Wisconsin teen visits all 50 state capitols with his family, ends tour in Madison

  • Article by: EMILY MIELS , Associated Press
  • Updated: August 30, 2014 - 12:05 AM

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. — Nick Nelson has known all of the state capitals since he was 5 years old. Now, at age 15, he can say he's visited all of the state capitols as well.

Nick, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, started his quest to visit all of the state buildings in 2006 with his family.

The Nelsons, who live about 15 miles south of Mondovi in Nelson, started in Hawaii in December 2006 and ended the journey a couple of weeks ago in Madison, the Leader-Telegram (http://bit.ly/1twzNIz ) reported.

"There's lot of things that he can't do — play sports and things like that — so we thought, let's give him something special," said Nick's father, John Nelson. "So being that he liked the state capitals and we traveled all over, we thought, well, let's do the state capitol visits."

The first big group of capitol visits was in 2008, when the Nelsons made their way back from California to Wisconsin, John said.

"We went up the West Coast and across the northern tier states, so California, Oregon, Washington and across, with Minnesota being the last one then," John said. "Then each summer we've gone out and made kind of a loop and caught four, five or six capitols."

They saved Madison for last, and Wisconsin was the perfect way to end the adventures, the family said. Gov. Scott Walker even took time to meet Nick and his family, and give them a personal tour around the executive residence.

"He had a lot of things from the Civil War," Nick said of Walker, noting Wisconsin was his favorite of all of the capitols.

Other favorites were South Carolina, California and Alaska, Nick said.

It was interesting to see the different architecture of the various buildings, the family said. South Carolina's building had a fake dome on the inside, and Florida's capitol was a tall, concrete tower.

"North Dakota was by far the worst," Nick's mom, Sheila Nelson, said with a laugh. "It's a big office building. There's like four or five states that are just big, tall office buildings."

Nick and his family toured some of the buildings; at others they just saw the lobby or outside.

"All of them we made a circle around, so we got pictures of all sides of it and usually at least a picture of the kids out on the front steps with the capitol in the background," John said.

They are now working to turn the photos into memory albums for Nick and his 9-year-old sister, Emily.

Minus a few mishaps, such as having to go out of the way to find wheelchair accessible entrances and bathrooms, John said everywhere they went, people were nice and accommodating.

"All of the people there were very friendly and helpful to get you to the places that you wanted to see," he said.

Overall, the quest took them eight years to complete, and the Nelsons traveled about 24,300 miles, not including the air travel to Alaska and Hawaii.

This is an AP Member Exchange shared by the Leader-Telegram

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