Lifting and Supporting Dan
I'm updating and renewing this campaign rather than creating a new one. The original campagin was very succesful thanks to many of you and your generosity, but now we want to continue to support Dan and make his life easier and more enjoyable.
Over the past two years, I have used the extra money from the original campaign to provide for his misc needs, give him spare cash, money for pet care and church related activities. Last year, we used last of the funds to pay for Dan to attend a Church camp for special needs adults. This is something Dan has done for a number of years. He enjoys it emmensely and is essentially his Summer Vacation where he gets to socialize with old friends and meet new ones.
Unfortunately, the camp is no longer subsidized and Dan can't fit it into his limited budget. Therefore, I'm doing something a little uncomfortable for me, but necessary. I'm appealing directly to community and friends for help. If you are in a position to help, it would be immensely appreciated.
Original Campaign Story:
He goes by Murray, MUR, Dan, Big DAN or just Danny. He is our friend , classmate and proud member of the Beechwood High School Class of 85. Danny was afflicted with Cerebral Palsy at Birth. I can't tell you exactly what that means medically, but I know I have watched him endure and overcome it's effects for over 40 years. All the while knowing that he was a smart and extremely strong person. Someone to respect rather than pity.
This fundraising campaign is simply about making it easier for myself and anyone of Danny's friends to help him. To remove as many barriers to him enjoying his life and having as much freedom and mobility as possible. The plan is to do this by purchasing a wheelchair lift that can fit onto any SUV, Truck, Car with a Hitch. It will be stored in Dan's garage so it is available to anyone willing to help. Quite frankly, he has had such a positive effect on people's lives, I am confident many more people would take him places if they only knew it was not only possible, but actually fairly easy. I'm not certain what a reliable lift will cost. They seem to be $1500-2000 used. I figure whatever is left, will be used for other things that make his life more comfortable.
If you are not comfortable with donating online, feel free to contact me about sending a check. Everything is greatly appreciated.
The full story...
Danny grew up just a block from Beechwood School. He and his Golf Cart were a fixture there and hard to think of Beechwood without thinking of him. I first noticed him when I was in Elementary school when he would walk up to the playground and watch the other kids play. I watched how the "older kids" treated him and I knew he was special. I'm not sure when, but eventually Dan became a classmate. In addition to being a classmate, Dan was always a huge part of Beechwood Athletics. I know that he is extremely proud to be associated with Beechwood Sports and especially being a proud member of the Beechwood Alumni.
After Graduation, like many of us, Dan stayed involved in Beechwood sports. He would run the Scoreboard at Football and Basketball games anytime that he could make it. When I started bringing my kids to Baseball and Football games, Dan was almost always there. He simply loves Beechwood Sports. Eventually Dan lost his parents who took such great care of him and more importantly worked so hard for his inclusion as a member of the Beechwood community. As result of losing his parents he also moved out of his house on Ashton Road just down the street from Beechwood. I know that wasn't easy for him, but he didn't let that stop him. He still managed to make it to a lot of Beechwood Home sporting events. After a while Dan's body began to deteriorate he required a scooter to get around. While he could walk short distances or stand for a few minutes, he couldn't go anywhere without that scooter.
Over the next several years, various friends would help Dan get to places he wanted to go when Handicap transportation wasn't available. For me, I mostly provided rides home Football games. Mainly so he wouldn't have to leave the games early to meet the Handicap bus schedule. This went on for a number of years.
At some point he stopped contacting me about rides home and he stopped making it to Beechwood Football games and other events at all. As it turned out, Dan had so much Back pain that he couldn't sit on his scooter and definitely couldn't sit through football and basketball games. Through Facebook I was aware of his suffering. I can say that reading his 3AM Facebook posts exclaiming his pain was heart-wrenching for me. Not only was he in pain,but he was disconnected from many of the things that brought him joy. Dan received a new Wheelchair that was fitted to him and although it was supposed relieve his pain, it unfortunately made it worse. Dan was eventually moved from his great independent living situation into a Nursing Home. A short time later, Dan was approved for and underwent surgical procedures to relieve his pain. After his first surgery, I was making plans to visit him Rehab facility I called another friend (the one far better than me). He explained that Dan did not look good and in his opinion, he wouldn't likely ever leave the Nursing Home. Again, my heart ached. I asked the Beechwood Boosters to provide some Spiritwear for him and I delivered it to the Rehab center in hopes of lifting his spirits. I was not prepared for what I saw and to talk with him only made it worse. He looked like an old man and almost like he had given up. He was angry and frustrated and still in so much pain. I gave him the Tiger gear and he smiled a little, but he still wasn't himself. I asked him if he wanted to get out of the nursing home and back out to Beechwood events. He said he still had his apartment and he was getting out. I promised him that if he did what was necessary to get himself mobile again, I would do everything I could to get him to Beechwood events. Dan had an additional surgery, but I was not aware of it and he never reached out to me. I'm sad to say, that over the next 18-20 months, I never did more than message him on Facebook and check in.
In September of this year, I ran into Dan at the bottom of the stairs leading to the Beechwood Pressbox. I was totally caught off-guard. I asked him what he was doing and he said: "I'm waiting to get up there. Well, "Up There" was the pressbox. No elevator, No lift. Only two flights of wooden stairs. I thought to myself "OK, well I guess Big Dan is back!" I asked him if he was going to our 30th Class reunion the following week. He simply answered "NO, I don't have a ride." I told him he was and I would make sure I got him there. I reminded him of my promise that I made him in rehab. He snatched that offer up quickly.
I knew his new wheelchair was heavy, but I thought worst case, I can have my son help me lift it into the truck. I was wrong. The Chair weighed 400 plus pounds. When Dan called me from Beechwood and asked me to come get him and bring him to the Reunion, I told him I wasn't sure I could. I told him that his chair was much heavier than I thought. He said that the bus could bring him down if I could take him home. At first, I tried to back out and I hoped he would let me off the hook. He didn't really push back, but he sounded so disappointed that I decided to just make it work. I told him to have the bus bring him and I we would figure out how to get him home.
When Dan arrived at the Reunion, so many people were glad to see him and he was genuinely excited to see them and get to hangout with his classmates. Many of them he hadn't seen or talked to in over 20 years and a few that he had not seen since graduation. It was a fun thing to witness. He hung out and got to drink a couple beers with his classmates and have a great time. I was relieved and so glad that I didn't let him down. We still needed to get him home, but no matter what, it was going to have been worth the effort. I knew at the moment that I was going to do whatever I could to get him a lift.
In the end, another classmate bailed me out. He stuck around to the very end with Danny, myself and my wife. We lifted that Chair into the back of his SUV. We both drove Dan home and got him into his apartment. He doesn't speak a lot, so I knew when he repeatedly kept saying "Thank You" to us he was very grateful.
Thank You for Reading
Having an issue here. Originally I was going to shut the Campaign down, but after the past few updates we continue to receive donations from those wanting to help. While we have the lift and have been using it, there are ongoing maintenance, insurance and other needs that will continue to come up. At some point, I may switch to a different campaign.
Unfortunately, there are people using GoFundMe to commit fraud. I am receiving almost Daily donations of $5-$20 and an occasional $100-200 one. I'm trying to get this stopped as it is causing issues with my bank account. If you make a donation and it gets refunded or rejected, please let me know. I'm going to shut "out-of-country" donations off.
He truly enjoyed tonight. Most of the night he was grinning from ear to ear. Thanks to Terri Miller for organizing and thanks to all those that made it out. It is so easy to do the work of transporting Dan, when I get to see what it does for his spirits. He was happy and grateful when I dropped him off and it doesn't get any better than that.