in more ways than one if you allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to get help. To those who may have a loved one who is struggling, I would say to just always be encouraging, and just instill in your loved one that they are indeed loved and cared about, and you just want to be able to see them living a healthy lifestyle.
Kaitlin: For those who are in the middle of their battle with addiction, everyone just wants to see you healthy and happy. I understand that it is a difficult step to take, but getting help may literally save your life. For loved ones of those struggling with addiction, be there in the ways you can. Show them you love them and you care for them, and educate yourselves to the best of your ability. For everyone being affected by addiction, there is a community of people that are here to support and help you in this journey.
Harrison: Advice I’d give to someone struggling is to just try your hardest to get some sort of help, whether that’s Face It, treatment, AA or anything else.
What value does Face It TOGETHER bring to Sioux Falls?
Lauren: I think Face It TOGETHER is an amazing resource for those struggling and loved ones who are looking to understand addiction more. They recognize that no solution is 100% concrete and are always judgment free in their approach.
Kaitlin: Face It TOGETHER is an incredibly important organization for both those struggling with addiction and their loved ones. There are several educational tools and resources available to aid anyone who is looking for help without judgement.
Harrison: Face It TOGETHER brings hope for addicts and their families in a judgement-free way.
What would you say to someone who’s contemplating a donation?
Lauren: For anyone thinking about donating, I would just think about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. So many people in this town struggle silently when they could be receiving help. A donation could make it easier for those who may not have the funds to get the assistance they deserve on their journey. Face It TOGETHER helped bring me and my family members some peace and clarity when my father was struggling. It is definitely a cornerstone for a lot of people in Sioux Falls who are working on creating a healthier life for themselves and is also a caring support system for loved ones of those struggling.
Kaitlin: Although you may not be directly impacted by addiction, there are many in this community that have been and continue to be. Donating to Face It TOGETHER will provide guidance and support for the individuals who are seeking it, where they may not otherwise receive the assistance they deserve.
Harrison: Face It TOGETHER is worthy because it helps countless families who are battling with addiction and helps take the pain away from everyone affected.
The Olsons have a goal of raising $5,000 by July 19 — all of which will be used for coaching sponsorships.
“I feel that there is still such a stigma associated with addiction, and many lack the education to understand the ins and outs of what it really is,” Kaitlin said. “I really hope this can spark conversations within our community and maybe change people’s perspectives on addiction.”
To support the Olson family in their goal, you can make a gift on their fundraising page. All dollars raised will provide peer coaching to those facing addiction challenges.